Category Archives: Kerala Tours packages

Things to Buy in Cochin

Things to Buy in Cochin

Cochin is a popular destination for those looking for handicrafts, spices, coffee, metal utensils and antique items. But some of these can be overpriced, especially if you are new to the place. Here’s a list of the things to buy to help first time visitors to Cochin:

Lace, crocheted and embroidery work:

Lace and needlework are some of the fine skills passed on to native Cochinites by the European missionaries. Although, this art is dying a slow death, there are a few places where you can buy fine embroidered clothes for babies, saris, tablecloth, glass covers, placemats and handkerchief. The Vimala Welfare Centre at Kacheripady, Our Lady’s Convent at Palluruthy, and some tourist shops at Jew Street are some of the popular places selling them.

Spices:

Small and neatly packaged spices like black, white, green and pink peppers, green cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cloves can be bought as gifts to be presented to friends and family. The smell of the Tellicherry and the Malabar varieties of black pepper are definitely fresher and more vibrant than any of the pepper that you’ve tasted anywhere.

Coffee:

This is a surprise for many visitors. Did you know that the Malabar Coast is famous for its fresh coffee? But since tea is the local favorite here, most of the produce is exported to the West to be sold at exorbitant prices. The Leela Coffee centre near Chitoor Road at Valanjambalam in Ernakulam is a great place to buy coffee.

Silk:

MG Road is a great place to buy silk saris and other cotton fabrics. Every known retailer worth his salt including Seemati, Chennai Silks, Jayalakshmi Silks and Kalyan Silks has an outlet here.

The Many Churches of Cochin

The Many Churches of Cochin Cochin has always embraced religious tolerance in the true sense of the word. Not just the Jews, but this place embraced Muslims and Christians with equal gusto. In fact, Cochin is home to some of the oldest churches in the country. Notable among these churches are:

• The St. Thomas Church of Malayatoor:

The St. Thomas Church is situated on the Malayatoor Hill at a height of 609 meters. St. Thomas was the one among the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ and is believed by many to have introduced Christianity in the country. The St. Thomas Christians or Nasranis (as they are locally called) are among the oldest Christian community in the country. It is also believed that a small hill besides the Church has a footprint of St. Thomas. Every year, on the Sunday after Easter, thousands of people gather in the Church to celebrate the Malayatoor Perunaal which is one of the many important religious festivals in Cochin.

• St. Francis Church:

The body of Vasco da Gama was first buried in this church until it was later shifted to Portugal to be buried at the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. The St. Francis Church was built by Portuguese traders and is now counted as one of the many ‘protected monuments’ in India. Although the church structure is simple and modest, it served as an architectural reference for many churches built later.

• St. George Ferona Church:

This church is located at Edapally and is counted among one of the many oldest churches in India. Popularly called, Edapally palli (Malayalam word for shrine), this is a Roman Catholic church built in the 6th century.

Places to Visit in Cochin (Kochi)

Places to Visit in Cochin (Kochi)

Like the many cities of India, Cochin or Kochi as it is locally called, has a rich and colorful history. Secularism and religious liberalism are fashionable terms today, but the erstwhile kings of Kochi truly embraced religious tolerance. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews have coexisted in peace for hundreds of years, lending the place their unique cultural touch. If are visiting Cochin, here are a few places that you shouldn’t miss:

  • The Mattancherry Palace: Built by the Portuguese in 1555, the Mattancherry Palace was a gift to Raja Veera Kerala Varma, the erstwhile king of Cochin. The Palace was later renovated by the Dutch and hence its alternative name, The Dutch Palace. The palace is renowned for its beautiful mural art that depict scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha.
  • The Paradesi Synagogue: This is the oldest synagogue recorded in the Commonwealth of Nations and was built in 1568 by the Malabari Yehudan community. It is located adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace. Historians believe that the Jewish community who were persecuted by the Moors in Kerala sought refuge from the King of Cochin who allowed them to practice their religion without disturbing others. Paradesi is a term used to indicate foreigners. The Cochini Jews were not natives of the place; hence the name Paradesi.
  • Cheenavala or Chinese Fishing Nets: There’s more than one version to the stories that explain about the origin of these fishing nets. While some believe that they were set more than 500 years ago by the Chinese explorer, Zhang He, there are others who believe that these nets were introduced by traders during the reign of Kubla Khan. And some others credit the Portuguese for introducing them. Although not more than 30 are can be seen in action today, the Vasco Da Gama square was once home to hundreds of nets.

