Walking around the Fort Kochi already tells a good sum up of the history of Cochi. They have the still-standing the oldest church built by Europeans, St. Francis Church; the 500-year old Portuguese Mansion, the Vasco house; the Dutch’s bastion-turned-museum, the Bastion Bungalow; and the former elite club of the British, the Cochin Club.
The Fort Kochi is a small town situated in the city of Kochi, Kerala, India. Sometimes, Kochi is spelled as Cochin. It is believed that the early Chinese traders exclaimed that this region is similar to China. Thus, they called the place Cochin or “co-chin” which means “like-China”.
Aside from Chinese, early trading partner of India through Kochi are the Arabs. These Arabian traders then introduced the Indian spices to Europe. Indian spices, particularly the pepper, became sought-after goods which have then been considered expensive as gold. Kochi then became under the influences of the Dutch and then of the British.
Before the two though, Portuguese arrived and formed an alliance with the Rajah of Kochi. The Rajah then granted to them a full authority over a fishing village in Kochi, the now called Fort Kochi. To make the long story short, the “Fort” in the name “Fort Kochi” came from the Fort Emmanuel, sometimes spelled as Fort Immanuel.
This Fort Emmanuel though was destroyed by the Dutch. The remnant of Fort Emmanuel can still be visited along the Fort Kochi beach.
Aside from those I’ve already mentioned, Fort Kochi also has many heritage hotels. During our visit, we stayed at the CGH Earth Brunton Boatyard. The Brunton Boatyard is a luxury hotel run by CGH Earth Experience Hotel. The CGH Earth is a hotel and resort brand that promoting the tourist spots in the state Kerala without neglecting the value of the local culture, the host communities, and the environment.
The CGH Earth Brunton Boatyard
The Brunton Boatyard was originally a boat manufacturing facility owned by George Brunton. It was most successful in the mid-20th century. But, due to its rival boat manufacturers in Britain who protested to the Lord of the Navy, it gradually went out of business.
The defunct boathouse was then renovated and made into what is it today, a luxury hotel exuding an authentic colonial vibe as well as the diverse culture. Read more below about our personal experience during our stay in the Brunton Boatyard:
The Brunton Boatyard is a three-story building with 22 rooms. They have standard rooms with either sea view or non-sea view. But, basically, standard rooms have air condition, TV, ironing facilities, bathroom with shower and bathtub and hairdryer.
Then, the best room is their Deluxe suite with Sea view. It is two times larger than the standard room. It is complete with air condition, TV, living room area, desk, minibar, ironing facilities, hairdryer, balcony and bathroom with shower and bathtub.
The Brunton Boatyard has three on-site restaurants.
The Armoury Bar & Coffee Shop
They serve Kerala dishes and continental dishes. It also offers a huge selection of liquor and wines. It has an indoor and outdoor dining. And, it displays a collection of old firearms on its wall. We preferred to stay in the outdoor dining— for which we were blessed with dolphins playing around in the wild while we were eating. Yes, occassionally you see dolphins in the waters of Fort Kochi. Brunton Boatyard is lucky to have that view.
The History –
The History restaurant offers a menu with interpreted traditional family recipes rooted from the diverse culture of Kochi.
The Terrace Grill
The Terrace Grill offers the freshest seafood cooked on a grill. Aside from the grill, they also use Borma Oven for their bread and some dishes like Baked Citrus Fish and Baked Tiger Prawn.
My favorite dishes are:
- First Class Mutton Railway Curry – This is a Kochi specialty and used to be served only to First Class train passengers in India. The dish is rich with spices and is slow cooked for 5 hours.
- Crab Soup – OMG the crab soup. You have to try it. I had it twice. It was so good.
- Anglo-Indian beef mince cutlets – Basically, it is a ground beef mixed with mashed potatoes, garlic, ginger, onion, and spices.
- Vattelappam – This one is a dessert similar to Philippines “leche flan”. The difference is that they added coconut to their custard.
Outside their restaurants, you can already get a view of the Chinese fishing nets, also called Cheena Vala. You can personally visit them and help pull up the nets but for a fee.
During lunch, dolphins may come to play for you. We saw a lot of dolphins during our stay there.
- Tea time is served from 5 PM – 5:30 PM in their Tea Lounge. It is an open-air seating. The view is its courtyard with a huge anchor in the middle. There’s also a billiard table here. I also noticed the Punkah, a ceiling fan manually operated through strings. I also learned how they design Punkah.
- Sunset Cruise is a free one-hour boat ride around the harbor. The private boat is parked on the jetty alongside the hotel. A staff will also accompany you to give you fun facts and to answer some of your questions. Don’t forget your camera for a good shot of sunset near Chinese fishing nets.
- Cooking demonstrations start at 6:30 PM. They’ll teach you how to cook Keralan food.
They really have a good outdoor pool with an awesome view of the harbor. They also have on-site Ayurvedic massage treatment center and a fitness center. Then, they have a souvenir shop where shirts and handicrafts are sold.
I’ve already mentioned that CGH Earth promotes responsible tourism. So, in Brunton Boatyard, they use drinking-water processing facility which catches rainwater. They use glass bottles for this. Thus, they reduce the use of plastic bottles. Other eco-friendly facilities they use are solar panels which they use for their water heater.
The Brunton Boatyard is at a walking distance to the Chinese fishing nets, Spice Market, Jawahar Park, galleries, and cafe. And it’ll only take one ride of auto rickshaw to reach Jew Town which is a popular place for antiques and Mattancherry Palace which is an important monument with interesting murals.
Fort Kochi is approximately one hour away from Cochin International Airport and more or less 30 minutes away from the nearest railway station, Ernakulam Junction, Mainland Kochi.