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Cochin, also known as Kochi, is the great port city of South India’s Western Malabar Coast, sprawling over islands and headlands in the Arabian Sea and leading into the winding canals of Kerala’s Backwaters. Documented as the oldest European settlement in India, Cochin has been drawing traders and explorers in for over 600 years. Its melting pot of cultures, the giant Chinese fishing nets sweeping above the water, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, Hindu temples, ancient mosques and a 400-year old synagogue, make for an intriguing visit.

We recommend making Cochin your last destination during your South India holiday, it’s the perfect blend of buzzing city life with traces of Kerala’s relaxed essence. Wander through the pretty tangle of alleyways, merchant houses and markets in the old town of Fort Cochin and take your time to immerse yourself in museums, laze in the arty cafes sprinkled around the town and find our favourite antique shopping spots down Lilly and Napier Street; Anokhi, Aambal and Fab India to name a few. Cochin also stages performances of Kathakali, a classical Keralan art form combining music, painting, dance and literature where performers wear elaborate costumes and spectacular face-paints. 

Approximately 32.5 kilometres southeast of Fort Cochin lies Mattancherry, the centre of the spice trade. On foot, bike or rickshaw, visit the thriving spice markets and make a stop by the Mattancherry Palace – a gesture of goodwill presented to the Raja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma I (1537–1565), by the Portuguese in 1555. The combination of European and Keralan styles only goes on to reveal the astonishingly preserved and intricate colourful details of the Hindu murals found in the royal bedchambers. In the midst of ginger, cardamom and cumin aromas, you can find the old Jewish Quarter, home to Mattancherry’s 1568 synagogue. What was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 has been beautifully rebuilt and restored by the Dutch colony, showcasing elegant wooden benches, Chinese hand-painted, willow-patterned titles and illuminating Belgian chandeliers.

After a gentle journey through Kerala’s tranquil backwaters on CGH Earth’s Spice Boat Cruises, make your last colonial inspired night’s sleep at an Ampersand Favourite – Brunton Boatyard. This elegant white-washed building lies on Cochin’s waterfront, just a stone’s throw from the old town, and has the most picturesque and memorable views across the Harbour. Historical towns of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, are well-touristed during the winter months of October to February, but remain culturally atmospheric with a thick smell of India’s colonial history throughout the whole year. The busier, more modern district of Ernakulam is on the mainland – Cochin’s cosmopolitan hub and hectic transport link. 

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There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Client Testimonials

So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

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