You will be picked up from your hotel and travel in an air-conditioned vehicle accompanied by an English-speaking local guide for a sightseeing tour of Cochin and Ernakulam. Among the major attractions, you will visit:
• The Dutch Palace: The Mattancherry palace was built by the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century. Later the Dutch took over, made some additions to it (hence the alternate name – Dutch Palace) before presenting it to the Rajas (kings) of Cochin. The palace is famous for its fine mythological murals in the tradition of Hindu temple art. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which looks like polished black marble but is actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites.
• The Jewish Synagogue: Built in the 16th century, it features an ornate gold pulpit and hand-painted willow-pattern floor tiles brought from China. Don’t miss the stunningly-beautiful chandeliers and coloured-glass lamps.
• St. Francis Church: Considered India’s oldest church, it was built in 1503. Vasco da Gama, who died in Cochin in 1524 lay buried here for 14 years before his remains were taken to Lisbon. You can see his tombstone in the church.
• The Santa Cruz Basilica: It was built in 1902 and its interiors are painted in soothing pastel colours.
Later, drive along the coast and at the harbour’s mouth and see the fixed, cantilevered Chinese fishing nets introduced by the Chinese traders in the 14th Century. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Some parts of this nearly 500-year-old Fort are still amazingly well preserved.
You will then be dropped back to your hotel where the tour ends.