Did you know that in ancient times, a sack of Indian black pepper was considered to be worth a man’s life? Centuries ago, merchants in Kerala were trading spices in exchange for gold and precious stones. In fact, it was the bustling spice trade that put India, especially the Malabar Coast, on the world map. In those days, Ernakulam was the centre of a historic spice route that attracted the likes of popular explorers like Vasco Da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral.
Today, the influence of various civilizations such as Persian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Jews, French and English are evident in the art, architecture, cuisine and communities of Ernakulam. Check out the places to visit in Kochi that’ll let you live its history.
Places in Ernakulam you must explore
1. The Museum of Mattancherry
A stroll through the lanes of Fort Kochi will definitely attract you to the rustic and old-fashioned neighbourhood of Mattancherry. It is said that back in the days, this cheri (street), was lined with mutton butchers, and so it ended up being called “Muttoncherry” which over the years evolved into “Mattancherry”. Today the place exhibits centuries-old architectures and various social and cultural imprints left behind by foreigners. Declared as a heritage site by the government, Mattancherry has been an inspiration to historians, film-makers, travellers and artistes alike.
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2. Vypeen Island
Vypeen is one of the popular places to visit in Ernakulam in one day. A short and beautiful ferry ride from the city will take to this serene island which is dotted with beaches, backwaters and an array of restaurants and hotels. A desktop worthy scenery away from the bustling environment is what makes Vypeen island one of the best places to visit in Ernakulam for lovers.
3. Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary
One of the first bird sanctuaries in Kerala and undeniably a haven for nature enthusiasts. In the words of Salim Ali (world famous ornithologist), Thattekkad is the “richest bird sanctuary in India” since it is home to hundreds of different endangered species of migratory birds. This thick deciduous forest has plantations of mahogany, teak, rosewood and rubber running through it. Make sure to bring along a pair of binoculars to get a glimpse of the birdlife. The best time to visit would be between November and March.
4. Cherai Beach
Located on the north end of Vypin island in Kochi, Cherai beach is a 15 km stretch of wild and rugged beauty. Although not overwhelmed by hotels or major restaurants, the beach is dotted with small shacks selling local snacks like pakoras and chips. Stunning lagoons, wide paddy fields and coconut grooves adorn the road to the beach. Ernakulam sightseeing is not complete without a visit to Cherai beach.
5. MG Road
The Mahatma Gandhi Road could be called the Times Square of Ernakulam. Grand clothing stores, expansive jewellery stores and fabulous eateries serving multi-cuisines, flank the road of both sides. Visited mostly by the young and hip crowd, MG road is a shopaholic’s paradise.
6. Hill Palace
Hill Palace is a prominent Heritage museum, which exhibits countless number of archaeological relics and belongings of the Maharaja of Kochi. This famous palace, which was built in 1865, comprises forty-nine buildings with enchanting gardens and a children’s park. It is opened to the public from 9 AM to 12 noon and from 2 PM to 4: 30 PM.
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7. David Hall Art Gallery
A Dutch bungalow near the Dutch cemetery in Fort Kochi got renovated to become a major attraction for art lovers. The gallery exhibits works by prominent and local artists. Travellers will also be delighted to find a cosy garden restaurant which serves a variety of cakes and snacks; however the café is known for its fresh and crispy pizzas.
8. Folklore Museum
Folklore Museum is one of the popular tourist spots in the city. It is a three storied complex that showcases cultural exhibits and tribal artefacts. The Museum design was greatly inspired by the Malabar architecture. The museum is opened to the public from 9: 30 Am to 7 PM on a regular basis.
9. Princess Street
Vasco Da Gama is believed to have lived in the building at the end of this street. The road is now lined with eateries, bookstores, cafes and small hotels. Similar to MG road, Princess Street too is a shopper’s delight.
10. Santa Cruz Basilica
It is deemed as one of the oldest cathedrals across the nation and is one of the finest architectural marvels in India. The spectacular historical painting inscribed on the walls of the building is the unique feature of this cathedral.
Ernakulam is a social hub where travellers and locals get together to exchange ideas and have fun. Travellers with a sense of adventure and curiosity will have a great time in Ernakulam.
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