India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India.
Incredible India has been imprinted with the heritage, culture right from the Pre-historic Indus Valley Civilization through the ancient Vedic ages followed through with the formation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which again was trailed by Sultans, Mughal, & European colonies.
All the above major influences on the Indian soil combined with the various local princely kingdoms had given Vibrant dimensions to the Incredible India. India takes pride in maintaining the harmony among diversities of 22 recognized languages and about 10 major religions.
Golden Chariot Destinations
2 itineraries offered by the operators of the Golden Chariot train covers some of the most prominent tourist destinations in 3 South Indian states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – along with the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Detail of the attractions included in the destinations covered during the luxury train tour along with a brief introduction to acquaint you with the history and significance of the destinations are mentioned below.
Fondly called as the Silicon Valley of India and Officially called as Bangaluru, the city is the Capital of the South Indian State Karnataka where the official language is Kannada. The Premier organizations like ISRO, Infosys, IBM, Wipro, DRDO and HALre having this city as their headquarters. This Is the fifth most populous agglomeration in India. IISC, IIM, NIFT, NIMHANS are the prestigious institutions being the dream destination of the aspirational students.
Historians record that the Cholas and the Hoysalas, ruled the present region of Bangalore until in 1537 CE, until the time of emergence of a feudal ruler Kempé Gowdā from the Vijayanagara Empire stood against the King and by way of establishing a mud fort and that is perceived to be the foundation of modern Bangalore. Despite the fact that the place was under the control of different Kings and Nawabs, it witnessed consistent development and under the British Rule, the city got extended to a cantonment region and from then onwards Bangalore is a merger of the Old City and the Cantonment.
People and Culture:
Karnataka has hosted and continues to host a wide variety of people with different cultures. Along with the native Kannadigas, Kodavas, Tuluvas, Konkanis and several tribal sects have, across the centuries, lent colour and content to the vibrant culture the state calls its own. Karnataka is also home to the largest Tibetan settlement in South India. In addition to Kannada, knowing Tulu, Hindi, English, Telugu or Tamil will safely get you by. Jainism, Hinduism and Islam are the predominantly practised religions. But in recent times, Sikhism, Christianity and Buddhism have also found their place and people.
Climate and Weather:
The city of Bangalore experiences a very favourable weather throughout the year.Nature has gifted Bangalore city with a very pleasant and moderate climate. In Bangalore, neither would you shiver with cold in winters, nor would you drench with sweat in summers. Bangalore weather is a combination of cool winters and warm summers, without any extremes in both the cases.
- Summers: Only during Mid March to June is the season you will feel the heat rays in Bangalore. The maximum temperature during the day rarely exceeds 39 degree C, making the summers quite mild.
- Winters: Winter season in Bangalore stretches on from November to February. The minimum temperature in winters hovers somewhere around 10 degree C, with the coldest month being January. Early morning fog can also be experienced during December and January.
- Monsoon: The monsoon season in Bangalore is from June to August. The south-western monsoon rains drenches the city in monsoons, taking the humidity to as high as 76 percent.
Best Time to Visit Bangalore:
The best time to visit Bangalore is generally during the winters when the temperature lies between 15 degree to 20 degree and the most preferable months to visit Bangalore would be between October and February.
The cultural capital of Karnataka, the administrative center for Kingdom of Mysore for over four centuries, the city with full of heritage structures and palaces is Mysore, now officially called as Mysuru. Located at the foothills of Chamundi Hills, Mysore is at a distance of 146 kms southwest of the Karnataka state capital, Bangaluru. There exists a Tropical Savanna Climate in Mysore. Summer season is from March to June, Monsoon is from July to November and winter season is from December to February.
Popularly known as the cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore is famous for the different art forms and the festivities. Especially, the Dusserah festival celebrated for ten days during September or October attracts lakhs of tourists every year. It will be a fascinating experience watching the celebrations on the ninth day of Dusserah when the Royal sword is worshipped and taken on a procession of decorated elephants. On the tenth day called “Viajayadasami”, the rituals and celebrations are in a grand manner. The idol of the Goddess Chamundeeswari is kept atop a decorated elephant which leads the procession of table, group dancers, decorated elephants, horses and camels. People in Karnataka call this procession as Jamboo Savaari. The procession and the rituals will be a real feast to the eyes.
