Coloured warehouses and Chinese fishing nets
India’s first European church
Vasco da Gama’s house

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Buildings on the water edge

Spreading across islands and promontories between the Arabian Sea and the backwaters, Kochi (long known as Cochin) is Kerala’s prime tourist destination. Kochi is also a wonderful port of call for MSC cruise liners on Grand Voyages cruise itineraries.
In Fort Cochin, spice markets, Chinese fishing nets, a synagogue, a Portuguese palace, India’s first European church and seventeenth-century Dutch homes can all be found within an easy walk. As you approach by cruise ship, the waterfront, with its sloping red-tiled roofs and ranks of peeling, pastel-coloured godowns (warehouses), offers a view that can have changed little in centuries.

Fort Cochin, the grid of old streets at the north-west tip of the peninsula, is where the Portuguese erected their first walled citadel, Fort Immanuel, which the Dutch East Indian Company later consolidated with a circle of well-fortified ramparts. Only a few fragments of the former battlements remain but dozens of other evocative European-era monuments survive: the early eighteenth-century Dutch Cemetery, Vasco da Gama’s supposed house and several traders’ residences.

Among the most magical experiences a visitor can have during an MSC Grand Voyages excursion to Kerala is to witness one of the innumerable ancient drama rituals that play such an important role in the cultural life of the region. Kathakali is the best known; other less publicized forms, which clearly influenced its development, include the classical Sanskrit kudiyattam.

Many Keralan forms share broad characteristics. A prime aim of each performer is to transform the mundane into the world of gods and demons; his preparation is highly ritualized, involving otherworldly costume and mask-like make-up. In kathakali and kudiyattam, this preparation is a rigorously codified part of the classical tradition.

Must see places in Cochin



    Colours, flavours and scents
    Colours, flavours and scents

    A holiday to India doesn’t mean visiting a country, but a continent. Stretching from the frozen summits of the Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala, its expansive borders encompass an incomparable range of landscapes, cultures and people.

    Walk the streets of any Indian city and you’ll rub shoulders with representatives of several of the world’s great faiths, a multitude of castes and outcastes, fair-skinned, turbanned Punjabis and dark-skinned Tamils.
    With an MSC Grand Voyages cruise to India, you’ll also encounter temple rituals that have been performed since the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs, onion-domed mosques erected centuries before the Taj Mahal was ever dreamt of, and quirky echoes of the British Raj on virtually every corner.

    The most-travelled circuit in the country, combining spectacular monuments with the flat, fertile landscape that for many people is archetypally Indian, is the so-called Golden Triangle in the north: Delhi itself, the colonial capital; Agra, home of the Taj Mahal; and the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan.
    Rajasthan is probably the single most popular state with travellers, who are drawn by its desert scenery, the imposing medieval forts and palaces of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Bundi, and by the colourful traditional dress.