There is a no greater pleasure for a traveller to find a popular tourist destination deserted of other tourists. I arrived in Kochi from Alleppey on a local KRSTC bus. Thanks to the wonderful staff at Cosy Regency in Alleppey who helped me with precise directions to Fort Kochi and I got there in just under 2 hours. The rickshaw driver promptly took me to Sonnetta Residency run by Mr. Xavier and it indeed felt so much like home that I stayed here for 5 days.
For a bizarre reason for the entire time I stayed in Fort Kochi, I was filled with…so much love. Every little thing I did (which was not much) was filled with so much joy. I strongly suggest you read up the history of Fort Kochi – here to understand the European influences in the photos below. The town was invaded by the Portuguese and Dutch and apart from the building and architecture, their influences can be seen in the strong Christianity followership.
Fort Kochi is one of those perfect destinations that has a little bit of everything that allows you to relax, recoup and gather yourself and after travelling around India for almost a month and a half, I couldn’t have found a better place to stay put for a few extra days than necessary. It has enough history to keep you fascinated long after you have left the place, amazing little cafes tucked in corners where you can sit for hours and eat scrumptious cakes and daydream, lots of little boutiques to shop and though small but a bona-fide beach where you can stroll along the water, eat freshly sautéed peanuts from the street-vendors and watch the sunset through the Chinese fishing nets. There are plenty of yoga and ayurvedic places for a bit of stretch and massage. Jew Town and its Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry is an amazing little fragment of history. I never knew there is a Jewish presence in India as well. The Dutch Palace on the way is also worth the stop.
And in case if you do get bored in Fort Kochi (which is highly unlikely), you can catch a ferry from the Customs Jetty (15 minutes walk from Fort Kochi) to Ernakulum where you can shop to your hearts content on Broadway. There is also the Hill Palace in Tripunithura which you can visit. It took me couple of hours to get there and back by public buses that are cheap but a bit tricky with connections and not mention the local crowds!
So that’s how I spent my last days in India. I slept in and when I did wake-up, I got served lovely home-cooked breakfast and coffee from the friendly ladies in the kitchen at my homestay. I then would venture out and visit a few places like the Indo-Portuguese Museum, the Santa Cruz Basilica and then park myself neatly at either of the two cafes that I had grown extremely fond of; Kashi Art Café and The Teapot which has the most endearing teapot décor I have ever seen. In the evenings I would head out to Casa Linda where owner/chef and his wife would whip out simple yet stunning Kerala fish curry and curd rice for dinner. I would then slowly make my way back to the house chatting to the local tourist touts who didn’t have enough work for the evening! I made friends with a few rickshaw drivers who gave me free lifts if they saw me walking during the day! Because it was just before the tourist season, everybody seemed to be chilled out and happy to just chat including the oh-so-gorgeous-eyed Kashmiri shop vendors. Gahhhhh.
I also went to see the famous Kathakali dance (you can see photos of the performance here) at the local cultural centre one evening – highly recommended and also went to a raga mediation session one morning!
It was a truly blissful 6 days I spent in Fort Kochi. It is a different side to India. I left there well fed, rejuvenated and drunk on positivity and joy. I think I found my healing spot!
I do believe my experience would not have been the same had I visited here during peak season. Something you should keep in mind – it is an EXTREME tourist destination on the Indian circuit and I hesitate here…but I would give it a miss in the peak seasons if you are on a budget. Burrrt I leave it you!