Ernakulam - A Tete a Tete with the city
Earlier known as : Cochin
Located in : South India, Kerala.
Best Time to Visit : October to March
Local Transport : Buses, cars, and other public Transport
Places to See : St.Francis Church, Hill Palace Museum, Cherai beach, Willingdon Island and many more hill stations, sanctuaries etc
Souvenirs : Local articles, Kerala handicrafts, handlooms etc
Ernakulam - A Tale of the City
In the Year 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese Admiral had a treaty with the King of Ernakulam that he would help him fight the Zamorin of Calicut. After repeated trials when all failed to defeat the Zamorin, the Ernakulam King sent Vasco Da Gama who bombed Calicut. A war between the Zamorin and the Ernakulam king was waged but the Zamorin retreated as the festival of Onam was nearing and he didn’t want to continue war at that time. Gradually the Portuguese under the pretext of helping the Ernakulam Raja gained ground and soon in 1530, St. Francis Xavier founded the Christian mission. All these events finally led to the city of Ernakulam becoming a witness to deterioration of Portuguese rule. The Dutch came in the 17th century and there was a conspiracy with them to overthrow the Cochin Raja. The Dutch conquered the Pallipuram fort and set base at Njarakal. The Raja stopped ruling Ernakulam when Haider Ali from Mysore invaded Ernakulam and bought the Ernakulam kingdom. In the 18th century Ernakulam went to the British through the Anglo Dutch Treaty. Towards the 19th century the Ernakulam Port faced a lot of activities and in 1925 the Ernakulam Legislative Assembly was formed.
Ernakulam - Down the Ages
Ernakulam down the ages has grown into a beautiful place. After the Indian independence Cochin was the first state to join of its own will. In 1949 The Travancore Cochin state came into existence. It was a part of the Madras State. In 1956, the state of Kerala was formed and Cochin became a part of it. In 1967, the corporation of Cochin was formed.
Today Ernakulam, earlier Cochin is one of the most magnificent harbors on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It has been a successful port from earlier times. Down the ages has seen Ernakulam develop into a land of islands and peninsulas. Down the ages, Ernakulam is India’s commercial hub.
Ernakulam - A rendezvous
This wonderful city, with all its magnificence is one of the most finest and beautiful natural harbors. Arabians, Chinese, Dutch, British, and the Portuguese have all found this place very fascinating. Also known as the commercial and the industrial capital of the state of Kerala, is a place where one would find the stunning beauty of backwaters, the cool breeze of the Arabian Sea and the amazing scenic beauty of an erstwhile historic city.
Ernakulam - Travel kitty
The Queen of the Arabian Sea, the Vembanad Lake is the main feature of the city. Offering the best travel kitty ever by its picturesque islands, the lake forms one of the best natural harbors. The traders and explorers who have visited this place find the place very exciting and adventurers. A person coming here would be happy to take along the ambience and the atmosphere as his travel kitty. Besides there are these local articles available which give the tourist his fill.
Ernakulam - Joie de vivre in the City
Any city has his share of attraction and reasons to visit a place. Ernakulam is one such place which really does not need a reason to visit. Cochin itself is beauty and Ernakulam, the land of peninsulas and islands is just a paradise on earth which has to be pampered by the tourist coming here. The joie de vivre in this place is its sheer ambience and exotic mysterious beauty. One would find the following here:
Santa Cruz Basilica : This church is as old as more than 600 years old. With beautiful interiors and exquisite paintings, this church was built by the Portuguese. The Pope Paul IV raised the church to another level in 1558 AD. In the 17th century, the church was taken over by the British and was unfortunately demolished. However in the 18th century, Pope John Paul II proclaimed the church a Basilica in 1984.
St. Francis Church : This was built in 1503, by Franciscan Friars, and is one of the oldest churches in India amongst the European church. The Dutch restored it in the 17th century. In 1795, the British converted it into an Anglican church. Today the church has the remains of Vasco DA Gama and is used by the church of South Infida. This is one of the most impressive structures built and is renowned for its beautiful interiors. There is a cenotaph here which is there in memory of those who died in the First Great War. IN 1924, there were walls erected for the boundary. The Church has regular meetings and prayers on Sunday.
Forts and Palaces :
Mattanchery Palace : This is a Dutch Palace which was built in the year 1557 by the Portuguese. It was a gift given to the Raja Veer of Ernakulam. The palace was renovated in the year 1663 by the Dutch. There are beautiful murals which show scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and many other legends. Known as the Dutch Palace today, this is a living example of the past of the kings of Cochin, the land of the Royals. There is a Coronation Hall in the centre and there are many rooms showing the paintings of the 17th century. There are also dresses, turbans and weapons on display in this museum. The palace has two storeys. There is also a Hindu temple found here and the presiding deity here is the Palayannur Bhagwati. There are two other temples for Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva too in this palace. A place worth visiting for a tourist who has come to Ernakulam.
Cherai Beach : This is a lovely tourist spot with the Vypeen Island on the side. It is a place ideal for swimming. A major feature here is the presence of dolphins in the sea. There is also a wonderful piece of tourist attraction here and that is that village with paddy fields and coconut groves.
Jew Town : This is a place around the Synagogue and is the centre of spice trade and curio shops.
Hill Palace Museum : Found in Thirupunitrha, this is around 10m from Ernakulam. It is the official residence of the Ernakulam Royal family. It was built in 1865AD. The palace has 49 building, and has around 52 acres of land surrounding it. Built in the traditional style, the palace boasts of a lot of greenery, a Deer Park and good facilities for horse riding. There is also an ethno archaeological museum here and another museum which is Kerala’s heritage museum which are also a good source of attraction for the tourists.
