Kochi Things to Do
Whether you want to catch a show, brush up on your history, treat yourself to a spa day, break out your chef hat, or just float along the Backwaters and watch the world pass by, there is always an adventure waiting for you in Kochi.
If you’re a drama queen (or king), Kochi’s performing arts scene will dazzle you. Indian classical dance is “story play” that incorporates steps, gestures, and acting techniques.
Kathakali is a classical Indian dance style which originated in Kerala as Hindu performance art. It is characterized by elaborate, colourful makeup, costumes, and face masks.
We loved the Kathakali show at the Kerala Kathakali Centre, an art school and theatre. We arrived early to get a sneak peek at how they apply the elaborate makeup. Indian classical music, martial arts, and other dance styles are also performed at this venue. (Kathakali makeup application: 5pm; Kathakali show: 6-7.30pm. Kathakali show: INR350; Indian Classical Dance Show: INR350; Indian Classical Music Show: INR350; Kalaripayattu Martial Arts Show: INR300).
Exploring Kochi’s backwaters
If you only do one thing in Kochi, we recommend taking a houseboat tour in Kochi’s backwaters. The backwaters are a labyrinthine network of canals, rivers, lakes, and inlets that have been used for centuries by locals for transportation, fishing, and agriculture. Explore the Backwaters in in your own motorized kettuvallam (houseboat). Kettuvallams are popular tourist attractions. At one time, these were the floating homes of royalty, but they have since been converted to floating cottages for tourists. Today over 2,000 kettuvallams float in the watery maze.
We went on a four-hour tour of the Backwaters on our own private houseboat with Muziris Heritage - Day tours. There were three staff members aboard for the two of us who prepared our lunches as we drifted down the Backwaters alongside vibrant plants, paddy fields, coconut groves, and villages. We saw people washing clothes, bathing, and traveling to and from school along the backwaters. This was seriously one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. Our personal driver picked us up at our hotel. (Prices start at INR4476.15).
What’s behind Fort Kochi?
Fort Kochi, the capital of Kochi, is a bit of a misnomer because there is no actual fort. This part of town, however, used to be a fortified city. Explore the charms of this medieval, walled area that for centuries shaped the history of trading in the region by hosting Arabian and Chinese merchants. They travelled to Kochi for spices like pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
Fort Kochi is located along the Malabar coast and is still brimming with old world European charm. Appreciate the different styles of architecture as you see houses built during the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial periods that still line the streets. You’ll think you’ve travelled back in time to when India was still a British colony as you ramble the beautiful flower-bordered lanes. Catch a cricket game on the parade grounds. Free.
Fancy an Ayurvedic spa treatment?
Treat yourself to a spa day at Ayurville. This Ayurvedic centre has a location in Fort Kochi. Ayurveda means “Knowledge of Life.” It’s the holistic practice of traditional Hindu medicine that centres around balancing bodily systems. Ayurville offers a menu of services, including facials, body and beauty therapies, and various styles of massage. (11/685, Bishop Garden, Behind St. Anthony’s Chapel, Pattalam, Kochi. 10.00am-6.00pm. Massages start at INR1300).
Put on your chef hat and take a cooking class with Maria at Maria’s South Indian Cooking Class. We appreciated her brilliant knowledge of spices. After preparing a tasty three-course meal in traditional Indian fashion, we got to chow down on all the delicious grub that we whipped up. Maria will teach you how to flavour your food Kerala-style so you can recreate her fabulous dishes when you get back home. (Burgher Street, Fort Cochin. Fort Paradise Garden Cafe, Kochi, +91 97468 87454, 3-hour courses at approximately INR639.60).