A small area that was once bequeathed to a member of the royal family, Kochi later expanded to form a kingdom and then the State of Cochin. It gradually developed into a center of trade and colonial rule, and eventually, shrank in size, but not in stature, as it evolved into the modern town of Kochi as we know it today. The great flood of the Periyar River in 1341 created a natural harbor in Kochi. The Chinese and the Arabs are believed to be the first traders to visit this port, heralding a wave of subsequent visitors – the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. The latter made it their administrative headquarters and changed the town’s name to Cochin. Kochi offered, in abundance, the finest spices – pepper, ginger, cardamom, cloves and turmeric – to the world, a reputation that continues even to this day. Voyagers also coveted the fine ivory, sandalwood, perfumes and gold that was brought into this market town. Boasting the largest port in the State, present-day Kochi is also one of the premier industrial, trading and commercial centers of southern India, where a diverse pool of cultures and histories blend to enhance its eclectic spirit. Ernakulam, the upmarket part of town, is where the buzz is. Alive with shopping centers, movie houses, offices, hotels, plush buildings, roadside eateries and exotic restaurants, it is an amalgamation of the old and the new – surely the face of modern Kerala.
This scenic strip offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the harbor and is packed with buildings ranging from corporate offices and banks to luxury hotels, cinema halls, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. The drive is the most popular hangout for the locals.
Mahatma Gandhi Road is the lifeline of the city. Lined with every type of commercial enterprise from garment showrooms and jewelery shops to a host of restaurants, it remains the most expensive piece of real estate in the city.
Located in the heart of the city, Broadway is bound by a maze of alleys and crossroads. Before MG Road usurped its position as the main street, Broadway, parallel to Shanmugham Road, was the widest in town, hence its name. The narrow street and crossroads on its flanks are choc-a-block with shops selling everything under the sun from shoes, clothes, medicine, furniture, curios and kitchenware to spices, gold, hardware, electronics and books.
Popularly known as `Ernakulathappan’, the god of this temple is associated with the name of city. Lord Shiva, the chief deity, faces west towards the sea, considered a rarity. The Shiva and Parvati idols, found in kirathamurthy form, are claimed to be swayambhoo or ‘self-created’. The annual eight-day festival celebrated during January-February concludes with the Arattu procession when the image of the deity is taken for a ritual bath in the temple pool accompanied by caparisoned elephants.