Fort Kochi, a historical town in Ernakulam District of Kerala is rich in its colonial style buildings and roads. If you want to enjoy Fort Kochi in all its aspects, you should prefer walking or cycling. Cycling is better as it helps you save time. You can rent out cycles and explore on your own or go for tour operators. Kalypso Adventures offers a complete tour of 4 hours at INR 4300 per head for a minimum of 2 people. Another private player Art of Bicycle Trips offers a shorter 3 hour tour, viz. Vasco Safari at INR 1450 per head.
Fort Kochi is one such place which cannot be missed by people who have a keen interest in history and historical places. The place is a history book on its own. You can experience this town to its fullest by taking advantage of the delightful cycling tours. You should definitely try it if you have the energy.
Fort Kochi located in Ernakulam district of Kerala, towards the south west of the Ernakulam city is a historic town. The area was gifted to the Portuguese, by the King of Kochi as a token of gratitude for helping him ward off the invasion from a nearby kingdom. Portuguese built a Fort, viz. Fort Immanuel fort here. Fort Kochi owes its name to this fort. It was later destroyed by the Dutch. The place continued to attract populace from different parts of the world. Fort Kochi stands out from the other parts of Kerala for its reminiscence of colonial architecture of buildings and roads. Fort Kochi offers all modern amenities but still believes that ‘old is gold’ and so treasures those historical places and the stories that are by each nook and corner of this place. Fort Kochi has narrow roads and so the best way to explore the place is set on foot or on a bicycle.
Start off with Fort Immanuel, which stands with all splendour and pomp of the olden days. Peddle across to see the Dutch Cemetery, reminding you of those souls who are buried away from their hometown as they set out to conquer the world. Then you come across the magnificent Thakur House, which belonged to National Bank of India and now owned by tea traders Thakur and Company. Next on list to amaze you is David Hall. Then set on the journey to Parade Ground which has the dubious honour of having paraded different armiess of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Past this, you reach the oldest European church in India, St. Francis Church. Cycle through the Church road enjoying the waft from the sea and you reach the Cochin club, set in colonial style. Bastion bungalow, set in the Indo European style way back in 1667 is another architectural amusement on the Church Road. It houses an excellent library and many sporting trophies. Peddle along a narrow path and reach Vasco-da Gama square for refreshments and treat yourselves with tender coconut drinks and delicious seafood. Here you get to watch the Chinese fishing nets erected somewhere between AD 1350 and AD 1450. Ensue your travel and explore the other majestic colonial structures like Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Old Harbour House and Koder House. Now take a right turn to enter the Princess Street with European style houses on both sides and proceed via Loafers Corner, a favourite hangout of youngsters in the town of the famous Santa Cruz Basilica, built by the Portuguese in 1558. If you still have the metal in you, cycle further, turn left to Ridsdale Road to view the VOC gate (named so, as it has the monogram of the Dutch East India Company on it), built in 1740. On the same road, as you wind up your tour, you can see the Bishop’s house built in 1506.
At this point, you might be feeling nostalgic, still reeling in the goodness of the bygone era, richer in historic knowledge and architectural concepts, and yes relishing the experience!
Alternatively, if you have only a few hours, you can skip the entire route and make your way to Mattancherry through the narrow lanes savouring the exciting aroma from the spice market. This is also an excellent place to buy spices. Mattanchery palace or Dutch palace housing many traditional artefacts and the synagogue in the Jews street are other highlights of this route. From there, you can progress to Santa Cruz Basilica.
To explore the place on cycle, if you are staying in Fort Kochi, you can hire them on hourly or daily basis. Many local shops rent out these at reasonable rates. More organised ones like Arafath rent a Bike and Art of Bicycle Trips also offer cycles on rent. Kalypso Adventures offers a complete tour in the latter route for 4 hours at INR 4300 per head for a minimum of 2 people. They offer accompanying guide, multi geared cycles, refreshment and mineral water and a support vehicle. Another private player Art of Bicycle Trips offers a shorter 3 hour tour, viz. Vasco Safari at INR 1450 per head.