Kochi

For other places with the same name, see Kochi (disambiguation).
The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city

Kochi (formerly Cochin; Malayalam: കൊച്ചി) is a cosmopolitan city in Kerala with a bustling commercial port. Kochi is the financial and commercial capital of Kerala and, with a population of more than 2 million, the biggest conurbation in the state.

Understand

A city born in storm, nurtured in rivalry and established as battling ground for European empires. This phrase is a good description of Kochi, which was formed as an ancient port city after the Great Floods of the Periyar River in 1341. With partitioning of Chera Kerala empire in 14th century, this region came under control of a new dynasty, rivaled by other local feudal lords. With the advent of colonisation, Kochi became the first major battle grounds of almost all European powers.

History

Kochi merchants began trading in spices such as black pepper and cardamom with the Arabs, Dutch, Phoenicians, Portuguese and Chinese more than 600 years ago. This helped Kochi to prosper and to become the gateway to old India. It was from Kochi that the colonization of India started. Portugal was first to establish its base in Kochi, followed by the Dutch and British. The Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1814, compelled the Dutch to hand over Kochi to the British in exchange for Bangka Island in Indonesia. The British managed to establish their influence over Kochi, limiting their direct administration to a small enclave of Fort Kochi and British Ernakulam with their capital at Bolgatty Island. The rest of the Kochi Kingdom was administered by Kochi Maharajas from their capital at Thripunithura. However, the real administration was done by Diwans (Prime Ministers), leaving the Maharajas to patronize culture, arts and focus heavily on the areas of public health and education.

The foundations of modern Kochi city started when Sir Robert Bristow, a senior Royal Navy Engineer, felt the need for a modern large port after the opening of the Suez Canal. This resulted in the creation of the largest man-made island of the country, Willingdon Island, to house the new Kochi Port.

In the 1930s, the Kochi Maharaja joined the public outcry to form a common state of Malayalam-speaking people by merging with the Kingdom of Travancore and British Malabar. Kochi Maharaja Kerala Varma Raja was at the forefront of this agitation, and passed the Aykiakerala Resolution in the Kochi Parliament. In 1947, the Kingdom of Kochi and Travancore merged to form the Royal State of Travancore-Kochi. The Kochi Maharaja was amongst the first to advocate the state joining the newly formed Indian Union. Finally, in 1948, the state of Travancore-Kochi merged with India.

Since the formation of Kerala in 1957, Kochi has been the commercial capital of Kerala as well as the seat of the Kerala High Court. Since 2000, Kochi has revitalized its economy, with a focus on tourism, information technology and its port.

Culture

The colonial charms of Fort Kochi

Kochi has a cosmopolitan culture, highly influenced by historical trading partners, Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese, and Japanese. Kochi is the seat of the Latin church of Kerala and has many Catholic churches and followers.

Kochi was traditionally a potpourri of various Indian and international communities. Syrian Christians started the first wave of immigration, followed by Jews between the 7th and 10th centuries. Arab merchants also made a strong settlement in Kochi. In the 15th century, Gujaratis settled in Kochi, especially on Mattancherry, where they played a strong role in spice trading and other areas.

Later, at the beginning of the colonial era, the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British all made their settlements in Kochi. The Portuguese had a strong influence in Fort Cochin. British culture was strongly felt, lending Kochi a strong community of Anglo-Indians.

In the early 1970s, Punjabis settled here, focusing their strong presence on the local automobile industry. Tamilians, Telugus, Kannadigas have all formed small settlements since the days of royalty. Recently, students from Cambodia, Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia have settled down in Kochi for studies and research activities. Kochi has a sizeable expatriate population mainly from European countries who have settled in Fort Kochi. Most of them are senior citizens who settled down to enjoy retirement life and many run boutique hotels and restaurants in that area. Due to the rapid growth of the city, a majority of the local population are now immigrants.

Generally, Kochinites are modern and fashionable. Being a city that has a tradition of various cultures being given equal respect, a high level of tolerance exists. The city has a modern attitude, but some basic social modesty still prevails, especially in villages and rural areas.

Climate

Kochi has a typical tropical climate. Temperatures range between 30°C and 35°C during daytime and around 24°C during night. Kochi is one of the first places to experience the heavy Monsoon showers starting by mid of May. Kochi experiences heavy rainfall between mid of May to first week of September. Day time temperatures during the monsoon fall to between 25°C and 30°C during these months. From September to early February, the weather is fine, marked with cool winds and light showers in between. However by February, summer season starts. Although temperatures never reach 40°C, the presence of high humidity can make summers uncomfortable. This continues until early May. However frequent summer showers cool down the harshness of summer.

Orientation

After rapid growth during the two last decades, Kochi is now one of the most densely populated town areas in India. Kochi city consists of:

Map of the Kochi area

When to visit

The peak visitor season is often from August to February with December being the busiest month when there are many festivals and special attractions along with the famous Cochin Carnival and Christmas celebrations. Onam season (mid Aug-mid Sept) is also a busy tourist season considering traditional line up of various festivities. Recently monsoon is being promoted heavily by the tourism department as a rejuvenation season which also slowly becoming a popular season to visit to experience the heavy rainfalls. However it is always advisable to avoid March and April, considering the harsh summer, though it is primarily Indian domestic tourist season.

Tourist information

Free information and city maps are available at state run Kerala Tourism Development Corp (KTDC) offices at:

The India Tourism also has its office at Willingdon Island ☎ +91 484 2668352. The District Tourist Promotion Council (DTPC) also helps in providing information to tourists about other parts of Kochi District, which can be reached at ☎ +91 484 2367334, +91 484 2383988.

