7 Remarkably Attractive Places To Visit In Ernakulam
The flourishing city of Ernakulam or Kochi, in the South West Coast of Kerala, also known as ”Gods Own Country”, is renowned for its breath-taking beauty overlooking the Arabian Sea with backwater hubs like Kottayam and Alappuzha districts in the south. For centuries, it has been a melting pot of merchants and tourists from across the world and has witnessed the presence of invaders like British, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, and even Dutch.
The pleasing surroundings and easy connectivity to other parts of the country make Ernakulam one of the most popular tourist cities in Kerala. Also known as the “Commercial Capital of Kerala”, it hosts the highest number of international and domestic tourists and is the major business hub of Kerala with the highest revenue yielding record in the state.
Ernakulam was formed by the two princely states of Travancore and Cochin and the British Malabar in 1958 by carving out regions from Thrissur and Kottayam and came to be acknowledged as the biggest natural port and centre of trade on the West Coast. The city boasts some of the most charming churches and palaces that reflect the Portuguese, Arab and British influence left behind by their legacy and cultural imprints as well various historical sites, synagogues, ancient mosques, temples, forts, beaches and other tourist attractions.
7 Best Places To Visit In Ernakulam
- Mattancherry Palace
- Fort Kochi
- Jewish Synagogue
- Willingdon Island
- Bolgatty Palace
- Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
- Santa Cruz Basilica
1. Mattancherry Palace
The magnificent Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese in the year 1557, is considered to be one of the important places to see in Ernakulam. Popularly known as Dutch Palace, its imposing structure and architecture resembles a typical traditional Kerala house with 4 individual wings and a patio in between. Located on Palace Road, a place noted for being the former trade centre, it is flanked by backwaters of the Arabian Sea and is a short distance away from the heart of Ernakulam.
The rustic and old-fashioned streets leading to the Mattancherry Palace are an inspiration to history buffs, film-makers, travellers and artists alike. The palace encompasses a huge courtyard in the centre that has a beautiful temple dedicated to Goddess Bhagavati, the protective deity of Kochi community. Also worth seeing is the vivid collection of frescos and paintings adorning a large portion of the palace walls and the sprawling gardens and manicured lawns. It is believed that in the yester years, this cheri (street), was lined with mutton butchers, and so it ended up being called “Mattancherry”. Today, the place displays centuries-old architectures and various social and cultural imprints and ruins left behind by foreigners.
Formerly known for being the spice hub in Kochi due to the trade of tea and spices like pepper, cardamom and turmeric, Mattancherry is known for being a place of multiple cultures with various communities like Jews, Konkanis, Gujaratis, Jains and Marathis residing there. Here gothic style churches, agraharams, mosques and synagogues coexist.
Location: Mattancherry, Kochi,
Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM, closed on all Fridays
Entry fees: INR 2 per person
2. Fort Kochi
This seaside town in the south-western part of main Kochi is popular for its old-world colonial charm, and still showcases every single cultural change it has gone through over the centuries. One can spot remnants of Portuguese and Dutch colonialism in this quaint city which is dotted with similar structures and has an overall ambience that brings to light the colonial powers that once ruled over the place. The fort region of Kochi has witnessed the rise and fall of great powers including the Portuguese, Chinese and the Dutch, before it came under the nation-wide British rule in the 18th century. Fort Kochi is lined with old European structures, churches and other architectural buildings which transport you back to a different era. Unlike most other forts in Indian history, Fort Kochi is not about historical fortifications, canons and ruins of old palatial buildings. Instead, it houses the vibe of an ancient colonial city with its cobbled streets, colourful and charming buildings and a picturesque view of the beach, and is one of the best places to see in Ernakulam.
Location: Fort Kochi, Ernakulam
Timings: 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM
Entry fees: N/A
3. Jewish Synagogue
Amongst the 7 synagogues located in this region, this Jewish synagogue is the only one which is in operation today. It was constructed in 1568 and is also called the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or Mattencherry Synagogue. A journey inside takes you through the rich architecture and history of the place and the pulpit in the middle of the hall signifies the rich heritage of a not so long ago established prayer centre. The building’s interior has been done up with rare and handcrafted materials most if which are extinct today. The best part is that the synagogue is still run by Jews and not the government authorities, which has helped to a great extent in maintaining the authenticity of the holy place. Cameras and handbags are not allowed inside.
