Local tourist sites
Built by the Dutch in 1744, this palace is on an island, off Cochin in the Arabian Sea. The building was once a Governor s palace, for the Dutch and later the home of the British Governors. Your evening boat cruise will take you all around the island. The palace is two-storeyed and contains well-decorated bedchambers and a huge lounge where historical portraits are displayed.
The Jewish Synagogue at Cochin is the oldest Synagogue in the commonwealth countries. It houses some of the scrolls of the Old Testament in the original Hebrew. Built in 1568, it also preserves the grants of privilege that were bequeathed to the Jewish community by the erstwhile Kochi rulers. There are nearly two hundred exquisite hand painted blue Chinese tiles, not one of which resembles any other.
Built in oriental style, the Mattancherry Palace was originally built by the Portuguese and presented to the king of Cochin in 1555. It was later taken over by the Dutch who improved it through extensions and repairs in 1663 AD. Since then it came to be called the Dutch Palace, though at no time did the Portuguese or the Dutch stay there. One of the oldest buildings in Kerala, the Mattancherry Palace is a double-storeyed quadrangular building that is a portrait gallery of the kings of Cochin. In the centre of the building is the Coronation Hall where the Cochin Rajas held their coronations.
St. Francis’ Church
St Francis’ Church in Cochin is the oldest European-built church in India. Built in 1503 by the Portuguese, it housed the remains of Vasco Da Gama, the famous explorer who was the first European to land on the shores of India. His remains were later removed to Lisbon.
St. Mary’s Church
The St. Mary’s Church near Chambakulam was established in 1721 by St. Thomas. The Church is said to impart a sense of tranquility and peace to all who enter.
The little island of Pathiramanal on the Backwaters is beautifully named; Pathiranamal meaning “sands of night”. The island is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the area. The green island thus forms an ideal place for a break in the journey while on a backwater cruise.
Snake boat races
The boats of Kerala are known after their shapes, sizes or purposes. The Chundaanvallam or snake boat takes its name from its stern, which represents the raised hood of a snake, as also from its serpentine length. They have a length of about 60-65 meters and can carry between 100-110 people. Snake boats are the traditional battle vessels of Kerala.