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Very much an ‘off the beaten track’ destination, fly to Kochi and you’ll discover a multi-cultural location rich with its own unique character – a melting pot of cultural influences that combine to create a vibrant and extraordinary destination. Flights to Kochi with Qatar Airways introduce both seasoned travellers and novice explorers to a location that, once experienced, is never forgotten.
A trip to Kochi is full of unique images of a city built on the spice trade. For centuries its merchants traded black pepper and cardamom with Arabian, Chinese and Western customers. The result is a city that garners its influences from a rich variety of backgrounds – a fact ably demonstrated in its buildings and monuments. The most instantly recognisable sight that is associated with this location is the Chinese fishing nets, which have been in use since the 14th Century and are still used to this day. The best time to see them in all their glory (and a perfect photo opportunity) is late afternoon, when the nets are strung up along the harbour.
The Mattancherry Dutch Palace may be small, but it’s perfectly formed. It was constructed by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Kochi in 1555. Over a hundred years later the Dutch colonists renovated the building and today it’s home to a small museum that houses some rare and unusual artwork.
The Maritime Museum is housed in a pair of former bomb shelters, and traces the history of the Indian navy, as well as maritime trade dating back to the Portuguese and Dutch, through a series of relief murals and information panels.
To learn more about Kerala's culture, head to the Kerala Folklore Theater and Museum, on the outskirts of Ernakulam. To discover what lies beyond the city walls, take the ferry from Fort Kochi out to Vypeen Island and visit Cherai beach.
While there are plenty of sites to see on a trip to Kochi, it’s all about the ‘experience’ of this eclectic location. Kerala is known as an important centre for ancient and influential Ayurvedic medicine techniques, and there are plenty of spas offering treatments for relaxation and wellness. During your time in the city, also check out performances of Kathakali, an unusual and ancient form of dance-drama that's unique to Kerala at Kerala Kathakali Centre - In an intimate, wood-lined theatre, this place provides a useful introduction to Kathakali, complete with amazing demonstrations of eye movements, plus handy translations of the night’s story. The region is also renowned for its cuisine, so why not get a more in-depth introduction to the finer points of cooking in Kochi with a culinary course? It starts off with a visit to a local market to collect your ingredients, followed by step-by-step instruction on how to create authentic Kerala dishes.
Travel to Kochi and you’ll discover a culinary extravaganza that’s been influenced by 600 years of trade, spices and colonial influences. The result is that this region’s cuisine is legendary for its variety and quality. Because it’s a coastal city, fish and shellfish play an important role in local dishes, for both street food and luxury restaurants. Thattukadas are the city’s streetside food vendors, selling stuffed or plain thattu dosas, hot Kerala porottas and kanzhi (rice porridge).
Arabic influences are still strong in the city, and there are a number of excellent Arabic restaurants throughout the city offering shawarma and grilled chicken.
Travelling to Kochi brings you into contact with the vibrant markets of the region where you can still experience the same scents, tastes, and a certain level of organised chaos, that the merchants of the 16th Century must have been familiar with. Away from the markets there are plenty of locations where you can buy authentic Indian clothing, which can be found throughout the region. Look for ‘ayurvedic’ clothing and fabrics made from organic cotton. The natural herb dyes used produce a remarkable range of vibrant colours.
When you shop also has a bearing on how much you pay. There are two main ‘shopping festivals’ during the year – the Onam Festival (from Aug-Sept) when discounts of 10-50% are available, and the December-January festival known as the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (15 Dec-30 Jan), when serious discounts are available again. Head for the malls such as Lulu Cochin mall, the largest in India, for the best bargains.
Dress standards are quite conservative throughout the region, particularly for women, and especially when visiting any site of religious significance. Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated.
Flights to Kochi arrive at Cochin International Airport.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Kochi please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)
Voltage: 230 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C / D
Language: Hindi / English
International dialing code: +91