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    Kochi Tourist Places

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    Till recently Kochi was Cochin, a name redolent of its British and colonial past. Today Kochi is at the crossroads of history and modernity. Made up of the twin towns of Fort Kochi and Ernakulam, it still wears a thin veil of historical threads – English, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian. The modernity of Kochi is centred  around Ernakulam, complete with all the urban paraphernalia that define one – malls, flyovers, shopping hubs, posh eat-outs, retail chains and multiplexes. The lagoon that borders Kochi on the West and separates it from Fort Kochi and a few islands, is the most defining feature of the place. Boating on the languorous lagoon is a not-to-miss experience. Holding its own in this ultra-modern milieu is the Bolghatty Palace, now a premium hotel owned by the Kerala Tourism Development Hotel, originally built by the Dutch in 1744 and later became the seat of the British Resident. It is a great picnic spot with a spectacular view of the blue-green lagoon and the sea in the distance.

    For a family holiday, head to Pallikkara, a hilly area, 18 kilometres from the city which houses Veegaland, one of the most popular amusement parks in the country. If you fancy a rendezvous with dolphins, head across to the Cherai beach on the Vypeen islands, 21 kilometres from the city. The Willingdon Island, the artificially dredged island and the ‘suspension bridge’, built in the colonial times, so called because of the central platform which can be hauled up to let ships pass beneath, but now defunct, are all great tourist draws.

    Fort Kochi, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is the most important stop for a true feel of Kochi’s colonial past. With its quaint, old-world charm, and eclectic architectural mix of Dutch, Portuguese, British, Gothic, Renaissance, Indo-European, one is immediately transported to the colonial era. The Bastion House built in 1667 by the Dutch, the Dutch cemetery, St. Francis Church, India’s oldest European church, built by the Portuguese, where Vasco da Gama was buried, are all part of the favourite tourist menu here. A sunset walk on the waterfront by the Vasco da Gama Square and you encounter the defining and most spectacular visual symbol of Kochi – the Chinese fishing nets, the legacy of Kerala’s trading ties with China, the delicate silhouette of which against the flaming horizon, creates a vision straight out a Chinese painting. The trip would also reward you by way of some fresh, local seafood delicacies, which are vended in the numerous temporary shacks that have set up shop here. The Fort Kochi beach with its quaint light house is good to spend a magical evening. Close to Fort Kochi is Mattancherry, the hub of Kerala’s spice trade and another treasure trove of historical monuments like the 400 year old synagogue and the Mattancherry palace built by the Portuguese in 1557 and the antique shops that are a storehouse of traditional Kerala artefacts. Kochi, in short, is a delightful cocktail of experiences that offers all the flavours of a dream holiday through many of its tourist places.

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