Orthodox Church - Fort Kochi

7 Landmarks to See on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk (2024)

Are you drawn to heritage walks and captivated by the allure of history? Look no further than the Fort Kochi heritage walk in the heart of Cochin, Kerala.

Embark on a journey through time as you delve into the rich history of Fort Kochi. Meander along centuries-old streets, where every corner reveals a new facet of the city’s cultural tapestry. Marvel at architectural wonders like the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets, steeped in legend and tradition. Explore the colonial legacy at St. Francis Church, India’s oldest European church, and bask in the tranquil ambience of Santa Cruz Basilica, an architectural masterpiece of Gothic design.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant spice trade history at the Dutch Palace, adorned with intricate murals depicting tales of Hindu epics. Don’t miss the enchanting Jew Town, where a centuries-old synagogue is a testament to Kochi’s multicultural heritage. Join us on this captivating journey through Fort Kochi’s past and present, where each step unveils a new chapter in its storied legacy.

The ambience of Fort Kochi is truly irresistible. Its rustic Dutch houses, now transformed into charming hotels and resorts, are adorned with lush greenery, creating a laid-back neighbourhood vibe that’s simply enchanting.

Having visited Fort Kochi twice myself, I can attest to its allure. The first time, I spent a day exploring its quaint streets and cozy cafes. On my second visit, I delved deeper into its heritage, marvelling at the historic buildings and churches that dot the landscape. The Fort Kochi heritage walk proved to be the perfect way to immerse myself in the beauty of these remarkable landmarks.

Princess Street Fort Kochi

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About Fort Kochi

Situated approximately 16 kilometres from Cochin City, Fort Kochi is a charming neighbourhood nestled within the Ernakulam district of Kerala, India. Its name derives from Fort Manuel of Cochin, the first European fort established on Indian soil, now in ruins.

Renowned for its quaint houses and quaint cafes, remnants of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial eras adorn this historic locality. Adjacent to Fort Kochi lies Mattancherry, home to the Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace, adding to the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Also, Read | Dutch Bungalow, a heritage stay in Fort Kochi

How to Get to Fort Kochi?

  • By Air – Kochi boasts an international and domestic airport, notable as the world’s first airport to operate entirely on solar power. Major domestic airlines such as Indigo and SpiceJet serve Kochi airport. The distance between Kochi Airport and Fort Kochi is approximately 37 kilometres, with a travel time of around 1 hour and 20 minutes by road.
  • By Train – Kochi is well-connected by rail, with the Ernakulam Junction railway station as a major hub. As one of the largest railway stations in Kochi, it facilitates stops for most train routes. The distance between the railway station and Fort Kochi is approximately 10 kilometres.
  • By Bus – Kochi enjoys frequent bus services connecting it to cities and towns across India. Local buses also operate between Kochi City and Fort Kochi. Passengers are advised to carry exact change for local bus fares, as cash is the only accepted payment method.

7 Landmarks to See on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk

The cobblestone streets of Fort Kochi are adorned with a plethora of historical and heritage landmarks. From centuries-old houses transformed into charming hotels or homestays to captivating architectural marvels, every step along these streets is a journey through time, particularly enchanting for heritage enthusiasts. In this guide, I present seven must-see landmarks to discover on the Fort Kochi Heritage Walk.

Chinese Fishing Nets

In the 14th century, the renowned Chinese explorer Zheng He made his way to Cochin, where he introduced the iconic Chinese fishing nets. These nets, serving as fixed land installations for fishing, stand impressively tall, reaching at least 10 meters in height. Operated by a team of up to six fishermen, this unique method of fishing is a rarity in India, exclusively practised in the captivating locales of Fort Kochi.

  • For a fee of INR 100, fishermen offer demonstrations showcasing the workings of these traditional fishing nets.
  • Keep an eye out for dolphins in the vicinity. During my initial exploration of Fort Kochi, I was fortunate enough to spot a delightful pod of dolphins.
Chinese Nets - Fort Kochi
Chinese Nets

St Francis Church

Constructed initially in 1503, St. Francis Church holds historical significance as the temporary resting place of Vasco da Gama, who was interred here for 14 years until his remains were relocated to the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon in 1538.

This church stands as the first European church established in India, situated within the oldest European settlement of Fort Kochi. Originally crafted from wood, it was subsequently reconstructed using stone and roofed with tiles.

  • Visitors are welcome to explore St. Francis Church between 10 AM and 5 PM from Monday to Saturday and from 12 PM to 5 PM on Sundays.
St Francis Church in Fort Kochi
St Francis Church

Vasco House

Vasco House is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Kochi, dating back to the 16th century. Legend has it that this historic abode once belonged to the famed explorer Vasco da Gama.