Get in

Kochi is well connected by air, road, rail and ferry from others parts of India, and to some other international destinations. As Kochi is a financial capital of India and possess commercial port, get in this city within short span of time is very easy.

By plane

Cochin International Airport

Cochin International Airport (IATA: COK), General tel: +91 484 305-3000, Flight status and Airline desk transfer: ☎ 91 484 2610115, +91 484 2611322, +91 484 2610033. Located in Nedumbassery, 29 km from the city centre, this is the largest airport in Kerala and one of major gateway to India.

Regular flights to the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. There are regular direct chartered services from Europe and the USA during tourist season, with scheduled connections there planned by 2011.

There is a duty-free area at the international terminal providing a good collection of international premium brand liquors, perfumes, chocolates and other items at competitive prices.

Facilities in and around the airport

Transit and early passengers can use the airport guestrooms in Central Block on hourly as well as per night basis for ₹ 750-2,000. The international terminal has good multi-cuisine restaurant which is reasonably priced as well as a terrace garden dining and lounge bar with BBQ facility. There are many cafes and snack corners in the waiting area. The Concourse have free wifi network, a small business centre, free public telephones for local calls and large plasma televisions in the waiting lounge area. Premium lounges are available for first and business class passengers. Visa-On-Arrival for selected nationalities has started. The Airport has a full fledged Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), whose chief officer is empowered to grant visa extensions, fee waivers and other visa-related issues.

The airport has a good 18 hole golf course nearby. Golfers can register at the Airport Golf counter and pay green fees to use the facility. There is a small recreational centre, an Olympic size pool as well as bar lounge at the golf club.

There are five major airport hotels, all located opposite to the airport terminal. These offer rooms on an hourly basis. There are also many budget hotels and restaurants near to the terminal.

Domestic Terminal

The domestic terminal has a good shopping arcade selling mainly Kerala-unique items. Food is expensive and limited within the check-in lobby. There are somewhat cheaper options after security.

Getting to and from the airport

By bus

KSRTC operates four classes of bus service from the airport: regular, fast passenger, super fast express (operate every 10-20 minutes to most of the nearby towns and places). All the bus services stop only at the bus point located near departure gate of the international terminal (city-side).

Orange Bus

KSRTC Orange Bus air-con Volvo service (locally called "Low Floor Buses") operates every 30-40 min to Kochi City via Aluva, Kalamassery, Vytilla and terminates at Fort Cochin. Fares are ₹70 or less. The journey takes 1 hour 40 minutes.These Buses are provided by JNNURM.

To the airport, the Orange Bus leaves from the Fort Kochi bus area, near the Chinese fishing nets, at the following times: 07:25, 08:00, 09:45, 11:35, 12:00, 13:55, 15:30, 16:00 and 18:05.

By taxi

All taxis operated from Cochin airport belong to the Cochin Airport Taxi Society (CATS) which is a pre-paid taxi service. While other taxis can drop-off passengers at the airport, only CATS taxis are allowed to pick up passengers at the airport. CATS charges government fixed rates and their process is simple. Take a receipt from the CATS counter in the arrivals hall and walk to the prepaid taxi stand to find your taxi. For airport/city transfers, the standard charge is ₹510 for non air-conditioned taxis or ₹650 for an air-con taxi, with an additional premium of 15-25% as night charges (19:00-06:00). It costs ₹250 for a trip to Aluva. CATS also operates limo services as well as customized packages available for full/half day trips.

By car

Many car rental companies operate counters in the arrival area of both terminals. Many hotels and travel agents provide free pick-up/drop-off services in their cars. It is safe to travel by these cars as they are operated by experienced drivers and you will get some more information them while on the go.

By train

The railway station near to the airport is under construction and about to open very soon. Meanwhile, the nearest railway stations are Aluva or Angamally (15 km) where almost all major express and passengers trains to all over Kerala stop.

By three-wheeler auto

Three-wheeler autos are not allowed to ply inside the airport, to protect the interests of CATS taxis. However, it's pretty easy to get an auto outside the airport premises which is ideal for budget conscious travellers. An auto ride from the airport to the nearest railway station at Angamally or Aluva costs less than ₹50. Be prepared to bargain. Getting autos early morning and late at night is pretty difficult.

By helicopter

Pawan Hans, located in departure gate of domestic terminal, operates a wide range of helicopter services to almost all parts of city as well as state, which requires a prior booking. K-Air also operates air-taxi and private jets.

Cochin Airport recently started its own helicopter services with support of Bharat Airways. Scheduled and chartered helicopter services to pilgrimage centres like Sabarimala, Guruvayoor and major cities like Thiruvananathapuram, Kozhikode are available.

By train

Kochi is well connected by train from all parts of India. Most Kerala-bound trains have a major stop here. There are two major rail terminals inside the city limits.

