Heritage Walking Tour of Cochin
The best way to explore Fort Cochin is on foot, but we can of course do this in a vehicle, or even on bikes meaning you get to see a little more of the city. Cochin has a mix of Dutch, Portuguese, British and Jewish influences, and a walk through the streets and along the seaside promenade allows you to glimpse into the daily lives of those who live in the city, and learn a little of the history behind this fascinating city. Begin at Vasco De Gama Square, from where you can see the traditional Chinese Fishing Nets. You’ll then along the beach walkway, passing the remains of Fort Emmanuel, built in 1503 when the Portuguese were allowed to protect their commercial interests in the Malabar region, and so began four centuries of European influence over the city. You’ll emerge onto the Parade Ground and visit David Hall, built in 1695 by the VOC (Dutch East India Company), and the official residence of the governor, Hendrick Adrian Van Rheede tot Drakestein, but it takes its name from famous local resident David Koder. It now houses an interesting art gallery. You’ll then turn into Dutch Cemetery Road and visit the cemetery, hearing a few stories about the lives of some of those buried there. Continue to the Bishop’s House, built in 1506, constructed for the Portuguese Governor, and now taken over by the church. You’ll then work your way back to the Parade Ground and visit the St Francis’ Church, the oldest European church in India, once the resting place of Vasco De Gama who landed in India in 1498. Walk up Rose Street, seeing Vasco House, said to the oldest colonial house in Kochi, and then walk around to the Kashi Arts Cafe for a cup of tea or coffee before walking down Burger Street and visiting Santa Cruz Basilica, built in 1505. You’ll then jump in tuk-tuks and head through Fort Cochin to Mattancherry Palace (also known as the Dutch Palace), given to the Rajah of Cochin by the Portuguese in 1555 and containing superb murals of Hindu art. Walk onto the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest in India and founded in 1567. You’ll then finish in the bustling markets of Jew Town.