Munnar : The Land Where the Blue Kurinji Beckons Nature Lovers

Munnar: The Land Where the Blue Kurinji Beckons Nature Lovers

‘Malare kurinji malare’ goes a popular song in Tamil. The famous neela kurinji flowers that cloak the beautiful hills of Munnar have been a constant source of inspiration for some of the best love songs in Tamil and Malayalam.

It takes twelve long years for the neela kurinji plant to bloom. Perhaps that is why they’re so revered by the local Muthuvan tribe of Munnar. Legend has it that their Lord Muruga married Valli (a local tribal girl) with a garland made from kurinji.

The flowers which last bloomed in 2006 can be seen this year in the hills of Mattupetty, Kundala, Thenmala and the Devikulam gap. Although peak seasons are from August to September, the flowering cycle continues until December. If you are planning to visit Munnar, now is the best time. If you miss them now you’ll have to wait for another 12 years until it’s time for the next season.

Flowering of the Kurinji is an important event in the life of the locals here. For them, it means that 12 years of their lives have gone past them. In fact, locals count their years by the number of seasons they’ve seen. For example, if you’ve seen three seasons, you are more than 36 years old!

Kurinji or not, Munnar can never disappoint a true nature lover. The mist covered mountains are alluring enough, but if you’re looking for more, consider the vast tea plantations and the many wildlife sanctuaries that are home to some of the rarest and the most endangered flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. Not just Munnar, but its adjoining places like Mattupetty, Anamudi, Marayoor and Kundala too are picturesque and worth a visit.

A List of Famous Souvenirs from Kerala

A List of Famous Souvenirs from Kerala

Coir Products:

Made out of fibre extracted from coconut husk, coir is a popular product in Kerala. They are used to make rugs, door mats and handmade woven art pieces. In fact, coir based handcrafts are a popular souvenir among tourists enjoying a Kerala tour.

Coconut Based Handicrafts:

Coconut shell based products can be manipulated into beautiful works of art and such shell based crafts are available in almost all tourist spots. They come in all shapes and sizes.The hard shell of the coconut is smoothened after which they are cut andcarved to make household and artistic articles. Some examples include bowls, cups and ladles, table top decor(made of shell with engravings of metal and other materials to enhance the look of the handmade product.

Tit bit: Coconut shell being bio-degradable has a soft corner among people who are environment conscious

Kerala Mural Paintings:

Mural paintings are one of the most famous artifacts that tourists prefer. There is a history behind these mural paintings. They are essentially frescos that depict legends and beliefs of Kerala and Indian culture. They have a strong religious influence and most of these paintings tend to have deep depictions of gods and goddesses. But it’s the art that draws tourists towards murals. The murals are known to have originated from the walls of ancient temples and palaces in South India and are believed to date back to 9th century CE.

The Kasavu Sari:

Very much a part of Kerala’s attire, it plays a significant role in all cultural feasts and galas here. Created from fine white cotton and etched with a golden border, it symbolizes the purity and divinity of a woman. The Kasavu sari retains the colour of the yarn which is beige-white. It’s also a prominent wedding attire for a woman during weddings.

Experience the Sights and Sounds of Kerala and Its Mountain Range

Kerala and Its Mountain Range

Lush greenery, gentle breeze, and the smell of puttu in the mornings are just some of the common things that Kerala offers. For someone on a Kerala holiday tour for the first time, this blog gives a short insight on what to expect from the trip and a shot insight on the famous Western Ghats.

The natural beauty and greenery is what strikes the most whilst in Kerala. Almost every home here has tree cover allowing a cool and shady ambiance for the most part. The sunset over the backwaters in Kerala is a sight of dreams, which has been capitalised by a lot of local filmmakers. The backwaters of Kerala have been a favourite for many dreamy sequences in Indian movies.

The Western Ghats are a mountain range that run along the western coast of the Indian Peninsula. This area is also an example for a great escarpment and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its flora and fauna. The Ghats are one the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. Many national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests here are designated as world a heritage site out of which a total of twenty sites are in Kerala alone.

Rather than choosing to travel independently, it makes sense to choose vacation packages, as they include an opportunity to visit all the popular sites like Munnar and Thekkady  and are sure to make a holiday in Kerala an enchanting experience.