Train Number Train Name From
2431 Rajdhani Express (Luxury) Nizamuddin(Delhi), Bhopal, Pune, Mumbai, Goa
2284 Duronto Express (Non-Stop) Nizamuddin(Delhi)
2623 Madras Mail Chennai, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Thrissur
3351 Dhanbad Express Dhanbad, Ranchi, Vizag, Chennai, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore
6324 Shalimar Express Calcutta, Bhubaneswar, Vizag, Chennai, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore
2511 RaptiSagar Express Lucknow, Kanpur, Bhopal, Nagpur, Pune, Vijayawada, Chennai, Coimbatore
7230 Sabari Express Hyderabad, Tirupati, Erode, Salem, Coimbatore
2625 Kerala Express New Delhi, Agra, Bhopal, Nagpur, Vijayawada, Thirupathi, Salem, Coimbatore
2643 SwarnaJayanti Express New Delhi
2653 Kerala Sampark Kranti Express Chandigarh
6346 Netravati Express Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore
1098 Poorna Express Pune
6309 Patna Express Patna, Gwalior, Nagpur, Pune, Hubli, Mangalore
2683 Bangalore Super-fast Express Bangalore, Salem, Coimbatore, Palakkad
2977 Marusagar Express Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore
2507 Guwahati Express Guwahati (Assam), Calcutta, Bhuvaneswar, Hyderabad, Salem, Erode Coimbatore

Kochi has many suburban railway stations where long distance trains stop, such as Aluva, Thripunithura and Angamally. Book in advance, as trains are usually crowded. Reservations are available from 3 months in advance of the travel date. Depending upon the season and day bookings may close up to several days prior to departure with all remaining travellers going onto a waiting list. You can also try using Tatkal which is an emergency booking system costing ₹ 150 above the normal rate. The 'Tatkal service opens one day(excluding the day of journey from the train originating station) before the departure of the train.

One of the best ways to get to Kochi is to take the Konkan Railway train from Mumbai. The train ride is renowned for the breathtaking scenery and the natural beauty of the terrain.

Outside the Ernakulum Junction Station (South), there is a pre-paid taxi stand (in red) where you can stand in line for a receipt and take an auto-rickshaw to other parts of Kochi. The service fee is ₹1. This is recommended for getting a fair fare and no haggling with the driver or scams. A pre-paid auto rickshaw to Fort Kochi cost ₹179 as of March 2014.

By bus

Kochi is accessible from all southern parts of the country as well as other parts of the state, through the extensive state run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services and services of neighbouring state transport corporations.

KSRTC operates 3 types of services; Super Fast (No Frills), Express (Standard non-A/C) and Garuda Hi-tech(Volvo premium). Karnataka State buses run daily services from Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore with three types of services; the Rajahamsa (executive service, with reclining seats), the Airavat (A/c service, with reclining semi-sleeper seats), and Ambaari (A/c sleeper service). Tamil Nadu SETC operates superfast and executive services to many destinations like Madurai,Ooty, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli,Salem, and Trichy. Most inter-state buses start and end their journey from KSRTC Central & Inter-state Bus Station (CBS), located in the heart of the city at Rajaji Rd. To reduce congestion at CBS, some local KSRTC buses start/end their services at KSRTC Boat Jetty Stand located in Park Avenue.

Apart from govt services, numerous private bus companies operates scheduled services to almost all major cities in South India as well as Mumbai, Goa etc. All these buses are executive or premium services offering air-conditioned travel with good facilities and higher prices to match. Several online bus booking sites like RedBus/ Ticketkaran/ Raj National Express/ KPN Travels/ Customer Needz/ TicketGoose.com Via.com helps to find right service.

By car

Kochi is well connected by road from all parts of the state as well as other major cities. Three major national highways connect Kochi with other parts of country.

Kochi is well connected to other parts of state through various state highways.

By boat

Kochi can be reached by sea in yachts or the occasional cruise ship from Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Colombo and Male. Almost all leading international cruises on global voyages operate to Kochi from the US and Europe at Wellingdon Island Cruise Berth. Yachts can be anchored at Kochi International Marina or Yacht Club Marina. There is a direct ferry service between Kochi and Lakshadweep.

Get around

The traffic moves in snail pace in Kochi and wherever you look, the long queue of vehicles dampens your enthusiasm. Always limit your plans to three or four places in a day and remember to club near by places into one trip. Leave a buffer time zone of one hour for each trip. Air pollution is acute.

Orientation

The main city arterial road is Mahatma Gandhi Road. Traveling inside the city at peak times (8AM-10AM, 1:30PM-2:30PM; 5:30PM-7PM) takes a lot of time, with frequent road blocks and traffic congestion. North and South Over-bridges are two of the major bottlenecks. Knowledge of side roads and crossroads is very useful to avoid traffic blocks.

Kochi has a typical Indian-style address system which is a bit confusing, as there is no sector or house numbering system. Most buildings have their own name which are commonly used along with the road name for the address, eg: Alappatt House, Diwans Road, Near Lakshmi Hospital.

Some up-market areas have their own house numbering system. Panampilly Nagar and Giri Nagar are divided into various zones and each house has its own zone number followed by a house number. Many residential areas have formed their own associations and established their own addressing system. In most of the residential colonies or areas, a map sign is located at the entrance. Fort Kochi has a more western-style numbering system, yet still locals use the nearby landmarks for addressing, rather than house numbers.

For communicating with auto/taxi drivers, you must know the nearby landmarks.

By bus

Kochi has an excellent public bus network with four types of buses operated by Govt-run KSRTC and private operators. The most common option is privately operated Red buses (also referred to as 'Line buses') which provides a cheap no-frills journey. Using these is not that difficult as many destination boards have English lettering in small and most bus conductors can provide assistance in basic English, though route numbers exists only on papers. Peak hours on weekdays can lead to overcrowded buses, particularly Route 1. Recently Govt-operated KSRTC launched no-frills city services Thiru-Kochi which also ply in same Red-Bus routes. Thirukochi buses can be distinguished from other buses with its blue-white livery. Most of Red and Thirukochi buses run primarily on the Big 4 Routes. These cover virtually all parts of the city. There are other feeder routes, which interconnect places between these Big 4 Routes. Recently Vytilla-Vytilla circular services have launched, covering most of the city core. The fares for all city buses are ₹ 4 for the first km and 55p for every additional km. The average waiting time is 1-10 mins.

