Tuesday 1 January 2019

INDIA: Kochi One Of The Safest Cities In India, Beware Of Red Killers. Prostitution Is Illegal But Exists

Kochi is a cosmopolitan city in Kerala with a bustling commercial port. Kochi is the financial capital of Kerala and, with a population of more than 2 million, the biggest urban agglomeration in the state. It is one of the major tourist destinations in India.

A city born in storm, nurtured in rivalry and established as battling ground for European empires. This phrase makes prefect understanding of Kochi which was formed as an ancient port city after the Great Floods of the Periyar River in 1341.

With partitioning of Chera Kerala empire in 14th century, this region came under control of a new dynasty, rivaled by other local feudal lords. With the advent of colonization, Kochi became the first major battle grounds of almost all European powers.

However, least it made an impact over the fortunes of this city.

Kochi has a cosmopolitan culture, highly influenced by historical trading partners, Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese, and Japanese.

Kochi has an unusual higher Christian population, thus the city being the seat of the Latin church of India, the ecclesiastical seat of one of the 4 Catholic Cardinals of India and has many Catholic churches and followers apart from other religious orders of Christianity.

Kochi was traditionally a potpourri of various Indian and international communities. Syrian Christians started the first wave of immigration, followed by Jews between the 7th and 10th centuries. Arab merchants also made a strong settlement in Kochi.

In the 15th century, Gujaratis settled in Kochi, especially on Mattencherry Island, where they played a strong role in spice trading and other areas. Apart from that, nearly 31 trading communities across India call Kochi as their home.

Later, at the beginning of the colonial era, the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British all made their settlements in Kochi. The Portuguese had a strong influence in Fort Cochin while Dutch has lent many of its words and culinary influence into local cultures.

British culture was strongly felt, lending Kochi a strong community of Anglo-Indians, the largest of the social group in India.

In the early 1970s, Punjabis settled here, focusing their strong presence on the local automobile industry. Tamilians, Telugus, Kannadigas have all formed small settlements since the days of royalty.

Recently, students from Cambodia, Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia have settled down in Kochi for studies and research activities. Kochi has a sizeable expatriate population mainly from European countries who have settled in Fort Kochi.

Most of them are senior citizens who settled down to enjoy retirement life and many run boutique hotels and restaurants in that area. Due to the rapid growth of the city, a majority of the local population are immigrants.

Generally, Kochinites are modern and fashionable. Being a city that has a tradition of various cultures being given equal respect, a high level of tolerance exists. The city has a modern attitude, but some basic social modesty still prevails, especially in villages and rural areas.

Kochi has a typical tropical climate. Temperatures range between 30°C and 35°C during daytime and around 24°C during night. Kochi is one of the first places to experience the heavy Monsoon showers starting by mid of May. Kochi experiences heavy rainfall between mid of May to first week of September.

Day time temperatures during the monsoon fall to between 25°C and 30°C during these months. From September to early February, the weather is fine, marked with cool winds and light showers in between. However by February, summer season starts.

Though temperatures never touch 40°C, the presence of high humidity can make summers very harsh. This continues till early May. However frequent summer showers cool down the harshness of summer.

After rapid growth during the two last decades, Kochi is now one of the most densely populated town areas in India. Kochi city consists of:

Koonan Kurishu Sathyam took place at koonan kurishu Old Syrian Palli (Church) in AD 1653

Ernakulam Mainland City, the heart and transport hub of Kochi with three distinct parts: the Central Business District (CBD) which has Mahatma Gandhi Road (MG Road) as the main arterial road along with Marine Drive and Chitoor Road.

Downtown with upscale residential areas and the business district at SA Road and Vytilla Junction and the Suburb with Edapally, Pachalam, Palarivattom which has many business and commercial areas.

Willingdon Island, large man-made island made from sand dredged from the backwaters to deepen the Kochi Port. Named after Long Willingdon, then-the reigning Viceroy of India, it houses the Kochi Port, Southern Naval Command Headquarters of Indian Navy and many five star hotels.

Peninsula of Mattencherry and Fort Kochi (Old Kochi, primarily a tourist enclave. Fort Kochi forms the upper part of the Peninsula with neatly arranged colonial buildings, narrow well-paved roads, Anglo-Dutch influenced structures and large antique shops.

Mattancherry is primarily a spice trading city, famous for its thriving Gujarati settlement brought to the city in the 16th and 17th centuries by the spice trade.

West Kochi, the lower portion of Mattancherry, which are primarily agricultural/fisheries belt of the city. The area includes famous tourist village Kumbalangi, small fishing hamlets like Edakochi, Kumbalam, Perumpadappu etc, all known for their scenic beauty.

Bolgatty Island, the island where the British established a Royal Residency, which is now converted into a five star hotel along with upcoming India's largest convention center. Famous for its large golf course, horse riding tracks, marina and boatyards.

Vallarpadom Island, that houses Cochin International Mega Container Terminal (ICT) and one of the largest Basicilla of the country.

Vypin Island, one of the most densely populated islands in the world with numerous fishing villages, tourist villages, backwaters and many beaches including the popular Cherai Beach.

Aluva, the second largest town in Greater Kochi, famous for its Periyar river banks. Cochin International Airport is nearby.

Thrikakara Town, famous for the large Vamana Temple, the focal centre of Onam, the national festival of Kerala. Also the home of Cochin University and other educational institutes.

Thripunithura, the erstwhile capital of the Kingdom of Kochi is famous for various historical palaces, museums and temples, and as a centre of the arts.

Maradu, next door to Kochi city; an upcoming business district with numerous high-end hotels.

The tourist season is normally from August to February. December being the most tourist rush month has many festival and special attractions to welcome along with the famous Cochin Carnival and Christmas celebrations.

Onam season which is mid Aug-mid Sept is also a busy tourist season considering traditional line up of various festivities. Recently monsoon is being promoted heavily by tourism dept as a rejuvenation season which also slowly becoming a popular season to visit to experience the heavy rainfalls.

However it is always advisable to avoid March and April, considering the harsh summer, though it is primarily Indian domestic tourist season.

Free information and city maps are available at state run Kerala Tourism Development Corp (KTDC) offices at:

- Tourist Reception office in Marine Drive, from where KTDC city tours starts/ends.

- Railway Tourist Office at Ernakulam South Railway Station.

- Airport Tourist Counter in Arrival hall of both terminals.

- City Tourist Information Center at Old Collectorate in Park Ave.

The India Tourism also has its office at Willingdon Island. The District Tourist Promotion Council (DTPC) also helps in providing information to tourists about other parts of Kochi District.

Kochi is well connected by air, road, rail and ferry from others parts of India, and to some international destinations.

Cochin International Airport, Flight status and Airline desk transfer. Located in Nedumbassery, 29 km from the city center, this is the largest airport in Kerala and one of major gateway to India. It is also India's 4th busiest International Airport.

Visitors who have Electronic Tourist Visa Authorization (ETV) can land directly into Cochin as port of entry. ETV authorization is available to 113 nationalities and special E-Visa counters are available at immigration area to get their entry processed. Visitors on ETV can avail special Government Arrival kit including Indian SIM card and basic data to get connected.

Cochin has regular flights to almost all the cities in Middle East and few destinations in Southeast Asia. India's low cost airline Air India Express, have its primary hub in Kochi which connects to multiple cities in Middle East, Dubai being most prominent. Its equally well connected from most of the cities in India by domestic carriers.

The airport, known for its unique Kerala architecture, has three terminals out of which 2 are operational, one for Domestic and other for international. International passengers will arrive at T3 complex, the new state of the art terminal. A dedicated walkway exists outside to connect to T2 which is domestic terminal.

Visitors cannot enter into the main terminals and need to wait in the visitor's area outside. However they get into the terminal upto check-in area along with the passenger on purchase of visitor's ticket. Baggage need not be x-rayed for International passengers as the terminal is equipped with in-line checking. However one need to scan in domestic terminal.

Transit and early passengers can use the Airport Guest Hotel in Central Block on hourly as well as per night basis for Rs 750-3,500. It has 14 air conditioned executive rooms and 2 dorms.

Both the terminals have shopping options. T3 houses Cochin Duty Free which has good collection of premium liquor brands, perfumes, chocolates, Jewellery, Handicrafts and other items at competitive prices. A couple of shopping options exists in international concourse, including WH Smith Bookstores, Handicraft center, electronics etc.

The spacious T3 has multiple dining options and lounges. This includes cafes and quick eat kiosks. In addition, a large multi-cuisine restaurant is available right opposite the exit area of T3. The Concourse have free wifi network, a small business centre, free public telephones for local calls and large plasma televisions in the waiting lounge area.

Premium lounges are available for first and business class passengers. The Airport has a full fledged Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), whose chief officer is empowered to grant visa extensions, fee waivers and other visa-related issues.

The Airline Center, located next to International terminal, houses offices of most of the airlines as well as leading travel agencies.

The domestic terminal has a good shopping arcade selling mainly Kerala-unique items. It has a multi-cuisine restaurant within the check-in lobby and few cafes inside security concourse. There are somewhat cheaper options after security. The domestic terminal has a shopping arcade before check-in, mainly selling Kerala souvenirs. Also it has limited shopping options in concourse.

The airport has a good 18 hole golf course nearby. Golfers can register at the Airport Golf counter and pay green fees to use the facility. There is a recreational center, an Olympic size pool as well as bar lounge at the golf club.

There are six major airport hotels, all located opposite to the airport terminal. These offer rooms on an hourly basis. There are also many budget hotels and restaurants near to the terminal.

KSRTC operates two classes of bus service from the airport: fast passenger with White-Blue colours, super fast express with Green or Red colours they operate every 10-20 minutes to most of the nearby towns and places. Both services are basic and no-frills in nature.

All the bus services stop only at the bus point located near Central Block. KSRTC also operates premium air-conditioned service which consists of modern Volvo fleet, better known as Orange Buses. These operates every 30-40 mins to Kochi City via Aluva, Kalamassery, Vytilla and terminates at Fort Cochin.

Cost is 70 Rs or less. The journey takes 1 hour 40 minutes. There is an Orange Bus in every 30 Minutes frequency from the Airport and from Fort Kochi during peak hours. Regular bus services is available to Thrissur and Alleppey.

All taxis operated from Cochin airport belongs to Cochin Airport Taxi Society (CATS) which is a pre-paid taxi service. While outside taxis can drop-off passengers at airport, only CATS taxis are allowed to pick and drop passengers from airport.

CATS charges government fixed rate and process is simple. Take a receipt from CATS counter in arrivals hall and walk to the prepaid taxi stand to find your taxi. For airport/city transfers, the standard charge is Rs 684 for a non air-conditioned cab or Rs 828 for A/C cab.

The standard rate for all vehicles is Rs 19 per Km for Non Air-conditioned vehicles and Rs 23 for an Air-conditioned vehicle. The Minimum fare is Rs 400 with a distance of 22 Kms. All the rates are inclusive fare for Up & Down.

CATS also operates limo services as well as customized packages available for full/half day trips.

Radio cabs are also available on a prior booking basis. Most of the Radio cabs need to be booked via toll-free numbers or through mobile apps.

The most popular being UBER or OLA. Taxis of Uber or Ola must be booked via their dedicated apps and the taxi can pick only at designated points marked in the app. These taxis offer multiple choices of sedans as well as share taxis.

Recently both of the aggregators have launched Outstation cabs from Cochin airport, allowing passengers to ride beyond Ernakulam district to other major cities of Kerala.

Kochi Taxi, Cochin International Airport, Cochin. 24 Hours. Popular city cabs with fixed cab rates with various fleet.

Vayu Travels has customized itineraries for comfortable travel.

Travel Dayz, Vyttila. Safe, Reliable & Afrrodable Taxi Cab Service in Cochin.

The Trip India, Perumbavoor. Taxi in competitive Rates in kochi.

Car rentals for self-drive is an emerging concept in Kerala. A few service providers do provide car for self-drive available from Airport. For foreigners, they need International driving Licence.

Zoom Cars, Kochi. National wide popular Online Car rental company.

AVIS, Kochi. International leading brand in car rentals, now in Kochi.

AVS Cars Kerala, Kochi. Popular Kerala based car rentals

SouthGate Travels, Kochi. Popular Kerala based luxury car rentals.

The Airport railway station is under construction. The nearest railway stations are Aluva which is 10 Kms south or Angamally railway station 6 kms north, where almost all major express & passengers trains to all over Kerala halts.

Three-wheeler autos are not allowed to ply inside the airport, to protect interests of CATS Taxis. However its pretty easy to get an auto outside the airport premises which is ideal for budget-conscious travelers. An auto ride from the airport to nearest railway station like Angamally or Aluva costs less than Rs 50 to 100.

Be prepared to bargain. Getting autos in early mornings and late nights is pretty difficult. All autos will be allowed only upto Cargo Terminal Area, not inside airport's drop-off point. Passengers need to walk to Airline Center area, to get Auto services.

Chipsan Aviation and Pawan Hans located in departure gate of the domestic terminal operates a wide range of helicopter services to almost all parts of city as well as state, which requires a prior booking. K-Air, Joy Jets, Kalyan Aviations and couple of other operators also operates air-taxi and private jets.

Cochin Airport recently started its own helicopter services with support of Chipsan Aviation. Scheduled and chartered helicopter services to pilgrimage centers like Sabarimala, Guruvayoor and major cities like Thiruvananathapuram, Kozhikode are available.

Kochi is well connected by train from all parts of India. Most Kerala-bound trains have a major stop here. There are two major rail terminals inside the city limits.

Ernakulam Town Station,is mainly for Inter City trains and a few long distance trains.

Ernakulam Junction Station is a major Indian railways station. Most of the long distance trains to and from Kerala pass through here. There is a good food court, large waiting areas, book shops, a medical shop and a few retiring rooms along with a dorm.

Kochi has many suburban railway stations where long distance trains stop, such as Aluva, Thripunithura and Angamally. Book in advance, as trains are usually crowded. Reservations are available from 3 months in advance of the travel date.

Depending upon the season and day bookings may close up to several days prior to departure with all remaining travellers going onto a waiting list. You can also try using Tatkal which is an emergency booking system costing Rs 150 above the normal rate.

The Tatkal service opens one dayex, excluding the day of journey from the train originating station before the departure of the train.

One of the best ways to get to Kochi is to take the Konkan Railway train from Mumbai. The train ride is renowned for the breathtaking scenery and the natural beauty of the terrain. This train does not go to Kerala, but ends at Goa

Kochi is accessible from all southern parts of the country as well as other parts of the state, through the extensive state run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services and services of neighboring state transport corporations.

KSRTC operates 3 types of services; Super Fast, Express is Standard non-A/C and Garuda Hi-tech a Volvo premium. Karnataka State buses run daily services from Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore with three types of services; the Rajahamsa is an executive service, with reclining seats, the Club Airavat is Premium A/c service, with reclining semi-sleeper seats, and Ambaari is A/c sleeper service.

Tamil Nadu SETC operates superfast and executive services to many destinations like Madurai,Ooty, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli,Salem, and Trichy. Most inter-state buses start and end their journey from KSRTC Central & Inter-state Bus Station (CBS), located in the heart of the city at Rajaji Rd. To reduce congestion at CBS, some local route KSRTC buses start/end their services at KSRTC Boat Jetty Stand located in Park Avenue.

Apart from govt services, numerous private bus companies operates scheduled services to almost all major cities in South India as well as Mumbai, Goa etc. All these buses are executive or premium services offering air-conditioned travel with good facilities and higher prices to match.

Several online bus booking sites like redBus, Ticketkaran /RunBus/ Raj National Express/ KPN Travels/ Customer Needz/ TicketGoose.

Kochi is well connected by road from all parts of the state as well as other major cities. Three major national highways connect Kochi with other parts of country.

NH 66, the 7th longest highway in India, connects Kochi with Mumbai via most of major towns in Malabar, Mangalore, Goa and go upto Thiruvananthapuram.

