Introducing Kochi (Cochin)
If you listen closely, you can hear the collective sigh breathed by travellers upon setting foot in laid-back Fort Cochin. Kochi has been luring wanderers and traders for over 600 years and remains a living homage to its varied colonial past: giant fishing nets influenced by Chinese merchants, a 16th-century synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses built half a millennia ago and the crumbling residuum of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English country village grafted on to the tropical Malabar Coast. It’s a delightful place to spend some time, soak in the history, peruse art galleries and nap in some of the finest heritage accommodation in India.
Mainland Ernakulam is the hectic transport hub and cosmopolitan heart of Kerala, where neon lights and upmarket chainstores rule the roost. The historical towns of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, however, are wonderfully serene – thick with the smell of the past and with more goats than rickshaws patrolling the streets.