Apart from regular city services, KSRTC under JnNURM's funding operates 2 class of bus services which can be distinguished from other city buses with its distinctive livery and JnNURM logo.

For premium travel low-floor air-conditioned Volvo services known as Orange buses, connects many important destinations. The rates are ₹ 10 for first 5 km and ₹ 2 for every km thereafter. The average waiting time is 10-30 mins. These buses do stop anywhere on the route, as per passenger's request.

For standard travel, Green bus, which is non air-conditioned low floor services which virtually links all suburbs to city centre. This is very ideal for budget tourists as connects to many far away tourist attractions while maintaining excellent standards. The rates are ₹ 5 for first 5 km and 75p for every km thereafter. Currently only 3 lines are served, which will be increased soon. Like Orange Bus, these bus also stops anywhere on the route, as per passenger's request. Timetable for Orange/Green available at the KSRTC site.

All city bus services start at 6AM and end by 10PM. A certain number of seats are allocated for women in the forward portion of each bus, and men must vacate them when a woman wishes to sit there.

It must be noted that different bus shelters/stops are used for bus plying different routes. Though route notices are put before each stop, it will be in Malayalam. Route notices for Orange bus lines are now recently posted in English also. A query with locals or bus conductors helps a lot. The important city bus stations where all services touch are:

By train

Kochi does not have any local intra-city train service. A Metro Rail Project is under construction (as of 2014). However, many suburban areas are well connected via regular passenger and long distance express trains. The most used route is between Ernakulam and Aluva. Almost all regular passenger, express and intercity trains have a stop at Aluva. Regular passenger trains have 1 minute stops at Edapally, Kumbalangi, Angamally and Aroor stations. Many long distance trains operate between Thripunithura and Kochi North station.

It is a good idea to take the rail during busy peak hours when buses are overcrowded. Equally good idea, to take rail to Aluva from city centre which is the nearest point to Airport (12 km) from where a taxi or Orange Route A bus can taken to avoid city congested traffic.

By auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk)

This is a cheap method of transport between attractions. You can find an auto stand at almost every bus stop, and at important places near junctions and residential areas. Make sure you agree on a fare with the driver before the journey. The govt fixed rates starts at ₹ 10 for the first 1.25 km and ₹ 6 per km thereafter with a premium of 15% at night (7PM-6AM). Pre-paid auto stands are available only in railway stations.

By taxi

Taxis are convenient, comfortable, and safer than auto rickshaws. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, this is a good option, even though the rates will be double that of an auto. Unlike in many countries, taxis are not usually marked with signs on the top, and do not have meters inside the taxi.

There are two type of taxi services, regular and call taxis. Regular taxis are normally available at designated taxi stands located at places such as railway stations, the airport, boat jetties, major bus stations and in front of important hotels.

There is no need to negotiate prices, as most of them follow fixed rates. Regular taxis have tariff cards displayed on the dashboard. Call taxis have charges fixed by their respective companies (although they are normally uniform). The standard tariffs are ₹ 50 for first 3 km, and ₹ 8 per km thereafter. Add 10% for a taxi with A/C, and 15-20% at night.

Many taxi companies offer full or half day services. Most of them are fixed on ad-hoc basis, based on the negotiating skills of the passenger. Typical rates are ₹ 1,100/1,500 for standard/AC taxis for a full day and ₹ 500/750 for a half day. These rates are not available after 7PM.

By private car

Unless you are into adventure seeking, self-drive in Kochi is not recommended as driving discipline is almost non-existent. There are long stretches of roads passing through heavily populated areas that have no median breaks and most of them being bi-lane roads which are mostly congested. A few major roads like MG Rd, NH Bypass Rd and Marine Drive are two lane-dual carriageways with good medians. The speed limit inside city zone is 30 km/hr. Driving is on the left, and all foreign drivers need a valid International Driving Licence attested by the Road Transport Office (RTO). Driving outside the city limits is a fine experience with good scenery and far less traffic. Most of the bridges and few roads carry toll charges collected at manned toll plazas or checkpoints. Almost all tolls are uniformly charged separately for one/two way; 2 wheelers- ₹ 3/5, 4 wheelers- ₹ 5/10 and bus/minivans - ₹ 15/25. Almost all the toll pass is valid for unlimited travel for a period of 24 hours, though a few bridges allow one time validity.

Car rental is not so popular among foreign visitors. Many car rental companies refuse to provide self-drive cars to Westerners. Normally a bank guarantee letter or security cheque/traveller's cheque to the value of the car or a passport are taken as security for renting the car. No security deposit is needed if the car is chauffeur-driven.

Most hotels with three stars or more provide private cars for their guests at rates slightly higher than elsewhere.

