I have been planning to travel to Kerala for some time and I persuaded my parents to travel with me. We decided to start from Cochin and then move towards the south of Kerala. I checked for package tours and found a very good package on Kerala tourism’s website. It was economical package and meeting our requirements. We have decided to visit Guruvayur temple before starting our tour.
I booked Cochin-Delhi flight and booked a taxi for Guruvayur temple town. Our pre-booked taxi was waiting for us at Cochin airport and we straight away headed for Guruvayur temple town.
From my experience, I know when you travel with your parents it is best to plan and book everything in advance including taxi.
Before proceeding to Guruvayur we decided to have lunch and stopped at a local restaurant. This is how our first lunch in Kerala looked.
The highway from Cochin to Thrissur is well maintained and this made our journey faster. At Thrissur, we left the highway and entered the town road. It took us approx. 2.5 hours to reach Guruvayur. We checked into our hotel. It was a small but clean & comfortable. We decided to visit the famous Guruvayur temple in evening, it is one of the most famous temples in Kerala and millions visit it every year. There is a strict dress code like most of the temples in Kerala and Tamilnadu, Men should wear dhoti and women sari or ankle length skirt or Indian salwar or pajama suit (But no leggings).
We reached the temple complex and walked in long corridors to reach the main temple, there was a long queue at the entry gate. I got worried because my mom has a problem standing for a long duration. Our driver accompanied us and he noticed this issue. He advised us to talk to the person standing near the gate, infect he helped us locate the right person. The gentleman on the gate told us that they allow elderly people to enter from the main gate directly instead of waiting in a long queue. He made my parents enter directly. I insisted coming via queue but he said its better that I go with my parents. We entered the temple and had quick darshan, there were lots of people as it was evening aarti time. After the aarti temple elephant started ringing the big bell with his trunk and there was a crowd gathered to see this act. They light thousand of small oil lamps on the outer walls of the main sanctum, it was a beautiful sight. But unfortunately, I could not click this beautiful spectacle with my camera because they don’t allow clicking pictures inside the temple. We came out and decide to have early dinner because we were tired.
We decided to visit the temple again next day early morning but my mother decided to skip considering long walk so, I and my father went. It was comparatively less crowded and we had quick darshan. There is a mega kitchen in Temple compound and they serve food from here every morning around 11.00 AM.
We came back to the hotel and had breakfast in a local Kerala restaurant. The place was neat but basic and the food was fresh & tasty.
We checked out from our hotel and visited the Guruvayur elephant camp (Known as Punnathurkotta) before returning to Cochin. We parked the car outside the main entry gate. There were entry and camera tickets. I entered the park and as I looked around I have seen lots of elephants. Some were standing, Others were bathing or carrying stuff etc. There were elephants everywhere, approx. 65 elephants as we came to know. I walked around and saw the giant animal following the instruction of Mahaut (The instructor/caretaker). It was interesting walking around but I had to watch my front, back, and sides because an elephant can appear from any direction-carrying load of green tree branches. I have to clear the way for them because it’s their place and I am not supposed to disturb them while observing. I had spent 1-hour inside the sanctuary. It was fun watching how the elephants follow the instructions to the precision. They were not treating elephants badly and I came to know that all old or ill elephants of the temple were sent here for care.
From here, we started for Cochin City. This time our driver took the inside road instead of the highway. The road was 1 lanes but the condition of the road was fine. We took a tea break on the way and traveled for another 3 hours. In Cochin, I had booked a homestay, which according to Kerala tourism’s rating is in the gold category. The homestay was next to the backwaters and they put up a Chinese fishing net for the decoration purpose because I had not seen it operating during my stay. The place was peaceful and clean though it was some 40 minutes away from Fort Cochin. We relaxed and walked around the property.
We have evening free so we decided to watch the Kathakali performance. They do the makeup on stage so that people can see and understand the effort. I wanted to see the artists applying makeup, So we reached 2 hours before the performance. It was fun watching the elaborate process of applying makeup. Before the performance, they gave us sheets with the story of the performance for the day. Then came an artist and he showed us different mudras used in this dance form and explained the meaning of each mudra. It was very interesting and knowledgeable. Finally, the dance performance started and we enjoyed every moment of the beautiful dance performance with traditional live music. It was best part of our Cochin stay.
Next day we checked out from homestay as our package tour started. The driver came to pick us up and we decided to straight away go for site seeing. We went to Mattancherry Dutch Palace, St. Francis Church, seen the operation of Chinese fishing nets, spent time at Cherai Beach, had lunch in Fort Cochin and did some shopping in Princess street market.
By late afternoon we were tired and went to our hotel Bolgotty Palace, it is situated on an island. So our car crossed the water on the ferry while we were sitting in it.
It was a Dutch palace, which is now converted into a heritage hotel by KTDC. It is one of the best places in Cochin and away from the hustle & bustle of the city. In evening we went for a boat cruise, as it was one of the best ways to relax. The palace is big with beautiful gardens and has sitting areas next to backwater. They serve yummy dinner in the hotel.
Next morning, we had our breakfast in the hotel. But by the time we packed, it started raining heavily and we have to wait for 30 minutes for rain to stop.
Again our car crossed the water on the ferry but this time water was very choppy after heavy rain and boat was rocking a lot, it was scary as the boat was swaying a lot. My mom started praying, as she got very nervous. Finally, we reached the other side 🙂
Before leaving Cochin, we decided to visit The Jewish Synagogue and old town. It is a small and clean area in old Cochin. Shops here sell different artifacts and traditional items from all over India. The Jewish Synagogue is at the end of the street. There is an entry ticket but they don’t allow camera and phones inside. We went inside and paid our respect.
Finally, we said goodbye to Cochin and started our onward journey for Munnar .
P.S. I have to go to Cochin again because I feel, I had missed so many things. So hopefully I will be in Cochin sometime soon.
Here is a great list of Best Places to Visit in Kerala
How to reach –
Cochin is very well connected with all major cities in India by air and train.
There is a national and international airport in Cochin.
The nearest railhead is Ernakulam.
Best time to visit –
The weather is ok throughout the year except for from mid-March to end May. It rains from May to September. My favorite time to visit is October and November because at that time is lush green after monsoon and not too crowded.
Things to remember –
Guruvayur Temple – Wear traditional clothing while visiting the temple. Go for morning and evening darshan.
Cochin – Visit Chinese nets around sunset, they look beautiful with the sun setting in the background.
Try a homestay in Cochin for local experience.
Watch Kathakali and Kalaripayattu performance in Fort Cochin.
Do a morning or evening cruise on backwaters near Ernakulam area.
Buy some spices from local the spice market and take a tour of spice market.
Eat fresh catch from shops near the beach and Chinese fishing nets.