My romance with Fort Kochi began over 4 years back when I first visited. And this bond has strengthened over the years. I feel a connection with the town, a sense of belonging.
How does one describe Fort Kochi.
It’s a small but important region of Ernakulam which has historical significance. It has always been a cultural magnet for Europeans and attracted the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese – the most famous visitor being Vasco de Gama. Situated by the sea with the famous fishing nets adorning the skyline, today Fort Kochi is not only a tourist attraction, but also at the centre of influence for art and culture and boasts of the only Art Biennale in India. The large rain trees , the elegant homes dotting the streets, the centuries old churches and mansions, the colourful shops and cafes that line the tiny walking streets, the sea food road side stalls, the art galleries, the antique shops, the grounds full of budding football players, the colourful graffiti on the walls, all combine to make Fort Kochi a most quaint and charming place to visit.
And then there is its proximity to Matancherry. A trip to Fort Kochi is not complete without seeing the Spice Market at Jew Town, the murals at the Dutch Palace and the Synagogue. Not to leave out the world of Antiques by the backwaters, which makes it a most interesting place to visit.
Here is my weekend itinerary for Fort Kochi.
Day 1 : Start with breakfast at Kashi Art Gallery Cafe. Located in the bylane of Burgar Street, it is one of the most popular cafes in the area not only for breakfast, but all day dining. One can spend hours here reading a book over pots of filter coffee. From Kerala omlettes, to French Toast, to healthy options like Granola with yoghurt and poached eggs on avocado toast, one is spoilt for choice.
Do a bicycling tour or walking tour of Fort Kochi. The 3 hours tour starts at St Francis Church , walk via the Dutch Cemetery, Bishops House, Parade Ground, Bastion Bungalow, Santa Cruz Basilica, Chinese Fishing nets where they will show you how to capture the fish. The colourful streets of Fort Kochi are most charming and you will want to stop at every corner to take photographs.
Now you will be ready for a wonderful lunch. There are options for all budgets. Nunerous roadside places near the fishing nets where a fresh catch is cooked food you. Or walk down towards Parade Ground to Malabar House and eat their famous lunch thaalis, both vegetarian and sea food options available.
After a delicious lunch, would recommend taking a leisurely backwater cruise. It is so calm on the backwaters. You pass the locals on their small boats, see their homes on the banks. Can stop at a small ” chai corner” by the backwaters too. And then there are the houseboats also which you can rent.
Post afternoon sojourn, go to the Fishing Nets at the Fort Kochi Beach and watch the most incredible sunset.
Evening tea can be enjoyed at any of the innumerable cafes dotting the streets. Teapot cafe serves wonderful cakes. Passage Malabar has a variety of sandwiches. Farmer’s Cafe , David Hall Cafe & Gallery and then there’s good old Kashi.
Time now for a traditional Kathakali dance performance before heading for dinner. Options include Tokyo Bay at the Cochin Club that serves Asian food, Fusion Bay near Santa Cruz Cathedral serving traditional Kerala cuisine, 1142 at Old Harbour Hotel and Brunton Boat Yard.
Day 2 : Post breakfast, take a tuktuk or car or bicycles and drive down to Matancherry.
Jew Town is very charming. The Dutch Palace has the most incredible murals and is definitely worth a visit. Stop by the synagogue. Visit the spice market. Walk through the streets and potter around the antique shops. There are a no of cafes there but I will recommend the Ginger restaurant at Heritage Arts. It is by the backwaters and serves the most delicious fish moily and prawns with appams.
Time to drive now to the Folklore Museum , where you can browse over three floors of antiques from all over South India. And then onwards to the airport to catch your evening flights back.
Next time come back to Fort Kochi to see the Art Biennale and spend at least a week here.