Introduction :- Ernakulam, the commercial capital of Kerala, served by an international airport, fine communication facilities, excellent accommodation, modern amenities and a lot of attractive tourist places gives a breathtaking experience for its visitors and settlers. The district took its form on 1st April 1958, by carving out the areas of erstwhile Travancore, Kochi & Malabar kingdoms. The word Ernakulam was derived from a Tamil word 'Erayanarkulam' which means 'Lord Shiva's abode'.
Places To Visit
The Cochin Club :- The club, with its impressive library and collection of sporting trophies, is housed in a beautifully landscaped park. In the early 1900s, when the club had just become operational, admission was restricted to the British and to men only. Today, though the club retains its traditional English ambience, its rules are more liberal and the membership of 250 includes women as well. Strangely enough, alcohol is not served on the premises.
Mattancherry Palace :- (Dutch Palace) (Open 1000 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Fridays): Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture.
Cherai Beach :- This lovely beach bordering Vypeen island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction.
Bolghatty Island :- This island is famous for its palace of the same name. The Bolghatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, with a small golf course and special honeymoon cottages.
Willingdon Island :- Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.
Chinese Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gama Square :- These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square is an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood, tender coconut etc.
St. Francis Church :- Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is India's oldest European church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.
Santa Cruz Basilica :- This historic church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kochi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
Loafer's Corner/Princess Street :- One of the earliest streets to be constructed in Fort Kochi, Princess Street with its European style residences still retains its old world charm. The best view of this quaint street can be had from Loafer's Corner, the traditional meeting place and hangout of the jovial funloving people of the area.
Vasco House :- Believed to have been the residence of Vasco da Gama, this is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Kochi. Built in the early sixteenth century, Vasco House sports the typical European glass paned windows and balcony cum verandahs characteristic of the times.
Parade Ground :- The four acre Parade Ground was where once the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British colonists conducted their military parades and drills. The buildings around the ground housed their defence establishments. Today, the largest open ground in Fort Kochi, the Parade Ground is a sports arena.
Fort Immanuel :- This bastion of the Portuguese in Kochi was a symbol of the strategic alliance between the Maharajah of Kochi and the Monarch of Portugal, after whom it was named. Built in 1503, the fort was reinforced in 1538. By 1806 the Dutch, and later the British, had destroyed most of the fort walls and its bastions. Today, remains of this once imposing structure can be seen along the beach.
How to Reach
The nearest airports are at Trivandrum and Cochin and Ernakulam can be reached easily once you are at any of these airports.
The three railway junctions in Cochin are Ernakulam town, Cochin harbor and rnakulam junction. Once here, you can always hire local transport and reach Ernakulam.
Cochin is well connected by a wide network of roads and Ernakulam is easily accessible once you reach Cochin.