This half-day tour of the city will give you an idea of how years of visiting explorers and traders have made Cochin into the cultural melting pot that it is today. You’ll head to Mattancherry by coach and stop at the Dutch Palace. It’s home to Hindu murals that cover entire walls. You’ll then move on to Asia’s best preserved synagogue, which is paved with hand-painted blue-and-white porcelain tiles, before perusing the shops in Jew Town. Next, it’s on to Fort Cochin – the first European settlement in India. This region has changed hands between the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, each of which have left their mark on the architecture. Your guide will point out the traditional Chinese fishing nets dotted along the shoreline that are still used in the Kerala backwaters today. The final stop is at St Francis Church, which was built by General Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1500. He arrived from Portugal with half a dozen ships to build the first European church in India.
You’ll need to cover up when visiting the Jewish synagogue, and remove your shoes – this rule also applies at the St Francis Church. Cameras and video cameras are not allowed in the Dutch Palace, the synagogue or St Francis Church. If your ship calls at Cochin on a Friday, the Jewish synagogue and the Dutch Palace will be closed. Instead, you’ll have extra time for shopping in the Jew Town and visit the Indo-Portuguese Museum.
- SUITABILITY Moderate physical activity.