The sublime state of Kerala has all the endemic charms that shape a top tourist target in South Asia. A rich colonial history, biotic backwaters and bucolic landscapes, royal palaces, a desirable Human Development Index, motley populace and, perhaps best of all, a gem of a city in Kochi (Cochin).
Cochin, the spice trade capital
Though Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is the evergreen state capital – and a wonderful one at that – Kochi is the dominant urban area in Kerala. More than 1.5 million people dwell in the former command post of the Kingdom of Cochin and arch node of the spice trade for hundreds of years.
The home of the famous Cochin Carnival is predictably laden with scores of magnificent attractions, from Bolgatty Palace and Mattancherry Palace to Santa Cruz Basilica and Paradesi Synagogue. Best of all, Kochi is a favourable portal to the rest of spectacular Kerala.
Cochin’s top 10
- Paradesi Synagogue dates back to 1568, which makes it the senior synagogue in the former Commonwealth
- Dutch Cemetery on Beach Road is a venerable old boneyard
- Hill Palace in Tripunithura is the foremost archaeological museum in Kerala
- Paliam Palace in Chendamangalam is a major heritage landmark and quasi-royal residence
- Indo-Portuguese Museum traces the material history of a formative trade and cultural exchange that took root in the 13th century
- Santa Cruz Basilica While the original dates back to 1506, the current version is well worth a look
- St. Francis Church The oldest European-built church in India precedes most other colonial structures in Kerala
- Kashi Art Gallery is a first-rate depot of contemporary talent from the state
- Mattancherry Palace unveils brilliant mythological frescos
- Bolghatty Palace is the bellwether exclamation point on beautiful Bolgatty Island