Mysore is also called the City of Palaces. The tourists have a wonderful experience visiting the palaces which are the real architectural marvels. Mysore palace tops the list followed by Jaganmohana palace, Rajendra Vilas, Lalitha Mahal, Jayalakshmi Vilas.
Mysore is also famous for many things like, the sweet Mysore Pak, the cosmetic items namely Mysore Sandal Soap and Powder, Mysore Silk Sarees, Mysore painting and Mysore Peta(A silk turban). The rich tradition and heritage can be seen in every article you see in Mysore.
The city is connected to Tamil Nadu and Kerala through the NH-212. There are plenty of buses plying between Mysore and other cities. Superfast trains like Shatabdi Express halt at Mysore. There is an Intelligent Travel System implemented in by Mysore Government for a hassle free drive in the city.
Come and enjoy the city of culture, heritage and tradition which has still maintained its legacy despite the vagaries over the centuries.
Hampi is the architectural heritage of India in Karnataka. Located in the northern part of the state, Hampi is a small village that once housed the capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire. Today it houses the magnificent ruins of the yesteryears and the Virupaksha temple is the most popular and the most sacred religious site in the place.
There are a number of religious places scattered all over Hampi and devotees and visitors alike, fill it up all through the day. The Hindu temples housed here are brilliant examples of architectural excellence and though in ruins, they nevertheless manage to amaze the onlookers. Some of the most popular sites housed here are Virupaksha temple, Tiruvengalanatha temple, Anjeyanadri Hills, Ugra Narasimha, Vittala temple, Zenana enclosure and even the archaeological museum in Kamalapura.
Belur, situated in the Hassan District of the South Indian State Karnataka is a city of architectural wonders. From the state capital Bangaluru, Belur is at a distance of 220kms. Belur is a very important tourist destination in the state. The city witnesses of hundreds of tourists every day. There is yet another tourist destination called Halabedu which is only 16kms away from Belur.
Belur is the place where the Hoysala architecture was at its peak. The main attraction of the city is the Chenna kesava temple constructed in the year 1117 CE. As the Hoysaka kings were very particular in bringing out an architecturally wonderful temple, they had spent nearly103 years in completing this temple in all aspects. The entire building of the temple is 37meters tall and built on a five feet platform.The main gateway tower called Rayagopura or Rajagopuram was raised by the Vijayanagara Kings in commemoration of their victory over the Cholas in a place called Thalakad.
The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Chennakesava meaning “Beautiful Vishnu” in the temple which has taken around 103 years for completion of construction. We will be amazed to see the dedication and devotion of the Hoysala Kings by looking at the ornate paintings and the wonderful figurines in the temple. It is believed that the Hoysala Queen Shanthala Devi herself danced in front of the temple during the construction of this temple which you see at the façade of the temple in the form of beautiful figurines in different dancing postures. Even today you can see the tourists enjoy dancing on the platform and recording those wonderful moments.
The intricate carvings on the walls depict the pictures of lions, horses, elephants, a lady with the mirror and dancing women make your visit to this temple more fascinating. Along with this temple, the Hoysaleswara temple at Halabedu and the monuments of Jainism in Shravanabelagola are proposed as the World Heritage Sites to be recognized by UNESCO.
Come and enjoy the splendid architecture of Belur and the get blessed by Lord Chennakesava.
Bandipur National Park
Script your own adventure story at Bandipur National Park
Few travel experiences compare to encountering the legendary wildlife of the Bandipur National park in all its glory.
Once the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Mysore, the Bandipur National Park is one of the most beautiful, well-managed and popular wildlife parks in India. Spread over 874 sq km, it is interspersed with a multitude of teak and sandalwood trees that add a distinct character to it. A protected zone of more than 100 species of mammals, including tigers, elephants, gaur (Indian bison), sambars, sloth bears, and langurs among others; the park serves up more than sweeping experience where you won’t want to blink or put your camera down.
Badami is located around the picturesque landscape of the Agastya Lake. History mentions that it was the capital of the Chalukya kings that ruled over this land from fifth to seventh century AD. There is an interesting fable that goes about how this place came to be known as Vatapi-a name that it had in the ancient times. It is believed that in these lands lived two demons by the name Vatapi and Ilvala. They were very wicked and killed several mendicants by deception.
