Fort Cochin is a historically important place in Kochi where the past meets present and it has a heartbeat of its own. It has preserved the history of colonial times with the old colonial roads, tree-lined avenues, quaint little houses, and the magnificent Chinese fishing nets. Fort Cochin, with its European heritage and cosmopolitan temperament, is a jewel in the crown of Kerala. Walking through Fort Cochin can surely take you back to the 15th century. The main attractions are the colonial-style houses, villas, and churches of Indo-European architecture built by the Portuguese and the serene, beautiful Fort Cochin beach.
Fort Cochin, the historical destination, was once a fishing village of no significance in pre-colonial Kerala. It was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 and it was under foreign control for nearly four hundred and forty years which ended only in 1947, with India getting Independence. This place was once a busy port for trade, where ships would dock to trade for a plethora of spices including cardamom, cloves, pepper, and cinnamon. Today this region of Kochi is called Fort Cochin even though there is not a single fort insight. It is believed that Cochin Fort was the name given to Fort Emmanuel, a fort built by the Portuguese, in this region as a sign of a strategic alliance between the Maharaja of Cochin and the Portuguese and later this fort was destroyed by the Dutch. The Dutch left their legacy behind, followed by the British. Fort Cochin houses numerous ancient buildings built by Portuguese, Dutch and British which will take you to the bygone era.
St. Francis Church is one of the oldest churches built by the Europeans in India. Initially, it was built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal, and even today you can find his tombstone here. Santa Cruz Basilica Church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to Cathedral in 1558 by Pope Paul IV. It is one of the eight basilicas in India. The artistic architectural grandeur along with the colors of the Gothic style make this church look stunning. Vasco House is believed to be the house where Vasco da Gama stayed during his visits to Kochi, right until his death in 1524. The house, more than 500 years old, is on Rose Street in Fort Kochi.
Fort Cochin beach is a small beach but it is comparatively calmer than the beaches in the other regions of Kochi which makes it a perfect place for a swim. The major attraction of Fort Cochin beach is the Chinese fishing nets. These fishing nets are fixed land installations and they are here from the 14th century. For a small fee, the fishermen will show you how these nets operate. Sunset is the best time of the day to visit this place and it is the most preferred location of photography lovers. Walk leisurely on the sands of the Fort Cochin beach and enjoy tasting the delicious fresh seafood sold in the stalls on the beach.
Indo-Portuguese Museum in Fort Cochin houses an invaluable collection of artifacts, architectural relics and antique pieces that reveal the Portuguese legacy in Fort Cochin. It maintains the rich heritage of Indo-Portuguese art, culture, and architecture in Cochin. The basement of the museum has remnants of the 16th century Portuguese-built Fort Emmanuel and the major attraction is a piece of the altar made of teak. Fort Cochin is made of quaint streets, vibrant markets, and stately houses. Princess Street, one of the oldest streets of Fort Cochin, is an amalgamation of old and new times. It is filled with cafes, restaurants, book stores, tea shops, art galleries, and souvenir shops and Fort Cochin beach is at the end of this street.