Kochi: From God’s Own Country

Kerala, with its lush green fields and hilly terrain offers a variety of attractions from back waters, wild life sanctuaries and forest reserves to oil massages, spice plantations and herbal medicines. Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) is a very beautiful city located on scenic backwaters. Besides being an important trade and commerce centre, Kochi is famous for its serenity and its pollution-free atmosphere. Rightly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, the city includes a cluster of beautiful islands including the Bolgatti, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.

The sparkling backwaters are unique to Kerala and a host of water bodies including estuaries, canals and rivers add value to the impeccable landscape. Vembanad lake is huge and is mostly navigable. Kochi offers a very different experience to travellers as short journeys on town buses and ferries are enjoyable. Ferrying to nearby islands is something that attracted me a lot. The 20-30 min trip from the harbour unravels nature in its very best. Scenic places keep one’s eye and camera busy for the entire whole of the 20 minute journey. Wellington Island is a small but beautiful island located at about 10 km offshore Kochi on the Arabian Sea. The island consists of a very beautiful palace and a lush green golf course. A full ferry ride that extends to three hours and covers Wellington Island, Mattenchery Palace, Jewish synagogue, Fort Kochi, Kochi harbour and Bolgatti Island is a sheer pleasure.

Vypeen Island is a calm and cool place for leisure with its Chinese fish nets, light house, pebble beach and fishing vessels. One can enjoy the windy evenings at the shore under the light house with hot plantain “bajjis” and delicious sea food. Tasty sea food and fresh varieties of bananas are specific attractions there. Since the Portuguese, Dutch and the English have had established themselves in and around Kochi sometime or the other, there is a wide variety for architecture lovers to see and enjoy. Intricate carvings and stylish finishing of the Portuguese, the glamour in the Dutch grandiose and the elegance in the English architecture are a treat to watch.

Kochi is well-connected by Air and Rail. The nearest airport is the Kochi International airport which has good connectivity to almost all major Indian cities. Southern Railways’ vast network does weave a busy net around the Kochi/Ernakulam Junction and Kochi is well-connected to Trivandrum, Chennai, Bangalore Bombay and Hyderabad besides other nearby cities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Awesome weather adds to the picturesque landscape and incessant rains give a fresh look to the city. The busy, loud and friendly population of the small villages in and around Kochi offer one a typical Indian village experience. A typical sojourn in Kochi should extend to a minimum of three days and should cover boating, ferrying, fishing, cycling, islands, back-waters and more. An evening on the seashore, when the sun goes down, with a cup of hot “Nayar Chai”- Kochi is a paradise and a romantic epitome.

Pradeep Sekhar

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/2631956935/]