By ferry

Kochi Ferry Route Map

Kochi has an excellent system of cheap (₹ 2.5 Park Jetty to Fort Kochi) inter-island ferries. The Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off) ferry service called Junkar between Fort Kochi and Vypeen is very popular. There are regular boat services operated by KSINC and other private operators, every 20-30 minutes, from Ernakulam to Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Willingdon Island which are cheaper and in many cases faster, than buses. All services operates from 4:40AM-6:30PM with an exception to Fort Kochi-Vypin Junkar service which operates from 4AM-10:30PM. The major boat jetties are Ernakulam Main Jetty (located in Marine drive near High Court), Park Jetty (in Park Avenue next to KSRTC Bus station), Customs Embarkation Jetty in Willingdon Island, Fort Kochi Jetties. Do take a look at the map provided, as some ferries do not stop at all stops along the way. A few tourist oriented private ferries service non-scheduled routes during tourist seasons connecting mainly to Kumbalangi Tourist village from Ernakulam Main Jetty as well as from Aroor.

Main Boat Times :

By foot

Kochi is traditionally not a pedestrian friendly city, considering the humid tropical climate, poor state of pedestrian walkways and reckless traffic. Fort Kochi is one of the better places to walk, with elaborate colonial-style stone pavements.

Most of the famous destinations fall within the range of 10 km so it is good idea to cover them by foot.

By cycle

Fort Kochi is a perfect place for cycling with dedicated tracks and walkways. There are several tourist firms that offers cycles and bikes on hourly basis. A popular option is Vasco Information Centre in Fort Kochi ☎ +91 484 2216215), which rents cycles for ₹ 7 on hourly basis. However, there are no separate cycling tracks on mainland city roads. Motorbikes are becoming a popular option for tourists to take a ride in other parts of city. Take extra care while biking in Kochi roads as road users can be reckless.

See

Landmarks

Chinese Fishing net on Fort Kochi Beach
The Dutch Palace, which was the coronation palaces of Kochi Maharaja
The Hill Palace at Tripunithura, the largest archaeological palace in South India

Cochin Royal Crown

The biggest highlight of Hill Palace, is the display of Royal Crown, crafted in pure gold weighting 1.75 kg with 95 diamonds and 2,000 other precious stones. It was a gift by the Portuguese to Veera Kerala Varma on his coronation day, which was regarded too extravagant for the Kochi Rajas, who were known for their simple lifestyle. This became a famous tradition that no Kochi Maharajas ever wore this crown, only to keep it on his lap as a testimony of his humility and simplicity. Nearly ten golden crowns were given to the Rajas by the various colonial powers of Dutch, English, Chinese, Arabs which were never worn by the Maharajas.

The interior of the famous Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town
St. Francis Church, Kochi

Museums and galleries

Museum of Kerala History and Art Gallery

Eco-Tourist villages

Places of worship

Hindu, Jain and Sikh

Jain Mandir, in Mattancherry

Christian

Muslim

Parks and nature

Other attractions

Do

The Marine Drive Promenade

Libraries

A beautiful Marine Drive walkway

Festivals

See Festivals of Kerala for further details.

Theme parks

Sport

Kochi has got some good sporting facilities. Football is the official game here and is regularly played by locals in open areas. Cricket is extremely popular and regularly played by youngsters.

Golf

Gyms

Major private gym chains include Ernakulam Men's Gym, South Railway station road, ☎ +91 484 2378798, Destination Health, Edapally, ☎ +91 484 4014353, Bio-rhythm Wellness and Spa centre ☎ +91 484 4099908, Talwalkars, ☎ +91 484 2382696 and Women's World Muti Gym Health Club, Janatha Junction, Palarivattom, ☎ +91 484 2349294). Many gyms are branded as Health, Wellness or Slimming centres to avoid the traditional association of the word gym with men only centres. Most are open 7AM-8PM.

Boating

Cinemas

Kochi has some good Cineplexes, featuring regular Malayalam, Tamil, English and Hindi movies. Most of the theaters have uniform movie timings with 4 shows fixed at noon, matinée (afternoon), first show (evenings) and second show (late night), though modern multiplexes offers shows at multiple timings. Some of the recommended are;

Shenoys Cinema (2screen), Sarita Theater, Savitha Theater and the Sangeetha Theater are the other main theaters in Kochi.

Performing arts

There are many performing arts complexes across the city, offering a good experience of various artforms and culture. Kochi has the largest number of regular evening Kathakali theaters, offering the best insight into this traditional dance-drama artform of Kerala. Apart from Kathakali, many other events are regularly performed in Kochi.

Ayurveda

Ayurvedic pleasure treatments are widely available. Some of the better spas and massage centres are:

Buy

Day-shopping is more popular than night shopping. All shopping outlets close by 8PM. During festive seasons, late night shopping (11PM-3:30AM) are organized to reduce day-time shopping congestion.

The Onam Festival (mid of Aug-Sept) is one of the best shopping seasons, when you get heavy discounts ranging between 10-50% for almost all items as well as regular consumer fairs. X'mas is the next best season. The Kerala Government has started the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (15 Dec-30 Jan), to promote Kerala as a shopping destination. Kochi is the main focal centre of this festival and you get heavy discounts at participating stores and regular lucky draws.

Markets

The narrow strip sandwiched between Marine Drive and MG Road houses the celebrated Broadway Market which is one of the Kochi's oldest shopping corners where you can buy anything from safety pins to motor scooters. A spice market operates inside, offering the best of Kerala's spices, saffron and various oils. There is also a cloth market, a jewellery market, a fancy items market, a vegetable/fruit market and an electronic/watch market. Also try at Mattancherry Old Spice market, which is one of the oldest spice markets in the country. There are nearly half dozen small markets, mostly run by Gujarathi and Konkanis where you can slice of Indian market flavours.

