Ancient temples, churches, mosques, palaces and above all the birthplace of Sri Sankaracharya provided a great deal of interest to the archaeologists and historians in particular and the tourists in general. In the district of Ernakulam, the City of Kochi, known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. From time immemorial, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, British and Portuguese sea forces followed the sea route to Kochi and left their indelible impressions on the town.
Dutch Palace
This palace in Mattancherry was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Cochin in 1555. Though built by the Portuguese, it is popularly known as the 'Dutch Palace', as the Dutch renovated it during their brief reign here. The palace is noted for its murals, which are in the best traditions of Hindu temple. In the central courtyard of the palace is the temple dedicated to Pazhayannur Bhagavathi. In the coronation hall, there is a display of dresses and palanquins used by the rulers of Cochin.
Jewish Synagogue
The synagogue was built in 1568 A.D. Scrolls of Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved in this synagogue. The Jewish synagogue in Kochi stands out as a testament to the communal harmony in Kerala for centuries.
St. Francis Church
This church was built by the Portuguese in 1510 A.D. It is believed to be the oldest European church built in India. Vasco-da-Gama was buried here. Fourteen years later, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal.
Chinese Fishing Nets
Situated at the entrance to the Kochi harbour, these nets offer a fascinating sight. They can be seen all along the backwaters of Kerala. They were first bought to Kerala by the Chinese traders from Kubla Khan's court.
Willington Island
This is a man-made island created from the earth dredged, while deepening the Kochi port. Lord Bristow was the architect of this island. There are frequent ferry and bus services from Ernakulam. The harbour, naval airport and harbour railway terminus are in this island.
Bolgatty Palace
Bolgatty palace in Kochi, built on a narrow stretch of land by the Dutch in 1744 was once a governor's palace for the Dutch and later a home for British governors. Now it has been converted into a hotel by the K.T.D.C. The Bolgatty Palace Hotel has a commanding view of the backwaters.
This Mangalavanam is a small bird sanctuary, located in the heart of Kochi, behind the High Court of Kerala, and attracts a large number of tourists.
Parikshith Thampuran Museum
This is situated on the Durbar Hall Ground on DH Road, Ernakulam. Collection of 19th Century oil paintings, old coins, sculptures in stone and plaster of paris and copies of mural paintings are exhibited here.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
The first mosque in India is at Methala, 52 km from Kochi. It was built in 629 A.D. and resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. There are bus services from Ernakulam to Methala.
Museum of Kerala History
Eight kilometers from Ernakulam, this museum is a treasure house of important scenes of Kerala history from the Neolithic Age to the modern period, portrayed through life-size statues. Recorded commentary of each scene with sound and light shows is staged here.
Hill Palace Museum
This is situated 12 km from Ernakulam on the Ernakulam-Chottanikkara route. It is the largest archaeological museum of Kerala. Different types of sculptures, collection of rare coins, old weapons and collections from the Cochin royal family are exhibited here.
Pallippuram Fort
Pallipuram Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1503. It is one of the oldest existing European monuments in India. This Catholic church at Pallipuram is an important pilgrim centre.
Cherai Beach
The beach at Cherai on Vypeen island is 18 km from Vypeen. This is a beautiful and calm beach.
Kalady is the birth place of Adi Sankara the great Indian philosopher who lived in the eighth century. It is situated on the banks of river Periyar and there are two shrines in memory of Sree Sankaracharya. One dedicated to him as Dakshinamoorthy and the other to the Goddess Sharada. Adi Sankara's shrines in Kalady are open to all pilgrims, irrespective of religion or caste.
Kallil Temple
This is a ninth century Jain temple, located 22 km from Kalady. This temple has been cut from a huge rock and a climb of 120 steps leads to the temple.
On the slopes of the picturesque Western Ghats, 52 km from Kochi and 8 km from Kalady is the Malayattoor Church. This is a Christian pilgrim centre and is believed to have been blessed by the Apostle of Christ, St. Thomas and the Church atop the hill was established in A.D. 900. Malayattoor is accessible by road up to the foot hills of Kurishumudy. The church at the top of the hill, about 2 km can be reached only by foot. Situated beside the Periyar River and a small lake called Manappattuchira, Malayatoor is also a place of scenic beauty.
Kodanad lies on the southern bank of Periyar River amongst the scenic beauty of the high ranges. It is 45 km from the city of Kochi and 12 km to the east of Perumbavoor town. There is an elephant taming centre here and elephant rides are provided here. There is also a mini zoo at Kodanadu.
Situated 63 km from Kochi is the Boothathankettu dam and in the reservoir boating facilities are provided. The Forest department provides elephant rides through the forest to the old Bhoothathankettu.
Source: IT Department, Government of Kerala