City Highlights & Harbor Cruise
Duration: 5 hours
Tour Code: COK-002
Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is a pleasant seaport built on a series of interconnected islands and peninsulas. Considered one of the best natural harbors in the world, Cochin was for centuries the center of the spice trade, and its geography and history distinguish it from any other city in India. The oldest European settlement in India, Cochin is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and English country village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. On your tour explore exotic Cochin, with its spice-filled markets, lush foliage and pastel houses.
Leaving the pier, drive to Mattancherry to visit the Dutch Palace built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift for the Maharaja of Cochin in exchange for trading rights. The Palace houses royal costumes, palanquins, furniture and weapons but its striking feature is a series of murals painted on wooden walls.
Continuing on, stop at the ancient district of Jew Town. Jews used to occupy virtually all the houses on Jew Town Road, where they sold fruits, vegetables and spices or worked as carpenters or oil pressers. The spice markets are still located on the narrow street, but most of the homes and businesses belong to non-Jews. Of the seven synagogues that once graced this street, only one remains.
Drive to Fort Cochin with a stop at St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars. This is India's oldest European-built church, and the original burial site of Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama. Continue to the Chinese Fishing Nets, the first visual symbol of the ancient trade and age-old shared influences of Cochin. Lined along the sea-front, these intriguing fishing nets exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish, introduced by Chinese traders from the court of Kublai Khan.
The final portion of your tour will be by motorized boat. Observe the diverse activities of the busy harbor, including local fishing colonies and glimpses of locals going about their daily lives on the assorted islands. Pass by the outlying island of Vallarpadam, where an enormous construction project is underway to make it one of the largest container ports in Asia. Cruise past Gundu, the smallest island in the harbor. See the long narrow peninsula of Bolghatty, famous for the Bolghatty Palace built by the Dutch in 1744, and now a resort hotel.
Please note: Light snacks and refreshments are served on the boat while returning to ship. The order of sites visited may vary. The Dutch Palace in Mattancherry is closed on Fridays, therefore there will be no interior visit, exterior only.