Adorned with characteristic European paned windows and verandahs from that era, it exudes an old-world charm that captivates visitors. Today, the house has been lovingly converted into a homestay, offering guests the unique opportunity to experience life within this storied residence.

Vasco house in Fort Kochi
Vasco House

Le Colonial Neemrana Hotel

Established in 1506, the Le Colonial Neemrana Hotel is an elegant boutique offering seven upscale rooms. With a history of over 500 years, this historical property is conveniently located just opposite the Saint Francis Church.

Remarkably, this house is among the few that escaped destruction by the Dutch and is believed to have once accommodated esteemed figures such as the Saint and Vasco da Gama. As seen in the popular show Real Marigold Hotel, this hotel now welcomes guests to indulge in its storied ambience and luxurious amenities.

Le Colonial Neemrana hotel in Fort Kochi
Le Colonial Neemrana hotel

Bastion Bungalow

Constructed in 1667 under Dutch rule, the Bastion Bungalow derives its name from its positioning on the former site of the Stromberg Bastion within the old Dutch fort.

Presently, it serves as the Dutch Heritage Museum and serves as the official residence of the Sub-Collector. This architectural gem showcases a unique blend of Indo-European styles, incorporating elements of both Dutch and local architectural traditions.

  • Visitors are welcome to explore the Bastion Bungalow between 10 AM and 1 PM and from 2 PM to 5 PM daily.
Bastian Bungalow in Fort Kochi
Bastian Bungalow

Bishop’s House

Constructed in 1506, the Bishop’s House once served as the residence of the Portuguese governor. Today, it houses the esteemed Bishop of Kochi and features an Indo-Portuguese museum.

  • The museum welcomes visitors between 9 AM and 5 PM for exploration and discovery.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

Designated as a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984, the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica holds a distinguished place as one of the nine Basilicas in Kerala. With its awe-inspiring Gothic architecture and vibrant hues, the basilica is the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin.

Throughout its storied history, the cathedral has witnessed significant moments. Initially constructed by the Portuguese, it was elevated to Cathedral status in 1558 by Pope Paul IV. Despite the Dutch campaign to demolish many Catholic buildings, this cathedral miraculously remained intact, which was later destroyed by the British. In 1887, Joao Gomes Ferreira commissioned constructing a new building, which eventually led to its proclamation as a Basilica in 1984.

  • Visitors are welcome to explore the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica between 9 AM and 1 PM and from 3 PM to 5 PM daily.
Santa Cruz Basilica - Fort Kochi

Bonus Destination – Cochin Paradesi Synagogue

Situated in the heart of Mattancherry’s Jew Town Kochi, the Cochin Paradesi Synagogue offers a captivating glimpse into the rich history of Jews in Kochi. Constructed in 1568 by descendants of Spanish, Dutch, and other European Jews, this synagogue is a testament to the enduring Jewish presence in Kerala.

Did you know there are fewer than 25 Jewish residents in Kochi?

  • While exploring the synagogue, please note that photography is strictly prohibited inside.
  • Admission to the synagogue is free of charge.
  • Visitors are welcome to explore the Cochin Paradesi Synagogue between 10 AM and 1 PM, as well as from 2 PM to 5 PM, every day except on Fridays, Saturdays, and Jewish holidays.
Cochin Paradesi Synagogue in Fort Kochi
Cochin Paradesi Synagogue

Is Fort Kochi Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Fort Kochi is considered very safe for solo female travellers. Having visited twice and explored the area alone, I can attest to feeling secure throughout my journeys. However, it’s always wise to exercise caution and remain aware of your surroundings, particularly after dark, as you would in any destination worldwide.

Are you new to solo travel or have questions about it? Explore our frequently asked questions (FAQ) on solo travel for helpful insights and tips.

Closing Notes

Fort Kochi is a gem in Kerala, rich with history and culture waiting to be explored. I, too, look forward to returning and immersing myself in its charms for an extended stay. Have you had the pleasure of visiting Fort Kochi? Share your favourite aspects of this enchanting destination by writing to Solopassport@gmail.com.

I was hosted by Kerala Travel Mart 2022 and partnering hotels and resorts as a media invitee. I did this activity or stayed at the resort as part of their Pre-Mart tour and I thank them for the hospitality. However, all the opinions mentioned in the post are solely mine and unbiased. The information mentioned is based on the inputs provided from various sources and on my personal experience.

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7 Landmarks to See on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – 7 Landmarks to See on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk

    PIN for later reference - 7 landmarks to see on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk
    PIN for later reference – 7 Landmarks to See on Fort Kochi Heritage Walk