Once just a small Keralan fishing village in the Kingdom of Cochin, this waterfront settlement was gifted by the Raja of Cochin to the Portuguese in the early 16th Century. These early European settlers proceeded to build a fortified trading centre where they remained for almost 160 years before the Dutch captured the region in 1683. For over 110 years this important port belonged to the Dutch East India Company and they continued to trade and export valuable spices until Cochin became part of the British Empire in the late 18th Century.
The city has a rich colonial past and the influence of the British, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese is reflected in its striking architecture. Tranquil and laid-back Fort Cochin was named for Fort Emmanuel, built by the Portuguese in the early years of the 16th Century and to this day, remains of the fort can be found close to the waterfront. Standing as testament to India’s first European settlement, visitors can see the oldest church in India – Saint Francis Church – which was built by the Portuguese to replace the wooden structure first erected within the fort. Stroll along the beach and observe local fisherman casting their vast Chinese fishing nets. The silhouette of these immense mechanised nets against the golden sunset is a magical sight.
Visit India's oldest synagogue - Paradesiew - which was built in 1568 and houses a host of treasures including gold and silver Torah scrolls, Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Cochin is an ideal starting point for excursions to the nearby recreational areas of the Western Ghats and Kerala's Backwaters, known as the 'Venice of the East'.
GMT +5½ hours
Cochin is a reached by an 11½-hour flight from the UK (not including stop over time).
Hindi, English and a number of other regional languages
A visa is needed for travel to India. British passport holders are able to apply for an E-Visa. The E-Visa needs to be applied for online in advance of travel and travellers must possess a machine readable passport. Please call for more information.