For those travelling to Kochi, Mattancherry, about 9km from the city centre, is a must visit. Mattancherry is famous for its markets, religious sites, lip-smacking cuisine and cultural landmarks that tell the tales of a bygone era.
Every place in Mattancherry is testimony to the fact that traders, imperialists and travellers from far away lands left their impressions on the attractions standing here today. There are quite a few that deserve a visit: Church of Our Lady of Life, Dutch Palace in Ernakulam, Paradesi Synagogue, Clock Tower in Ernakulam, antique shops of Jew Town, Jewish Cemetery, the spice market of Jew Town, Kochi Tirumala Devaswom Temple and Jain Temple.
It’s quite something to have so much to see and do in such a tiny place in Kochi. It’s crammed with experiences and stories, and therefore completely unmissable for anybody travelling to this quaint town in Kerala.
However, the most gorgeous of all the attractions here is the Mattancherry or Dutch Palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi; to mark their trading relations with the kingdom. In 1663, the Dutch renovated the palace and it was used by them as their royal residence. Important ceremonies like the coronation were also hosted here.
The Mattancherry palace is a two-storeyed structure built in traditional Kerala naalukettu model. The elegant palace has ceilings decorated with wood-carved floral designs including the design of an inverted lotus. The unique flooring was created using a mixture of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg-whites that gave it a black marble finish.
The treasures in the palace deserve special mention; there’s a mesmerising collection of mural paintings and antique royal regalia including furniture, weapons, Dutch maps of old Kochi, palanquins with floral designs, silver sequinned gowns and umbrellas made of silk and brass.