Monday, July 18, 2005

Planning a trip to Kerala -II: Cochin

Tourism in Kerala can be broadly classified into two circuits viz., beaches in South and backwater in North. You have to decide what you want to experience. If your plan is to be in the beaches, then go to south and head for Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum). That itinerary should include Kanyakumari as well. However if your plan is to experience the backwaters and the real Kerala, then head for Cochin. My word is head for Cochin and experiences the backwaters. It is breathtaking, splendid, and magnificent. Words cannot describe your feelings amidst this resplendent beauty specially bestowed by God. Someone truly wrote – Like an epic poem, Linking a glorious past to an unfolding present, it is the God’s Own Country. This circuit includes Munnar, Thekkady (Periyar), Allepey and Kumarakkom.

The tales of backwaters had always allured me and so I headed for Cochin.

Cochin :

After being hauled through six states by the great Indian railway, I landed in Ernakulam Junction on a fine evening in Feb, 2004. Cochin is basically divided into 3 parts. Ernakulam is the main city (and rail head), Fort Cochi is where tourist goes and then you get the manmade Willingdon Island connecting these two places. Fort Cochi is where you should stay in Cochin because most of the places of tourist interest are there. I too headed for Fort Cochi but found no accommodation there though there were a good number of hotels there. The place is mostly occupied by foreigners. After scouting for accommodation, I had to come back to Willingdon Island and put up at ATS Willingdon Hotel. It was a good hotel charging Rs.850/- for a double room plus taxes. But the location is very isolated. You can also think of staying in Ernakulam as KTDC boat tours of Cochin are conducted from there. But ideal place is Fort Cochi. Book there before you go.

I hired a taxi for around Rs.400/- for local sightseeing of Cochin next morning. Cochin sightseeing hardly takes you half a day. There are the Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort Cochi, then the St. Thomas Church which is the first church built in India and then visit to the Muttoncherry Dutch Palace. That’s all you have to watch in Cochin. You will end up spending most of the time in Fort Cochi and so I told that prefer to stay at Fort Cochi. The big Chinese Fishing Nets which needs 6/7 man to operate are the main attractions there. Chinese traders introduced these nets. You will also see the ships getting in and out of Cochin harbor. Dolphins are also spotted here. Dolphins ? Yes, I mean dolphins! Just spend some time on the banks and you will get to see many dolphins. There are small boat operators in that area who charges around Rs.200/- per trip for dolphin watching. But you are really not required to take this trip. Just spend some time on some stalls on the banks sipping some natural cold drinks and you will get to see many dolphins. Cochin is called the Venice of the East. It was once a busy trading port for spices.

There were many travel agents at Fort Cochi market area. I approached one Matha Taxis to decide on my future course of travel. A guy named Anthony manned it and the guy was good. Kerala economy thrives on tourism and so these travel agents are not like those found in Delhi. If you approach those so-called travel agents around New Delhi station, you will be doomed and have to cut short your visit, as they will loot you as much as they could. But Kerala is totally different. I hired a car from him for next 3 days and also booked a houseboat at Allepey. The rate agreed for houseboat was Rs.5000/- for a double bedroom boat. As I had mentioned in my last article the rate I paid for houseboat was much cheaper than what is normally quoted in the net.

As my sightseeing in Cochin was over by noon, I had checked out in the afternoon and proceeded for Munnar. On the way out of Cochin, I found the city to be very scenic. Abundant water bodies and coconut grooves were adding to the beauty of the surroundings. I got the first glimpse of backwater alleys. This completes my Cochin trip. If you plan to spend one complete day in Cochin, then take a village backwater tour in Cochi in the afternoon. Matha Taxi conducts such tours. I am giving you few numbers below that may be helpful to you.

Matha Taxis : Office at Fort Cochi. Phone – 0484-2215534, 2215334 Mob - 0944716636
Email --

KTDC : Office at Ernakulum. Phone – 0484-2353234, 2382199
Email – website –

ATS Willingdon Hotel : 0484-2667643, 2667282 Email :

(Next I will be writing about Munnar)


Anonymous said...

I am glad to get some good blog on Kerala from a fellow Indian, at last1 :) I was particularly interested to know if I could be sighting dolphins there easily and found the answer here1 Thanks a lot!:-)

Anonymous said...

Hi...i'm from malaysia...visiting kerala for holidays...I saw dolphins here at Cochi too...just confirm i googled n found ur blog.