The galleries in the palace display a lot of oil paintings belonging to the 19th century. Besides, there are manuscripts, coins, inscriptions and the Royal furniture including the Simhasana or the Throne of the King’s Chair. Pottery and ceramic vases from China and Japan, Kudalkall “menhirs” and rock cut caves and Iron Age wooden models have been modeled. Besides this museum also has a lot of plaster models of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. Thus this museum offers the best for the minimum price offered.
Pareekshith Thampuran Museum : This is a museum which has been built strictly in the Kerala traditional style and was earlier called the Durbar Hall.
Forts and Palaces :
Gundu Island : This is a fort built in the 16th century.
Bolghatty Palace : This is a famous tourist spot here. This was built by the Dutch in 1744 AD. This was earlier the residence for the British in Ernakulam. It has two storeys and has intricately decorated rooms and a sprawling lounge which is the place where the historical portraits have been put t up. Besides, there is a provision for an enjoyable ferry ride from Ernakulum, the city to the island. This is a unique experience. Also for the more relaxed ones, there is a golf course to relax and unwind.
Fishing Nets : These are huge nets which were brought by the traders from the court of Kublai Khan.
Willingdon Island : This has been named after Lord Willingdon. He was the British Viceroy and the island has been named after him. It is surrounded by the magnificent backwaters. This is the island which is the main centre of trading and customs, the port trust and the main headquarters of the Southern Naval Command.
Jewish Synagogue : This was constructed in 1568, and is considered to be the oldest in the Commonwealth. It was however destroyed in 1662, in a Portuguese raid and was rebuilt after two years by the Dutch. This has beautiful hand painted, willow pattern tiles belonging to the 18th century. These were brought from China. There is also a dock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs and copper plates.
Vypeen Island: This is a magnificent piece of construction at Ochanthuruth.
Other Places :
Alapuzha : This lies around 70 km from Cochin, and is famous for its boat races. Also known as the Venice of the East, this place thrives in its beaches, marine products and coir industry. This place has the Kuttanad, which is one of the rare places in the world where farming is done below the sea level. This place is known s the “granary of Ernakulam.”
Kalady : this is situated on the banks of the River Periyar. The 8th century philosopher of Advaita, Sri Shankaracharya was born here. This town is also famous for many temples.
Aluva : This is around 20km of Ernakulam, and is also situated on the banks of the River Periyar. The Shivrathri festival is celebrated here and is a cause for intermingling
Wildlife Sanctuary :
Peryar Wildlife Sanctuary : This is found in Thekkady which is around 190 km from the city of Ernakulam, the land of wildlife. With the luscious green hills and stupendous cardamom plantations, Thekkady is one of the largest wildlife reserves of the Periyar Lake and India. It is more known as a tiger reserve and a boat ride on the Periyar Lake is the perfect tourist activity one could do here.
A visit to Ernakulam is incomplete without the backwaters. There are many destinations of backwaters. They are:
Kumarakom : This is around 88 km from Ernakulam, the city of backwaters. This is situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake and is regarded as the gateway to the Kuttanad backwaters. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a favorite tourist spot and is the haunt of the migratory birds from all over the world. This is famous centre for bird watching. This is also a good spot for having the houseboat cruises.
Hill Stations :
If one comes to Ernakulam, one should also squeeze in time to visit these following hill stations:
Munnar : This is around 130 km from Ernakulam, the land of houseboat cruises. This is a hill station which anyone loving nature would definitely have been. This was earlier the British Government Resort and is ideally so with its amazing tea plantation, winding lanes and many other resorts in and around make this place worth visiting. The place is covered with greenery and amongst the flora and fauna found here is the Neelakurinji which is a flower which blooms once in every 12 years. Munnar also boasts of having the highest peak in South India. The peak is the Anamudi peak with a height of 2695m. It is the best place for trekking. Besides, there are a lot of animals that are found here. The tiger, sambhar, bison, spotted deer, leopard, and Malabar flying squirrel and striped necked mongoose and so on. There is an important trade centre Kumily which is found in the edge of the sanctuary.
Malayatoor Church : This is around 609 m high and is existing from the 9th century. This was a famous Christian pilgrim spot. It is believed that ST. Thomas the apostle is supposed to have prayed here.
Cheeyappara Waterfalls : There are two waterfalls - The Cheeyappara Waterfalls and the Valara Waterfalls. These are located between the Neriamangalam and the Adimali on the Ernakulam - Madurai highway. The Cheeyappara waterfalls fall in seven steps and are a tourist’s delight.
Thommankuthu Waterfalls: This is situated around 20kms from the Thodpuzha. This is a beautiful wild piece of watershed and is the mainstay of tourism here. The tourist is enthralled by the sheer beauty of the falling water.
Kanjiramattom Mosque : This is a mosque that is situated at Kanjiramattom. This is situated around 30km from Ernakulam. This mosque was constructed over the mortal remains of Sheikh Parid. Sheikh Parid was a Muslim saint. There is another great saint Baver. This saint is believed to have prayed here and obtained salvation.
Thus the city of Cochin or Ernakulam is one of the finest pieces of natural harbors on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Catching the attention of almost every foreigner, this central hub of Kerala today stands dignified and eases its grace into its ambience. This queen of the Arabian Sea, is a classic example of elegance, grace and culture personified and also exudes equal amount of modern technology and advancement.
As we leave the place we think, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, Ernakulam is an eternity.”