Dutch Palace (Mattanchery)
- Ernakulam, Kerala.
This Palace in Mattanchery was built by the Portuguese, and presented to the Raja of Cochin in 1555. It is popularly known as the 'Dutch Palace', as the Dutch renovated it during their brief reign here.
The glory of the palace lies in the murals, which are in the best traditions of Hindu temple art. In the central courtyard of the palace is the temple dedicated to Pazhayannur Bhagavathi. In the coronation hall there is a display of dresses and palanquins used by the rulers of Kochi.
Prime Attractions of Cochin (Kochi)
A Scenic island near the city of Ernakulam, Bolghatty is famous for the Bolghatty Palace built by the Dutch in 1744 AD.
Fort Kochi Beach
A leisurely walk through the lanes of the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history.
The oldest synagogue in India, it was built in 1586 AD by the prosperous Jewish community whose links with Kerala began in Kodungalloor in northern Kerala
Best time to go
About the best time to visit Cochin is during the monsoon, when cooling winds and heavy showers make it a beautifully pleasant city- a welcome change from the humidity and heat that usually mark Cochin. Generally speaking, June to January is about the best time to come to Cochin- and if you're keen on a spot of local culture, aim to be here on the second Sunday of August: that's when the famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held at nearby Alappuzha.
The Mattancherry Palace is open between 10 am and 5 pm every day except Fridays.
Getting there and around
Cochin is well connected, so getting here isn't a problem. The city's airport (which is actually 26 km from the city centre) receives flights from all across India and from a number of destinations abroad as well, especially airports in the Middle East and in South East Asia. The airport is India's first privately owned airport, and its sleek interiors are commensurate with the amount that's gone into building it.
Options for getting around Cochin include the city's ferries (not for nothing is Cochin called `The Venice of India'!), hired cars, taxis, auto-rickshaws and even hired bicycles. Although local buses do run, they tend to be crowded and are best avoided.
Cochin and its twin city Ernakulam are also linked to the rest of India by both rail and road. The Ernakulam Junction is the railway station, where trains from most of India's biggest cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai come in. Trains and buses (both ordinary and deluxe) link Cochin to Kerala's smaller towns, and the city's an important point on the backwater cruises circuit- so you can actually get here on a kettuvallom (a traditional Keralan houseboat).
A major chunk of the tourist accommodation in Cochin is actually concentrated in Ernakulam- and that runs the gamut from posh 5-star hotels (including some heritage hotels) to budget options where you may end up having to share a loo. On the whole, you shouldn't have any trouble finding a place to stay- there are loads of choices available.