Ilvala was blessed with a boon that whoever he calls would return even from the nether world. And it is of this feature that they took advantage to kill the innocent people. Vatapi would turn himself into a ram and its meat, Ilvala offered to the strangers. As soon as they would have it, Ilvala would call out for Vatapi and the latter would emerge ripping through the body of the victim. They succeeded in this pursuit till one day they came across Sage Agastya. The sage ate up Vatapi and quickly digested him even before Ilvala could call out for him thus putting an end to the torment of the demons. Badami offers to the visitors a blend of cave temples, forts and even museums for the tourists to come and feast on. The Bhutanatha temple, the Badami Fort, the Mallikarjuna temple and the temple of banashankari are a few to name in the order. The mesmerizing beauty of the place is beautifully reflected through the antique architectural patterns and designs.
Halebidu & Chikamangluru:
Witness the dreamy Beauty of Halebidu & Chikamangluru
Halebidu(also called Halibidu or Halebeedu) is home to the stunning Hoysaleswara temples, a masterpiece in ancient style architecture and construction. The construction of the temple began in 1121 and today stands out the most for its richly sculpted walls that are covered with a flurry of Hindu deities, sages and animals that depict the life and times of the Hoysala rulers. Another unmissable feature of the temple that is its inner sanctum that has been chiselled out of a black stone and looks rather staggering.
The stunning beauty of Chikmangluru is the stuff a traveller’s dreams are made of. Nestled amidst the extensive Western Ghats, the verdant hills of Chikmangaluru offer dreamy landscapes, nature’s bounty & serenity that make it a perfect getaway for a quick tranquil retreat. The list of places that you can visit here is never-ending but the ones that stand out the most are its Coffee plantations.
Goa is a land of the Sun, the beaches, the adventure activities and the quaint ambience and also of distinct traditions and customs. all in the same breath. Guests visiting Goa quintessentially return back home wanting for more. The charisma and charm that accompanies the place almost casts a magic spell on anyone who comes to this place. Be it the history of the place or the geography, the language or the customs. Goa entices one and all.
On a sojourn of this place, the traveler is treated to traditional Indian hospitality in the most unique way. The festivals and carnivals that are held here throughout the year offer one a better understanding of the lives of the Goans. Located in the Konkan region of India, its proximity to the Arabian Sea attracted many merchant communities to come and settle here, thus paving the way for several faiths and cultures to come and exist here.
Chennai is the heart beat of Tamil Nadu. It can’t be tagged as one, as it has in it the modernity of Bombay, tradition of Kerala, spirit of Delhi and the style of Goa. Sun hits this land with lots of love and so all days here are sunny days. It also takes pride in having the world’s second largest beach and it is a perfect spot for a sojourn. There are good deals of tourist places in and around Chennai, which are worth a visit.
South & West Chennai, previously mostly residential, are now becoming commercial with upcoming firms & call centres. The city is fast expanding in the south & in the west.
Art and music dwells in the land of Chennai and that is why it is called the Musical and Cultural capital of India. There are plenty of art galleries and music schools in Chennai among which Kalakshetra is hailed as one of the best dance schools in India.
It is a major trade center, being well linked by road, rail and air to important cities besides being a sea port. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted.
Area – 178.20 Sq.Km
Population – 43.4 Lakhs (2001 census)
Temperature – Summer: 40°C – 36°C & Winter: 30°C – 24°C
Chennai is a tropical land and the climate is mostly sultry. The normal temperature is around 40°C – 30°C during summer and around 30°C – 24°C during winter. Rain is a rare guest to Chennai.
Literacy – Male: 84.71% & Female: 75.32%
Rivers – Cooum and Adayar – these two rivers are almost stagnant and do not carry water except during rainy seasons
Apart from the hustle and bustle of Chennai city life, there lie the colorful cultural festivals of Chennai. The cosmopolitan people get out of their mundane life and groom their tradition by commemorating lots of festivals and fares.
Behold the majestic statue of Lord Nataraja ‘The Cosmic dancer’ in Chidambaram near Chennai. Every year on the eve of Natyanjali momentous tribute is paid to Nataraja. This eve lasts for five long days in the month of February.
