Kochi (Cochin), India - Stein Travel
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Kochi (Cochin)

The port city of Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) is located on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas about halfway up the Goan coastline, in the north of the state of Kerala. A favourite destination for European tourists on package-deal tours of the country, Kochi offers a serene and relaxed change of scenery, and a very gentle introduction to a holiday in India.

The majority of tourists to Kochi stay in the Ernakulam district, but the old sections of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin are the main areas of interest. All linked by a series of ferries and bridges, these districts are an unlikely blend of late-medieval Portuguese, Dutch and English architecture - a living record of the area's colonial history.

Boasting a good amount of cultural sights and interesting things to do, as well as some top-class restaurants specialising in international cuisine, the main allure of Kochi remains its serene atmosphere and languid pace of life. It is very easy to wile away time in Kochi by simply meandering around the waterfront area, watching fishermen unhurriedly fixing their nets by the water's edge, and perusing the fine selection of goods presided over by (mostly) Nepalese traders.

Kochi is also an ideal place from which to organise cruises of Kerala's backwaters, which is one of the most popular tourist activities in the whole of India.

Information & Facts

Eating Out

Gourmands looking for good restaurants in Kochi certainly won't find themselves disappointed. In fact, those travelling extensively around India should think about doing a little comfort-eating while in Kochi - you can travel for thousands of miles in any direction and not find dining options of equal class.

Highlights of the Kochi restaurant scene include Dal Roti, specialising in North Indian dishes cooked to perfection and served in an unpretentious environment; and then a variety of establishments providing European fare, sometimes with an interesting local twist. Be sure to try the Poisson de la Provencale at Casa Linda, and the variety of French-Indian fusion dishes turned out at Caza Maria, where local cooks receive their training from a travelling French chef. The Kashi Art Cafe is also a winner, serving solid European-style breakfasts in a hip and funky setting.


Although English is generally used for official and business purposes, Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 40 percent of the population. Urdu is the language common with the Muslim demographic. India has a total of 22 official languages


The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de changes. It is impossible to obtain rupees outside India, but no matter what time you arrive in India there will be an exchange office open at the airport. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and it is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are not generally available.


Kochi is an ideal place from which to organise cruises of Kerala's backwaters. These tours are incredibly popular and easy to set up - just enquire at any hotel or tourist information office in Kochi.

Near Kochi's waterfront, you'll find a host of extremely old and interesting religious buildings. The St Francis Church is India's oldest European church, and held Vasco da Gama's mortal remains for a while before they were transported to Lisbon. The imposing 16th-century Santa Cruz Basilica, a testament to the Portuguese occupation of the area, might feel a little out-of-place but is still full of grandeur and is eminently photogenic. Meanwhile, the oldest synagogue in the entire Commonwealth can be found in Kochi's 'Jew Town' area - the Paradesi Synagogue, a beautiful white building with dark blue accents, founded in 1568.

Set amidst these fascinating sights are spice markets, fish markets, and a village green that could have been transported straight from rural England.

Finally, Kochi's main cultural attraction is undoubtedly the form of dance-drama known as Kathakali. Elaborate, energetic and colourful, be sure to catch one of the performances held at the world-famous Kerala Kathakali Centre.

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