The heavily congested NH 544 connects Kochi with Palakkad continues on to Coimbatore and Salem in Tamil Nadu and further to Bangalore.
NH 49 connects Kochi with Ramaeswaram in Tamil Nadu which passes through Madurai via Munnar. Kochi is well connected to other parts of state through various state highways.

Kochi can be reached by sea in yachts as well as cruise ship from Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Colombo and Male. Almost all leading international cruises on global voyages operate to Kochi from the US and Europe at Wellingdon Island Cruise Berth. Yachts can be anchored at Kochi International Marina or Yacht Club Marina. There is a direct ferry service between Kochi and Lakshadweep.

Moving around Kochi is not difficult. City transportation is not expensive.

The main city arterial road is Mahatma Gandhi Road. Travelling inside the city at peak times (8AM-10AM, 1:30PM-2:30PM; 5:30PM-7:00PM) takes a lot of time, with frequent road blocks and traffic congestion. North and South Overbridges are two of the major bottlenecks. Knowledge of side roads and crossroads is very useful to avoid traffic blocks.

Kochi has a typical Indian-style address system which is a bit confusing, as there is no sector or house numbering system. Most buildings have their own name which are commonly used along with the road name for the address, eg: Alappatt House, Diwans Road, Near Lakshmi Hospital.

Some up-market areas have their own house numbering system. Panampally Nagar and Giri Nagar are divided into various zones and each house has its own zone number followed by a house number. Many residential areas have formed their own associations and established their own addressing system.

In most of the residential colonies or areas, a map sign is located at the entrance. Fort Kochi has a more western-style numbering system, yet still locals use the nearby landmarks for addressing, rather than house numbers.

For communicating with auto/taxi drivers, you must know the nearby landmarks.

Kochi has an excellent public bus network with four types of buses operated by Govt-run KSRTC and private operators. The most common option is privately operated Red buses also referred to as Line buses, which provides a cheap no-frills journey.

Using these is not that difficult as many destination boards have English lettering in small and most bus conductors can provide assistance in basic English, though route numbers exists only on papers.

Peak hours on weekdays can lead to overcrowded buses, particularly Route 1. Government operated KSRTC also have a similar no-frills city services Thiru-Kochi which also ply in same Red-Bus routes. Thirukochi buses can be distinguished from other buses with its blue-white livery.

Most of Red and Thirukochi buses run primarily on the Big 4 Routes. These cover virtually all parts of the city. There are other feeder routes, which interconnect places between these Big 4 Routes. Recently Vytilla-Vytilla circular services have launched, covering most of the city core. The fares for all city buses are Rs 4 for the first km and 55p for every additional km. The average waiting time is 1-10 mins.

Apart from regular city services, KSRTC under JnNURM's funding operates 2 class of bus services which can be distinguished from other city buses with its distinctive livery and JnNURM logo.

For premium travel low-floor air-conditioned Volvo services known as Orange buses, connects many important destinations. The rates are Rs 10 for first 5 km and Rs 2 for every km thereafter. The average waiting time is 10-30 mins. These buses do stop anywhere on the route, as per passenger's request.

Kochi Orange Bus Line- Premium Low-floor Volvo A/c Bus services
For standard travel, Green bus, which is non air-conditioned low floor services which virtually links all suburbs to city center. This is very ideal for budget tourists as connects to many far away tourist attractions while maintaining excellent standards.

The rates are Rs 5 for first 5 kms and 75p for every km thereafter. Currently only 3 lines are served, which would be increased soon. Like Orange Bus, these bus also stops anywhere on the route, as per passenger's request. Timetable for Orange/Green available at KSRTC site.

All city bus services start at 6AM and end by 10PM. A certain number of seats are allocated for women in the forward portion of each bus, and men must vacate them when a woman wishes to sit there.

It must be noted that different bus shelters/stops are used for bus plying different routes. Though route notices are put before each stop, it will be in Malayalam. Route notices for Orange bus lines are now recently posted in English also. A query with locals or bus conductors helps a lot. The important city bus stations where all services touch are:

Vytilla Mobility Hub at Vytilla Junction, is the new bus station, where almost all city buses and inter-city/inter-state bus meet. The station has been recently declared as Terminus for all Inter-city and Inter-state services by all operators.

Kaloor bus stand, a major city bus station and interchange for long distance private buses.

Aluva Rajiv Gandhi bus station, large bus station nearest to Airport and interchange for long distance services

Fort Kochi Beach Road bus stand, is the major terminus, near to most of tourist attractions

Thoppumpaddy bus stand, major junction for Mattencherry

Marine Drive-Menaka bus stands, the heart of Ernakulam shopping with Broadway market nearby.

South Girls High School bus stand, nearest to South Railway station (ERS)

Perumbavoor Municipal Bustand, a major city bus station and interchange for long distance private buses.

KSRTC buses have its own dedicated Bus stations and operate from these depots. Ernakulam Main Bus station located in Rajaji Road as well as Angamally Bus Terminal are two leading KSRTC Bus stations which has City service connectivity.

Radio cabs are also available on prior booking basis. Most of Radio cabs need to be booked via toll free numbers or through mobile apps.

Kochi metro was flagged off on 17th June 2017 and is operational from Aluva to Palarivattom. The second phase from Palarivattom up to Maharaja's College was made operational in October 2017.

The unveiling of the metro was considered a landmark event in India in terms of completion time, control systems used and initiatives such as employing transgenders, vertical gardening, respecting migrant laborers and use of solar power. Each station in the metro is designed on a specific theme around Kerala culture and geography.

The metro can be used with regular tickets, and has also adopted a single card, single timetable and a singular command and control. This debit card along with the Kochi One Mobile App can be used for travel.

Kochi does not have any local intra-city train service, but a metro line (Kochi Metro) is under construction and is operational from Aluva to Maharajah's College in the city. However, many suburban areas are well connected via regular passenger and long distance express trains.

The most used route is between Ernakulam and Aluva. Almost all regular passenger, express and intercity trains have a stop at Aluva. Regular passenger trains have 1 minute stops at Edapally, Kumbalam, Angamally, and Aroor stations. Many long distance trains operate between Thripunithura and Kochi North station.

It is a good idea to take the rail during busy peak hours when buses are overcrowded. Equally good idea, to take rail to Aluva from city center which is the nearest point to Airport (12 km) from where a cab or Orange Route A bus can taken to avoid city congested traffic.

Autorickshawis a cheap method of transport between attractions. You can find an auto stand at almost every bus stop, and at important places near junctions and residential areas. Make sure you agree on a fare with the driver before the journey. The govt fixed rates starts at Rs 10 for the first 1.25 km and Rs 6 per km thereafter with a premium of 15% at night (7PM-6AM).

However these rates are outdated and no more people follow though Govt hasn't changed yet. The practical rates are generally fixed ad-hoc by Auto Drivers Union, followed mostly uniformly among all city autos. The rates are generally Rs 20 as minimum fare for first 1.25 Km, with Rs 9 per km after this.

The night charges changes only with increase of minimum fare to Rs 35, while per km rate remains same. However auto drivers may charge excessively, if they find you may not aware of general ad-hoc rates. Pre-paid auto stands are available only in railway stations.

The new entrant to city's transportation sector is Autotaxis, which are hybrid varieties of both Taxi and Auto. They use Tata Iris vehicles, which are 4 wheeler hatch-back vehicle, but has operating platform mostly like an auto-rickshaw . They charge only Auto fares, not the standard taxi fares. The standard rate is Rs 15 per Km, with no minimum fare or night charges.

They are mostly available on call, if one knows the number of driver or can be hired from road or from Auto-Taxi stand mostly near crowded places like Railway stations or Markets/Malls etc. As they have Pan-Kerala Taxi permit, one can travel medium haul distance like a trip to nearby city or town or village using Auto-Taxi.

Most of the drivers are trained and are reported friendly as well as able to speak English & Hindi. Some of the taxis do have GPS enabled screens with Google Map support.

Taxis are convenient, comfortable, and safer than auto rickshaws. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, this is a good option, even though the rates will be double that of an auto. Unlike in most western countries, regular taxis are not usually marked with signs on the top, and do not have taxi meters inside the cab.

There are three type of taxi services, regular,call taxis and radio taxi. Regular taxis are normally available at designated taxi stands located at places such as railway stations, the airport, boat jetties, major bus stations and in front of important hotels. for radio taxi look above.

There is no need to negotiate prices, as most of them follow fixed rates. Regular taxis have tariff cards displayed on the dashboard. Call taxis have charges fixed by their respective companies although they are normally uniform. The standard tariffs are Rs 50 for first 3 km, and Rs 8 per km thereafter. Add 10% for a cab with A/C, and 15-20% at night.

Many cab companies offer full or half day services. Most of them are fixed on ad-hoc basis, based on the negotiating skills of the passenger. Typical rates are Rs 1,100/1,500 for standard/AC cabs for a full day and Rs 500/750 for a half day. These rates are not available after 7PM.

Unless you are into adventure seeking, self drive in Kochi is not recommended as driving discipline is almost non-existent. There are long stretches of roads passing through heavily populated areas that have no median breaks and most of them being bi-lane roads which are mostly congested. A few major roads like MG Rd, NH Bypass Rd and Marine Drive are two lane-dual carriageways with good medians.

The speed limit inside city zone is 30 km/hr. Driving is on the left, and all foreign drivers need a valid International Driving Licence attested by the Road Transport Office (RTO). Driving outside the city limits is a fine experience with good scenery and far less traffic. Most of the bridges and few roads carry toll charges collected at manned toll plazas or checkpoints.

Almost all tolls are uniformly charged separately for one/two way; 2 wheelers- Rs 3/5, 4 wheelers- Rs 5/10 and bus/minivans - Rs 15/25. Almost all the toll pass is valid for unlimited travel for a period of 24 hours, though a few bridges allow one time validity.

Car rental is not so popular among foreign visitors. Many car rental companies refuse to provide self-drive cars to Westerners. Normally a bank guarantee letter or security cheque/traveller's cheque to the value of the car or a passport are taken as security for renting the car. No security deposit is needed if the car is chauffeur-driven.

Most hotels with three stars or more provide private cars for their guests at rates slightly higher than elsewhere.

Kochi has an excellent system of cheap inter-island ferries. The Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off) ferry service called Junkar between Fort Kochi and Vypeen is very popular. Vehicles must make the round trip through Ernakulam.

There are regular boat services operated by KSINC and other private operators, every 20-30 minutes, from Ernakulam to Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Willingdon Island which are cheaper and in many cases faster, than buses.

All services operates from 4:40AM-6:30PM with an exception to Fort Kochi-Vypin Junkar service which operates from 4AM-10:30PM. The major boat jetties are Ernakulam Main Jetty located in Marine drive near High Court, Park Jetty in Park Avenue next to KSRTC Bus station, Customs Embarkation Jetty in Willingdon Island, Fort Kochi Jetties.

Do take a look at the map provided, as some ferries do not stop at all stops along the way. A few tourist oriented private ferries service non-scheduled routes during tourist seasons connecting mainly to Kumbalangi Tourist village from Ernakulam Main Jetty as well as from Aroor.

Kochi is traditionally not a pedestrian friendly city, considering the humid tropical climate, poor state of pedestrian walkways and reckless traffic. Fort Kochi is one of the better places to walk, with elaborate colonial-style stone pavements. There are many attractions in Fort Kochi which you can walk between.

Fort Kochi is a perfect place for cycling with dedicated tracks and walkways. There are several tourist firms that offers cycles and bikes on hourly basis. A popular option is Vasco Information Center in Fort Kochi, which rents cycles for Rs 7 on hourly basis. You can also hire 24 speed Scott bikes from Art of Bicycle Trips who organizes day bicycle tours around Fort Kochi.

Govt's DTPC runs Cycle tours with services of guide, for a guided city tour in cycles. However, there are no separate cycling tracks on mainland city roads. Motorbikes are becoming a popular option for tourists to take a ride in other parts of city. Take extra care while biking in Kochi roads as road users can be reckless.

Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheenavala, Fort Kochi Beach, Beach Rd Next to Fort Kochi Bus stand. Serves as the offical icon of Kochi and are a testimony of relations between Ancient Chinese Empires and the Kochi Kingdom. They were gifted by Chinese Emperor Kubalagi to Kochi King in 14th century. There were more than 100, though currently only a few remain in working condition.

The biggest highlight of Hill Palace, is the display of Royal Crown, crafted in pure gold weighting 1.75 kg with 95 diamonds and 2,000 other precious stones. It was a gift by the Portuguese to Veera Kerala Varma on his coronation day, which was regarded too extravagant for the Kochi Rajas, who were known for their simple lifestyle.

This became a famous tradition that no Kochi Maharajas ever wore this crown, only to keep it on his lap as a testimony of their humbleness and simplicity. Nearly ten golden crowns were gifted to the Rajas by various colonial powers like Dutch, English, Chinese, Arabs which were never worn by the Maharajas.

Hill Palace Museum, Hill Palace Rd, Thripunithura 12 km southeast of Ernakulam. Tu-Su 10AM-12.30PM; 2PM-4:30PM. The erstwhile Kochi Maharaja's palace, now converted to a large museum along with a small zoo. Has paintings and epigraphy from the collections of the Travancore & Kochi royal families.

This is the largest archaeological palace in South India with more than 500 artifacts divided into 16 galleries. The highlight of the Palace is the display of multi-billion worth Cochin Royal Crown and Crown Jewels. The Crown Gallery is a high security zone which has elobrate security check procedures, photography and bags are prohibited. The Palace complex is huge with several buildings inside it.

There is a good Deer Park along with peacocks. A small fauna garden was set up in 2003. Also the palace has more than 100 different species of trees and plants, many of which are of medical value. The palace has five large gardens and two large resting grounds of late Maharajas. Indians Rs 20, foreigners Rs 100 including Deer Park and all attractions.

Santacruz Basilica, Cathedral Grounds, Fort Kochi opposite Children's Park. Daily 7AM-8PM. The first European Church built in Asia, by the Portuguese in 1502, also the first Cathedral of Asia and seat of second Catholic Diocese in India. The British modified the structure and added oil paintings.

Today, it serves as the primary seat of the Latin church of Kerala. Pope John Paul II declared it a Basilica in 1984. It houses several historical paintings, decors and artifacts. Free.

St. Francis Church (CSI Pally), Church Rd, Fort Kochi Near to Fort Kochi Beach. Daily 7AM-7PM. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1503 and the burial place of Vasco da Gama, his remains were later transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. The church has a large cemetery which serves as resting grounds of many Portuguese army officials and soldiers.

The church is the only Catholic Church not demolished by Dutch which was handed over to British to re-establish an Anglican church. A large war memorial can be seen on its backyard to honor the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for World War-1 .It is an ASI protected monument . Free.

VOC Gate, Fort Kochi opposite the Parade grounds. The only remains of the office of Dutch East India Company is this large wooden gate with a monogram VOC or Verenigde Oostindische Companie emblem of Dutch East India Company.

David Hall, Parade Grounds East, Fort Kochi. Tue-Sun, 11AM-7PM. This 315 years old Dutch bungalow was the official residence of the Dutch Army commanders, the most famous being Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Draakestein who was the author of Horticus Malabaricus.

Currently the complex belongs to Netherlands Govt agency CNO which recently renovated to open a large art gallery, a traditional Dutch performing arts center and large studio for young painters. The building is a classic specimen of colonial Dutch architecture with elaborate dutch gardens. For cultural performances, one need to check at the reception to know the schedule.

Bastion Bungalow, Fort Kochi. Typical Indo-Dutch architecture, this bungalow was built on the site of the erstwhile Stromsburg Fort, which was demolished during the Arab raids. Currently, it serves as the official residence of the Cochin Sub-Collector and entry is restricted.

Dutch Palace or Mattancherry Kottaram, Palace Rd, Mattencherry. Sat-Thur 10AM-5PM. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1568 as a gift to Maharaja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma, after he granted permission to construct Fort Immanunel. During the Dutch siege of Kochi, many parts of the original palace were destroyed.

However the Dutch Governor repaired the palace and renamed as Dutch Palace. The coronations of Kochi Maharajas are always held here. A large throne and coronation costumes are on display and there is an extensive collection of royal chariots, swords and other artifacts. The most interesting part is the mural room, which has the entire Ramayana and Mahabharat depicted in a single mural. Indians Rs 25, foreigners Rs 100.

