Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi
The original church, situated in Fort Kochi, was built by the Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558. The British colonists destroyed the cathedral in 1795. The current structure was built in 1905 and raised to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi
It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.
The Sree Krishna temple here is very famous attracting close to ten million pilgrims every year. This is regarded as the first Hindu temple to open its gates to all Hindus, irrespective of caste. Only Hindus are permitted to enter the temple.
» Guruvayoor Devaswom Board
The elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the world, 3kms north of Guruvayoor is home to around 50 elephants. The sanctuary is at Punnathur Kotta, which used to be the palace of the Punnathur rajas (kings).
Jewish Synagogue, Jew Town, Mattancherry
The synagogue, built in 1568, is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace.
Thrissur is regarded as the cultural capital of Kerala. The Thrissur pooram is very popular for its elephant procession and fireworks display at the famous Vadakkunatha (Lord Shiva) Temple.
St. Thomas Church, Malayattoor
The famous St. Thomas church is situated at Malayattoor near Kalady. Malayattoor means the meeting place of land, mountain and river. Set in the scenic western ghats at an elevation of 1250m above sea level, the journey to the church is truly heavenly. It is believed that the footprints seen on a rock near the church belongs to St. Thomas the Apostle, who came here in 52 AD as a missionary setting up many churches in Kerala. The present day church was built in 900 AD.
The Cheraman Juma Masjid is believed to be the first mosque in India, built around 629 AD. The mosque is unique because it was baseed on traditional Hindu art and architecture and resembles a temple.
Dharmanath Jain Temple, Mattancherry
The Dharmanath Jain temple at Mattancherry is over 100 years old and will soon attain the status of a Thirath, one of the holy places for the Jain community.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha
This is the only gurdwara in Kerala, since Cochin has the highest number of Sikhs in the state. The gurdwara is located close to the south end of MG Road. The first gurdwara in Cochin was built in 1955. The gurdwara was relocated in 1975 and the original foundation stone was moved as well. Unlike most gurudwaras this one has only one entrance due to space limitations.
Ernakulam Shiva Temple
The Shiva temple is located in the heart of Cochin near the Durbar Hall grounds. This temple is unique is the fact that the shiva linga points seawards, towards the west.
The Thrikkakara temple, located 10 kms north-east of Kochi, is considered to be the seat of famous 10 days Onam celebrations in Kerala. Thrikkakara is considered to be capital of the good asura (demon) King Mahabali, whose rule was prematurely stopped by Lord Vishnu in the diguise as a Brahmin boy, when the Hindu gods became jealous of the growing power of the generous and kind-hearted king. The Vishnu temple here is the only one of its kind to have Vamana (one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu) as the deity.
Kalady, 48 kms north-east of Cochin, is the birth place of one of India's foremost philosopher's Adi Sankaracharya who preached advaita or monotheism. The Adi Sankara shrine is situated right on the banks of river Periyar (poorna). The temple also encloses the samadhi of Sankaracharya's mother Aryamba. The location on the bank of the river where the young Sankara was held by a crocodile can be seen nearby. The Ramakrishna Advaita ashrama adjoining the Sri Krishna temple nearby has a beautiful shrine modelled on the Sri Ramakrihna temple at Belur Math. The 8-storey Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam is a monument that tells Sankaracharya's story in paintings on the wall as one ascends the structure along a spiral staiway. The view from the top is breathtaking.
Sabarimala, 210kms south-east of Kochi, is home to arguably the holiest Hindu temple in Kerala, receiving millions of pilgrims from all over India and abroad every year. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. The temple is located in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 1250m. The temple is open only during certain periods of the year - 41 days for Mandalapooja Nov 15 - Dec 26, Makaravilakku Jan 15, Vishu Apr 14 and the first day of every Malayalam calendar month. The journey to the summit where the temple is located involves a 5km trek, which is traditionally done barefoot.
Chottanikkara temple located 20 kms east of Cochin, is dedicated to Bhagawati - the mother Goddess. The deity is worshipped in three different forms - as Saraswati in the morning, draped in white; as Bhadrakali at noon, draped in crimson; and as Durga in the evening, decked in blue.
Chennamangalam, situated 40kms north of Cochin near North Paravur, is home to a synagogue that is based on traditional Kerala architecture. The major attractions of this synagogue are the intricate artwork and the majestic altar. This 175 year old synagogue was recently renovated to its old glory. The oldes Hebrew inscription in India, dated 1269, can be found on a tombstone near the synagogue. Chennamangalam is also a village that splendidly displays religious tolerance with a church, synagogue, temple and mosque located close to each other.
Located 50kms north-east of Kochi, near Perumbavoor, this temple is carved out of a single rocked reached by climbing 120 steps. The Hindu godess Durga is the main deity, while Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are also worshipped. The interesting feature of this temple is its also a Jain temple with a statue of