Dance and Music Festival:
Dancers and Singers from all over India participate in this ‘Margazhi Festival of Dance and Music’ to exhibit their talents and to hail their traditional art. This festival falls in the month of mid-December. It is a feast to our eyes and ears to see artist’s excellent performance on the stage.
Travel and Tour Festival:
Each and every year Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation conducts tour fair in Island Ground in order to promote the tourism interests among people. In this festival many tour and honeymoon packages are given at offers.
Pongal is a kind of ‘Thanksgiving’ festival to the Sun God for his blessings upon the farmers and their crops. This fete is celebrated during the month of January. It is a three days eve and one of the days is spent as a reverence to the cows and bulls that have helped the farmers.
There are still more minor festivals celebrated in Chennai some of them are Mamallapuram, Arubathimoovar, Mahamaham, Velankanni, Kanthuri, Chithirai, Saral-Vizha, and Navratri.
Places to Visit
Chennai’s renowned and cherished Kapaleeswarar temple is the chief land mark of Mylapore. The prime idol is the Lord Siva in the form of Lingam .This temple is mostly buzzed with devotees on Mondays and Fridays. The dazzling 12 days celebration of Bhramotsavam during the month of March is a splendor sight to see.
Snake Park at Guindy will surely cast a chill down your spine. This eerie park has a wide range of snakes and reptiles. There is also a session where they show a practical demonstration of venom extraction.
Marina is the world’s second largest beach. The pleasant promenades running along the sugar-white sands of the beach adds feather to Marina and a peaceful stroll in the old promenade popularly known as “Cupid’s Bow” will take you to the seventh heaven. Its never ending shores draws a million to marvel at the swarm of people spending their time on the lap of Marina.
This is the India’s largest artist commune. This village was erected by the artists without any financial help from the government. This archive has a wide collection of intricate paintings, meticulously done sculptures and beautifully emblazoned art works. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this awesome place.
The Anna Centenary Library:
It is the apt place for bookworms. This enormous library takes pride in being one of the largest libraries in Asia. Behold the nine stories modern building which houses about 500,000 books and piles of magazines from across the world.
Other Nearby Places:
Besant Nagar beach, Santhome beach, Vandalore zoo, Bharathiyar illam and Valluvar Kottam are few other places to visit.
Chennai is the only city in Tamil Nadu which is connected by Golden Quadrilateral system. The four National Highways emerging from this city meets all other cities in India, adding to this Chennai Mofussil bus Stand is the Asia’s largest bus stand. There a surplus taxis, auto rickshaws and vans outside the bus stand.
Southern Railway’s headquarters is housed in Chennai. There are two railway terminals one is Chennai central which is meant only for Intra state trains and the other one is Chennai Egmore which deals with inter-state destinations. The Chennai suburban railway network provides access to destinations within the city. Recently metro rail has been started in the city.
Chennai is a commercial city and so Chennai airport is always active with both domestic and international planes coming in and going out. Anna international Airport and Kamaraj National Airport are at Tirusulam, 20 kms away from the city.
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipurum is one of the most popular destinations in Tamil Nadu, renowned for its architectural wonders. Once a medieval port city (the town dates back to the 7th century), today, Mamallapuram is fondly visited by devotees and tourists alike who come here to worship in the ancient temples that are housed here. The city is located at a distance of just about 60 km from the capital city of the state, Tamil Nadu.
Guests traveling to this south Indian town can savor on the spectacular man-made and natural wonders that are housed here. Top tourist attractions in Mamallapuram include names such as the Shore Temple, Five Rathas, Tiger’s Cave, and Arjuna’s Penance etc. besides the local attractions; this town is also a wonderful base from where a number of excursions to the nearby areas can be organized. This includes trips to Cove Long beach, Crocodile Banks, and Kanchipuram.
Pondicherry is a quaint and serene town on the southern part of India, mostly known for its French connection. Abundant in natural and architectural beauty; Pondicherry houses pristine beaches, backwater areas, marvelous hotels and a chain of restaurants that serve authentic French and Indian cuisines that all the more enhance the pleasures of one’s visit here. Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India and is very well connected to Bangalore and Chennai, two of the most significant south Indian destinations.
Pondicherry is home to several attractions that include its mesmerizing sea side ambience, tree lined boulevards, medieval churches and a host of other locations that ensure interesting sightseeing trips. A few of the noteworthy locations that are not worth a miss include the Auroville Ashram, Aayi Mandapam, the French War Memorial, and the Romain Rolland Library.
