A Perfect Itinerary to Explore Fort Kochi on Foot in One Day


Not very far from the bustling city of Ernakulam in the Kerala state of India is the ancient town of Fort Kochi which has been a melting pot of various cultures that were brought in as the Portuguese, Dutch and English merchants set foot on its land in search of the lucrative spice trade. Though the Fort no longer remains in Fort Kochi, the lavish mansions built by the explorers and merchants who made Kochi their home till India got its independence have remained as vestiges to the past glory of the town.

Streets of fort kochi

Rain trees in the streets of Fort Kochi

Perfectly paved roads lined with rain trees welcome you as you walk along the ancient streets of Fort Kochi. As you set out to explore the streets of Fort Kochi on foot, you can’t help but notice the beautifully restored colonial homes which have been converted into boutique hotels while a few houses have become bookstores and antique shops. The huge whitewashed British mansions and the vibrant Dutch cottages with split doors and balconies filled with colorful blooms are sure to lure you into endless explorations.

The best way to experience the allure of Fort Kochi is by exploring it on foot. While it is necessary to spend at least a couple of days to immerse in the potpourri of culture and heritage of Fort Kochi, visitors often land at Kochi with only one day or two. We were in a similar situation when we visited Kochi for two days.  With a little bit of planning, we were able to cover almost all the attractions of the Fort Kochi in a single day and spent the next day in exploring the colonial streets at leisure. Here is a plan you can follow to see all the major attractions of Fort Kochi. Though the list looks overwhelming, it is very much possible to see all the attractions because of their proximity to each other.

Start your day with a walk along the beach walkway to see the fishermen going about their daily chores. Fresh fish from the days catch is auctioned on the beach walk and this is where the locals come to buy fresh fish every day. You can also witness the Chinese fishing net in action.

Start your day with a walk along the beach walkway to see the fishermen going about their daily chores. Fresh fish from the days catch is auctioned on the beach walk and this is where the locals come to buy fresh fish every day. You can also witness the Chinese fishing net in action.

Chinese Fishing Net in fort Kochi

Chinese Fishing Net of Fort Kochi

The St. Francis CSI Church located on the river road close to the beach is one of the oldest churches built by the Europeans in India. Though the structure does not look very impressive, it has a rich history which dates back to the year 1503 when it was constructed by the Portuguese with the permission of the King of Kochi. With subsequent invasions, the control of the church changed between the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English to finally come under the control of The Church of South India in 1945.  When the famous explorer Vasco da Gama passed away in the year 1524 during his third visit to India, his body was buried at the St Francis Church till it was taken back to Portugal after 14 years. However, the place of his Burial is marked out and preserved even today inside the modest structure of the church. An old Dutch baptism and marriage register dated between1751 to 1804 called the Doop Book is preserved in the church. Even today, many Dutch citizens visit the church to try and trace their family roots from the register.

St francis CSI Church

St Francis CSI Church in Fort Kochi

Not very far from the St Francis Church is the Dutch cemetery which was constructed in the year 1724 and considered as one of the oldest cemeteries in India. The epithal and tombs which are constructed without any cross are engraved with many details which have provided significant information about the life during the Dutch reign. The cemetery is enclosed by high walls and the gates are mostly locked. It is possible to have a look at the ancient tombs through the grilled gates. The cemetery is currently in the control of the CSI and the gates will be open for visitors on request.

Dutch cemetery in Fort Kochi

Dutch Cemetry in Fort Kochi

The Indo-Portuguese museum located in the garden of Bishop’s house is the best place to gain insights into the Portuguese culture and India’s first Catholic community. The museum is divided into five main sections namely Altar, Treasure, Procession, Civil Life and Cathedral. Each of the sections has outstanding collections well known for their artistic and cultural significance.

Indo portuguese museum

A traditional Kerala padlock

The SNC Maritime Museum located in the precinct of the Southern Naval Command, INS Dhronacharya, is home to a host of details regarding the rich maritime history of India dating back to Indus Valley Civilization.  The garden of the museum displays a variety of aircrafts big and small while the two magazines which were used by the British to store ammunition during world war II house many murals and maps which depict the rich maritime history of India along with interesting details of Indian Navy.

Maritime Museum in Fort Kochi

Maritime Museum in Fort Kochi

The grand Gothic structure of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica was constructed by the Portuguese during the year 1505 and is one among the two churches which the Dutch refrained to demolish. The current structure of the church as we see it today was renovated by the British in the year 1887. The outside walls of the majestic structure are whitewashed and render a majestic look to the grand structure that stands high above the skyline of Fort Kochi.  Quite contrary to the outside of the church, the inside walls are awash with intricate Christian paintings. Right next to the Church is a small but impressive structure awash with the hue of electric blue. It houses a shrine dedicated to the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima and was built to commemorate the visit of the Statue of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima to the Cathedral in 1949.