Location: Synagogue Ln, Jew Town, Kappalandimukku, Mattancherry, Kochi
Timings: 10 AM to 12 PM, 3 PM to 5 PM
Entry fees: INR 5 per person
4. Willingdon Island
Beautifully housed in the heart of Kochi, the 82-year old Willingdon Island showcases the spectacular prowess and the intellectual level of human mind, and is counted as one of the best places to see in Ernakulam. The archipelago is named after Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India, and is one of the largest human-made islands in India. This beautiful island provides efficient connectivity between Kochi port and other national and international ports, and is home to some of the opulent resorts and commercial and industrial buildings of the district.
The artificial islands surrounded by the mesmerizing Kerala backwaters, also serve as headquarter for the southern naval base of the Indian Navy and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology. Apart from the commercial purposes, the island has become a popular weekend getaway destination amongst locals and tourists alike. One must visit this place to experience absolute bliss and rare natural beauty.
Location: Kochi Port, Off Kochi City, Kochi
Timings: 5 AM to 11 PM
Entry fees: N/A
5. Bolgatty Palace
This magnificent palace located in Bolgatty Island of Ernakulam is one of the oldest existing Dutch palaces that is situated outside Netherlands, and is an exquisite example of the Kochi style of architecture. Built in 1744 by Dutch traders, it is one of the major tourist attractions and was later extended, and gardens were landscaped around it. The palace has been remodelled today as a luxury hotel and is a favourite among couples. The palatial structure is surrounded by carefully manicured gardens that make for a delightful spot for an evening stroll. The palace is divided into three distinct sections, the Main Block, the Marina Block and the Mansion Block, overlooking the city’s International Marina. 4 well-appointed luxury rooms are fitted with plush amenities like swimming pool, nine-hole golf course, health club, in-house restaurants and conference hall, which warrant a comfortable stay. The edifice is extremely plush and exudes a regal vibe with their lavish furniture and is truly priceless. From the comfort of your room, you can watch ships entering the Kochi port through the estuary or simply hop aboard a boat yourself and explore the very famous backwaters of Kerala.
Location: NH966A, Mulavukad, Kochi
Timings: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Entry fees: N/A
6. Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
The massive sanctuary sprawling over 7 acres is situated in the heart of the lively city of Kochi and comprises of 18-acres of mangroves which are filled with various species of trees and plants. The sanctuary remains one of the major tourist attractions and conducts a free nature camp which is attended by tourists, nature lovers and botanists from different parts of the world. The sanctuary is home to a large variety of rare migratory birds and is like a heaven for all the bird watchers and nature lovers. In the middle of the sanctuary, there is a shallow tidal lake present which is surrounded by thick mangrove vegetation and is connected to the backwaters of Kochi via a canal. The sanctuary houses six species of mammals, seven species of fishes and species of amphibians, and close to 194 birds belonging to 32 different species along with 17 species of butterflies and 51 species of spiders.
Location: High Ct Road, Ayyappankavu, Kochi,
Timings: 9 AM to 6:30 PM
Entry fees: N/A
7. Santa Cruz Basilica
The Santa Cruz Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest and most impressive churches in India that is thronged by tourists all year round. Built by the Portuguese, Santa Cruz Basilica is considered as one of the heritage edifices of Kerala, and serves as the cathedral church of the Diocese of Kochi. This Roman Catholic Cathedral is a centre of great historical significance and exhibits marvellous artistic splendour with vibrant colours of medieval times. Its interiors are adorned with paintings and murals of gothic style and columns are decorated with frescoes. Inside there are seven large canvas paintings along with beautiful stained glass windows. When the Dutch captured Kochi, they ruined all Catholic establishments except the famous St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Cathedral. But later in the year 1795, the church was destroyed when British took over the Kochi city, and only a granite pillar of this grand cathedral remained following the devastation of the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, and till date, it is well preserved in the south-eastern corner of the cathedral. The stunning architecture of the basilica depicts a perfect blend of the Indo-European and the gothic style, and exhibits gorgeous architectural splendour with beautifully crafted wooden panels and pulpit. Due to its unparallel beauty and grandeur and overwhelming arches, the church is one of the top places to see in Kochi for every kind of traveller.
Location: Bastian St, Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi, Kochi
Timings: 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM on weekdays, and 8 AM to 6:30 PM
Entry fees: N/A
Ernakulam is all about sun soaked golden seashores, endless beaches, incessant calm blue waves and green swaying groves of coconuts, and ideal for holiday seekers. So are you ready to soak in the beauty of Kerala with Ernakulam? Keep this list of top places to visit in Ernakulam handy and book your flights and stay well ahead of time.
Preeti Asri is a SEO Consultant in India. She has a hands-on experience of more than 10 years in SEO. It’s her passion to help online SMEs grow their business. Because she believes that her career graph is directly proportional to how much her clients’ businesses grow organically.