Tanjore is a destination that celebrates south Indian art and architecture in the highest magnitude of the terms. Owing to its architecturally extravagant monuments, Thanjavur is a not-to-be-missed destination in this circuit.
Tanjore also known as Thanjavur is home to several eminent dancers, singers, and artists and this fact makes the city all the more special. Bronze metal products, musical instruments, and Thanjavur paintings are the most renowned elements associated with the place and excellent souvenirs to be carried back home. There are many places in this Tamil city that guests can visit. The shrine of Ganapati, the shrine of Chandeeswara, Thanjavur Palace, Thanjavur Church and the shrine of Sri Subramanya are a few of the most notable places of interest to name here. Each of these locations highlights the glorious history of the place and the architectural examples that they present are to be seen to be believed.
TRICHY or TRIUCHIRAPALLI
Tiruchirapalli is one of the oldest cities in Tamil Nadu that is blessed with a rich cultural and architectural heritage. The guests in the city will see the Rock Fort temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Jambukeshwara temple, Perumal Malai and Vayalur Murugan temple are the other attractions that are housed here that surely need a mention.
The aroma of Jasmine fills the air of Madurai and gives us pleasure as we enter its thresh hold. This is a notorious city in Tamil Nadu and has been held in high regards by many ancient poets. This is the place where Tamil language ripened many centuries ago and is a main commercial Centre in southern zone. There are ample places which are worth a visit and are best exemplars of ancient Dravidian culture.
This dazzling city takes pride in being the capital city of Pandiyas and Thirumalai Nayakar. The architectural style here is greatly admired by all. Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai is one of the famous temples in India. Apart from architecture this city is famous for South Indian spicy foods, scrumptious Jigarthanda and fluffy Idly (Rice cake).
The sun is at her high spirits in Madurai and so all day here are sunny days. In summer the temperature may reach to 40°c and on other days it lies between 34°C-25°C.
Places to Visit
Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the temples which are hailed all over the world. This mind-blowing temple demands a second visit and the sculptures are so mesmerizing that they will make our eye balls glued to them. This marvelous piece of art is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and God Siva and it is believed to be the place where they tied the knot. The golden lotus tank inside the temple adds feather to the hat of Meenakshi. Another exclusive feature of this temple is the thousand pillar hall and the musical pillars. Every nook and corner of this temple is so amazing and attractive. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to visit this dazzling temple.
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal:
Goggle at the startling sculptures of the India’s icon the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. This monumental piece is housed in East Madurai and is bussed with tourist from dawn to dusk. Each and every part of this Mahal is meticulously done and is emblazoned with giant pillars of 82 feet height and 19 feet width. This palace surpasses all other monuments in Tamilnadu. Like adding beauty to the beauty queen there is an awesome light and music show during evenings at the dancing hall of this Mahal.
In order to pay tribute to the “Father of the Nation” Gandhi Ji this archaic Palace has been renovated in to a memorial building. Its sublime beauty and tranquility attracts million a day. This place has profound collections of Gandhi Ji’s personal letters to Subramaniya Bharathi, Adolf Hitler and Nehru Ji, along with many rare clicks of Gandhi from his childhood till his assassination. There is also the blood strained vestment worn by Gandhi during his assassination, the plate, spoon, sandals and the spectacles used by him are all conserved in the vacuum glass box.
Thiruparankundram is one of the six army camps of Lord Muruga. He graces majestically from the sanctum sanctorum with his spouse Deivanai. It is the folk lore that, this is the place where Muruga and Deivanai walk down the aisle. Apart from this temple there is also so a well maintained ecofriendly park near the temple.
Madurai is the city of festivals and is always busy with decorations and preparations. Chitirai festival that falls in April is the longest festival in the world that lasts for a month. During this period the whole city turns to be a boisterous one and is filled with josh. First 15 days is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and the rest to Lord Alagar and on every evening there is God and Goddess march which is accompanied by thousands of people. Visit the city during this colorful month and enjoy yourself to the core.
As it is a metropolitan city buses to all over India is available. There are three main bus terminals that are Mattuthavani, Periyar and Arappalayam.
Next to Chennai this railway division is the largest. There are direct trains to all over India and the railway station is well maintained with A/c waiting hall.
