This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Johann Binny Kuruvilla, the face behind the blog Escapinglife.com. So sit back and enjoy as Johann takes us to his hometown!!
Today's destination: Kochi, Kerala!
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam Town Station or Ernakulam Junction Station
Packing - Make sure to carry some rain gear if you are there during the monsoons/rainy season
Time of the year - September to February is a good time to go!
Length of the itinerary: 3 days
- Johann begins by sharing his story about the journey from the corporate world to being a blogger and how one movie - Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna bhoomi inspired him to travel to the North East!
- Johann begins the conversation by sharing some insights into the rich history of Kochi and how it was formed when the previously prominent port city of Muziris was wiped out by the flooding of Periyar river in 1341.
- The itinerary begins at Fort Kochi, formerly known as Fort Emmanuel - established by the portugese explorere Vasco da gama in the 15th century. The fort was then ruled by the Dutch and later on by the British with the evolution of power.
- A walk through the lanes of the fort city gives one a view of the beautiful colonial era houses mingled with traditional Kerala style houses. Streets such as Princess street, Peter celli street, Burger street blend in finely with the colonial vibes of the city!
- Popular churches like St. Francis cathedral (where Vasco da gama was initially buried) and Santa Cruz basilica are a part of Fort Kochi.
- Other interesting things to do are attending a Kathakali performance at the Kerala Kathakali center
- The walk ends at the iconic Chinese fishing nets which have become synonymous with Kochi!
- From here, one can take a tuktuk or bicycle to Mattancherry, where the locals traditionally lived. This place used to be a hub of local markets and commerce as well as house boats.
- Make a stop at the Mattancherry palace - where the Kerala royals used to live, this was gifted by the Portuguese to the royals! The Dutch later on renovated the palace and hence it is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Palace! The palace also has a number of murals depicting the Indian epics.
- Johann also speaks of the diversity of Kochi that includes Marathis, Gujaratis, Konkanis, Kutchi memons, Jews, Arab muslims, Jains and many more sects that live peacefully together.
- The next pitstop of our journey is Thrippunithura, a historical area where the erstwhile Kerala royals lived. There is the magnificent Thrippunithura palace overlooking more than 50 acres of the fort. Sloped roof, large Dutch windows, British arches and the traditional Thacchushaastram style of architecture gives a unique flavor to the palace, which is now a museum.
- There is also the Poornathrayesa temple in the vicinity, which is famous for the Vrishchikoltsawam festival. The procession of decorated/Caparisoned elephants carrying the deity is a prominent event of the temple in Nov-Dec.
- The final pitstop of our tour is Ernakulam - the newer region of Kochi! This is the hub of all the commercial activity among other things. A lot of new projects like the Broadway - a walkway with a lot of shops and markets, the Ernakulam market, the Marine drive etc. There is also the Subhash Park where one can catch the beautiful view of the lakes and sunset.
- One can also indulge in shopping at the Lulu supermarket, the biggest mall in India, to end the trip!