Jew Street and Paradesi Synagogue, Jew Town, Mattancherry. Synagogue Su-F 10AM-5PM, Sa only open to Jews. The synagogue was constructed in 1568 after allowing Jewish refugees from Jerusalem to settle here during the Crusades making this the Commonwealth's oldest Synagogue.

This is one of the very few functional synagogues in India and the structure is unique due to influence of native Hindu-Christian architecture as well as the only synagogue having two bimahs. Many Jews lived in the area until the creation of Israel, today there is only a handful. Jew Street is a heritage zone with several antique/handicraft shops. Rs 40.

Princess Street at Loafer’s Corner, Fort Kochi. The most famous street of Fort Kochi which gives you a slice of authentic colonial European architecture. The only street that never faced any raid or demolitions in past, Princess street is a prefect destination for evening walk with numerous western styled cafes, souvenir shops, art galleries and heritage complexes.

Chendamangalam Palace Fort, Chendamanalam, nr North Paravur. Historically the seat of Paliath Achan, the Prime Minister of Kochi Kingdom. Here the plans were forged for revolt against the British in the 1820s. A functional Jewish Synagogue and a large market are some of the attractions. Now, it is a major centre for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing.

Pallipuram Fort, Pallipuram, Vypin Island. Built by the Portuguese in 1503, this is the oldest existing European fortification in India. It was later handed over to the Travancore Army, to become a major army base till 1903 when it was converted into a heritage museum. It has a small museum and good views of the lagoon on one side and the sea on the other.

St George orthodox Koonan Kurishu Old Syrian church is one of the historical centres of St Thomas Christians, also known as Syrian Christians and Nazrani Christians. The famous oath called Koonan Kurishu Sathyam or Coonan Cross Oath against Roman Catholic Petroado policies and Portugese rule was taken at this church in AD 1653 by the native Indian christians by holding on to a cord tied to a cross.

The cross bent under pressure and hence the name Koonan Kurisu. The cross and Church was distroyed by the portugese immediately after oath.

The Koonan Kurishu Sathyam took place at this Church in AD 1653 is the first attempt to resist colonialism and western invasion in India .

In AD 1751 Church was dedicated to St George with the installation of holy relics of St George in its altar , is a unique specialty of this Church. The church is owned by Malankara Orthodox Church ( Indian Orthodox Church),one of the 6 oriental churches. Considering the historic importance of the Koonankurish Pally, the Holy Synod elevated the status of the Church and declared it a historic monument as well as a pilgrim centre.

Apart from the historical legacy the method adopted for the recent renovation of the church building assumes importance. The church is built using clay to keep faith with the ancient architecture heritage. The use of cement and steel have been completely avoided. The church located at Mattancherry , Cochin is constructed entirely of compressed earth blocks (CSEB).

The distinct style with catenary vaults, arches and a dome evokes the past in a way, never seen before. The technique of construction was developed in Egypt, today known as the Nubian Technique. There are 13 vaults and a dome to complete the structure. Today, it stands as the second largest catenary structure in South India. The koonan kurishu is now reinstalled in this church.

Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Beach Road, Fort Kochi. The only surviving bungalow built in authentic Portuguese style, it was the home and office of famous English merchant family- the Leslies. Currently it has been restored into a boutique hotel. The hotel management however allows tourists to explore the grand exteriors and public.

Pradhankuriyacha Palli, A cross is built by jeevamata church with Malayalee Christians suporting Portuguese Jesuit missionaries and carmalites. It was here native Christians received the Bishop of Persia and declared their affinities to the East Syrian Church.The Malabar church late known as Syro-Malabar Church. Pilgrims suffering from mental illness frequent this church

International Pepper Exchange, Jewtown, Fort Kochi. Kochi's answer to New York's Wall Street, but instead of money, its all about pepper trading. This is the world's only pepper exchange. Its worth to visit to see the wide range of pepper varieties as well as some of trading practices. free.

Durbar Hall Ground, DH Rd, Ernakulam City. The venue for many fairs during festivals and regular evening concerts and other programs.

Museum of Kerala History, NH 47 Rd near Edappally Toll Gate. A good, well maintained museum with a 40 minute light and sound show ,English and Malayalam about Kerala history. Depicts the history of Kerala through life-like wax statues.

Adjacent are the Museum of Dolls with nearly 1,000 dolls from various countries, and M.N.F Art and Sculpture Gallery that has many good collections of paintings and sculptures. This museum has a small, well maintained garden. Rs. 100 30 for children.

Pareekshith Thampuran Durbar Hall Art Gallery, Dubar Hall Ground, DH Rd. Contains oil paintings, old coins, sculptures, Mughal paintings plus models of temples and traditional Kerala buildings. This was the official Durbar Hall of Kochi Maharajas, now converted into a large fine arts gallery, named after last Maharaja of Kochi, who was an oil painter. A small studio is nearby promoting young artists. Free.

Indian Naval Maritime Museum, INS Dronarcharya, Fort Kochi. Built by the Indian Navy. Many battle scenes are recreated with life-size models, a huge display of naval arms and ammunition, replicas of large naval ships, personalities, are some of the major highlights.

Indo-Portuguese Museum, Fort Kochi. A modern museum highlighting the start of European colonization of the Orient in the 16th century. The museum showcases the growth and decline of the Portuguese life in Kochi with focus on the growth of the Latin Church. There are also excavated ruins of the former fort wall in the basement of the museum.

Kerala Folklore Museum Kochi, Folklore Junction, Thevara, Kochi. One of the best museums in Kerala. This is a private collection of many different articfacts from around Kerala. There are frequent cultural performances at the museum, which you may be lucky to see while there and are put on when overseas tour groups are in attendance. Rs. 200.

Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village, Kumbalangi island (15 km from city centre). India's first eco-tourist village, this award winning initiative allows tourists to explore and enjoy the authentic rural culture with the cooperation of natives without disturbing their natural lifestyle.

Tourists to this island village have chances to explore rural work styles, a specialized local paddy cultivation, canoeing in a country boat in a maze of mangrove forests or enjoying fishing or partying in rural style with locals. In order to maintain best eco-protection practices, several restrictions are placed on use of plastics, smoking or even carrying soft-drinks.

Mastyafed Milky-way Aqua-Tourist Village, Malipuram Village, Vypin (12 km from city centre). 10AM-5PM. A unique concept, where a large shrimp farm of the state-run Mastyafed Organization is converted into an Aqua-tourist village with many options to fish for fresh prawns, crabs and shrimp, canoeing within a mangrove forest, sun-bathing, swimming at a private beach nearby and enjoying sunset picnic cruise.

The breakfast and lunch, which are included in the entry cost, have a wide range of fish delicacies and fish pickles. Rs 200 per person.

Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakara. The only temple in India devoted to the Hindu deity Vamana and a major centre for celebration of the Onam festival. Get here during Onam and you can catch ten days of festivities, peppered with performances of Kerala's traditional arts and ending with a Onam feast.

Thirumala Devaswom Temple, Mattancherry. Built on 5 acres of land by the Gowda Sarawatha Brahmins with Lord Venkateswara as the main deity. It is famous for housing the second largest brass bell in Asia. The North Gopuram is fully roofed with copper.

Ernakulam Siva Temple or Ernakulattappan Kshetram, at the centre of City, near the Durbar Hall Ground. Ernakulam Shiva Temple is considered to the Main City temple, with its presiding deity, Lord Shiva respected as Lord of the City. The temple comprises of 3 temples, the Shiva Temple, a Tamil temple for Lord Muruga and Kannadiga Temple for Hanuman.

Aluva Manalpuram. Famous for the annual Shivarathri festival on the banks of the Periyar river.

Chottanikara Devi Temple, at Thripunithura 15 km from city. One of the 108 large Devi Goddess temples of India. The temple is famous for treatments of various psychic disorders like split personality syndrome as well as for its annual Makam festival.

Poornathresya Temple, in the heart of Thripunithura. Devoted to Lord Vishnu was once the royal temple of Kochi Maharajas. This temple is famous for its Panthizhuaari Milk Dessert made of rice flakes distributed during afternoons and grand temple festivals twice in a year.

Dharmanath Desar Jain Mandir, Gujarathi St, Mattencherry (12 km from ernakulam jn). Popularly known as Gujarathi Mandir is one of the oldest Jain temples in India, established by the Gujarathi community who settled here more than 300 years ago. This is a major Theerth (pilgrimage) for Jains and all major North Indian festivals are celebrated in grand way.

Pigeon feeding during noon, is one of the main rituals here.12 km from ernakulam jn pass via mg road-old nh road-kochi-kochangudi rd-bazaar rd

Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, in Perumanoor in Thevera, south end of MG Rd. Is the lone Sikh Gurudwara of Kerala, established by the Punjabi community of Kochi in 1955. Special rites and Guru ka Langar rituals are held every Saturday and Sunday.

Malayattoor Kurisumudi, (26 km away). Kurisumudi is a mountain located in Malayattoor and is a major Christian pilgrimage center believed to be the place where St. Thomas visited and prayed. Today, the major feast of Malayattoor is the Puthunjayar festival, celebrated on the Sunday that comes after Easter.

St. Francis Assisi Cathedral, High Court Junction, Marine Drive behind Verapoly Archdiocese HQ. Locally known as Kappalpalli - Ship Church due to its ship shaped structure.

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulam,, High Court Junction, Marine Drive behind Verapoly Archdiocese HQ. The Cathedral is dedicated to "Our Lady of Ports". The Cathedral was built in the early twentieth century under the direction of Mar Louis Pazheparambil The church is also a prominent Marian Pilgrim Centre in India.

St. Antony's Shrine, Kaloor (Mathribhumi Junction). At this shrine that belongs to Archdiocese of Verapoly people of different faith and culture flock together day and night seeking blessings.

St.George's Church, Edapally, NH 47 Rd. A popular church, also amongst non-Christians. Famous for its poison cure treatments.

Kanjiramattam Mosque, 30 km to the east. A major Muslim pilgrimage center and venue of the Kudikkuthu Festival. It is famous for the annual Urus festival. The imams of this mosque are famous for being leading scholars, who were advisors to Kochi Rajas.

Chembittapally Mosque, Fort Kochi. Famous for its large super-imposing structure having large shining copper domes thus the name, which means Mosque having Copper Roofs.

Subhash Park at Park Avenue is one of the largest parks in Kochi.

Children's Park. With children's rides, a musical fountain and a small boating lake.

Indira Renewable Energy Park. Has unique rides and gadgets which run on renewable energy.

Beach Children's Park, Beach Rd. A good small park, which is well maintained for evening strolls.

Managalavanam, Tatapuram-Pachalam Road just behind High Court Complex. A thick 80 acre mangrove forest located in the heart of Kochi and declared a flora sanctuary. More than 30 unique flora are found here and it is also a major bird sanctuary, where migratory birds feed and rest when they escape the cold northern winters.

Poru, near Kodanadu, 14 km from city center. An unexplored beautiful scenic river bank. The Periyar river flows here in its original pure form, without any kind of pollution.

During Summer season, when the volume of river water is at its lowest, it is very easy to cross the 2 km wide river from one bank to other. Beware during rainy reason, when a large volume of river water flushes this area and it is extremely dangerous to swim.

Cherai Beach, North of Vypin Island. Golden beaches with big sand grains, coconut palm corridors, backwaters, and historical monuments. Cherai Beach is one of the safest beaches to swim or play water sports or beach games. A very large beautiful backwaters just 250 m from beach famous for its scenic beauty and boating.

Cherai Beach surpasses all with its swimming facility and coconut groves. Occasional sights of dolphins is also an added attraction.

Kodanadu Elephant Training College ,Ana Thothil. 9AM-6PM. Lies on the southern bank of the Periyar amongst the scenic beauty of the high ranges, Kodanadu is extremely famous for its unique elephant training college, elephant orphanage and a mini zoo with deer and peacocks here.

Wild elephants are first tamed in special cradles and then taken to the nearby training college, where they are trained. The elephant orphanage rears baby elephants until they are ready for training college. Elephant safari is one of the most sought tourist activity here along with kids playing ball games with baby elephants.

Fort Kochi Beach, Fort Kochi. A historic beach where 1st Portuguese-Dutch war broke out in the 17th century. Once a very large beach, it has reduced to a quarter in size after the Tsunami. A beautiful, small walkway is constructed recently, making ideal for evening strolls.

One can find remnants of Old Portuguese Immanuel Fort along with parts of Dutch Stormberg Fort with some canons still kept intact. An obsolete boiler that once used for powering cranes of old port and a very large anchor of an old Portuguese ship are displayed on the walkway.

Works for creating a new artificial beach is undergoing near to this old beach with help of Tsunami development funds.

Cochin Carnival (Dec 20-Jan 2) is the biggest carnival festival in the city. It started in 1582 as part of Portuguese New Year's celebrations. A wonderful array of colourful rallies, fancy dress parades, regular competitions, bike races, beach games, sports, theme festivals, concerts and dances, fireworks and most important, the night beach parties, make it one of the largest celebrations in India.

The New Year's Eve party is the highlight of this festival, when a large parade carrying a huge statute of Papanai a Santa Claus-like image is taken to the beach, where it is set on fire on the stroke of midnight. This is followed by a grand party. The carnival ends with the Grand Parade on the afternoon of January 1st.

Onam Festival is a ten day festival mid-August to mid-September. The state festival of Kerala originating in Kochi. It is based on the legend of welcoming home the mythical King Mahabali, whose capital was believed to be at the current site of Thrikakkara Temple. The ten day festivities start off with an parade on Atham day called Athachamayam.

It is held in Thripunithura starting from the Atham Grounds and has many tableaux, dance parades, cultural art forms ending at Thrikakkara Temple.

Shiva Temple Festival held in the first week of January, takes place at the Shiva Temple and Durbar Hall Ground, famous for its ten elephant parade and host of cultural activities. The last day of the festival, Pakalpooram, is famous for its traditional Kerala percussion ensemble, a huge display of fireworks and a 21 gun salute by the Indian Navy and Kerala Police.

Fireworks Festival of Maradu Kottaram Devi Temple held in mid March - mid April, hosts India's second largest fireworks as part of their temple festival finale. The festival takes place in the festival grounds of Maradu, which has mega fireworks display lasting for 1.5 hours for last two days.

Thripunithura Vrishikolsavam happens in mid November - mid December at Thripunithura Poornathresya Temple is the grandest temple festival, after Thrissur Pooram. This was once the royal festival of the Kochi Kingdom. The cultural attractions draw huge crowds with regular performances of Kathakali.

Chendamangalam Matta Chanda is 2 days prior to Vishu Festival near Chendamangalam Fort, is the only official barter market in the world, as reminiscent of olden market style. The recorded history of this market is nearly 300 years old, where traditional & heritage items are sold in exchange of modern items of equal value.

Matta Chanda is today a tourism attraction and a traditional ritual rather than serious shopping, hence only traditional Kerala specialties can be brought in exchange of modern and regular items like branded soaps, perfumes, clothes, hair accessories, electronic components, batteries, medicines, as agreed mutually buyer and seller.

Sarojni Naga Park Sarojni Naga Park is a public park located near Fort Kochi, one of the popular tourism areas of Kochi. This park consists of a beautiful and clean circular lake in the middle area and this lake is encompassed by pathways and fields of green grass. The park is suitable for both relaxation and exercise purposes.

There are many fitness machines provided for body building and great pathways for people to jog or walk peacefully. The environment is green and clean. There are many trees which provide shaded area for the visitors to protect them from the Sun’s heat and the overall weather is not too hot.

There are many trash bins which help to reduce rubbish. The facilities are clean and ready to support people in many ways. Talking of decorations, wooden tables are designed in Indian style and there are fountains around the park decorated with beautiful colors and sculptures making the overall environment look fabulous. There are drinks shops and a small first aid office to heal people from dehydration.