Airport is in Villapuram which is 12 km away from central city. It provides domestic and international flight services around the clock.
Known as the “hometown of Padmanabhan” an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Thiruvananthapuram is the governing centre of the state Kerala. Mahatma Gandhi once alluded to Thiruvananthapuram as the “Evergreen city of India“. It is home to the world’s richest temple, the Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple which has possessions worth more than 1000 billion Indian rupees. Thiruvananthapuram tops the rundown in a late overview by the Times of India on “best Kerala city to live in“. Gifted with unwinding shorelines, verdant slopes, sky-high mountains and meandering lakes, the capital city of Kerala is ever entertaining for all. 3,30,7600 reside in Thiruvananthapuram District of which nearly 2 million occupying the urban area.
Thiruvananthapuram area was a part of the past Travancore State. As per authentic records, the State of Travancore was partitioned into three authoritative units amid the rule of Maharaja Rama Varma (a.d.1758-1798) – Padinjaremukhom, Vadakkemukkom, and Tekkemukkom. Tekkemukhom generally relates to the present locale of Thiruvananthapuram, additionally a standout amongst the most favoured occasion destination in Kerala.
The historical backdrop of Travancore starts with Marthanda Varma who acquired the Kingdom of Venad and extended Travancore by overcoming kingdoms Attingal, Poonjar, Kottayam, Changanassery, Meenachil, Kollam, Kayamkulam, Kottarakara and Ambalapuzha. Marthanda Varma crushed the Dutch in the Colachel Battle in 1741. He seized the Dutch Admiral who was later on selected as the Senior Admiral. it was he who modernized the Travancore armed force by presenting guns and mounted guns. The kingdom of Travancore was committed by Marthanda Varma to his divinity Sri. Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) and from that point, the leaders of Travancore ruled the kingdom as the workers of Sri. Padmanabha (Padmanabhan).
The culture of Thiruvananthapuram is pure South Indian. Being the “Land of Lord Padmanabhan”, people here are warm and welcoming to their guests. Home to some of the greatest artists the world has seen, like the Maharaja Swathi Tirunal, Kumaranasan, Ullur Parameswaran Nair and much more, Thiruvananthapuram is a cradle of Kerala’s rich culture.
Agriculture and pot making are traditional occupations of Thiruvananthapuram people. Now, being the capital city and IT hub of Kerala, people are involved in various jobs and those depending on traditional jobs are less in numbers.
Kochi is said to be the cosmopolitan hub of Kerala, also a major Port City in India. It is a fast moving city with a fusion of people, belonging to different cultures and different parts of the country who made Kochi their home. At present more than 2 million people reside at Kochi. It has developed into a major tourism hotspot for those who visit India. Kochi was previously known by the names Cochin and Ernakulam, which the people still use.
Until Early 14th century AD, Kodungallur Port was the preferred trade center for the local traders as well as the foreign traders from China, Middle East and Russia. It was during 1341, when Kodungallur Port was wiped out following a flood and the traders moved to Kochi resulting in the emergence of one of the leading Port Cities in India. The Portuguese were the first to establish their base at Kochi, from when the colonization of India started following the Dutch, who ruled for decades until 1814 when the British took control as a result of the Dutch treaty.
Fort Kochi, which comes under Kochi Municipal Corporation is the historical center in Kochi. One who walks by the streets of Fort Kochi will feel as if he/she had travelled back to an ancient European city of the 16th century. Mattancherry is another neighboring historical town which offers a lot to its visitor’s. The locals say, long before the chery [street] was full of lined butcher shops selling mutton, and hence the name “Mattancherry”. There are a lot of activities for the visitors at Mattancherry and Fort Kochi.
At present, the merger of municipalities Kochi city [formerly Ernakulam], Fort Kochi and Mattancherry together is known as “Kochi”.
Sight Seeing Places
\”Cheena vala\”, described as Chinese fishing nets in the local jargon used by the fishermen and many others at Kochi are a major attraction for tourists. It is in practice for more than half a millennia on the Kochi coastline. It is believed to be the Portuguese, who brought these nets to Kochi from Macau, which was once a Portuguese colony. A contradictory thought is that these nets were gifted to Kochi Maharaja by the Chinese Emperor Kubalagi in the 14th century AD. Initially there were more than 100s of these, but now only 12 are in proper working condition. Visitors could buy fresh seafood as per one’s taste and even eat them cooked as there are many local stalls available with boards headlining “If you buy, I will cook”. Now, that is some good news for tourists as they could have a taste of fresh catch Kochi seafood on spot. A walk by the side of these fishing nets is also recommended.
