Our shore excursions in Cochin
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Useful information for excursion in Cochin
Below you will find information on the most beautiful sights, a map of the cruise port in Cochin as well as many useful tips and information for your cruise excursion in Cochin.
The most beautiful sights in Cochin
Cochin is a beautiful port city in the state of Kerala in the southwest of India. “Cochin” is the old name of the town from the English colonial period. Today, people in India often return to the old Indian name, so they write “Kochi” instead of “Cochin”. The city is the cultural centre of Kerala and is colloquially called “Queen of the Arabian Sea”. The port of Cochin is one of the most important ports in the west of India and is known for its export of spices to Europe. It is a diverse city with different kind of districts. Some districts like Fort Cochin and Mattancherry lie on an island, others like Ernakulum lie on the mainland and are connected by ferries and bridges. For this reason, one sometimes forgets to be in a metropolis and gets enchanting impressions of Cochin. The multicultural city is considered one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India and has great historical significance. The port city is inspired with an exciting mix of modern India and architectural legacies of several centuries of colonial history. The traces of the Portuguese, Dutch, English and Chinese are still visible today. Chinese fishing nets, colonial buildings and Kathakali theatres are among the city’s highlights.
District Fort Cochin
Fort Cochin is a worth visiting district of Cochin and is also called “Old Cochin”. This historic district is characterized by bright colours and a wonderful atmosphere. In the flat built district with wide avenues and large, shady trees there are many buildings from the colonial period.
The historic Franciscan church St. Francis Church, dating from 1516, is one of the oldest European churches in India. The famous navigator Vasco da Gama was buried in this church in 1524. His bones were later transferred, but it is still possible to visit his grave today.
The extraordinary Chinese fishing nets are also located in Fort Cochin. They have become very famous because of their special way of fishing. They are not only for tourists but is in operation and in many places in the backwaters still daily in use. The fishermen still use the same fishing gear as in the 13th century. Several men are needed to put the heavy nets in and out of the water. This spectacle is very interesting to watch.
In Mattancherry, there are 14 different communities with different religions and languages. A multicultural atmosphere is particularly noticeable, which runs through the different churches, temples and mosques. In this part of the city, you will also find the Jewish Street, where you will encounter the history and culture of various countries such as France, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The Mattancherry Palace, which was once a royal palace, is a silent witness of this quarter. Originally built by the Portuguese as a gift for Raja von Cochin, the Dutch extended and restored the palace in the 17th century. For this reason, the palace is also called “Dutch Palace”. Inside today is a museum with unique Hindu wall paintings as well as portraits and exhibits of the Rajas (kings) of Cochin.
In Mattancherry’s Jewish quarter is the Pardesi Synagogue, built-in 1568. It was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1664. The synagogue is well known and a symbol of love and harmony. The extraordinary carvings and the Chinese floor tiles inside are very worth seeing.
Markets & Shopping
In the business district around the Pardesi Synagogue, you will find numerous shops for spices, antiques and jewellery. Numerous small shops with antique and new handicrafts give an insight into the craftsmanship of Kerala’s craftsmen. This offers a wonderful opportunity to bargain. Don’t be shy and just let this experience influence you.
Broadway is one of the oldest shopping areas in Cochin. If you are looking for good prices, this is one of the best places to shop. Of course, there are more shopping possibilities, but it’s difficult to find a place which is as inexpensive as this one.
Another exciting destination is a visit to one of the many markets. Especially recommended is the market around Basin Road and Market Road. Here you will find fresh fruit and vegetables as well as countless spice shops. Another promising market is the Cochin spice market. Here you will find all kinds of spices and aromas, where every spice lover will surely find what he is looking for.
Another shopping destination is the huge Lulu Mall, which is one of the largest shopping malls in India. More than 220 shops, countless restaurants as well as various entertainment facilities like cinema or bowling leave nothing to be desired.
A cultural highlight not to be missed is a traditional evening of Kathakali performance. This traditional art form from the state of Kerala uniquely combines music, dance and drama. The exclusively male artists, dressed in elaborate costumes and colourful make-up, recreate dramatic battles between gods and demons from Hindu mythology.