In addition, for safety, there are security guards around the park so that people can enjoy their day without any distractions. The park is free to enter and the currency used to purchase things there is Indian Rupees (IDR). The park open daily from 8.00am to 8pm.

WonderLa previously known as Veegaland Amusement Park in Kakkanad, this is second largest theme park in South India. Spread over 50 acres of land with more than 50 Rides and various shows, it has well maintained gardens and five restaurants as well as small cafes. Open 9:30AM-7PM.

Silverstorm Water Park. A good family theme park with 29 water and dry rides, a very large park and a Chinese village. Near Athirampally Waterfalls area, this park is located 50 km from Kochi City, 18 km from the airport.

Kochi has got some good sporting facilities. Football is the official game here and is regularly played by locals in open areas. Cricket is extremely popular and regularly played by youngsters.

Cochin International Stadium located at Kaloor, also called Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, has good open football court and a cricket court, where locals play regularly, for which no fees are required. The badminton and tennis court located next to this ground can be used on payment of prescribed fees at sports office of St.Albert's College as it belongs to them.

The stadium regularly hosts international cricket matches, and has hosted Indian Soccer League matches as well including the final.

Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium located at Kadavanthara, has badminton, tennis, squash, volley ball and basketball courts. Rooms for chess, caroms, table-tennis and board games are also available. For an entrance fees payable at the indoor sports office, you can play there or join with regular users.

There is also a state-of-the-art fitness complex and large billiards-snooker pool inside this stadium. An Olympic-sized swimming pool is available outside. Large football and cricket pitches are available free of charge. Locals play regularly here and you can join them.Water Sports is popular in Kochi, particularly in Fort Kochi beach and Cherai beach where water skis/jets and water scooters are available.

Cochin Marina in Bolgatty Island, the Yacht club in Thevera and Ramada Resort in Panagad operate a wide range of water sports games. Para-gilding is not allowed in any areas, due to presence of several strategic military installations.

Maharaja's Stadium Grounds, located at KPCC Jn in MG Road has large athletic grounds, a state-of-the-art synthetic track, which is popular among athletic enthusiasts.

Football pitches. There is a large football pitch at Parade Grounds in Fort Cochin, where locals play regularly in evening and you will likely be welcome to join in. Likewise at Maharaja's Football and Cricket pitches near College Ground in MG Road, Ambedkar City Stadium near KSRTC Bus station in Rajaji Rd and at the Marine Drive ground.

Cricket pitches, Palace Oval Grounds located in Tripunithara is the most popular large open cricket pitch where the Kochi Royals used to play their favourite past-time. Apart from this, there are new large pitches in Parade grounds of Fort Kochi and in Kadavanthara near GCDA Nagar.

Fort Kochi Beach, Cherai Beaches are very popular among locals for playing beach volley-balls. Try a tough game of beach-football being very popular here. Water ski and biking is also popular in Fort Kochi beaches.

Go Karting @ Aiport. A short karting circuit is located at the city side of Cochin Airport, just opposite the airline complex. Regular karting competitions are held on weekends and a few rallies are also organized.

Cochin Golf & Country Club, Cochin Airport Area. A new 18 hole golf course. Nice scenery and located very near to the airport. A country club is under construction, though the recreation center with a small bar, lounge and changing rooms is available.

Cochin Golf Club, Bolgatty Island. Established in 1922 by the Hon. British Resident to Kingdom of Kochi and Travancore. Today it became one of the oldest golf courses in the country. It is a 10 hole course open for non-members on payment of green fees. Guests of the Bolgatty Palace Hotel can use without any extra charge.

Naval Golf Course, Naval Enclave, Willingdon Island. One of the largest golf courses in the country which is not open to general public. You can play though by invitation from a naval officer. Guests of the navy and the Kochi administration have access to this large golf course.

Major private gym chains include Ernakulam Men's Gym, South Railway station road, Destination Health‎, Edapally.

Bio-rhythm Wellness and Spa center, Talwalkars and Women's World Muti Gym Health Club‎, Janatha Junction, Palarivattom. Many gyms are branded as Health, Wellness or Slimming centers to avoid the traditional association of the word gym with men only centres. Most are open 7AM-8PM.

Boating on the Kochi backwaters, at Marine Drive. Get the real feel of the Vembanadu Lake through boating. There are many cruises offered by many private players as well as the Kerala State Inland Shipping Corp. Sunset cruises are popular. Many guesthouses offer the trip and in the centre you can arrange it by yourself as well. Recently speedboats started plying the backwaters.

Some premium hotels in Willingdon Island and Fort Kochi offer motorised watersports for its guests. Daily backwater tours can be organised directly through the state tourism office at Erankulam Park Jetty. They cost Rs 650 per person and must be booked at least the day before.

The tour includes a stop at local small industry and food sites. In the course of your cruise you will get to observe at close quarters the daily lives of the people who live on the banks of the canals in a unique ecosystem and who have adapted every aspect of their lives to the presence of water all around them.

Kochi has some good Cineplexes, featuring regular Malayalam, Tamil, English and Hindi movies. Most of the theaters have uniform movie timings with 4 shows fixed at noon, first show in the evenings and second show late night, though modern multiplexes offers shows at multiple timings.

Some of the good ones are;

- PVR Multiplex (9 screens); Lulu Mall, Edappaly
- PAN Cinemas Multiplex Nucleus mall; Maradu,
- Cinepolis Multiplex (11 screens); 6th Floor, Centre Square Mall, MG Road, Kochi-35
- Cinemax Multiplex (4 screens); 4th Floor, Oberon Mall, NH bypass road - A modern multiplex, it has 4 screens offering Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil and English movies on regular basis.
- Q Cinemas (4 screens); 4th floor, Gold Souk Mall, Vytilla- The most luxurious multiplex in the town, it offers shows in all languages.
- Kavitha Theater MG Road
- Shenoys (2 screens); MG Road
- Saritha, Savitha, Sangeetha (3 screens); Banarge Road

Padma Cinemas (1 screen); Padma Junction, MG Rd. A modern, well maintained 800 seater theater in 2 class configuration. It has a good cafe and Texas Wild theme restaurant called Cafe 20. Mostly Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi movies are screened here.

Sridhar Cinemas (1 Screen), Marine Drive. A modern, well maintained 900 Seater theater equipped with 3D facilities. It has a good cafe called Sridhar Cafe. This theater regularly screens Hollywood English movies. Malayalam and Hindi movies are screened sometimes, though rare.

There are many performing arts complexes across the city, offering a good experience of various artforms and culture. Kochi has the largest number of regular evening Kathakali theaters, offering the best insight into this traditional dance-drama artform of Kerala. Apart from Kathakali, many other events are regularly performed in Kochi.

Kerala Fine Arts Complex, Foreshore Rd. This is one of the oldest centres, with regular cultural performances. Many require prior booking, as they are organized by prestigious societies and groups. There are some performances that have free entry, and the monthly cultural programs of Bank Employees Union is one such.

Kalikotta, Palace Rd, Thripunithura. This is the official concert palace hall of the Kochi royal family, who are patrons of more than a dozen cultural institutions and societies. Most performances are free. The mega Kathakali festival organized prior to Temple festival of Thripunithura Poornathresya Royal temple, is one of the largest Kathakali events here.

JT Pac Cultural Theater, Choice House, Choice lane, Kumbalam. One of the most modern and upscale performing arts complexes, which has regular concerts, drama festivals, dance programs and other arts and cultural activities. A 1000 seater theater, it also has a good gallery and latest visual-audio systems. Booking may be necessary to secure seats and the theater has strict dress code regulations.

See India Foundation, Kalathil Parambil Crossroad, nr Valanjambalam Temple, Chitoor Rd. An evening Kathakali theater, where daily performances take place from 6PM-8PM. This is the oldest and first evening Kathakali theater in India. The show is preceded by a detailed discourse of Kathakali history and philosophy, elaborate make-up performances and a demonstration of Kathakali techniques.

Greenix Tourist Theater, Greenix Village, Kalvatty, Fort Kochi. A good cultural theater with a gallery, food court and mini museum.

Kerala Folklore Theater, near Thevara-Island bridge, Folklore Junction, Thevara. A good cultural theater with regular evening performances, a state-of-the-art museum and cultural gallery.

Ayurvedic pleasure treatments are widely available. Some of the best spas and massage centres are:

- Elephantpass Ayurveda and Yoga Resort.

- Kerala Ayurvedics in South, Near Arun's Studio, Warriam Road- between MG Rd and Chitoor Rd.

- Punarva Spa and Ayuvedic Hospital, Edappally North, NH 17.

- Ayurjyothi Ayurvedic Centre, West Kunnumpuram, Near Upstairs Italian Restaurent, Fort Cochin - Ayurvedic Massage, Ayurvedic Treaments and consultation.

- Birla Kerala Spa at Hotels Woodlands, Jewel Junction.

- Ela World Spa, 4rd floor, Oberon Mall.

- Yavana Spa, Indriya Beach Resorts, Cherai.

- The Ayurveda Centre, Ramada Resort, Kumabalam.

- Brahma Prakash Ayurveda Centre, Fort Nagar, Fort Cochin, Ayurveda massage, Ayurveda treatments, Yoga classes.

- Superbeing offers Trusted Ayurvedic treatments.

Day-shopping is more popular than night shopping. All shopping outlets close by 8PM. During festive seasons, late night shopping (11PM-3:30AM) are organized to reduce day-time shopping congestion.

The Onam Festival happens mid of Aug-Sept, is one of the best shopping seasons, when you get heavy discounts ranging between 10-50% for almost all items as well as regular consumer fairs.

X'mas is the next best season. The Kerala Government has started the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival 15 Dec-30 Jan, to promote Kerala as a shopping destination. Kochi is the main focal center of this festival and you get heavy discounts at participating stores and regular lucky draws.

The narrow strip sandwiched between Marine Drive and MG Road houses the celebrated Broadway Market which is one of the Kochi's oldest shopping corners where you can buy anything from from safety pins to motor scooters. A spice market operates inside, offering the best of Kerala's spices, saffron and various oils.

There is also a cloth market, a jewellery market, a fancy items market, a vegetable/fruit market and an electronic/watch market. Also try at Mattencherry Old Spice market, which is one of the oldest spice markets in the country. There are nearly half dozen small markets, mostly run by Gujarathi and Konakanis where you can slice of Indian market flavours.

Jew town in Fort Cochin has numerous antique and craft stores. Most of the antique shops sell colonial era and heritage pieces, as well as Jewish items from the traditional Jewish homes of the area. You can also find many kinds of Indian sculptures, decor, interior artifacts and souvenirs.

Bargains are available but be warned that many antiques were probably made in the owners backyard. Shop with care and bargain hard. Never trust touts, who get hefty commissions from unscrupulous antique dealers.

Isidore Art Palace, Jewtown situated next to the Synagogue. Will reliably ship stuff outside India. Bargain hard.

Galleria Syngagogue Art Gallery / Yousuf Art Gallery, Jewtown 776 Jew town street. Showcases art work from many different local artists. Prices are reasonable, and they very often have exhibitions showing some amazing art work from the region.

Cochin Crafts Antique Shop‎, Jewtown, walk down from the synagogue‎. Good collection of crafts and antique shops.

Crafters Exports‎, Jewtown, walk down from the synagogue‎‎. This shop has certified large collection of artifacts and heritage pieces. Its a very popular option.

Cauvery‎, M G Rd at Jos Junction‎‎. A government emporium well known for quality handicrafts at reasonable price.

Try at state run emporiums that offer high quality certified antiques/artworks, however there is no bargain or discount. Check at Kerala's state emporium showrooms, Kairali & Surabhi and Karnataka's Cavery, all located in MG Road.

Large western style shopping malls are now common in Kochi. The largest mall in India - Lulu International Mall is located in Kochi. Apart from shopping malls, there are numerous of shopping complexes in Cochin, a shopping complex in local terms is a large complex having many shops close to each other, selling mostly only one type of product.

Lulu Cochin mall, Edappally Byepass, Kochi. The largest shopping mall in India with all major National and international brands present. This is also one of the largest shopping malls in Asia. This has completely changed the shopping culture of Keralites.

Many brands have entered newly to Kerala through this mall including Marks & spencer, Westside, Tommy hilfinger, Thai body spa, Shoppers stop, Wills lifestyle etc. Some of the brands entered newly in India through this mall like Rolex, CAT, Disney walt, Barbie etc.

Centre Square Mall, Kochi’s most strategically located shopping & entertainment destination on M.G Road. Spread across 5 Lakh sq.ft, Centre Square showcases the finest in Indian & International fashion, Hypermarket for everyday needs, 11 Screen state of art multiplex, gaming zone for entertainment, a food court with varied options, Café’s & Restaurants & so much more, making it a one stop destination for all age groups.

Coupled with Parking space for 500 cars & 500 two wheelers, its truly redefining your shopping experience on M.G Road.

Oberon Mall, near Padivattom Signal Junction-NH Bypass Road. The first large scale multi-format shopping mall in a western style.

A typical mall, having a wide range of branded stores, a large hypermarket, an anchor store of Reliance Trends a multi brand apparel store, a book/stationery store, spa, beauty saloon, a large food court, a four screen multiplex and lots of entertainment options like Horror House, Mirror Maze and a cricket bowling center.

Bay Pride Mall, Marine Drive. A small sized family mall located in heart of city with a few brand stores, a small food court, a fitness center, a gift shop and a music store.

Grande Gold Souk, Vyittila Junction. One of the largest malls in South India, this is the only mall having wedding as theme, with more than 150 stores selling various jewellery brands and branded/unbranded apparel. The Mall has a large boweling alley, sports bar, gaming zone, a luxurious multiplex and good food court.

Nucleus Mall, Maradu, is the latest entrant to the Kochi's Mall culture. A spacious sub-urban mall, ideal for shoppers to shop in hassle free area without worries of traffic and large crowds.

Kochi also has many famous designer boutiques, mostly located in Convent Junction between MG Road and Marine Drive. Panampally Nagar also houses many premium exclusive designer boutiques. MG Road the arterial road is lined with many premium brand stores, leading apparel shops and boutiques.

The cloth bazaar in Broadway Market is one of the largest apparel market selling unbranded fabrics and apparels at lower rates. For dress and fabrics the best options are:

Jayalakshmi Silks, Shenoys Junction, MG Rd. The oldest and most popular destination for bridal collections and popular throughout Kerala. It also houses a very large men's collection with many traditional and modern outfits. It is suitable for a wide range of budgets.

Kalyan Silks, General Hospital Rd. One of the largest silk saree showrooms and a good place to get many kinds of Indian and western clothing, including popular western brands, at very reasonable rates. Silk Sarees are its trademark and most of them are well priced.

Kasavukada, South End of Foreshore Rd near Church Landing. A good place to buy a wide range of ethnic Kerala dress like Mundu, Kasavu Mundu Neyriyattu and ethnic men's Jubas.

My Kingdom, Shenoys Junction, MG Rd. An upscale apparel and accessories store. Spread over four stories, each of which is designed for different age groups and gender. Has an extensive collection of latest clothing. Also a spa, beauty saloon and baby center.

Seematti, North End, MG Road. One of the posher silk and dress fashion centres and a trend setter in creating unique designs and special materials for its Sarees. Its owner - Beena Kannan - is a leading fashion designer and new designs come every six months.

Most of its sarees are out-of-traditional kind, making its unique. It is comparatively more costly than other brands. The men's area is not so elaborate and has only few collections.

Village Shop, Behind Sony Center, Ravipuram, MG Road. Village Shop is a Home Furnishing store in Kochi. They sell innovative and designer Handloomed soft furnishings for all rooms of a home.

Kochi also a hub of travel agents. Many of agencies are working here with years of services. Some of agencies are accredited with IATA, TAFI, Kerala Tourism, KTM etc:

- The Trip India(24 Hours); Perumbavoor, Kochi
- Nehan Tourism (24 Hours); LFC Road, Kaloor, Kochi-17
- Safiya Travels MG Road, Ravipuram
- Alhind Tours and Travels MG Road
- Lawson Travels MG Road, Ravipuram
- Riya Travels MG Road
- Somans Travels Kaloor
- Akbar Travels MG Road
- ITL Travel World MG Road

There are numerous of bookstores in Convent Junction as well as in the Fort Kochi area. Pressclub Rd in Convent Junction is a hot-spot for book lovers.

