Mattanchery is one of the most favored tourist destinations in Kerala!
Mattanchery is one of the ancient towns in west Kochi, which boasts of a rich history, architecture, diverse cultures and traditions. Owing to its affinity to the Arabian Sea, this little town has been known to be the trading hub of Kochi during the 16th century and traders from across the globe found their way to this town. Mattanchery has had her fair share of invaders and explorers who have not just carved out a vibrant history for her but have also left their mark on every strand of this land. The Maharajas of ancient Kochi encouraged foreign traders to settle down which eventually led to the presence of diverse communities, who continue to live here in harmony. This little treasure trove of history, located a mere nine kilometres off the mainland of Kochi, is one of the most frequented spots for foreign tourists and curious Indian travellers who relish its remnant flavours of Dutch and Portuguese occupation.
RITZ explores this part of Kochi, that a decade ago was considered the ghetto-ish part of the mainland, but today bustles with scenes and experiences recreated from history books and documented experiences.
Take A History Tour
There’s an ancient Jewish synagogue, also called the Paradesi synagogue (imagine that!) which was built by the Spanish speaking Jews in the 16th century. Adjacent to which is the not-so-grand Mattancherry Palace or Dutch Palace as it is more popularly known. The palace was built by the Portuguese and was gifted to Maharaja Veera Kerala Varma in 1557. Hence its pale yellow colour, reminiscent of the Portuguese’s love for all things in that hue, and the beautiful juxtaposition of the traditional ‘Naalukettu’ and intricate mural paintings that scream Kerala.
The palace houses the Pazhyannur Bhagavathi Temple, who is believed to be the Goddess of the royal family. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna nearby. The Jewish synagogue is adjacent to the palace which reflects the religious tolerance and the communal harmony propagated by the King and his subjects during that era.
Where: Dutch Palace, Mattancherry, Kochi
Catch your fish… and eat it too!
It’s obvious you will find your way to the stunning Chinese Fishing Nets on Fort Kochi beach, remnants left back by early Chinese explorer Zheng He who landed here in 14OO AD from the court of Kubla Khan. And thank god for his benevolent gift as these historic nets are still used to fish out some of the tastiest seafood delicacies. The short stretch of beach is dotted with fish mongers hawking their wares and rows upon rows of food carts that cook up your buys.
Yes, you got that right! You can buy your fish fresh off the ocean and have it cooked up for you in a jiffy. And all you need to do is sit around, sipping on fresh coconut water, enjoying the soothing sea breeze and relaxing your mind to the lulling sound of the waves.
Where: Fort Kochi Beach, MG Road, Fort Kochi
Grab a seat at Kayees
Mattanchery is famous for its mutton biriyani and Kayees Biriyani is one of the oldest brands in the business with over six decades of experience spanning three generations. The hotel, originally called Kayees Rahmathulla Hotel began its journey as a restaurant in 1951 and its biriyani has found fans in many eminent personalities like artist M F Hussain and Superstar Mammootty to name a few.
The restaurant which offers simple home-style dining is usually packed with customers as it is the most popular stop for mutton and chicken biriyani. So if you are making a stop here, be prepared for the wait! The hotel also has another branch in Kochi city opposite the Durbar Hall Ground. It is open from 11am – 11pm.
Address: Kayees Rahmathulla Restaurant, New Road, Mattanchery.
Phone: +91 484 2226080
Dancing in the moonlight
Did you harbour secret dreams of being a Kathakali dancer? Or was learning Kalaripayattu something you always wanted to do? Well, this is your chance to throw caution to the winds, chuck your inhibitions out the window and live your dreams. Kalamandalam Vijayan Kerala Kathakali Centre was founded in 1990 with the aim to popularise and encourage the classical art forms of Kerala, discover new talents and improve the standards of training and performances by rigorous discipline and dedication.
This is where you can enjoy some of the best performances of the traditional art forms of Kerala. There are regular performances in Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, classical music and classical dance forms like the Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom and Kuchipudi, apart from sessions in yoga and meditation. There is a fee of Rs 300 per head and seats can be pre-booked. Weekend courses are also being offered here in all of these art forms.
Where: Near Santa Cruz Basilica, K B Jacob Road, Fort Kochi
Phone: +91 484 2217552, 2215827, 9895534939
Fight for your pepper rights!
From the quintessential Kashmiri Handicraft shop to boutiques and antique shops selling everything from rugs and clocks to sandalwood elephants and coconut carvings, there’s something for everyone here… even the most jaded of travellers.
Jew Town is a treasure trove of curios, souvenirs, fabrics and spices! And there’s even the famed Black Pepper Stock Exchange and Pepper Auction House at the spice market, both of which are still fully operational even today. Imagine hanging on to your bags of purchases, watching a live scene where traders fight it out for that last kernel of pepper.
Where: Jew Town, Mattancherry