Our private jet was a very important part of our trip. Most of the legs were less than 30 minutes, compared to six to 10 hours if we traveled by road. Overall, we had a fantastic trip to a new country for us. Remote Lands never fails!
Today a sleepy, relaxing port town, Cochin was once a prosperous, cosmopolitan city built upon the spice trade. Throughout its long and tumultuous history, Cochin has been contested by a series of warring powers, from local Indian empires to the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English. Despite such tumult, Cochin remained a key destination for traders throughout the Malabar (southwest) Coast and the Indian Ocean, among them the Chinese, Syrians, Jews, and many more. Thankfully, Cochin, renamed Kochi after independence, has managed to preserve not only its small-town, quaint atmosphere, but also its beautiful colonial architecture, positioning it as one of India's leading tourist destinations in the south.
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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald was moved by her Hindu wedding vow renewal in Kerala. She also loved staying with a Maharajah at his palace in Darjeeling.
Meet an affable and welcoming woman who is an expert chef in the Syrian-Christian culinary tradition; Remote Lands can arrange private cooking classes in her home for those interested in learning more about this cuisine.
Visit the historic Paradesi Synagogue, which was built in 1568, and stands in Cochin's old Jewish quarter, known as "Jew" Town. Cochin Jews are so few today that they cannot form a minyan – a quorum of 10 men – without Jews from outside Cochin, but services are still held here, making it the oldest functioning synagogue in the commonwealth of former British colonies. Antiquities that you will see inside include the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, many Belgian glass chandeliers and a brass-railed pulpit.
Visit Cochin’s famed bay, where Chinese fishing nets continue to be operated by hand. Get a brief but robust upper-body workout by helping fishermen operate these magnificently antiquated contraptions, with giant rocks used as counterweights. If you make an exceptionally good haul, you can buy fish straight from the men manning the net and have a hawker near the Dutch House (a few minutes walk away) fillet it on the spot.
Explore the backwaters of Kerala from a houseboat. The merging of the freshwater rivers and the saltwater in the Arabian Sea creates lagoons and lakes along the coast that are home to unique marine biodiversity.
After cruising to a delta with smaller canals, switch to a canoe, which will be manned by a backwaters resident. Glide past well-kept homes where you’ll often see women doing laundry and hear children cheekily calling out. The backwaters are a must-do in Kerala, and as such are quite popular with domestic and international travelers who sometimes have treats for the children they meet.
Explore the winding, narrow streets of Cochin, which sport a charming, unusual blend of colonial architecture and native aesthetics. Walk past houses with whitewashed stucco walls and tiled roofs, imposing forts with grand archways, and Catholic churches reminiscent of old Portugal – with prominent bell towers, columns, and high ceilings.
Once home to Cochin’s large, thriving Jewish population, today the “Jew” Town area hosts a series of spice shops, antique stalls and souvenir stores. While most of Cochin’s Jewish inhabitants emigrated following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, many of their houses still stand – painted bright, cheerful colors and built along old world designs.
Travel from Kerala’s languid backwaters to Goa’s famous white-sand beaches on this 10-day luxury India journey. You’ll sleep aboard a luxury kettuvallam, learn to make a rich, thick Indian curry, and spend days doing nothing but relaxing by the pool and observing the Arabian Sea at either the Leela or Taj Exotica Goa.
Board your own private jet to travel in sheer luxury through India’s best leisure spots on this remarkable 10-day journey. You’ll explore Cochin’s colonial wonders, cruise Kerala’s backwaters on a luxury Kettuvallam, and enjoy refreshing poolside cocktails at your five-star beachside resort on Goa’s white-sand beaches.
Take a thrilling trip through India and Sri Lanka, spending 16 days meandering from Mumbai’s iconic Bollywood, down the backwaters of Kerala, exploring colonial Cochin. You’ll fly onwards to Sri Lanka, where you’ll explore its ancient wonders like the Temple of Tooth, all the while staying in luxury hotels.
Head to sunny South India for 12 days of luxury travel. You’ll explore Mumbai, taking in the dazzling, world-famous Bollywood, then head to the backwaters of Kerala where you’ll step aboard a luxury Kettuvallam. Interact with locals, shop in markets, and view ancient temples while staying in luxurious Taj hotels.
Spend nearly an entire month - 26 days - traveling in luxury through India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. You’ll visit religiously-important and UNESCO-listed sites including temples and palaces, watch baby sea turtles hatch in Tangalle, and relax at your luxury beachside resort on the stunning Kaafu Atoll.
Set in a restored boatyard dating from the Victorian era, the Brunton is located at the tip of Fort Cochin. Designed in the style of early Dutch and Portuguese buildings, with whitewashed walls, a sloping tile roof and terracotta floors, the Brunton features twenty-two rooms – all of which face the sea, and are fitted with antique furniture and high royal beds with steps to climb up to them. Dining options include the History Café, which serves a fusion of Dutch, Syrian, Indian and Keralan cuisines in a room paneled with warm woods and teak crossbeams; the Terrace Grill serves the best of that morning's catch; and lastly, the Armoury Bar, which overlooks the harbor and features a selection of teas and classic cocktails. The hotel has a small pool next to the sea, an Ayurvedic center with massage and healing treatments, and a steam room, but does not have a fitness center. There is no business center, though there are secretarial services and Internet access. The Brunton Boatyard lies approximately 30 minutes from the airport in Cochin (COK).
The charming Malabar House, voted Best Boutique Hotel by Time magazine, dates back to 1755 when Dutchman Jan Herman Clausing owned it. Spice traders, tea merchants and bankers subsequently occupied it before being turned into luxury accommodations. There are 17 rooms and suites, divided into Deluxe Rooms, Roof Garden Suites and the Malabar Suite; all have tiled floors and are decorated in vibrant color schemes with antique objets d’art. In-room amenities include televisions, direct dial telephones, safe deposit lockers, coffee makers and mini bars. The property’s restaurant, Malabar Junction, serves delectable seafood prepared in Indian and Mediterranean styles and if the weather is nice, meals or drinks can be taken in the courtyard, which often hosts local dance or musical performances. Upstairs from the restaurant is Divine, a wine bar focused on Indian wines. Malabar House is in the heart of historical Fort Cochin, opposite St. Francis Church and 3 minutes walk to the Chinese fishing nets. The property is a 1.5-hour drive from Nedumbassery Cochin International airport.