With its iconic Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi, European colonial architecture, South Indian-flavored cuisine, and diverse population, Kochi is one of the most multicultural cities in India. Because of its historic position as a port city for trading merchants, Kochi has many interesting traditions and festivals on offer.
In Kochi, all worship is welcome and you'll find everything from sacred Catholic churches to well-designed Hindu temples and even a Jewish synagogue filled with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers.
Fort Kochi and the Mattancherry Palace are just two displays of traditional design. Along with these marvels, check out the Hill Palace Museum, which, along with its architecture, is the largest archaeological museum in Kochi.
Eat your way through the entire world in just this one city: here, you'll find Portuguese-inspired cuisine, as well as Arabic, Chinese, and Dutch food.
Cherai Beach and Fort Kochi beach are two of the most serene and beautiful spots for travelers to stretch out in the sun.
The south of India enjoys many festivals all year long like Diwali, Holi, and many regional celebrations featuring lots of outdoor theater performances and dancers.
Situated by the coast near Fort Cochin, these impressive fishing nets are an essential part of the local economy. You won't find Chinese fishermen tending these 10-meter-tall nets, which hang in the water via a cantilever system, capturing the abundant fish by Kochi's shoreline. Although they are decidedly low-tech, these nets are still productive, supplying plenty of enterprising street sellers and restaurants near the Fort -- so you can combine a history lesson with some superbly fresh seafood when you visit.
Located on the Therava peninsular, this remarkable museum is housed in a "temple of art" that was created by a local couple to show off southern Indian art, craftwork and music. With bronze and stone sculptures (some more than 2,000 years old), this is a folklore theater which stages traditional shows, musical instruments, sumptuous jewelry and colorful dance costumes from across Kerala. The building itself is also a highlight, showcasing Keralan wood carving and providing a great stage for its collection.
Built by the Portuguese colonial rulers in the 16th century as a gesture of friendship to their client, the King of Cochin, this palace is both an elegant testimony to the European nation's brief supremacy over Kerala, and a wonderful art gallery. Built around a quadrangular courtyard, it houses a gallery of portraits of Kochi's rulers since the mid 19th century as well as an incredible mural featuring most of the Ramayana: one of Hinduism's great historical epics.
Christianity has been a force in Kochi for well over 1,000 years, and St Francis Church is India's oldest Christian place of worship. Built in 1503 (again by the globe-trotting Portuguese), it immediately gained a celebrity association by being the first resting place of the great explorer Vasco da Gama. Da Gama was returned to Lisbon in the 17th century, but the church remains and is unmissable. Sit and soak up the tranquility of the chancel, see the 18th century Dutch baptism book and imagine yourself back in one of the most prosperous trading ports of the Age of Exploration.
Right next door to the Mattancherry Palace you'll find the Paradesi Synagogue, which has been open since 1567 (except for a brief period after the Portuguese knocked it down, before the Dutch allowed it to be rebuilt) and contains plenty of ancient Jewish artefacts. Once upon a time, there were as many as seven synagogues operating in Kochi -- a sign of how many Jews made the Keralan coast their home. Paradesi continues to serve the faithful and delight tourists, with its elegant interior that shows British, Keralan and Chinese influences.
Kochi's tropical climate can see heavy monsoons throughout May to September and temperatures in the summer, from February to May, soaring to 95 degrees, which can feel hotter with the humidity. The winter months are cooler and pleasant.
Cochin International Airport (COK) is 18 miles from the city center. Use the orange KSRTC bus service for ₹70 or a taxi, which costs ₹510 for a standard taxi and ₹650 for an air-conditioned taxi.
Trains get in to the Ernakulam Town Station and come from all over the country, including Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Mumbai. Book in advance or risk paying ₹150 extra.
Depending on where you're coming from, there are three major highways you can connect to. Use the NH 17 if you're coming from the north, the NH 47 or NH 29 if you're coming from the south.
The state-run KSRTC services Kochi with three services: Super Fast, Express, and Garuda Hi-Tech. Fares vary but a trip from Mumbai to Kochi, for example, costs ₹3,300.
The beautiful Killians Boutique Hotel is the place if you want to stay in style. For a mid-range option, check in to the Ballard Bungalow, a heritage colonial building. If you're on a budget, consider Aroma Home Stay.
Aluva - this is the second-largest district in Kochi, home to many beautiful local temples and the annual Sivarathri festival, celebrated on the banks of the Periyar River.
Ernakulam - if you're coming in the last week of December, you'll catch the famous Cochin Carnival in this neighborhood. You can also check out the beautiful Cherai Beach and Kerala Museum.
Willingdon Island - a true marvel, this "island" is completely man-made; here, you'll find the impressive Kochi Port and Southern Naval Command of the country's navy.
Fares for standard city buses are ₹7.50 for the first mile and ₹1 for each mile after that.
Taxis are easy to find. The fare is a flat rate of ₹50 for the first two miles, and then ₹15 per additional mile. Expect a 10 percent surcharge for air conditioning. Fares at night are 15-20 percent higher.
If you're renting a car to get around Kochi, you can find a rental for ₹1,600 for 50 miles and ₹20.5 for each mile beyond the cap.
Check out Broadway Market, where you can find clothing, electronics, food, and furniture. If you love malls, Lulu Mall is the largest in South India.
A quart of milk is ₹38 and a dozen eggs costs ₹59.
To grab a yummy bite, head to Indraprastha Gujarati Food Court for thalis that cost only ₹50.