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Cochin

Also known as KochiCochin is one of South India's most attractive towns with a rich history. It has been a trading port since at least Roman times when it was on the main trade route between Europe and China, and is still orientated around the bay whose neck is lined with the famous Chinese fishing nets. The town has had a Jewish community since at least the 6th century, and has been occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British before independence.

The town is divided into three parts, the long promontory of Fort Cochin on the seaward side of the bay that contains many historic buildings, the modern city of Ernakulam on the opposite shore of the bay, and Willingdon Island in-between created in the 1920s by the dredging of the bay where many hotels are located. Fort Cochin is home to several historic sights, including the Portuguese built Mattancherrry PalaceJewish Synagogues and StFrancis Church. The entrance to the bay at the tip of Fort Cochin is also lined with Cochin's landmark Chinese fishing nets.

Cochin has several good heritage and modern hotels, and is a great place for beginning your exploration of the backwaters of Kerala. A sunset boat tour can take you around the sights of the waterfront and nearby villages, and this is the best place in Kerala to watch a Kathkali performance.

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facts and information

Time: GMT +5½ hours

Flight time: Flight time from London to Delhi is 8 hours 30 minutes and to Mumbai is about 8 hours.

Language: The official language is Hindi, which about 30% of the population speaks. English is very widely spoken and is used for official and commercial purposes.

Visas: Required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.

Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.

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