Kurien's Tower, Banerjee Rd opposite Saritha Cinemas. Has many good book stores within it. Some of the popular are Book-Port and very large multi-lingual store of DC Books.

DeeCee, Island Castle Complex, Chittoor Rd, Opposite YMCA. A very large multi-lingual bookstore, famous for wide range of English fiction books.

Reliance Time Out, 3rd Floor, Oberon Mall, Edappally. A popular store with books, music, entertainment, gifts and cafe option, it has a small library within it.

Pai&Co, Broadway and MG Rd. The first bookstore of the city, its very popular for all kinds of reading materials.

Treasure Island, MG Rd near Padma Junction. An upscale bookstore with a music store and gift shop operating inside.

There are many shops selling footwear and luggage in all price ranges. For budget options, try the shops near both railway stations. Be aware that many of these shops offer cheap varieties which may not last a long.

Sylcon Footwear, Oberon Mall. A leading Kerala footwear chain, that offers many national and international brands as well as luggage.

Reliance Footprints, Oberon Mall. A national footwear chain, most famous for its inhouse brands.

Footwear Bazaar, small dedicated bazaar in at the northwestern side of Broadway Market.

Kochi is famous for its gold, silver, diamond and platinum jewelry. Most of the jewellers are concentrated at Jewel Junction or Woodland Junction, on MG Road near Hotel Woodlands. Normal gold purity in India is 22 carat. 24 carat gold ornaments or thankam are not so popular, but are available. Lightweight collections in 18 carat gold have become popular among youngsters and teenagers.

H. Venkatesha Naik Jewellery, Rajaji Road, Near Kavitha Junction.‎ Offers modern designs and lightweight collections. It also has an extensive diamond gallery and trendy collection of watches.

Alapatt Gold, Jewel Junction, MG Road. One of the oldest jewellers with an extensive gold collection, ranging from traditional to modern.

Malabar Gold, Jewel Junction, opposite Grand Hotel, MG Road. An extensive gold, platinum and diamond collection. It has one of the largest watch gallery selling latest international premium brands like Rado, Tissot and others.

Kirtilals‎, opposite Maharaja's College Ground, MG Rd. A grand exclusive diamond gallery, featuring more than 2,000 diamond collections and platinum jewel designs.

Bhima Silver Palace, Jewel Junction, MG Rd. Large collection of silver ornaments, souvenirs and cutlery.

For cosmetics and womens accessories, Convent Junction is the haven for fair sex. Many international cosmetics and personal care brands can be bought at prices lower than in western countries.

Goodwill Collections, TKM Park, Convent Junction. One of the largest cosmetic store with collections of jewellery and bags.

Le Mars, Civil Lanes, Palarivattom. A very popular multi-brand women's store.

Alphonsa Cosmetics Collections, Convent Junction. A good collection of all international and national cosmetics brands.

You can buy electronic gadgets at comparatively low rates, than most of other regions in India. For the latest technology, Kochi hosts many large consumer electronics fairs and every new technology gadget gets into store very fast.

The Electronics Street opposite Medical Trust Hospital in Pallimukku and Kadavanthara are the prefect place to buy most of electronics gadegets. Penta Menaka and GCDA Mall are famous for mobile phones. Atlantis Junction and Ravipuram are well known for various computer/laptop hardware shopping.

Food shopping is mainly done at supermarkets and bakeries. Bakeries normally sell bread and branded food products, while most supermarkets sell household provisions and packaged food items.

Reliance has many branches in Kochi, in 2 formats, Fresh offers a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits with limited other grocery items, Super large supermarket, offering groceries and vegetables/fruits. Reliance is a pure vegetarian supermarket chain but outside the supermarket, they operate a small store called DeLite that offers non-vegetarian items, including fresh meat.

Spencers daily, Mitra, Food Bazaar, Big Bazaar Express, Nine-Ten and Triveni are other popular supermarkets.

Govt run Supplyco, operates an extensive chain of small stores branded Maveli and regular supermarkets branded as Supplyco throughout the city. They also have a medical pharmacy attached to the supermarkets, offering English medicines at a 30% discount.

KR Bakes, Anns bakery, Bake My Days, Breadworld and Best Bakery are the most popular local bakery chains, with many locations.

Almost all national banks operate in Kochi and most have branches in MG Road, as do a few international banks such as HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered and Oman Bank. ATMs are uniformly spread across the city and most major shopping places have an adjacent ATM.

Most of the nationalized banks are authorised to carry out Forex activities. Western Union and Moneygram have many franchises in the city.

American Express Foreign Exchange Services Pvt Ltd; 39/1728, Tharakan House, MG Rd.

Muthoot Exchange Co (P) Ltd; G.F.13, Muthoot Chambers, Kurian Towers, Opp. Saritha Theatre, Banerji Rd.

Pheroze Framroze & Co (P) Ltd; Behind Woodland Hotel, Layam Rd.

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd; Palai Towers, 1st Floor, Right Wing, M G Rd.

UAE Exchange; Opp Maharaja's College Ground, M G Rd.

Wall Street Finance Ltd; G 42, Pioneer Tower, Marine Drive.

For the past 600 years, Kochi has catered to many vistors from around the world including Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, Russians and Japanese. This has made the city a melting pot of various cultures, and this diversity is evident in the cuisine.
Being a coastal city, plenty of fresh seafood is the local speciality. With the backwaters, freshwater fish is also popular here. Prawns, squids and shrimps are easily available and cooked in many styles. The most famous of Kochi's specialty dishes is Meen Molagitta Curry which is smoked freshwater fish with chilly and coconut milk.

The English popularized smoked fish with steamed bread and mashed potatoes. One of Kochi's traditional vegetarian specialties is Kurukku Kalan, a thick yogurt curry with toasted banana and hot rice. Packed Kurukku Kalan as well as Palada is a sweet dessert with rice flakes and milk, are sold in many supermarkets and food stalls, especially during festive times.

At Fort Kochi beach you can buy fresh fish and have it cooked at the nearby food stalls. Fishmongers will sell you a kilo of tiger prawns for around Rs 300 and a kilo of squid for around Rs 250. Food stalls will charge you Rs 40-50 per person to cook your fish - grilled, curry, whatever and provide you with a serve of chips and salad. Conditions are reasonably hygienic.

Fried fish, Fish molly - a coconut milk sauce based curry almost like stew, Alleppey fish curry is a traditional curry with tomato sauce and fish tamarind and Fish Peera - chunks of fish toasted with grated coconuts with fish tamarind sauce, Varatharacha Kozhi curry is semi-fried chicken toasted with coconut and chilly are the favorites, usually taken with rice or steamed tapioca/cassava.

Also worth trying are the traditional rice based breakfast snacks, puttu and kadala, appam and stew.

Kochi has a variety of cheap restaurants all over the city. A full meal should cost less than Rs 50.

Thattukadas are streetside food hawkers, where you can get hot, fresh-cooked delicious food, costing a maximum of Rs 50 for a good filling meal. Most offer set meal combinations served from portable cooking trolleys with a few benches or chairs nearby.

The most famous delicacies are stuffed or plain thattu dosas - thick dosas almost like pizza bread, hot Kerala porottas - flat bread of milled wheat, Kerala roast beef with chappatti and kanzhi - rice porridge. The main concern is the lack of hygiene and constant reuse of oil for frying.

Kochi has some home-grown fast food chains: KR Hot Chicken, 61 Pai Dosas, Luciya's Food Court, Potpurri, The Oven, Krispy Chicken, Arabian Treat, Papa Milano's and Breadworld Broasted Chicken have a presence in most parts of town. Foreign franchises such as KFC, Chicking, Noodle Kings, US Pizzas, Marrybrown, Pizza Hut and Domino's also have a presence here.

Aruvi Restaurant, for non-toxic beverages, Nature lunch etc. Tea, coffee etc. are not available. Instead Jappi an ayurvedic herbal drink is ordered by the visitors. Aruvi is located at I. S. Press Road (9496044519), Kacherippady (9496044519), and Chambakkara at Vyttiila (9496044517).

Arya Nivas, Chitoor Rd, opposite South Bus Stand. A chain of vegetarian restaurants run by Tamilians, famous for typical south Indian foods.

Bimbis Foodcourt, Jos Junction, MG Rd. Famous among backpackers and budget tourists, it has a wide range of veg options from North Indian, South Indian, Continental and Chinese food courts.

Hotel Thali, opposite Little Flower Church, near Kadavanthra. Very good Kerala style cusine.

Hotel Unnikrishnan, Pallimukku, opposite Medical Trust Hospital. Famous for Kerala style fish fries and set meals.

Indraprastha Gujarati Food Court, MG Rd, Ground floor, DD Food Court, near Shenoy's Theatre. Famous for its unlimited North Indian thalis and various sweets. A full plate thali with five dishes, Roti and rice costs Rs 50.

Krishna Kripa Seafood Restaurant, Fort Kochi, opposite SantaCruz Basilica Church. Good Kerala-style food, low prices and a great location.

Mughal Restaurant, South Railway Station Rd. Has a good range of north Indian foods and a good juice bar.

Sree Krishna Cafe, Gujarathi St, Mattencherry. Gujarati restaurant famous for its stuffed parathas and vegetarian curries.

Kayees or Kaikka's Biriyani, there are two restaurant,one at Mattencherry & opps.darbar ground south ekm. open from early morning briyani avail from noon only and most of the time finish by 2pm. kayees is very famous for the briyani dont leave kochi,without tasting the kayees mutton biriyani,very trusted name in this field for many decades,hygienic at reasonable pricing too. 140 rs.

There are many street side Arabic restaurants offering shawarma and grilled chicken. Popular options are Real Arabia, Arabia Dreams and Grill Arabia, which are dotted all over the city. Most supermarkets and bakeries have a Shawarma Corner outside, which is a cheap, yet filling sandwich. most budget Arabic restaurants are open from 5PM-midnight.

Royal Food Court, Near North Railway Station. Good food with Arabic-Lebanese delicacies around the clock.

Street Menu, Opposite SBT Bank, Padma Junction, MG Rd. Offers a lot of grilled options at low prices.

Most of the restaurants in Kochi are mid-range and there are lots of them.

Banana Leaf, Jos Junction, MG Rd near Jos Collections. noon-3PM. Good traditional Kerala food with non veg and veg options. Rs 60.

Dal Roti, Lily St, Fort Cochin. Authentic North Indian tastes.

Delhi Durbar, Pallimukku, MG Rd. A good, small North Indian restaurant.

Fort House Restaurant and Hotel, 2/6A Calvathy Rd, next to Coast Guard. At the water front offering good Kerala food and great views.

The Grand Pavilion, Grand Hotel, Jewel Junction, MG Rd. Popular especially during evenings for its seafood, particularly karimeen pollichathu which is smoked pearlspot fish and alleppey fish curry.

Kadaloram, Abad Plaza. Good typical Kerala buffet at about Rs 300 per head.

Khyber Pass, First floor, Bimbis Restaurants, Jos Junction, MG Rd. A North Indian/Afghan food outlet with a wide range of tikkas and kebabs.

Mirch Masalas, TD Rd near to Temple. Vegetarian Punjabi restaurant with good ambiance.

Sharma's Restaurant, Broadway, Marine Drive Just behind Penta Menaka. Good North Indian food at low prices.

Raju dhaba, Falcon truck terminal, Kalamassery. 11AM-11PM. Authentic north Indian dhaba food. Rs 100.

Thakkaaram, Very special, authentic Malabar cuisine. Two locations, both off the beaten tourist track, clean and modern.

Ceylon Bake House, Opp. Avenue Regent, South area, MG Rd. Ceylon parathas and Sri-Lankan styled chicken dishes.

Chinese Garden, Dwaraka Junction, MG Rd and Kadavanthara, SA Rd. A good restaurant, serving lots of Indianised Chinese dishes.

The Chyang Shek, Providence Church Rd, Banerjee Rd, adjacent to PNVM hospital, opposite erstwhile Oman International Bank. One of the oldest Chinese restaurants.

14Avenue Restaurant, 14 Cross Rd, Main Avenue, Panampilly Nagar. Italian and continental cuisines, including lasagna, pies, pastas and steaks.

Upstairs Italian, K.B. Jacob Rd, Fort Kochi opposite Santa Cruz Basilica. Run by an Italian family, classic traditional Italian cuisines.

South Star, Bimbis Menaka near Penta Menaka, Marine Drive. Well maintained, nice interiors. Food styles from North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and Arabic and a wide range of Biriyanis.

Thai BBQ House, Kunnumpuram Road, Njaliparambu Junction, Fort Kochi. Thai cuisine, with grilled squid tempuras and coconut prawns.

Most of the upscale restaurants are located inside hotels with 3 stars or more.

BTH Kempu, BTH Hotel, BTH Junction, Durbar Hall Rd. A classic hotel which dates back at least 100 years. Its restaurant, Kempa, is popular among high end vegetarian travellers. Serves North Indian, South Indian and Kannadiga-Udupi dishes.

Chillis Andhra, Layam Rd. Very tasty, as well as fiery food, particularly the chicken options. Few vegetarian options.

Hotel Dwaraka, Dwaraka Junction, MG Rd. Was the first star hotel in Kochi and it remains a popular option for Indian vegetarian food.

Ila, Marine Drive near Hakkoba Lodge. 11AM-11PM. Tasty Travancore food, with both Southern Travancore veg options and Central Travancore Syrian Christian non veg specialities.

S36, Mills St, Foreshore Rd within Bat&Ball Inn. 11AM-11PM. Traditional North Indian cuisine, particularly Mughal specialty foods.

Sreekrishna Inn, Warriam Rd, Durbar Hall Rd. This restaurant is famous for its classic look and theme, and offers a large range of Indian vegetarian dishes. The dosas are most famous, along with its elaborate thalis.

Tandoor, Layam Rd near Hotel Woodlands, Woodland Junction, MG Rd. 11AM-11PM. Tasty North Indian, particularly Punjabi, food. The Kadai chicken and ginger chicken is truly world class, and no other place in Kochi can offer their unique taste. The peas masala is also really superb.

Their trademarks are romali roti and stuffed bread options. A full Kadai chicken serves at least 4-5 people. Caution, it is very spicy.

Restaurant Lily Grace, River Rd., Fort Kochi near Hotel Killians - Fort Kochi Vypeen Ferry Terminal. 11AM-11PM.

Arctic Circle, next to Hokkoba Lodge, Marine Drive, near to Coffee Beanz. 11AM-11PM. Steak, more than 14 sizzlers, such as an American styled sizzler with Texas mashed potatoes with mushroom sauce. 20 European dishes, along with a few continental salads.

Ayela & Keshai Part of Dreams Hotel, near Elamkulam Lake, SA Rd. A very good seafood restaurant with four theme courts, Kochi, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. It has a fresh seafood selection court, with the fish cooked in front of the guests. A multi-cuisine restaurant also operates at the site.

24 Carat, 3rd floor, Gold Souk Mall, Vytilla. 11AM-11PM. A popular upscale multi-cuisine restaurant, themed around weddings, it is ideal for candle-light romantic dinners and high power lunches.

Cornucopia, Mills St, Foreshore Rd. 11AM-11PM. A cricket theme restaurant, operating inside Bat&Ball Inn, this restaurant is famous for its wide selection of Continental, Greek, Mediterranean cuisines.

Golden Dragon, Mercy Estate, Atlantis Junction, Ravipuram side of MG Rd. 11AM-11PM. A pure Chinese restaurant without any Indianisation. Serves alcohol.

Hon. East India Company, Hotel Travancore Palace, Warriam Rd, Durbar Hall Rd. 11AM-11PM. A historical themed restaurant operating within the four star Travancore Palace Hotel. Famous for its classic paintings and heritage photo galleries as well as its food. The evening buffet is one of the largest in town, offering the best of English, Kerala and North Indian cuisine.