Santa cruz Basilica of fort kochi

Santa Cruz Basilica Cathedral at Fort Kochi

The Jain temple located on the Gujarati Street in the Mattancherry area is a  modest shrine dedicated to Shri Dharmanath, the 17th Jain Tirthankara. The temple complex is spread over a large area with various blocks constructed for prayers and as places for offerings. While the temple structure is not as impressive as the majestic Jain temple of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the pigeon feeding ritual which happens every day between 12.15pm and 12.30pm attracts a lot of visitors. Hundreds of pigeons gather on the spires of the temple every day around 12.15pm and wait for a gong to strike. As the gong strikes and they are called over by the priest, they go around the spires three times and gather at the feeding ground for a meal consisting of peas and rice.

Pigeon feeding at Jain temple in fort kochi

jain temple at Mattancherry

The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1545 AD for Veera Kerala Varma, the then King of Kochi, as compensation for plundering a temple in the vicinity. The palace was later altered by the Dutch and became famous as the Dutch Palace. The impressive structure of the palace is built in a beautiful mix of Dutch and Kerala style of architecture. The palace houses a museum with detailed murals covering over 300 sq meters of area depicting Indian mythology and folk literature. Besides the murals, a variety of articles used by the royal family and the Dutch are put on display.

Dutch palace in Mattancherry

Dutch palace at Mattancherry

Jew Street is undoubtedly the most colorful and artistic part of Fort Kochi. walking along the lanes of the Jew street feels like walking the path fo antiquity. The shops located on either side of the jew street belong to the descendants the Jews who settled down in Kochi during the  52 AD. Most of the shops in the jew street sell curios, antique pieces of crockery, carved wooden furniture, bronze and brass sculptures, remnants of traditional houses, and jewelry while a few of them have been converted into art cafe. While in the Jew street, make sure to visit the police museum and the government antique museum which display an impressive collection of ancient articles.

Jews street in Mattancherry

Antique shops of Jew Street

The Jewish Synagogue located in the Jew Town of Kochi is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area that is still in use. The synagogue was built on a land gifted to the Jew community by Raja Varma, the Raja of Kochi and shares a common wall with the famous Mattancherry Palace temple. Today the Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest functioning Jewish house of prayer not only in Kerala but in the whole of India and the rest of the British Commonwealth. The main hall fo the synagogue has a lavish collection of huge crystal chandeliers hanging from its high ceiling. Even the flooring of the synagogue doesn’t fail to impress with its hand-painted blue patterned tiles.

The cultural Greenix village is one stop to experience a gamut of Kerala’s traditional art forms. The center houses a cultural museum and also conducts yoga classes. Every evening, a cultural show is organized which included the performance of Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, Theyyam, and Mohiniattam. Arrive a little early at the center before the cultural performance starts and you will be treated to a session which includes the intricate makeup procedures which go beyond making the fascination green face of the Kathakali performers.

Kathakali performance

Kathakali Performance

– Book your hotel in one of the hotels in Fort Kochi so that you can stay close to most of the attractions.
– Collect the free tourist guide and map provided by Kerala Tourism Department to plan your walking tour of Kochi. Most of the hotels have these maps handy at the reception.
– The shacks located close to the beach or Chinese fishing nets have impressive restaurants serving both local and continental cuisine. You can as well buy your own variety of fish fresh from the fishermen and get it cooked at the shacks.
– Wear comfortable shoes, carry adequate water along with shades and scarfs for protection from the sun during your walk.
Lookout for the opening time and the weekly holidays of some of the attractions. The Infographic provided along with this post has all the information you need regarding timings.
– The David hall Museum and The Aspinwall House host a multitude of contemporary art and crafts exhibitions throughout the year. Check if there are any interesting events happening at the two locations during your stay in Fort Kochi.
– If you can spend another evening in Fort Kochi, do not miss witnessing the sunset from the Chinese Fishing Nets. This is one of the most photographed sunset locations in Fort Kochi.
– Photography is prohibited in some of the attractions of Fort Kochi. Be aware of the restrictions to avoid fine.
– The beauty of Fort Kochi lies not just in the attractions listed above but also in every street that is lined with huge British mansions and Dutch cottages. Take time to appreciate the architecture of the colonial structures which are mostly converted into hotels, shops or cafes.
– The Jain temple, Dutch Palace, and Jew street are located in the Mattancherry area and a bit farther ( about 3 km) from the rest of the attractions. If you wish to avoid walking the long distance during the midday, you can hire a rickshaw from The Santa Cruze Basilica to the Jain Temple.
– In case you do not wish to walk, all the attractions can also be explored in one day by hiring an auto. Make sure you bargain well with the rickshaw driver to get a good deal.

Fort Kochi Itinerary for One day Walking Tour
Fort Kochi Itinerary for One day Walking Tour

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