Bolgatty palace, built on the Bolghatty Island of Vembanad lake in 1744 by the Dutch traders in India for their higher officials, still poses its beauty with pride. It is now directly under the Department of Tourism, Kerala, and has been transmuted into a heritage hotel with a vibrant fauna garden landscaped around it along with a swimming pool, a 9 hole golf course and an Ayurvedic center too. The stay at the hotel is for sure a lovely experience especially the lakefront rooms which are always in demand by the guests. The eye watering view from these rooms would fill in your heart with the pure Kerala charm. There are daily Kathakali shows for people who want to witness and experience the famous art form of Kerala. It is roughly 12 kms from the Kochi city, likely a 20 minutes’ drive.
Hill Palace Museum
With 16 galleries constituting 500 artifacts including the multi-billion rupees worth Cochin Royal crown and crown jewelry, the Hill palace museum truly is a treasure for the art and history admirers. It was the former residence of the Kochi Maharaja, and thus houses the collection of the royal families along with old coins, old paintings, sculptures and so on.
The museum is open for 5 hours a day: 09.30 am – 01.00 pm and from 02.00 pm – 04.30 pm
It is 12 km southeast of Kochi city.
The palace, originally built by the Portuguese in the year 1555 was gifted to the Kochi Maharaja, Veera Kerala Varma [1537-61] gesticulating their goodwill likely to secure trading privileges. Later on after defeating the Portuguese and winning the rule over Kochi in 1663, the Dutch revamped the palace and thus the name “Dutch Palace”.
Hindu murals, describing various scenes from the Indian epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other puranic legends are elements of pure artistic brilliance and serve as the central attraction of the Dutch palace. The palanquins [hand carried carriages], the grand ceilings, the royal outfits of the king and family, displayed inside the palace will definitely inspire and startle the visitors. The palace is 10 kms from the city and is open for visitors from Saturday to Thursday, 10.00 am – 05.00 pm.
During the period of Crusades, in 11, 12, and 13th centuries Jewish refugees got settled at Kochi and this Synagogue was constructed in 1568. Paradesi means foreign, hence the name Paradesi Synagogue, a synagogue for the foreigners. The synagogue was destroyed in 1662 by the Portuguese as they attacked the Jews for supporting the Dutch who were challenging them to conquer Kochi. Soon after in 1964 the Dutch overpowered the Portuguese and reconstructed the synagogue. Inside the Synagogue there is a beautifully decorated golden pulpit and the hall is illuminated with gorgeous chandeliers and multi-coloured glass lamps catalyzing the beauty of brilliantly, hand painted floor tiles from china. The street on which the synagogue lies is known as the Jew Street as it is highly populated by Jews. There were a lot of Jewish families who found refuge there but as the time moved by many of them migrated to Israel leaving only few families now. There are a lot of antiques/handicrafts and spice shops on both sides of the Jewish street to look out for.
The synagogue is open from Sunday- Friday, from 10.00 pm – 01.00 pm and from 03.00 pm – 05.00 pm.
Located nearly 25 kms from Kochi, Cherai Beach is a lovely spot to spend some time with the waves and to soak up some vitamin D sunshine. The thick coconut groves lined up on the coastline provide us a glimpse of Kerala’s rich greenery.
Kerala is most popular for its backwaters. The tranquility and serenity of the place almost demarcates its non-existent boundaries making it a world on its own. Located in the Malabar Coast, the mesmerizing locations of the Kerala backwaters include areas such as Kollam, Alappuzha, Kumarakom,
Kerala Backwaters are also famous for their unique boat races that are an annual feature here. Besides the foreign guests who come here to be a spectator to these spectacular events, natives settled abroad also view these events as a wonderful pretext to visit home – relatives and friends. Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom wildlife sanctuary and the historic Thangasseri fort are a few of the most significant attractions housed in this region to be named. While in the Kerala Backwaters regions, do not miss to feast on coastal culinary delights that are peculiar to the region and known for their authentic spices and tastes.