Lokah World Cuisines, NH Byepass Rd, Vytilla near Mithra Supermarket. 11AM-11PM. Offers nine international cuisines from an American Wild West theme to Vietnamese sea-food, Italian pastas and Arabic grills. This restaurant has a family hall, a smoking lounge, a street food area and French cafe along with bakery. Free wifi for guests.

Itty's Place, G31, Panampally Nagar near Hotel Center. 11AM-11PM. Itty's place is an eco-friendly restaurant made completely with bamboo, coir and wood having 3 sit-down options. 3rd Place is one of the city's premium cafe and gelateria, whereas Favourite Italy offers traditional Italian pizzas, pastas and subs.

Spice Route, Level 4, Oberon Mall, NH Byepass Rd, Palarivattom. 11AM-11PM. Themed around historical spice route with focus on traditional Persian foods.

Somewhere Else, near Muscat Tower at Sony and Vileno Showroom, near Kadavanthara Junction. 11AM-11PM. It has a cafe and restaurant. The cafe serves a wide range of coffees and mocktails, whereas the restaurant has sizzlers, steaks, grilled wraps, burgers and desserts. Also offers some good biriyanis and Indianised European options. Free wifi for guests.

Mexicana - A quaint Mexican restaurant at the Ramada Resort. Nicely done ambience. Food is hot as they use authentic Mexican chillies. Better to reserve and go as it is only a 30 seater. Opens only for Dinner. Closes at 11 pm. Serves all types of Indiana and Imported liquor, wines and liqueurs.

Keralites are well known for their drinking habit. Finding bars or pubs is not difficult in Kochi. For those who do not drink alcohol there are lots of excellent local options.

Karikku /ilaneer - tender coconut, could be found at many hawker stalls, especially in Marine Drive.

Sambhaaram or buttermilk, is especially popular on hot summer days when it is even distributed freely by some clubs in popular areas.
Shakes, such has Sharjah Shake are good cool down options and there are numerous cool-bars and juice stalls across the city.

Fresh toddy or kallu is a brew from the coconut tree. Be careful as adulteration is very common. Your best bet is to get it from a local who has given over his coconut trees for extraction. Mullapanthal Kallushap near Thripunithura is a certified Kallu brew shop.

Only 5-star rated bars are allowed to operate, and they are few. Bars up to the 4-star category provide only beer and wine. But liquor can be bought for personal consumption in home from state-run Beverages Co stores, which have an extensive network of in Kochi, selling at competitive rates. Expect long queues, especially on the eve of dry days. Women standing in the queue to buy liquor is usually frowned upon.

XL Fishnet Bar, Rose St, Fort Cochin. until abour 10.30 PM. The bar fills up each day with tourists looking for a beer in Fort Cochin. There is nothing cosy about the place and the staff are quite lazy.

It can be a nice spot to meet other travellers, since everyone has one thing in common: drinking beer. There is a busy restaurant downstairs that also serves beer though more pricey and may be preferred by solo women. Rs 125 for a Kingfisher.

Velocity, Bnerjee Rd. A seedy bar with a wide range of liquors and beer.

Oberoi Bar, MG Rd. A good small bar dominated by men.

Polakkulattu Sliverspoon Bar, Jewek MG Rd. A good, well maintained bar with branches in Palarivattom near Metlife, and in SA Rd at Janatha Junction.

Central Park Bar, Kaloor-Kadavanthara Road. A posh well maintained bar having a designer lounge.

Nasha, at the Metropolitan Hotel bar, South Railway station. A well maintained good lounge bar, ideal for families and visitor. Offers a wide range of drinks offering at moderate prices. Very famous for its signature Kerala dishes as short eats.

Silca Bar, Hotel Mercy, Ravipuram area, MG Rd. A lovely, upscale bar lounge popular with businessmen and upscale visitors. Famous for its signature dishes and cocktails.

All discotheques, pubs have some strict rules and etiquettes.

A restricted admission policy - allows only guests above 21 with proof of age required. No pets are permitted and some days may be reserved for ladies, couples and families.

A strict dress code - only formal attire for both genders. Western styled fashion is allowed for women. Male patrons must be fully clothed in formal western style or in denims with shoes. No kind of ethnic Indian clothing is allowed for men, however sarees are allowed for women.
Smoking is strictly not allowed inside any pubs or dance floors

Nightlife comprising of pubs, DJ parties, discos are recent phenomenon with new venues opening. Pubs and discotheques may not close down on dry days as is applicable to bars. However they do close on all notified state holidays such as Onam, Vishu, Easter and Good Friday. An exception to this rule is during Christmas time. Also note that clubs also close at 12:30.

Club1100 , Ramada Resort, Kumbalam 91 484 3011100. The disco is open only on Friday to Sunday. Saturday evenings are the happening nights. Disco opens from 9 pm. The bar is in three levels. Contemporary in design and pleasing. A nice place to have drink. Discotheque entries are restricted. Stags are not allowed unless known to the management.

Glow & Cork tales, Atlantis Junction-MG Rd. Dance floor and large lounge bar. It has night parties from Thursday to Sunday with various themes and age groups.

Opium the Club, Palarivattom Jn, Palarivattom Jn. A new posh upscale dance floor and large discotheque, it has various events from Tuesday to Sunday, each in various themes. It is always closed on dry days.

Loungevity, Hotel Avenue Regent, MG Rd. House an inhouse DJ and the latest in electronic dance music. One of the coolest places for families.
Couchyn, The Grand Hotel, Woodlands Junction, MG Rd. A traditional English styled lounge bar with great music and a wide variety of cocktails.
ÁVA lounge, Dreams Hotel, SA Rd. A lounge cum disco bar, ideal for families. Good music, a large dance floor and wide range of cocktails.

Champs Sports Lounge, Gokulam Park, Kaloor. Has a good sports gallery, cricket-themed interiors, 2 gigantic screens for regular broadcast of cricket or football matches, signature cocktails and snacks.

There are many coffee shops around the city.

Kashi Art Café, Fort Cochin, Burgher St parallel to Princess St. 8:30AM-7:30PM. Serve great iced coffee, fresh lunches, and a variety of sandwiches and tasty cakes.

Amaara Maradu, Petta-Maradu Rd, Tripunithara near Gandhi Square. 10AM-9PM. An unique heritage hangout set in 200 year old Mangayil house. Serves authentic Kerala coffee and popular varieties of dosas. Regular cultural performances, cooking class, ethnic handicrafts class are some of the popular activities there. The cafe also houses a large library for reading as well as venue of regular book exhibitions.

Cafe Coffee Day, Shenoys Jn, MG R; Oberon Mall; Pallimukku, MG Rd. 10AM-9:30PM. A popular national chain, which is a standard coffee hangout with western style eateries and a wide range of coffee.

Barista, Bay Pride Mall, Marine Drive. 10AM-10:30PM. The place to cool down with coffee after a walk at Marine Drive. Not cheap though.

Teapot, Peter Celli St, Fort Cochin. 10AM-10:30PM. A unique cafe which serves a variety of teas, particularly 6 unique Indian flavours. It also has good traditional English snacks.

Cafe Cochin Lavazza, G-360, Panampally Nagar. 9AM-10:30PM. The only direct Lavazza coffee outlet in South India.

BTH Coffee Shop, Near North Railway Station; International Stadium-Kaloor. 9AM-10:30PM. A moderate priced coffee shop, famous for its traditional Kerala snacks and savouries along with dosas and idilies.

Cafe Persia, TD Rd, near Banerjee Rd. 9AM-10:30PM. A unique Arabic themed cafe, famous for Sheeshas/Hookah smoking and an excellent range of Arabic coffee and tea, along with snacks.

There are numerous cool-bars and juice stalls that sell branded and custom made ice-cream dotted all over the city. There are also a few specialist ice cream parlours.

Horter Place de Glance, Jawahar Nagar Colony and Opp. Durbar Hall grounds. A premium ice-cream outlet selling the Uncle John brand. It has 29 ice-cream flavours and 18 ice-cream varieties with many toppings including sauces, creams, fruits and nuts.

Caravan Softies, Caravan Complex, Marine Drive and Opposite Shenoys Cineplex. One of the most traditional ice-cream parlours famous for many in-house varieties.

Kwality Walls, Foodcourt-Abad Bay Pride Mall Marive Drive. A local favourite.

Merriboys Ice-cream Cafe, Food Circle, Oberon Mall. Famous for its original milk ice-creams and innovative fruit sundaes.

Milano Ice Cream, M G Road, Near Medical Trust Junction. Real Italian gelato at its bestwith amazing flavours.

Kochi is full of hotels from one star to five. Closest to the airport are Flora Airport Hotel, Courtyard Kochi Airport and Abad Airport Hotel.

Being a tourist and business city, Kochi has a lot of accommodation across a broad price range. Hotel accommodation can be divided into 2 distinctive areas. Fort Cochin has numerous hotels which are more European and American in style. Ernakulam City caters for all travellers, especially domestic and those from Middle East and elsewhere in Asia.

Also Willingdon Island hosts some of the city's most premium hotels. When booking. Keep in mind that the area around Fort Cochin is quieter and more scenic than the rest of the city and there are large number of boutique hotels. Prices are comparatively high for India but moderate by western standards. Home stays are common in Fort Cochin, catering to backpackers and budget travellers.

For budget tourists, non star rated hotels near the railway stations as well as many in Fort Kochi, particularly on the road from Fort Kochi main ferry, are ideal.

If you stay more than a week, consider the option of taking rooms in small lodges providing budget accommodation on weekly and monthly basis for Rs 1,000-2,500. Another popular option is single hostel accommodation which provides monthly stay for less than Rs 3,000.

Fort Square Homestay / Hotel, 1/1123-A, Opposite Canara Bank, Kunnumpuram, Fort Kochi - 682 001, On TM Muhammad Road, near the intersection with Fosse Road and Pullupalam Road, opposite the Canara Bank. checkin: 24 hrs; checkout: 24hrs. A well priced budget option close to the centre of Fort Cochin, with 6 bedrooms and a huge roof garden area.

All bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and the place is spotlessly clean and tidy. Prices officially start at 800 however it's possible to get the price down to 600 per night out of season. Free WIFI provided, Highly recommended! 600+.

Aroma Home Stay, 1/1469 (1), OPP. ST. Anthony´s Chapel, Pattalam, Fort Cochin, Kerala India. Very close to Mahatma Gandhi Beach. checkin: 12 NOON; checkout: 11 AM. Located in the main Fort Kochin area, provides free 24 hour Wi-Fi, living and dining area.

The rooms are fully furnished twin bed en suite with balconies.The rooms are clean, spacious, airy. The hosts are very welcoming, friendly and helpful. Traditional Kerala breakfast is available. 1500.

YMCA Youth centre, NH 47 Byepass Opposite Medical Centre Hospital. checkin: 24 hrs. indoor sports,parking facility with a reasonable restaurant . A/c starts from Rs.800 and non A/c strats from Rs.375.

Jeen wilsons homestay B&B, near police quarters road,Njaliparambu,Rids Dale lane,fortkochi. non a/c rooms and 1100 for a/c room 500-900 non a/c.Located in one of the silent by-lane of fortkochi. Very close to Santa Cruz basilica.

Free WiFi internet.Roof top cafe available there we can enjoy fresh homely cooked food.Breakfast,lunch,dinner available.The host Linda is very friendly and helpful woman she is a fantastic cook.She takes cooking class with meal .

Casa Linda Ballard, St.Paul's Street (Near St.Paul's School), ☎ +91 484 2216888. A well maintained hotel in typical European style. Budget.

Hotel Fort Avenue, Bazaar Street Near old Bazaar. A well maintained hotel. Budget.

Hotel White Rose, Fort Nagar, A newer hotel, which is clean and good looking. Ideal for families.

Vintage Inn, Rids Dale Branch Road, Njaliparambu Jn., near K.B. Jacob Rd, traffic circle. Clean, comfortable ensuite rooms, fan or A/C, free WiFi in the lobby, 5 min walk from historic centre. from Rs 300 during off season.

Banana Hut Hotel, Main Ferry Rd, On the left 150m to the Chinese Fishing nets from the main Ferry Station. Basic rooms, but cheap and kind hosts. Leaving your bag there during the day is possible and was safe. from Rs 300 during off season.

Homestays allow you to stay with a family in their regular home as a paying guest, enjoying the hospitality and warmth of traditional Kerala family life. This started in Fort Kochi especially for backpackers and hippies.

Today homestays have emerged as one of the most successful hospitality ventures outside hotels and resorts and there are more than 200 across Fort Kochi. Recently many home-stays have begun to charge higher rates during tourist season.

Adams Wood House, Andy Achari Road, Behind Saga at Paravana junction). Clean with comfortable beds. The owner,and his family are very friendly and helpful. Free WiFi, help with arranging trips inside and outside of town. Breakfast available. Rs 1,000-3,000.

Daniels Homestay, Rids Dale Branch Road,2 min walk from Santa Cruz Church. Located in one of the silent by-lanes of Fort Kochi very close to the Santa Cruz Basilica. Friendly, clean and comfortable. Free wifi internet and TV in all rooms. 24 hrs hot/cold water with seperate bath rooms. Rs 800 for Non-AC and Rs.1200 Ac room.

Dream Catcher Home Stay, Vasavan Lane Road, Near Thamaraparambu School. Home-cooked food, clean rooms, but host quite unpleasant. Free pick-ups from bus and railway station. Rs 600-1,200.

Edelwiess, 1/1375 A KB Jacob Rd, Njaliparambu Junction. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Clean with comfortable beds. The owner and his family are very friendly and helpful. Free internet, help with arranging trips inside and outside of town. Rs 400-800.

Green House Home Stay, Kunnumpuram Road, Njaliparambu. Friendly home stay in a good location close to Princess St. TV and a fridge are provided in the communal living room as well Internet. High season doubles are around Rs 1,000 non A/C or Rs 1,500 A/C, Rs 300-600 during the low season, extra charge for A/C rooms.

Maison Casero Home Stay, Near Santa Cruz Basilica Church, Fosse Road, Kottavalappu, Fort Cochin 45 KM from the Cochin International Airport, 18 km from the Ernakulam Junction railway station, 150 meters from the fort cochin bus stand. checkin: 11.30 am; checkout: 11.00 am. The owner Jaison & his family are very friendly and helpful. 600-1500.

Leelu Home, Cheerans Ebenezer, Behind Fort Kochi Post Office, Quirose Street,2 min walk from the famous Santa Cruz Basilica. A recently renovated Victorian building in the heart of Fort Kochi. Cooking classes are conducted in the kitchen daily from 11AM-1PM and from 6PM-8PM.

Padikkal Residency, Njaliparambu Junction 50 meters from Santa Cruz Basilicum. checkin: 1PM; checkout:11AM. Free WiFi, private rooms with ensuite bathroom. Common balcony. Traditional style homestay with helpful staff. Approved by the Department of Tourism Development. Close to the main Fort Kochi area, but in a quiet enough location to be away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist traps.

Prem's Homestay, Njaliparambu Junction, Close to the Santa Cruz Basilica. Clean, homey atmosphere, welcoming hosts. Home-cooked food on order. Close to major tourist attractions. Will organise trips inside and out of town if you wish. Rs 600-1,000.

Riverside Heritage Homestay.

San Mike Tours Homestay, No. 1/957, Directly opposite Santa Cruz Basilica. Friendly homestay run by two brothers Victor and Martin. They can organise anything from a Rs 500 backwater cruise in Allepey to a day riding an old Enfield motorcycle down the Malabar coast. Rs 500 per person or less if there is more than one of you.

Kalancherry Retreat, Kalancherry,Kumbalangi,Kerala. Lawrence & Lilly have been involved in hospitality for over 10 years. Kallancherry Retreat, is for people who look for a few days of quiet and green, great home-cooked food, at a friendly and personal place, in the middle of a coconut grove, on the shores of the backwaters and a cooling breeze. Rs 1500.

Tag und Nacht Homestay, Beach Rd, Mackenzie Garden opposite the Naval Maritime Museum. Very clean and beautifully decorated rooms with comfortable beds. The owners, Antonio & Kristina, are friendly and helpful. Free WiFi, assistance with arranging trips inside and outside of town. Fabulous breakfasts. Rs 500-1,200.