Kerala is also famous for its backwaters, a widely ramified water landscape in the hinterland. Countless water channels lead through fields, meadows and past small huts through the inland just behind Cochin. From Alleppey or Vaikom you can spend unforgettable hours on one of the many luxurious houseboats or small local wooden boats. During the boat trip you can experience the fascinating beauty and picturesque landscape of the backwaters in a unique way. On the way, you will pass countless palm and spice plantations and can observe the species-rich bird world. Also, the life of the locals take place directly at the water. They use the backwaters for bathing, washing clothes, rinsing, playing and for locomotion. Enjoy the complete peace and relaxation while gaining a unique insight into the country, culture and life of the locals.
Map of the cruise ports in Cochin
The two berths in the port of Cochin are located on Willingdon Island. The main berth for cruise ships is the Cochin International Cruise Terminal Samudrika. Most of the smaller cruise ships dock here and there is a large terminal building with cafés, duty-free shops and sanitary facilities.
However, it may happen that the larger cruise ships moor at Ernakulam Wharf. There is no terminal building here. Both berths are about 10 km away from Cochin city centre.
Worth knowing about shore excursions in Cochin
Shipping companies and Routes
The port of Cochin is becoming more and more important and is regarded as a popular port in the Indian Ocean. Many transits take place via Cochin, often lasting 2-3 weeks. Shipping companies such as AIDA Cruises, MSC, P&O, Silver Sea, TUI Cruises, Seabourn and Celebrity Cruises call at the port of Cochin. The shipping company Costa offers for example a pure India cruise, which goes from/to Mumbai and has a stop in Cochin.
Entry and Visa
British and American nationals need an electronic tourist visa (ETA) in addition to a valid passport to enter Cochin, which you must apply in good time prior to departure. In total, the visa is valid for one year and can be used for four more seaports (Kochi, Mormugao, Mangalore and Chennai). This is especially useful if you also use one of these ports as part of your cruise. The ETA costs around £60 or $ 80 USD per person and is a so-called “visa on arrival”. This means you will receive a stamp upon entry.
It is also advisable to obtain additional information from your cruise company about the valid entry requirements of your cruise.
The currency in India is the Indian Rupee (INR). One-pound equals to 86 INR and 1 USD equals to 69 INR. We recommend changing money in banks or official exchange office, as the import and export of Indian currency is prohibited. Alternatively, you can withdraw money from ATMs using your credit card. More and more restaurants and businesses accept credit cards, you should still have some cash with you. It is also important that the bills may not be damaged (torn), as these can be denied as a means of payment.
Taxi and Public Transport
In order to explore Cochin on your own, you can take a public ferry to the city centre. The ticket prices are low. The famous Chinese fishing nets and the Jewish quarter are particularly beautiful destinations that can be reached perfectly by ferry. You will also find the ferry berths close to your cruise terminal. As soon as you enter the port, you will recognize the small ferries and berths. Make sure that the ferry you are using is going to your desired destination before entering the boat.
If you prefer to take a taxi to get from A to B, this is no problem either. As a rule, there are always a few taxis at the port of Cochin as soon as a cruise ship is in the port. However, the number is often limited. If this is the case, you also have the possibility to use the famous rickshaws, also called tuk-tuks. Here you should pay attention to negotiate a good price. Unpack your convincing negotiating skills and you are ready to go. If you decide for such a means of transport, we advise you to leave the port and look for a rickshaw there. Outside the port, you often have better chances to negotiate a good price.
If you don’t want to spend much money, you can also use the local buses. These buses run around Cochin and are mainly used by the locals. This gives you an interesting insight into the local life of Cochin. However, this option is only recommended for adventurous people.
In Cochin, it is warm all year round. The best time to travel to Cochin is in January, February and December, as the probability of rain is lowest during these months. However, the months of March, April, May, September, October and November are also good times to travel there. Here the average temperature is 30 degrees. The months of June, July and August are not recommended as the rainfall is very high.
The main season for cruise ships is from November to April.
Website of the port operator and Tourist organisations
Impressions of Cochin
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