Come to Cochin
If you’re headed to Kochi (or Cochin, its colonial name) – Kerala’s ancient spice trade capital, then boutique hotel Tissa’s Inn is an ideal place to stay a while.
This lovely Inn is in the middle of everything you’ll want to see. It has easy access to the famous Chinese fishing nets and the Jewish synagogue. Amazing antique and spice shops in the old part of the city are just a short Tuc Tuc ride away.
Tissa’s Inn (named after the owner’s wife) is a nine room boutique hotel housed in a mansion that once belonged to one V.K. Hamza, a lawyer and philanthropist of high repute. The owner has done a brilliant job, transforming the mansion into a unique place to stay in Fort Cochin and with every modern convenience.
It has a 24 seater restaurant serving fresh seafood- Indian and Continental style, a roof top swimming pool and a private sun deck. It even has a yoga and meditation centre.
A warm welcome from Tissa’s Inn
The hotel offers city tours and boat rides across the area. The hotel even contributes to responsible tourism with its own sewage treatment plant and solar energy. The staff are super friendly and attentive and it has a welcoming personal feel.
Beautiful antiques appear around the hotel in its public spaces. Ornate wooden doors, a carved bone frieze, a painted baby’s cradle and some colourful terracotta figures.
It’s decorated in white, bright ochre and dark orange – colours which look glorious in the sub continental sun. Tissa’s Inn is owned by Johny L. Malayil, one of Cochin’s most significant antique dealers. He also owns Crafters Antiques, as well as six other fascinating shops. Crafter’s Antiques is pretty famous around here, it is a cavernous shopping emporium housed in a former spice warehouse.
Cochin and Crafter’s Antiques
This huge shop is a mind boggling Aladdin’s cave of beautiful antiques both vintage and reproduction. They have everything from huge ornate statues of Elephants and Lions to more utilitarian curiosities like piles of old suitcases or delicious coloured enamel cookware from Tamil Nadu.
Crafters opened in 1989 in the quaint old quarter of Cochin – Mattanchery. It also sell rare antiques like religious artifacts, ancient brass-embedded wooden jewel boxes and other local ceramics. There’s also a cute café above the shop where you can have some delicious prawns or a glass of cold pineapple or mango lassi. Lassi is a delightful Indian drink, a refreshing blend of yoghurt spices and fruit.
Johny is also notable for making the world’s largest Varpu or brass cooking pot.
The Varpu, made in 2004, is quite famous and was visited by the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla in 2013. The pot is too large to do any actual cooking in as you would need a very large fire to bring things to the boil. It now resides in one of Johny’s shops filled with water, water lilies serenely floating on the surface.
Johny’s Doctor son, Loui kindly gave us a tour of the shops and showed us this spectacular vessel.
Mattancherry, this western old quarter of Cochin city, is steeped in history. An ancient commercial centre of Kerala, the place has been the favourite haunt of traders from all over the world down the centuries.
Still a major port, Cochin is the gateway to Kerala and is the second largest city on the West coast after Mumbai. In the old colonial area of Fort Cochin it’s an easy walk or short Tuc Tuc ride to explore the old town with its winding fascinating streets. Call in at the women’s co operative spice factory. This incredible workshop houses women who pick, process and sell local spices themselves. The workshop occupies a large building of fading colonial splendour. You can buy all kinds of delightful spices and see the fields of ginger drying in the hot sun.
The many spices are all sold at bargain prices. You can even buy packets of Masala tea mix you can add to your own tea at home. Masala Chai is black tea mixed with milk and sweetened with delicious spices. Drinking a great deal of Masala tea was a chief occupation during our Indian trip.
Tired, hungry, need a bit of a pick me up to keep you going? Then look no further than a steaming cup of Masala Chai – it can resolve just about everything. Incidentally, this is where our English saying ‘ a cup of cha’ originally comes from.
Cochin – Queen of the Arabian Sea
Known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin was an important spice trading centre on the west coast of India from the 14th century. Occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, Cochin was the first of the European colonies in colonial India and was subsequently occupied by the Dutch and the British. If you are thinking of heading to Southern India then make sure a visit to Cochin and Tissa’s Inn is on your itinerary!
Ride on the Indian Railways from Kerala to Goa on the Rajdhani express!!