Jojies Homestay, K.B Jacob Road ,Chirattapalam, Fort Kochi, Near Santa Cruz Church. Apart from this cozy accommodation, Sophia and Doyal who are running this homestay offered us an excellent stay. Enjoy the fabulous puttu for breakfast. low budget, depends on season.

Heavenly Homestay, 11/639 A, PATTALAM ST. ANTONY'S CHAPEL., MECKANZEY GARDEN ROAD FORT KOCHI, Near ST. ANTONY'S CHAPEL Church. Excellent and friendly host Mr. Patrick. Rooms are well maintained and newly constructed. Free WiFi, can arrange City tour on Auto Rickshaw / Cab as per your choice. Breakfast is really good. Also serves Welcome Drink i.e. Fresh Fruit Juice. low budget, depends on room selected.

Ernakulam City

AJ Residency, Kaloor Rd near Kaloor Jn, behind Lenin Centre. checkin: 12noon. Near Kaloor bus stand at Kaloor Road and nearby Palarivattom Shopping district. It has the Rahamaniya tender Chicken Restaurant at ground floor. Rs 350-800.

Hotel Aiswarya, Warriam Rd, Near Durbar Hall Ground. A good well maintained hotel with nice interiors and good hospitality. Located in heart of the city.

Hotel Bijus, Cannon Shed Rd, Near Boat Jetty, Near General Hospital. Ideal hotel for budget tourist. A well maintained, clean and nice hotel.

Hotel Excellency, Nettipadom Road, Ernakulam South, Near Avenue Regent. Located very near to South Railway station, this is a moderate business hotel. Very good interiors, a restaurant and nice staff. Rs 750-1,500/ night.

Hotel Kavitha International, Chitoor Road between Mulasserry Canal and Iyyattil Jn. checkin: 12 noon. Clean hotel, located very near to MG Rd at the heart of city. 24 hr reception. Rs 600-900.

Fort Cochin

Ballard Bungalow, Near Fort Kochi Junker Jetty. A heritage colonial bungalow, which still maintains the colonial charms and recreates an atmosphere of the British Raj. Moderate.

Fort Bridge View Homestay, Door 1/381 Burger Street, Fort Kochi opposite Kashi Cafe On Burger Street, 20 meters up from intersection of Tower Rd, near Police Station. New, modern, beautiful, clean, and elegant rooms with Portuguese marble floors, antique wooden beds with spring coil mattresses, lovely tile restrooms with rain showers and modern fixtures.

Some rooms with balcony sitting areas. Located between Princess and Burger Streets. Flat screen TVs and mini fridges, AC and Non AC rooms, 24 hour hot water and free high speed internet. Standard, superior, and deluxe rooms, with one huge suite room available, price ranges from 1,300 to 3,000 rupees. Walking distance to all major tourist attractions; a perfect place to stay with a homely atmosphere and a friendly, helpful staff.

Gama Heritage Residency, Napier St. A typical Portuguese bungalow, which housed the Portuguese army until its defeat by Dutch forces. Today it is a stylish heritage hotel, famous for its hospitality.

Old Courtyard, Princess Street, Near Vasco Da Gama Square. An old Dutch bungalow, remodelled with modern interiors. Famous for lovely dinner parties. Moderate.

Ernakulam City

HOTEL IMPERIAL REGENCY, Near Padma Theatre, MG Rd. Luxury Business Hotel in the heart of cochin city on M.G Road with extremely spacious rooms with a stylish and contemporary decor. Hotel has excellent service with extremely courteous staff. A Gem of a property.

Mermaid Hotel, Kaniyampuzha Road, Vyttila. Spacious rooms with river views.

Abad Plaza, Kavitha Junction, MG Rd. One of the oldest hotels in town. There is also another hotel just behind which belongs to this chain. It has good restaurants, pools, gyms, spa, supermarket, bookshop and business facilities. Located right in centre of the city.

Avenue Center Hotel, Panampally Nagar, Opposite Rotary Club and near to Passport office. A posh hotel located in an upscale residential area. This is a good hotel with a multi-cuisine restaurant and swimming pools.

BTH, BTH Round, Durbar Hall Rd, Near to Shiva Temple. The oldest business hotel of the town, BTH is a popular option, especially among Indian families. It has good lawns, a large swimming pool and vegetarian restaurants.

Sealord, Marine Dve. One of the first star rated hotels in Kochi and offers rooms at moderate rates. Has good restaurants and a pub.

Times Square, Layam Rd, Near Durbar Hall Ground, Opposite Chief Justice's House. Business hotel, near the shopping quarters of MG Rd with a very good multi-cuisine restaurant.

Killians Boutique Hotel, River Rd Near Harbour. A very well maintained and modern hotel in the heart of Fort Cochin with water treatment plants, attuned to the German Standards.

Brunton Boatyard, Fort Kochi Jetty, Beach Rd, Near Bus stand. checkin: 12 noon. A heritage bungalow, once built as Dutch Governor's Palace, later owned by the Brunton brothers boatbuilders. Today is a premium property of CGH group. It has huge Dutch styled gardens, Kerala-dutch style interiors, large cannons and good restaurants. Rs 3,000-14,000.

Koder House, Opposite Beach Park, Tower Rd, Near Fort Kochi Beach. checkin: 12 noon. Once home to an affluent Jewish couple, today this has is a large Jewish theme hotel. It has a good restaurant which serves authentic Kosher certified food and a very large indoor pool. Rs 2,000-10,000.

Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel, Opposite Fort Kochi, Beach Rd, Next to INS Dronarchary of Indian Navy. This heritage property was once the residence of Sir Robert Bristow - the architect and father of modern Kochi Port. It has opulent interiors in a traditional English style and a good antique collection, along with large pools, a garden and host of other facilities.

Willingdon Island

Vivanta Malabar by Taj former Taj Malabar, Near Kochi Port Trust Complex. checkin: 24 hr. On the tip of Willingdon Island. Its heritage wing was built in 1935 to accommodate the visiting Princess of Wales (Queen Elizabeth II), and later to accommodate senior officials of the Royal Navy.

It is full of Victorian design & decor and was a Crown Property until its handover to the Taj Group in 1954. The tower wing is more modern. The Infinity Pool is one of the oldest swimming pools famous for its beauty. Rs 9,000-31,000.

Trident Cochin former Hilton Kochi, Near Kochi Port Trust Complex. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. Located near to Ernakulam Port Wharf, this premium property has 69 luxury rooms and 10 premium suites along with several world cuisines restaurants and a world class spa. Rs 9,000-20,000.

CGH Casino Hotel, Willingdon Island, Near Kochi Port Trust Complex. checkin: 14:00 Hrs; checkout: 12 noon. The first property of CGH established in 1957, its an iconic hotel famous for its seafood restaurants and themed room, all overlooking Cochin Harbour Rs 9,000-20,000.

Ernakulam City

Dreams, S.A Rd, Kadavanthara, Opposite. Naval Enclave. A premium property which is a sister concern of Times Hotel-New York, with all 5 star facilities. Rs 6,000-20,000.

The Gateway Hotel, Formerly Taj Residency, Marine Drive, City. Near the harbour with good sea views. Popular amongst business vistors and upscale tourists. It has very large pools, cafe, gardens and own ferry services. This is a 4 star property of the Taj Group.

Harbour View, Opp.Shipyard, Atlantis Junction, MG Road. Ideal business class hotel, with lot of premium features, located in the main area of city. Rs 4,000-12,000.

Gokulam Park Inn International, Kaloor, opposite Techno-towers. A 4 star property located in the business corner of Kochi. It has a a good convention center and a host of facilities. Rs 4,000-12,000.

Holiday Inn, NH Bypass, Vennala 33/1739 A, Chakkaraparambu Junction. 132 king bedrooms, 47 twin rooms; 18 deluxe rooms; 12 executive suites, 1 presidential suite and 2 specially able rooms. Tea/coffee makers, iron and iron board, separate work area; LCD, TVs, mini bar and safe. Restaurant, cafe, sports pub, pool bar, outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, multilingual staff and Business centre.

Le Meridian, Maradu Junction, Near Maradu Bridge. One of the most exclusive addresses in town famous for its large convention center. It has a host of facilities. Near to riverside, it offers good boating facilities and has an indoor shopping complex selling famous luxury items Rs 6,000-20,000.

Renaissance, Palarivattom Junction.

PGS Vedanta, Lissie Junction, Near North railway station. PGS Vedanta is nestled in the charming city of Kochi. Restaurant, cafe, outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, multilingual staff and Business centre Rs 2,900-6,000.

Resorts are ideal if you prefer to stay away from hustles and bustles of city and enjoy holidays in an idyllic mood.

Bolgatty Palace, Bolgatty Island South, take ferry from High Court Jetty or reach through Goshree Bridges. checkin: 12 noon. A premium heritage property of KTDC, where English Royals celebrated their life during British Raj days. The Palace complex was built in 1630s by Dutch owners and soon became the residence of the British Resident Commissioners for Kochi and Travancore.

The resort is famous for its honeymoon cottages, large Dutch style gardens, horse tracks and golf course. A Marina and accompanying marina suites are nearby near to the ex-Residence. Rs 5,000-15,000 per night.

Ramada Resort Kochi, Kumbalam South End, Kochi. checkin: 2 pm; checkout: 12 pm. The resort is famous for the beautiful 100 mtrs of meandering pool that merges into backwaters overlooked by the balconies of well appointed cottage suites. The resort is equally famous for its saturday night discotheque, lounge bar and sprawling gardens.

The resort has 24 lake facing cottages on stilts and 18 Superior rooms. It has an excellent Ayurveda center with an inhouse doctor. It also has a Spa with all the facilities. Dining options - Fennel is the multuicuisine restaurant and Mexcicana, as the name implies a 30 seater Mexican restaurant. Rs 5,000-16,000 per night.

Indriya Beach Resorts, Cherai or Kerala Beach Resorts, MLA Road, Cherai,Kochi, Kerala. checkin: 24 hr. Secluded luxury cottages, sumptuously appointed executive suites and banquet areas set on an elegant landscape dotted with palms and tropical plants around a large pond in the middle. Nestled between the Cherai beach and lagoon, serenity is the order of the day.

Lulled by the hush of the lagoon, the calls of tropical birds, canoes sending soft ripples through the water, the muttered voices of fishermen and in the background the muted growl of the sea, the hiss of waves descending on the beach - you are in the realm of forces primal and sensual. Rs 3,000-10,000 per night.

Waterfront Resort, 23 kms from the Cochin International Airport. checkin: 12:00 midnight; checkout: 12:00 midnight. This is a backwater-front resort, a Traditional Nalukettu or kerala house, with a center court yard. They have a herb garden and stunning backwater views.

Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is an ideal getaway for those wanting to experience Kerala's natural beauty. You can watch many species of birds here. 50 USD.

There are many popular institutes for learning local art-forms such as Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattom, Kathakali and music, which can offer regular and crash courses.

Kerala Kathakali Center. Offers short term courses in Kathakali, Kalaripayattu and percussion instruments for visitors. Ideal for learning a bit about the essence of Kerala's, although it is not so authentic being aimed mostly at tourists.

RLV College of Dance and Music. Established in 1920s by Maharaja of Kochi in Tripunithara as a remembrance to his late wife and daughter, this is one of most popular music and dance colleges in the state. There are many short-term courses, making it ideal for interested visitors.

Sree Sankara School of Dance and Music. A a popular center for learning classical Indian artforms, offering certificates and diplomas.

Gigi Ansal takes South Indian cooking classes from 6pm. These are around 600Rp per person for four dishes and rice/naan. An authentic experience, she'll take to her home in Fort Kochi and show you how to cook like a local! Hotel Mother Tree can also help to book.

Learn this gravity defying martial art of Kerala. Some of the centers authorized by the government are:

Arjuna Kalari and Marma Chikitsalayam Centre. Has regular classes in Kalari techniques but it is more famous for its specialized ayurvedic treatments.

ENS Kalari. One of the most popular Kalari centers in the state. Part of Kerala Kalaripattyattu Association, this institute is guided by leading trainers who are well versed in ayurveda, mathematics and physical education.

JaiHind Kalari. The best Kalari Marma Treatment in Kottayam near Kochi.

Art of Living-Ernakulam Chapter. Part of the international yoga and spiritual center of Sri Sri Ravishankarji.

Kochi is one of the safest cities in India with excellent police coverage. Common sense is of course required when being alone at night.

Late night life is not common in Kochi. If you are planning on clubbing, make your own transport arrangements before hand, very few buses ply after 9.45PM, and none after 10.30PM. You can find autos and taxis, but only near railway stations or major bus stands. Be wary of eve-teasers, especially drunkards.

Kochi is infamous for mosquitoes, due to presence of large water bodies across the city. Make sure any room you book, has mosquito repellents or at least a mosquito net. Its always better to have any anti-mosquito creams or spice oil extracts like lemongrass oil to ward off mosquito bites. Malaria is eradicated, but beware of dengue fever.

Crossing roads - unlike in the other cities in India, vehicles do not tend to stop when you initiate crossing; so wait till there is a comparative lull in the traffic, the oncoming vehicles will slow down for you.

Be wary of Private Line bus and KSRTC bus drivers on the roads. Pedestrians live a hard life especially during peak hours in Kochi. There are many cases of road accidents and hit-run cases involving private buses and pedestrians, thus earning them the nickname, Red Killers.

Take extra care, while crossing the roads. If difficult to cross then do so only at major signal junctions or seek assistance of local traffic policeman.

Kochi lacks good pedestrian walkways, though many are being rebuilt now, along with the roads. Beware of walking on these walkways, especially during night. Jaywalking may be safe in the nights in sub-urban roads, but with the coming of better roads and with an increasing traffic, avoid walking on the roads in the city, especially in the daytime.

Kochi is located a few metres below the sea level, so a few roads in the arterial city tend to flood during rainfall. Its better to avoid such roads while raining. When the these roads are flooded it may be difficult to distinguish whether you are walking on road or walkway, which sometimes can land you inside drainage holes.

However, these floods do tend to drain off quickly after the rain. Flood prone roads are - Edapally Junction, roads leading to Ernakulam Junction South Railway Station, South junction in front of Hotel Woodlands.

Public smoking bans are strictly enforced in the city more so than in other regions. The High Court of Kerala has decreed a public smoking ban across the state. Smoking on the roadside, in shopping complexes, restaurants, and parks is illegal and police can charge Rs 500-1,000 for breaches.

No shop that sells loose cigars or tobacco is allowed to provide lighters. Provision of lighters to customers may lead to a Rs 150 fine being imposed upon both the supplier and the purchaser.

Prostitution is illegal in Kochi, as elsewhere in Kerala and India. However there is a very good chance, you will likely encounter street prostitutes and their agents, who may try to lure you. Beware of such offers, as many of such prostitutes are affected by HIV.

Being illegal, they have no access to medical controls or treatments. As it is a criminal offence to commit adultery, regular police raids occur in local cheap hotels to catch prostitutes and their clients.

For any emergency support of Police, ☎ 100 for Flying Squad or ☎ 1090 for Crime Stopper. The city has around 16 Police Station zones.

Kochi Central Police Station (Central Circle), Old Railway Station Rd, Behind High Court of Kerala. 24 hours. This is the main police station and it houses the offices of the Asst. City Commissioner as well as Ernakulam City Circle officer.

Kochi Women Police Station (Vanitha Station), (General Police Quarters, Near to High Court). 24 hrs. For any assistance to women travellers. This all-women police station.

Kochi Tourist Police Station - Fort Kochi Station, Parade grounds. 24 hrs. This is the country's first and only tourist police station. Assistance for tourists including visa and immigration information can be provided. There is a small police museum here. Check for the difference of police uniform here. The Tourist Police wear a blue shirt and khaki pants.

