The Cochin Carnival was started by the Portuguese during the colonial era in order to commence the new year celebrations. However, the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has continued the tradition. In fact, the carnival was wholly revived in 1984. Different cultural, traditional and recreational activities are carried out. Though it has cultural roots that go back to the 19th century, this carnival focuses more on celebrations, fun and feasts to bring people together. The best part of the carnival is the elaborate procession carried out on New Years Day and it has only become bigger and better through the years.
The Cochin Carnival is celebrated at Fort Kochi each year during the last two weeks of December and finally ends on January 1. It is the time of the year when enthusiasm reaches its peak in Kochi. The color white is dominant in all decorations. The city is decked up with white buntings, especially the Kochi Fort, to an extent that during the last few days of December, it is referred to as a bride ready to get married!
The other highlights of the carnival are the various fairs and unique games, beach volleyball, food and drinks, music and dance shows, kalam vara (floor drawings), tug-of-wars, swimming in the sea and several other impromptu competitions and celebrations. Folk dances and theatrics are looked forward to by spectators who flock to Kochi for the carnival.
The major highlight of the carnival is the fireworks show on New Year’s eve followed by the procession which sets a celebratory mood for the beginning of a new year. With embellished elephants, drums and music, elaborate costumes and make up, the carnival is enjoyed by the people of Kerala with enthusiasm on a different scale.
So if you’re planning to be a part of one of the grandest and most important celebrations in Kochi, then here is some help for you to plan your visit!
Where is it being held
Kochi Fort, Kochi, Kerala
How to get there
By Air: The Cochin International Airport is located approximately 45 km from the Kochi Fort which is the venue for the carnival. It is situated at Nedumbassery, which is also 25 km from the Kochi city center. There are regular flights to and from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Trivandrum along with other major cities in India. The CIA handles both, domestic and international flights in case you’re flying overseas.
By Rail: Ernakulam Town and the Ernaculam Junction are the two major rail-heads in Kochi. Reservation facilities are available only at the Ernakulam Junction, yet both stations, referred to as north and south junctions respectively are connected to major cities in the country.
By Road: Kochi is well-connected to neighboring cities and states. The NH 47 and the NH17 connect the city to Mumbai, Kozhikode, Mangalore, Bengaluru, Chennai and Goa which further connect the city to almost the entire country.
Where to stay
Since the best time of the year to visit Kochi is between October to March, booking in advance is advised. However, if you’re looking for something that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, you can look at living in hostels and budget hotels that are scattered all around the city. Vedanta Wake Up, Hotel Malpe Regency, Hotel Park Avenue and Hotel North Grande are some of the budget hotels ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 1500. Your mid-range hotel options are, The The North Pride Hotel, Fort Castle, Orion Holidays, Harbour View Rcidency and many more that fall between a price range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 5500. Homestays are good options for backpackers.
In case you’re looking for luxury accommodation, there are several European and American styled hotels around the Fort Kochi. The Killians Boutique Hotel, The Old Harbour Hotel, Koder House, Les 3 Elephants Cherai Beach, are some of the options that will cost you anything between Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,000. The Willingdon Island has some premium hotels too. Tariffs for the luxury hotels can cost you between Rs 8,000 to Rs 23,000. Some of the popular options are Taj by Vivanta, Bruton Boatyard, Neemrana’s Le Colonial and Malabar House.
What else to do in Kochi
Apart from visiting Fort Kochi for the carnival, there is a lot you can do in the city. Your first stop could be the Indo-Portuguese Museum to learn more about the Portuguese and their time in Kerala. A drive up to Cherrain beach to watch the sunset is a must. Visit the Mattancherry palace and the Bolgatty palace, watch a Kathakali performance at the Kerala Kathakali Center and visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica. There is a Jewish Synagogue at the Jew Town which you could visit. In case you have an entire day to spare, you could visit the Wonder la amusement park which is one of the 10 best theme parks in the country. Last but not the least, do consider having a meal at Ginger House, India’s first and only museum-restaurant.