Fort Cochin

Fort Cochin is a suburb of the Cochin city. Foreign settlers have lived here for years and have left their imprints in the traditions and ways of life in Fort Cochin. The Dutch, Portuguese and the British have taken turns to control the harbour here as it was an important link in trade in ancient times. They have influenced the cuisine, architecture and many other features of Fort Cochin. But the Chinese were the premiere traders, coming to Kerala coast by the 1300s.

Here was the first European fort built on Indian soil in 1530 by Portuguese with the permission of its then ruler. It was then known as 'Manuel Kotta'. Dutch gained its possession in 1663 until British wrested it from them in 1795. Situated on one of the finest natural harbors of the state, it houses first European township that soon became an important commercial centre and trade centre that flourished under the British. It soon became a major military base, cultural hub, shipbuilding centre and centre for Christianity. The Portuguese held this area for about 160 years and the Dutch held it in their power for over a hundred years. Subsequently, their influence can been seen.

Mattancherry has the oldest synagogue in India. It’s open to visitors on all days except on Saturdays. The Fort Cochin beach is lined with Chinese fishing nets and in the evenings you can see men lifting the catch of the day. There’s a Dutch and Portuguese Palace to visit. There are many old churches too – The Santa Cruz Basilica and St. Francis church, which used to house the remains of Vasco Da Gama, are the famous ones. There’s a Jew Town nearby that sells curios, spices and handicrafts.Also visit the Indo-Portuguese Museum and the Bishop’s House.

There used to be seven synagogues in Fort Cochin in this street. Only Pardesi Synagogue is still open now. It’s over 400 years old, and its interior holds curved brass columns, Belgian crystal chandeliers, carved teak ark and Torah crowns of solid gold set with gems.

The floor has hand-painted porcelain tiles from Canton, China. NO two tiles are similar; they depict a love affair between a mandarin’s daughter and a commoner. An exclusive gallery for ladies is located upstairs above the main entrance. There’s a carved Ark that houses four scrolls of the Torah in silver and gold. You can sit gold crowns presented by the maharajas of Travancore and Kochi.

There are two copper plates dating back to the 4th century showing privileges granted to the Jewish community during the reign of Bhaskara Ravi Varman in the 10th century. The four dials of the 45ft clock tower have numerals painted in Malayalam, Hebrew, Latin, and Arabic.



  • “How can you walk away when fishermen haul their catch over the Chinese fishing nets? I stood back to watch them gently lift the net to reveal pools of fish which were soon sold off.”Sandra Keller
  • “Our vacation in Kochi coincided with the famous Cochin Carnvial on New Year’s Day. With merrymaking and laughter all around, it was a treat for the eyes!”Samantha and Punta Trujillo


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Fort Cochin | Thiruvananthapuram | Kovalam Beach | Munnar | Alappuzha
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