Foreigners Registration Office-FRO, City Police Commissioner's Office, Commissariat, City Police HQ, Marine Drive. 10AM-5:30PM. The city commissioner is the FRO, who has powers and authorization for any immigration issues. For any visa conversion, loss/theft of foreign passports, extension of visa, overstay of visa, immigration clearance, reporting a missing foreigners then report at this office.

Sailors & Seaport Users Registration Office, DySP Office- Island, SSRO Office, Near Port Trust Office, Willington Island. 24 hr. For sailors or ship crew, their registration and embarkation/disembarkation order has to be issued for this office.

The DySP has authorization to issue landing permits for yachts, private boats as well as foreign ships and allow its passengers to board down for 72 hours without visa. Travellers arriving on cruisers and yachts should report at this office for any transit visa or short term visa required.

Along with Trivandrum, Kochi stands out as one of south Asia's best medical hubs and it's not at all difficult to get medical attention. Many hospitals operate in the city, with 12 specialist hospitals and Centers of Medical Excellence.

For accident cases, only hospitals marked with accident care are authorized to admit such cases. The toll free emergency number from all telephones is 102 and 1298

Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) Amrita Hospital, Edapally North. Take left in NH 17 after Edapally Toll Gate. 24 hr. One of the top 10 leading specialist hospitals in South Asia. AIMS is reputed for its cost effective complex treatments and latest medical care facilities. Reputed for its cost-effective surgeries, the hospital offers several specialized over-all general check-ups.

Lakeshore Hospital, Near Maradu Bridge, NH Byepass, Maradu. 24 Hrs. One of the most high tech hospital in South India famous for its innovative, modern medical treatment. Has various specialized departments including cancer care treatment and bone/neuro treatment. The cardiac division is an awarding winning center with the latest facilities and highly qualified dcotors.

There are 8 other specialist clinics. The hospital is well-equipped with all emergency services. Also offers comprehensive medical check-up services.

Medical Trust Hospital, Pallimukku, MG Rd. 24 hr. One of the oldest Super Specialty hospital located in heart of the city, this hospital is one of the most important referral hospital in Kerala.

Famous for its organ transplant operations. Has the largest number of intensive care facilities in the state. Its a very crowded hospital but is well organised. This hospital is part of Rapid Medical Action Force and they have an accident care.

City Hospital, Padma Junction, MG Rd. 24 hr. A good hospital, with accident care facilities. It is famous for its orthopedics and paediatrics department.

Cochin Port Hospital, Willingdon Island 24 hr. General medicine and has a large in-patient ward. Located near to Kochi Port area, its regularly used by sailors. All certifications required for mariners and sailors are available from this hospital.

Gautham hospital, at Panayapilly, near Fort Kochi and Mattanchery. 24 hr. A major multi-speciality hospital in West Kochi. 24 hr casualty, accident and trauma unit, ambulance services and an ICU and other state of the art medical care.

Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala Hospital, Thrikkara, Kakkanad, Next to Bharat Mata College. 24 hr. One of the state's most celebrated Ayurvedic hospitals, the branch unit in Kochi is famous for its complex ayurvedic surgeries and treatments. The hospital has Out-Patient clinics at MG Rd Dwaraka Junction, as well as in Aluva along with second in-patient treatment facility at Aluva

Dr Hassan Ayurveda Brain & Spine Super Specialty Hospital, Ernakulam, Kerala, Rajaji Road, Near KSRTC Bus Stand. 24 hr. With a heritage of 125 years Dr Hassan provides his patients the best treatment in authentic way. The expert panel of doctors effiecient knowlegde in Multi-systems make a big difference in diagnosing and providing the best for people around the world.

Kerala Ayurveda Samajam Hospital (KA Samajam), Carrier Station Rd, Karikkamuri, First right from South Railway Station. Open 24 hr. Branch unit of world's first Ayurvedic Hospital Chain- Shornoor's famous KA Samajam Hospital Kochi branch is equally good for various treatments, including cancer and serious aliments with regular medical panel visits from its main hospital.

There are many 24 hr emergency Blood banks. Most of the accident care hospitals have a blood bank counter within the hospital. In event of emergency, the services of following blood banks can be utilized.

IMA Emergency Blood Bank‎, behind Maharaja's College, TD Rd. Its a 24 hr blood bank‎

IMA General Blood Bank, Warriam Road, Durbar Hall Area.
Branches:- a) Behind General Hospital, Convent road; b) IMA House, Stadium Road, Kaloor

Amrita Emergency Blood Bank, Amrita AIMS, Edappally North.

Ambulances Services:

- Rapid Medical Action Force, 102
- Emergency Medical Assistance, 1298
- On-Road Accident Emergency Care Force, +91 98 4609 9900, +91 98 4600 7740
- Kochi Police Medical Assistance, +91 484 2366100 or 100
- Amrita Jeevanraksha, +91 484 2801234, +91 484 2802100
- Lions Club Free Ambulance, +91 484 2354139
- NSS Community Free Ambulance, +91 484 2369920
- Rotary Emergency Medical Force, +91 98 4706 0077
- Air Ambulance, +91 98 4544 6634, +91 99 8609 0451 Need to have prior booking

24 hour PharmaciesServices:

- Gautham Pharmacy, Panayapally, +91 484 2210514, +91 484 3096020
- Amritha Pharmacy, AIMS, Edappally, +91 484 4001055

There are many pharmacies located near Medical Trust Hospital in Pallimukku, all 24 hr pharmcies.

The Area code for Cochin is 0484. If calling from outside India the format is +91 484 xxxxxxx. Almost all national telecommunication operators, operate in Kochi.

Mobile Services. If you require an Indian phone number it is strongly recommended that you get a pre-paid mobile connection. To do this you need a photocopy of your passport, including the visa and the ID pages, a color photo, and officially proof of local address in Kochi.

Most star hotels allow you to use their address for this. In the event of not having address you can still get a pre-paid connection using your visa number, finger prints and in some cases providing passport size photographs.

All mobile operators in India operate in Kochi and 3G/4G LTE is avaialable. GSM as well as CDMA. Popular GSM service providers are BSNL Mobile, Vodafone, Idea Mobile, Aircel, MTS, Airtel, Tata DOCOMO, Uninor, Virgin Mobile GSM and Reliance GSM. Popular CDMA service providers are Tata Indicom, Reliance India Mobile and Virgin Mobile.

Public Telephony :- PCOs (Public Call Offices) are not a good option. There is no roadside telephone booths now and the best option is to go for a pre paid sim card which you can get at the Airport / Any shops and is the best way to keep in touch. Even internet cafes are far and between and its best to use the Hotel Internet connection.

BSNL Calling cards are available in all stores, which is a prepaid calling card, that could be used in any phone, without charging the phone user. Vodafone World Cards and Airtel Globe cards are also another good option.

General & business telephone directory can be accessed by calling +91 484 4444444.

Toll Free directory enquiry from BSNL landphones & BSNL Mobile is 197.

Kochi was one of the first places in India to be connected to the Internet. Being the landing site of 3 major international submarine network cables (FLAG, SEA-ME, SAFE) as well as focal point for most of the fiber-optic networks in South India. The city has good bandwidth at low rates.

There are plenty of internet centres which charge around Rs 10 per hour. Some cafes in Convent Road as well as near Cochin University offer high speed net connectivity at Rs 5 per hour. If you have laptop with wifi connection, you can roam anywhere with BSNL WiMax USB connection speed around 40 Mbps to 512 Mbps, as Kochi has 4th generation Wimax.

In addition to this, Kochi is also a network city with services provided by the 3rd Gen-EVDO BSNL network as well as 3G services of BSNL, Docomo and Reliance Mobile.

Most of the 3 Star hotels provide wifi connectivity. You require pre-paid connection cards of Tata Indicom or Reliance. The majority of hotels have Tata. Some hotels provide complementary wifi for the use of their guests.

India Post has offices throughout the city, generally open 8:30AM-5PM weekdays, 8:30AM-1PM Saturdays, closed Sundays. The Kochi Airport post office located in Departure side of International Area is open 6 AM-8:30 PM on all weekdays and Saturdays. The General Post Office (GPO) is located in MG Road (Opp. Avenue Regent) and in Edappally near High School.

The Head Post Office (HPO) is located at Postal Complex, Hospital Road. The express (EMS Service) is available at the HPO and Edappally GPO, which is open 24 hrs on all days except the 5 state holidays. Service through EMS Postal service is very fast and reliable. Post boxes are available all over the city and daily clearance is at 10AM and 4:30 PM. A postcard to anywhere in the world costs Rs 5.

There are numerous of private courier companies operating in Kerala. Fedex, DHL, First Flight, UPS, DTDC and Aramex are some of leading private services.

Almost all the national newspapers have editions for Kochi. The major English language dailies are The Hindu has a detailed city tabloid called Metroplus, The New Indian Express - The local City express along with this paper provides good insights of city happenings, The Times of India, The Pioneer, Hindustan Times and many popular Malayalam and Tamil newspapers.

Being seat of Cochin Stock Exchange and the principal financial hub of Kerala, lots of financial dailies in English are available in Kochi, like The Economic Times, The Business Standard, Businessline, The Financial Express.

Lots of popular English Magazines are available. Many American and British magazines like Forbes, Mirror etc is available in many supermarkets and bookstalls. Popular Indian English Magazines are India Today, The Week and The Frontline.

Kochi uses the British (UK) three-pin and two-pin circular socket that follows British standard 546 (230V/50Hz). Plug adapters are available at any hardware store. Use care if you need a transformer to convert 230v to a lower voltage for equipment from countries where the normal power supply is 110v.

Kochi has 15-20 public listed state holidays as else where in Kerala, when almost all government and a few private offices are closed. However, few holidays involve total closure of all commercial establishments. Please be aware that on these days most of the public transport options like bus, cabs and autos take a break.

For the few holidays listed below, restaurants and food corners other than those operating inside hotels also close. Its always better to avoid these days, while planning holidays. The major holidays that Kochinites love to spend indoors are:

- Good Friday and Easter (April)

- Vishu - the Malayalam New Year, April 14th or 15th

- Thiruonam - the main day for Onam celebrations between August-Sept.

- Christmas Dec 25th.

A few religious holidays listed below marks closure of all commercial establishments owned by members of that communities. However public transport works as usual.

Cheriya Perunal (Eid al-Fitr), Valiya Perunal (Eid al-Adha) and Muharram marks full closure of all Muslim owned establishments. All these firms take break for 3 hours from noon for Friday Juma Prayers.

Saturdays, Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah marks total closure of all Jewish establishments, particularly in Fort Kochi
Diwali, Holi and Navarathri marks private holiday season for almost all North Indian establishments, particularly in Mattancherry.

Apart from these holidays, the Sunday laziness can make most of the establishments do not to function in the morning time, though many open by afternoon. The city bus services on Sundays are also limited, though other public transport like autos and taxis function normally.

EMS Co-operative Library, Mavelipuram, Kakkanad, Near Ernakulam District Co-Operative Bank. Mon-Sat 1PM-7PM, Sun 10AM-5PM. A well maintained library where subscribers can register by presenting proof of identity, non-residents of Ernakulam will have to pay 50% extra on admission and annual fees.

There are many subscription plans Rs 50 as admission fees, plus annual membership fees starting from Rs 100. This library also has a park near it, though it is not very well maintained.

Ernakulam Public Library, Convent Road,Opposite Shenoys Theater. Mon-Sat 10AM-7PM, Sun 10AM-5PM. The Ernakulam Public Library is one of the oldest public library in India started in 1839. Books could be rented for 2 weeks for various rental options ranging from Rs 60 for four books to Rs 15 for single book. A refundable caution deposit is required ranging between Rs 1,000-250 depending upon membership class.

There is a free reading room with good collection of all national and international newspapers and magazines. Try here if you like read some of the treasured archives or original historical manuscripts.

Eloor Lending Library, Convent Junction, Near St. Theresa’s College. Daily 10AM-8PM. Eloor Lending Library has mainly two membership options. Unlike other libraries, this library has a different way of lending books. Here when you take membership by paying Rs. 1, 200 you can access books worth Rs. 1,800.

When you pay Rs. 600 you can access books worth Rs. 900. Here you have to pay an additional 10% of the price of the books you take, as the reading charge.

Sunshades and prescription glasses in stylish frames are much cheaper in India as compared to the western world. Across the city, one can find numerous optician stores. Most of them have computerized testing services and many have optical clinics within with the store.

Lens & Frames, Opposite. Abad Plaza, Kavitha Junction, MG Road; Near KTDC Information Center-Marine Drive and South Area-MG Road. A well stocked leading optical store, it has branches all over the state. It has wonderful collection of all leading national and international brands.

Kurian's Opticals, Broadway; Kurian Towers-Banerjee Road; KTDC Complex-Marine Drive; MG Road; Kadavanthara and Civil Lanes-Palarivattom. A good chain of opticals, it has all major brands.

Indian Opticals, M G Road, North End.

Vithayathil Opticians, M G Road, Jos Junction.

Kochinites are particular about their hair styles and adopt almost all latest fashion. Thus there is no shortage of various hair salons charging from Rs 50 up for the latest trends. Most of the budget saloons are found almost every part of the city, normally calling as Barber shops or Saloons.

The middle range hair salons located mainly in MG Road, Palarivattom, Marine Drive and Edappally areas, offer haircuts with hair wash as well as other frills. For splurge, most of the premium beauty palours and skin clinics are located Panampally Nagar, GCDA Nagar, Girinagar, SA Road and MG Road that offers various skin and hair treatment, all costing above Rs 1,000.

Polonica, Kanchanja Apartment, Palarivattom. 9AM-8PM. A popular men's only saloon, which has all leading styling techniques and brands. Rs 100-1500.

Styl-X Men Salon, House-14, Panampilly Nagar. 11AM-9PM. Rs 100-2,000.

Pretty Face Ladies Beauty Clinic and Spa, House-14, Panampilly Nagar.

Shahnaz Herbal Beauty Care, Civil Lanes-Palarivattom.

Lakme Beauty Salon, G-130 Panampilly Nagar.

Ole' International, Grand Hotel- MG Road; International Hotel- MG Road. An extremely popular Uni-sex palour, its favourite among Malayalam movie celebrities and businessmen.

Kaya Skin Care Clinic, Ground Floor, Shop No. 14, Swapnil Enclave, Marine Drive. Popular national chain, its very famous for its innovative skin/hair treatments and dressing styles.

VLCC International, 1st Floor, ABM Tower, Kadavanthra. Popular national chain, famous for its special products and treatments.

Alappuzha (70 km) — also called Alleppy is famous for house boats, the heart of backwaters of Kerala with amazing maze of lagoons, backwaters, rivers, canals created by nature. Rs 81 bus from the interstate bus stop.

Athirapilly waterfalls — milky waterfall in Chalakuddy 18 km from Cochin International Airport, is known as Indian Niagara with numerous giant waterfalls and small rapids nearby. This is a popular picnic spot. The waterfall is inside the thick forest and western ghats.

Bhoothathankettu (35 km) — scenic dam site with boating facilities is situated in a vast virgin forest. It is a popular picnic sport with Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary near by.

Idukki (90 km) — a hilly region with lots of hill resorts, in Northern Travancore.

Kumarakom (40 km) — popular internationally known bird sanctuary located on wedge of a backwater island.

Kottayam (55 km) — The biggest spice trading hub famous for large churches, wild trekking and cultural monuments.

Muvattupuzha (30 km) — a small town famous for pineapple cultivation, historical orthodox churches, spice trading and rubber plantations.

Thattekkad (45 km) — bird sanctuary near Kothamangalam, famous for a good boating and a wild picnic.

Thrissur (60 km) — cultural heart of Kerala famous for various cultural monuments, temples and grandest festival- Thrissur Pooram.

Wagamon (50 km) — famous for pristine forests, small rapids, vast green meadows, its also known as Scotland of Asia.

Thenmala (225 km) — famous for ecotourism, waterfalls, boating, adventure activities and a deer park.

Thiruvananthapuram — the capital city of Kerala, 5 hours away by train with many attractions such as Kovalam beach, Neyyar dam, Ananthapadmanabhan temple, East fort.

Cherthala (35 km)

Enjoy Kochin

Tourism Observer

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