Surrounded by the backwaters of the Arabian Sea, Mattancherry is an old port area of Kochi, not far from Ernakulam Town. The area was once the main trade port for spices such as pepper and turmeric, as well as tea. It was a time when many different nationalities and religious communities were welcomed to Mattancherry to trade and make it their home. Slowly the traders moved on to Ernakulam, but Mattancherry remains a bustling and cosmopolitan community that welcomes people from all walks of life.
Churches, mosques, and a synagogue happily coexist in Mattancherry, alongside buildings of the colonial era – another nod to the area’s fascinating past. Mattancherry Palace is one of the top attractions here. It was presented by the Portuguese as a gift to the Raja of Kochi in the mid-1500s as a gesture of goodwill (or more likely as a bribe to secure trading privileges). The Dutch then renovated it in the 1600s, hence its alternative name – the Dutch Palace.
Mattancherry is also well-known for having “Jew Town” at its heart – the place where ancient Jewish communities settled and began trading, and where antique shops, the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Palace are the main attractions today.
There are frequent bus and boat services to Mattancherry from Ernakulam Town. The easiest way to get there is to catch the boat from Main Boat Jetty near Subash Park.