Antiques/art works

Jew town, famous for its antique shopping

Jew town in Fort Cochin has numerous antique and craft stores. Most of the antique shops sell colonial era and heritage pieces, as well as Jewish items from the traditional Jewish homes of the area. You can also find many kinds of Indian sculptures, decor, interior artifacts and souvenirs. Bargains are available but be warned that many 'antiques' were probably made in the owners backyard. Shop with care and bargain hard. Never trust touts, who get hefty commissions from unscrupulous antique dealers.

| name=Crafters Exports | url= | email= | address=Jewtown | lat= | long= | directions=walk down from the synagogue | phone=+91 484 2227652 | tollfree= | fax= | hours= | price= | content=This shop has certified large collection of artifacts and heritage pieces. Its a very popular option.

Try state run emporiums that offer high quality certified antiques/artworks, however there is no bargain or discount. Check at Kerala's state emporium showrooms, Kairali & Surabhi and Karnataka's Cavery, all located in MG Road.

Shopping malls

Large western style shopping malls are new to Kochi and more than 30 are under construction in various parts of city, all scheduled to open between first quarter of 2010 and the end of 2013. Currently six are functional. Apart from shopping malls, there are numerous of shopping complexes in Cochin (a shopping complex in local terms is a large complex having many shops close to each other, selling mostly only one type of product).

Apparel and fabric

Kochi also has many famous designer boutiques, mostly located in Convent Junction (between MG Road and Marine Drive). Panampally Nagar also houses many premium exclusive designer boutiques. MG Road (the arterial road) is lined with many premium brand stores, leading apparel shops and boutiques. The cloth bazaar in Broadway Market is one of the largest apparel market selling unbranded fabrics and apparels at lower rates. For dress and fabrics the best options are:

Bookshops and Stationery

There are numerous of bookstores in Convent Junction as well as in the Fort Kochi area. Pressclub Rd in Convent Junction is a hot-spot for book lovers.

Footwear,luggage and Watches

There are many shops selling footwear and luggage in all price ranges. For budget options, try the shops near both railway stations. Be aware that many of these shops offer cheap varieties which may not last as long.

Jewellery

Kochi is famous for its gold, silver, diamond and platinum jewelry. Most of the jewellers are concentrated at Jewel Junction (Woodland Junction), on MG Road near Hotel Woodlands. Normal gold purity in India is 22 carat. 24 carat gold ornaments (thankam) are not so popular, but are available. Lightweight collections in 18 carat gold have become popular among youngsters and teenagers.

Cosmetics

For cosmetics and women's accessories, Convent Junction is the haven for the fairer sex. Many international cosmetics and personal care brands can be bought at prices lower than in western countries.

Electronics

You can buy electronic gadgets at comparatively low rates, than most of other regions in India. For the latest technology, Kochi hosts many large consumer electronics fairs and every new technology gadget gets into store very fast. The Electronics Street (opposite Medical Trust Hospital in Pallimukku) and Kadavanthara are the prefect place to buy most of electronics gadegets. Penta Menaka and GCDA Mall are famous for mobile phones. Atlantis Junction and Ravipuram are well known for various computer/laptop hardware shopping.

Supermarkets

Food shopping is mainly done at supermarkets and bakeries. Bakeries normally sell bread and branded food products, while most supermarkets sell household provisions and packaged food items.

Banks, ATMs and changing money

Almost all national banks operate in Kochi and most have branches in MG Road, as do a few international banks such as HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered and Oman Bank. ATMs are uniformly spread across the city and most major shopping places have an adjacent ATM.

Most of the nationalized banks are authorised to carry out Forex activities. Western Union and Moneygram have many franchises in the city.

Eat

Cuisine

Fried fish is well prepared in Kochi

For the past 600 years, Kochi has catered to many visitors from around the world including Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, Russians and Japanese. This has made the city a melting pot of various cultures, and this diversity is evident in the cuisine.

Being a coastal city, plenty of fresh seafood is the local speciality. With the backwaters, freshwater fish is also popular here. Prawns, squids and shrimps are easily available and cooked in many styles. The most famous of Kochi's specialty dishes is Meen Molagitta Curry (smoked freshwater fish with chilly and coconut milk). The English popularized smoked fish with steamed bread and mashed potatoes. One of Kochi's traditional vegetarian specialties is Kurukku Kalan (a thick yogurt curry with toasted banana and hot rice). Packed Kurukku Kalan as well as Palada (a sweet dessert with rice flakes and milk) are sold in many supermarkets and food stalls, especially during festive times.

At Fort Kochi beach you can buy fresh fish and have it cooked at the nearby food stalls. Fishmongers will sell you a kilo of tiger prawns for around ₹ 300 and a kilo of squid for around ₹ 250. Food stalls will charge you ₹ 40-50 per person to cook your fish (grilled, curry, whatever) and provide you with a serve of chips and salad. Conditions are reasonably hygienic.

Fried fish, Fish molly (a coconut milk sauce based curry almost like stew), Alleppey fish curry (traditional curry with tomato sauce and fish tamarind) and Fish Peera (chunks of fish toasted with grated coconuts with fish tamarind sauce), Varatharacha Kozhi curry (semi-fried chicken toasted with coconut and chilly) are the favorites, usually taken with rice or steamed tapioca (cassava). Also worth trying are the traditional rice based breakfast snacks, puttu and kadala, appam and stew.

