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Kerala For The Budget Traveller; Part I: Fort Kochi

Kerala For The Budget Traveller; Part I: Fort Kochi

access_time May 21, 2013 chat_bubble_outline 2 comments 4019 views

With miles-and-miles of tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters waiting to be explored, sun-kissed beaches, lakes enveloped by abundant wildlife, verdant tea estates and mouth-watering food, Kerala is a beguiling place. Ankita Karkera shows you the many faces of Kerala as she and her family, experience life in a postcard village, indulge their taste buds in the delicious local cuisine, wander along dense coffee, rubber and coconut plantations, and treat themselves to the warm hospitality of the locals.

Part I of a 4 part series on Kerala

The iconic Chinese fishing nets of Kochi

The iconic Chinese fishing nets of Kochi

We touch down in Kochi one morning of February. I’m excited. Not because I’m in Kerala, but because it’s my very first trip to the in-laws’ home state. Everything here is a little out of the ordinary (despite being traditional) and a lot more vibrant than the photos you see in glossy tourist brochures. With just 10 days in hand, my husband and I decided to cover all possible experiences that central Kerala has to offer and string them into an itinerary for a perfect trip.

First Stop, Fort Kochi

The streets of Kochi

The streets of Kochi

Being close to the airport, our route started with the jewel of Kerala’s crown. With swagger and sparkle, Kochi has the air of a flirtatious stranger. A walk around the pocket-sized island will take you through Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Dutch and Jewish quarters. All seem to co-exist very happily.

My husband is from Kerala and being with a local all the time really helped to explore the hidden secrets of this state. Homestays are the best option for accommodation given the high expenses and ‘don’t-bother-me’ customer service in Kerala. Homestays also give you the ‘home-away-from-home’ experience with local home-made delicacies.

We stayed at Orion Skywings – a Bed & Breakfast with a very helpful caretaker – Hari. For 2000 bucks a night, it was clean, accessible, yet away from the noisy streets. It even had free Wi-Fi, which made it even more worth it.

Must-Do In Fort Kochi

A fisherman works the Chinese nets / Daniel J. Rao, Shutterstock.com

I found mornings the ideal time to stroll the beaches of Fort Kochi. The sun couldn’t hide its excitement as we cut through the little lanes that lead to the northern end of Fort Kochi. We walked ahead in search of the end till we reached the Chinese fishing nets. Not much in practice today, the nets are a popular tourist attraction. Their size and elegant construction make for great photographs and the the unusual fishing technique and slow rhythm of operation is quite hypnotic.

Must-Eat In Fort Kochi

Fresh catch in the fish markets at Kochi

Fresh catch in the fish markets at Kochi

After that long walk, it was lunch time and seafood was on my mind! Since it was our first day in Kerala, we were disappointed not to find authentic Kerala food on the street. The food here is toned down in spices for tourist and Western palates. Give the tiny shacks on Tower Road a miss as the ambience doesn’t really match the quality of food we put inside our stomach. There’s a fish market next to fishing nets where you can shop for fresh catch. Karimeen is considered a delicacy and is cheap. It must be tasted at least once!
Best place to eat sea food that fits your budget? Our recommendation: Marina restaurant near the bus stand. Don’t be fooled by the tiny entrance to one of the only sea facing open air restaurants in Fort Kochi. The view is breathtaking. You see huge container ships and ferries pass through as you wait for the yummy food to arrive. Ignore the delay in service and you’ll have a gala time.

Must-See In Fort Kochi

Santa Cruz Basillica / Ankita Karkera

We spent the rest of the day discovering small spotless-white churches, local temples and bungalows built to look like castles and tiny connected roads to our homestay. When in Kochi, 5 places I would definitely recommend visiting are – Santa Cruz Basilica, the Dutch Cemetery, the oldest European-built Church in India – St. Francis Church, Princess Street & the spice bazaar – Mattancherry. We didn’t plan this part of Kochi but headed out to explore the shady streets of Mattancherry on a Sunday evening (when everything shuts down after 6 pm) in search of fragrant spices that the place is famous for. As luck would have it, we just about catch a glimpse of St. Francis church from outside and shopped in a couple of Kashmiri stores. Streets become pitch dark after 8 pm, so we caught a tuk-tuk back to Princess Street. Nevertheless, it was an experience to see another side of Fort Kochi before we wrapped up.

 

Can’t get enough of Kochi? Read 10 reasons to visit Fort Kochi for more on what to do, see and eat there.

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About author

Ankitak

Dealing with quarter-life crisis is the hardest thing to cope with, and travelling makes it easier. That’s what Ankita Karkera believes. A Digital Marketer by profession, Ankita loves planning her holidays online. When she’s not busy with that, she usually bunks office and gets the artist in her out. Follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/ankitakarkera

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2 Comments

  1. Magnetic Sponsoring Review
    November 04, 21:23 Magnetic Sponsoring Review

    Must read! Will continue to read all of your blog post!

    reply Reply this comment
  2. mamataroy11
    December 20, 10:43 mamataroy11

    Wow Really its very nice article.it shows to us which type of places in this kochi and give importace of kochi.

    reply Reply this comment

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