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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Forte Kochi: a history unravelled

The best thing is that you’re within walking distance of all the city’s most interesting places…

By Sajeesh N
Hotel Manager at Forte Kochi

Our hotel is located right in the heart of Fort Kochi. The best thing is that you’re within walking distance of all the city’s most interesting places whether that’s the Chinese fishing nets or the old granaries or St. Francis Church, which guests can explore on one of our guided heritage walks. About 50 metres from the hotel lies the bastion, Fort Emmanuel, which inspired the name of our hotel, erected by the Portuguese and the Maharaja of Kochi in honour of their alliance. So it’s quite a historic location.

The hotel was built by the Portuguese before Kochi was captured by the Dutch and then later colonised by the British. It started its life as a mansion for a wealthy Jewish family who resided on the second floor while keeping the ground floor as Kerala’s first department store selling spices, cotton and silk among a variety of goods.

When we took over we felt it was important to maintain the building’s history while adding modern luxuries. I would recommend our spacious Imperial rooms with four-poster beds, high ceilings and bathtubs if you want to really relax. We had to retain the original structures and so the facades and the interiors all have a colonial look. There’s also a natural spring on the premises that was used as a ritual bath for Jewish religious ceremonies.

One of the main highlights is our peaceful courtyard with a swimming pool (for guests only) where people congregate for breakfast and dinner or you could just relax with a drink. Sometimes we hold classic music and dance performances in the evening to offer a dose of culture.

We cater for everyone’s tastes but we specialise in traditional Keralan food such as the famous local chemmeen dish – prawns stewed in banana leaf with spices and coconut milk. There’s a fishing port next door where our chefs buy the fresh catch of the day. We often take guests to see this, as it’s a sight to behold at dawn watching the trawlers arrive hauling in all the fish, lobsters and prawns.

My top tip to anyone visiting is to stay at least two nights to soak up the culture. And be prepared for walking. There are tuk tuks around but I think walking is a better way to soak up the culture. I’d recommend light cotton clothing and trainers – absolutely no high heels!

Categories

  • History
  • Places to stay

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Alfred & Sajeesh N

Having worked at the Paul John Resort and Hotels team for over 16 years, starting out at the famous Kumarakom Lake Resort, Sajeesh’s experience led him to become Hotel Manager of Forte Kochi. Having lived in Cochin for many years, he is driven and passionate about every aspect of the city’s history.