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under ₹ 50
Mid-range ₹ 50-300
Splurge Over ₹ 300

Restaurants

Budget

Kochi has a variety of cheap restaurants all over the city. A full meal should cost less than ₹ 50.

Thattukadas are streetside food hawkers, where you can get hot, fresh-cooked delicious food, costing a maximum of ₹ 50 for a good filling meal. Most offer set meal combinations served from portable cooking trolleys with a few benches or chairs nearby. The most famous delicacies are stuffed or plain thattu dosas (thick dosas almost like pizza bread), hot Kerala porottas (flat bread of milled wheat), Kerala roast beef with chappatti and kanzhi (rice porridge). The main concern is the lack of hygiene and constant reuse of oil for frying.

Kochi has some home-grown fast food chains: KR Hot Chicken, 61 Pai Dosas, Luciya's Food Court, Potpurri, The Oven, Krispy Chicken, Arabian Treat, Papa Milano's and Breadworld Broasted Chicken have a presence in most parts of town. Foreign franchises such as KFC, Chicking, Noodle Kings, US Pizzas, Marrybrown, Pizza Hut and Domino's also have a presence here.

Indian

Aruvi Restaurant has a board that indicates the philosophy of natural food.
Other

There are many street side Arabic restaurants offering shawarma and grilled chicken. Popular options are Real Arabia, Arabia Dreams and Grill Arabia, which are dotted all over the city. Most supermarkets and bakeries have a Shawarma Corner outside, which is a cheap, yet filling sandwich. most budget Arabic restaurants are open from 5PM-midnight.

Mid-range

Most of the restaurants in Kochi are mid-range and there are lots of them.

Indian
Other

Splurge

Most of the upscale restaurants are located inside hotels with 3 stars or more.

Indian
Other

Drink

Keralites are well known for their drinking habit. Finding bars or pubs is not difficult in Kochi. For those who do not drink alcohol there are lots of excellent local options.

Bars

Finding a bar or pub is not difficult. Most of the budget oriented bars are located near the railway stations and in Kaloor and Edappally. Mid-market and high end bars are located all over. There are many beer and wine bars catering for foreign tourists at Fort Kochi. As elsewhere in Kerala, all bars and pubs have to close every first and second day of the month as well as on all state holidays. These are known as dry days. All bars have to close by midnight.

You can buy almost any brand of liquor from state-run Beverages Co stores, which have an extensive network of in Kochi, selling at competitive rates. Expect long queues, especially on the eve of dry days.

Nightlife DJ parties & pubs

Pub rules & etiquette

All discotheques, pubs have some strict rules and etiquettes.

  • A restricted admission policy - allows only guests above 21 with proof of age required. No pets are permitted and some days may be reserved for ladies, couples and families.
  • A strict dress code - only formal attire for both genders. Western styled fashion is allowed for women. Male patrons must be fully clothed in formal western style or in denims with shoes. No kind of ethnic Indian clothing is allowed for men, however sarees are allowed for women.
  • Smoking is strictly not allowed inside any pubs or dance floors

Nightlife comprising of pubs, DJ parties, discos are recent phenomenon with new venues opening. Pubs and discothèques may not close down on dry days as is applicable to bars. However they do close on all notified state holidays such as Onam, Vishu, Easter and Good Friday. An exception to this rule is during Christmas time.

Coffee shops

There are many coffee shops around the city.

Ice cream parlours

There are numerous cool-bars and juice stalls that sell branded and custom made ice-cream dotted all over the city. There are also a few specialist ice cream parlours.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under ₹ 750
Mid-range ₹750-3,000
Splurge Over ₹ 3,000

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Resorts

Ideal if you prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy holidays in an idyllic mood.

Homestays

Learn

Art forms

There are many popular institutes for learning local art-forms such as Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattom, Kathakali and music, which can offer regular and crash courses.

Kalaripayattu

Learn this martial art of Kerala at the following government-authorised, centres:

Yoga and Meditation

Stay safe

Kochi is one of the safest cities in India with excellent police coverage. Common sense is of course required when being alone at night.

Emergency support & assistance

For any emergency support of Police, ☎ 100 for Flying Squad or ☎ 1090 for Crime Stopper. The city has around 16 Police Station zones.

Stay healthy

Hospitals

Along with Trivandrum, Kochi stands out as one of south Asia's best medical hubs and it's not at all difficult to get medical attention. Many hospitals operate in the city, with 12 specialist hospitals. For accident cases, only hospitals marked with accident care are authorized to admit such cases. The toll free emergency number (from all telephones) is ☎ 102 and ☎ 1298

Other important hospitals are -

Ayurvedic Hospitals

Blood Banks

There are many 24 hr emergency Blood banks. Most of the accident care hospitals have a blood bank counter within the hospital. In event of emergency, the services of following blood banks can be utilized.

a) Behind General Hospital, Convent road
b) IMA House, Stadium Road, Kaloor

Ambulances

24 hour pharmacies

There are many pharmacies located near Medical Trust Hospital in Pallimukku, all 24 hr pharmacies.

Connect

Telecom

The Area code for Cochin is 0484. If calling from outside India the format is +91 484 xxxxxxx. Almost all national telecommunication operators, operate in Kochi.

Mobile Services. If you require an Indian phone number it is strongly recommended that you get a pre-paid mobile connection. To do this you need a photocopy of your passport (including the visa and the ID pages), a colour photo, and (officially) proof of local address (in Kochi). Most star hotels allow you to use their address for this. In the event of not having address you can still get a pre-paid connection using your visa number, finger prints and in some cases providing passport size photographs.

