Santa Cruz Basilica:
A monumental structure with a brilliant blue dome, the basilica was built by the Portuguese in 1506 and recognised as a cathedral by Pope PaulIV in 1558. Demolished in 1795 by the British, a new building was commissioned at the same site in 1887 by Bishop Dome Gomes Ferreira and later proclaimed a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
St Francis Church :
This is India’s first European church built in 1503 by a group of Portuguese Franciscan friars. The history of the church encapsulates the European struggle for power in India. Regular services are conducted through the week in English and Malayalam. The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, was buried here in 1524. Although his remains were taken back to Lisbon 14 years later, the tombstone remains intact.
The derelict granite and red laterite stone tombs of Dutch traders and soldiers lie serenely in a bed of heather bush and thistle under a green canopy. A mute yet sublime remnant of the once thriving European community in Kochi, the Dutch Cemetery, consecrated in 1724, now lies mostly in ruins.
Resting atop a small hillock close to the Parade Ground, this quaint structure with its grand driveway was built by the Portuguese in 1506 for their governor. Today, it is the residence of the Bishop of Kochi. In the adjacent IndoPortuguese Museum, precious artefacts collected from various churches are displayed.
Fort Kochi Beach:
Overlooking the Arabian Sea, with its legendary Chinese fishing nets dotting the foreground, Fort Kochi beach offers views of fiery sunsets. A colourful carnival on New Year’s Day is a major draw. A novelty here is the Waterfront shacks that offer the catch of the day prepared according to taste. Massive granite embankments have been built to arrest sea erosion along the shore.
Salim All Sanctuary
Located in Kochi-Munnar route at the evergreen forests around Thattekkad, it was discovered by legendary ornithologist Salim Ali and hence named after him later. Noted for the rare Malabar Grey Hornbill. Must do: Trip to the scenic Bhoothathankettu damsite located in the rainforests.
Portuguese and Dutch Palaces
Built by Portuguese in 1557 and renovated by Dutch in 1663 this was presented to the local prince. Bolgatty Palace, another Dutch mansion built in 1744 is located in the beautiful island called Bolgatty. Must do: Visit David Hall, the mansion-turned-gallery built by the Dutch in 1695 and the Dutch cemetrey consecrated in 1774 where the tombstones tell the emotional history centuries.