Most of the mobile operators in India operate in Kochi, GSM as well as CDMA. Popular GSM service providers are BSNL Mobile, Vodafone, Idea Mobile, Aircel, MTS, Airtel, Tata DOCOMO, Uninor, Virgin Mobile GSM and Reliance GSM. Popular CDMA service providers are Tata Indicom, Reliance India Mobile and Virgin Mobile.

Public Telephony :- PCOs (Public Call Offices) are a good option. You will find them almost every 100m. These are public pay-phones (post-pay) and there will be a person on the shop to take the payments. Check your bill generated (from the billing machine) and make the payment accordingly. Payments are always in Indian rupees (₹). Coin boxes are available everywhere where you can make local calls (within a radius of 10km from the phone).

BSNL Calling cards are available in all stores, which is a prepaid calling card, that could be used in any phone, without charging the phone user. Vodafone World Cards and Airtel Globe cards are also another good option.

General &amp business telephone directory can be accessed by calling ☎ +91 484 4444444.

Toll Free directory enquiry from BSNL landphones & BSNL Mobile is ☎ 197.

Internet

Kochi was one of the first places in India to be connected to the Internet. Being the landing site of 3 major international submarine network cables (FLAG, SEA-ME, SAFE) as well as focal point for most of the fiber-optic networks in South India. The city has good bandwidth at low rates.

There are plenty of internet centres which charge around ₹ 10 per hour. Some cafes in Convent Road as well as near Cochin University offer high speed net connectivity at ₹ 5 per hour. If you have laptop with wifi connection, you can roam anywhere with BSNL WiMax USB connection (speed around 40 Mbit/s to 512 Mbit/s), as Kochi has 4th generation Wimax. In addition to this, Kochi is also a network city with services provided by the 3rd Gen-EVDO BSNL network as well as 3G services of BSNL, Docomo and Reliance Mobile.

Most of the 3 Star hotels provide wifi connectivity. You require pre-paid connection cards of Tata Indicom or Reliance. The majority of hotels have Tata. Some hotels provide complementary wi-fi for the use of their guests.

Mail

India Post has offices throughout the city, generally open 8:30AM-5PM weekdays, 8:30AM-1PM Saturdays, closed Sundays. The Kochi Airport post office (located in Departure side of International Area) is open 6AM-8:30PM on all weekdays and Saturdays. The General Post Office (GPO) is located in MG Road (Opp. Avenue Regent) and in Edappally near High School. The Head Post Office (HPO) is located at Postal Complex, Hospital Road. The express (EMS Service) is available at the HPO and Edappally GPO, which is open 24 hrs on all days except the 5 state holidays. Service through EMS Postal service is very fast and reliable. Post boxes are available all over the city and daily clearance is at 10AM and 4:30PM. A postcard to anywhere in the world costs ₹ 5.

There are numerous of private courier companies operating in Kerala. Fedex, DHL, First Flight, UPS, DTDC and Aramex are some of leading private services.

Newspapers

Almost all the national newspapers have editions for Kochi. The major English language dailies are The Hindu (has a detailed city tabloid called Metroplus), The New Indian Express (The local City express along with this paper provides good insights of city happenings), The Times of India, The Pioneer, Hindustan Times and many popular Malayalam and Tamil newspapers. Being seat of Cochin Stock Exchange and the principal financial hub of Kerala, lots of financial dailies in English are available in Kochi, like The Economic Times, The Business Standard, Businessline, The Financial Express.

Lots of popular English Magazines are available. Many American and British magazines like Forbes, Mirror etc. is available in many supermarkets and bookstalls. Popular Indian English magazines are India Today, The Week and The Frontline.

Cope

Electricity

Kochi uses the British three-pin and two-pin circular socket that follows British standard 546 (230 V/50 Hz). Plug adapters are available at any hardware store.

Holidays

Kochi has 15-20 public listed state holidays as else where in Kerala, when almost all government and a few private offices are closed. However, few holidays involve total closure of all commercial establishments. Please be aware that on these days most of the public transport options like bus, taxis and autos take a break. For the few holidays listed below, restaurants and food corners other than those operating inside hotels also close. Its always better to avoid these days, while planning holidays. The major holidays that Kochinites love to spend indoors are

A few religious holidays listed below marks closure of all commercial establishments owned by members of that communities. However public transport works as usual.

Apart from these holidays, the Sunday laziness can make most of the establishments do not to function in the morning time, though many open by afternoon. The city bus services on Sundays are also limited, though other public transport like autos and taxis function normally.

Public libraries

Opticians

Sunshades and prescription glasses in stylish frames are much cheaper in India as compared to the western world. Across the city, one can find numerous optician stores. Most of them have computerized testing services and many have optical clinics within with the store.

Hairdressers

Kochinites are particular about their hair styles and adopt almost all latest fashion. Thus there is no shortage of various hair salons charging from ₹ 50 up for the latest trends. Most of the budget saloons are found almost every part of the city, normally calling as Barber shops or Saloons. The middle range hair salons located mainly in MG Road, Palarivattom, Marine Drive and Edappally areas, offer haircuts with hair wash as well as other frills. For splurge, most of the premium beauty palours and skin clinics are located Panampally Nagar, GCDA Nagar, Girinagar, SA Road and MG Road that offers various skin and hair treatment, all costing above ₹ 1,000.

Men

Women

Unisex

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