Upstairs - the authentic Italian restaurant.

Opposite the famous Santa Cruz Basilica, on Bastian Lane, on the top floor of a line of shops, magnificently designed and aptly named is the Upstairs Italian Restaurant.
Dash up the wooden stairs of this hub and you’re led into a simple yet inviting hotel that can accommodate around 40. Ayesha and Fabio the owners are at your service, guiding you to select the best of Italy. A variety of dishes await you on the menu card- lasagna, pasta, pizza, salads, sea foods and crepes. The day’s special, written in colourful chalk on slates, will tempt you. Though some of them sound Greek and Latin to you, with proper guidance, you’ll learn what Italian cuisine comprises.
You can have breakfast, lunch or dinner at Upstairs which opens at 8.30a.m and closes by 10 p.m on any day but Tuesday. Upstairs offers a wide range of vegetarian and non vegetarian delicacies. Take away is also available.

Munch and have fun.
For a virtul Italian experience visit http://www.upstairs-italianrestaurant.com/

Shop n Save – Shopping made easy

When it comes to quick and hassle free shopping, there’s one particular name that pops up in the minds of tourists, foreigners and locals alike – Shop n Save. Tucked in line with majestic old buildings, Shop n Save is located in Princess Street, the business street of Fort Cochin. Literally just as it is named, you save when you shop at Shop n Save.
The double storied building that houses the shop, has a lot in the offing for the ultimate traveler. Travelling accessories, packed food stuff, stationery, souvenirs, toys, cutlery, utensils and toiletries are just the tip of the ice berg. Apart from this, Shop n Save has a book store where one can own books at a nominal rate. Shop n Save also has to its credit a restaurant on the top floor, which caters to a wide variety of food- Continental, Chinese and Indian. Adding to this, it also has a counter that sells Indian musical instruments.
This isn’t all, Shop n Save also helps you keep in touch with the world. Sify I way, the largest retail Internet cafĂ© brand in India, has its outlet in Shop n Save. One can have access to the net, at very low rates. It is guaranteed that you’ll be thrown off your feet with the wonderful ambience of the place and the warm and courteous attitude of the staff.


Bastion Bungalow

Bastion Bungalow is an architectural splendor, which was built in 1667 by the Portuguese in the Indo - European style. It was constructed on what has been considered the Dutch Stromberg Bastion. This building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion. It has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Noticeable mainly because of its Dutch style architecture and built into the ramparts of a massive fortification wall, it immediately arouses the curiosity of the passer-by. A name plaque on one side of the wall announces that it is the Sub-Collector's residence. It had a brush with glamour when it was hired out to a Hollywood film unit, 'Cotton Mary', which is a Merchant-Ivory production. Bastion Bungalow is located at the end of Church Road in Fort Cochin and it has been declared a protected monument by the State Archaeology Department.

Dutch Palace

Also known as the Mattancherry palace, the Dutch palace with its medieval charm is situated at Palace Road, Mattancherry, hardly 4 Kms from Fort Cochin. Built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Kochi Veera Kerala Varma (1537-65) in 1555 AD, it took on its present popular name 'Dutch Palace' after 1663, when the Dutch carried out some extensions and renovations in the palace. The rajas also made more improvements to it. Today, it is a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas and notable for some of the best mythological murals in India, which are in the best traditions of Hindu Temple Art.
The entrance to the Mattancherry Palace compound is through two arches which are typically Portuguese in character and a flight of steps through a portico on the south, gives access to a suite of public rooms on the upper level of the palace. The Palace with two floors built around a central courtyard follows the traditional Kerala style of architecture known as 'nalukettus'. From the outside, the palace looks European in character with scraped masonry walls and round-headed windows and doors but its sloping tiled roof and wooden balconies are indigenous features.
Inside the inner court, there stands a small temple dedicated to 'Pazhayannur Bhagavati', the protective goddess of the Kochi Royal family. Two more temples are situated on either side of the Palace dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Siva. The palace, with the interiors panelled with wood has exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi like ceremonial robes, headdresses, weapons, palanquins, furniture but the main feature is the series of astonishing murals, depicting scenes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranic legends connected with Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Kumara, and Durga painted on the walls as well as the portraits of the rajas. The paintings cover a wide range of themes from the 'Puthra Kameshti Yagam' to Rama's return to Ayodya after vanquishing King Ravana of Lanka. The paintings totally cover nearly 1000 sq.ft in area and date from early as the 16th century through mid nineteenth century and are found in the bedchambers on the west side of the palace, in four chambers upstairs, and in two low ceiling rooms that are entered by a steep stairway. These beautiful and extensive paintings are fine examples of Kerala mural paintings best known for its unique style than the technique.
The king's bedchamber or 'Palliyara' left of the entrance occupying the southwest corner of the Palace is noteworthy with its low wooden ceiling and 300 sq feet of wall surface covered in about 48 paintings illustrating the Ramayana, from the beginning of the sacrifice of Dasaratha to Sita's return from captivity in Lanka. These paintings are the earliest in the palace, dating as early as 16th century. The last five scenes are from the 'Krishna Lila' where in a cheerful God Krishna using his six hands and two feet to engage in foreplay with eight happy milkmaids. Another important series of paintings in the Dutch Palace is found in the upper staircase rooms, notably that of the coronation hall that was made under Dutch patronage. Among the compositions are Lakshmi seated on the lotus, sleeping Vishnu (Ananthasayanamurti), Shiva and Parvati seated with Ardhanariswara and other goddesses, the coronation of Rama, Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana etc. On the opposite side of the coronation hall is the staircase room or Kovinithalam (Room No II) , with a descent to the lower storey and four paintings belonging to Shiva, Vishnu and Devi, one incomplete. The ladies chambers below the stairway are closed off to visitors. Room No. IV depict scenes from Kumarasambhavam and other works of the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa.
The eastern rectangular chambers across the rosewood covered main hall is entered through a steep stairway and an entrance porch with finely carved and painted ceiling. The first of the eastern chambers is marked by fabulous scenes of Vishnu and Siva iconography and just beyond it to the left is a small room with an unfinished but bold image of Vishnu as 'Vaikunthanatha'. These are among the latest works in the palace. The Dining Hall has carved wooden ornate ceiling decorated with a series of brass cups. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which looks like polished black marble but is actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites.

Thakur House

Thakur House was earlier known as Kunal or Hill Bungalow. It was built on the site of the sea facing Gelderland Bastion, (one of the seven bastions of the old Dutch fort) in the late 1700s. With graceful lines reflecting the leisurely lifestyle of the colonial era, it exudes a quiet grandeur. Nestled amidst neatly manicured lawns, Thakur House is isolated from the noise and bustle of the nearby Chinese Fishing Nets and Fort Kochi bus stop. Thakur House sports several trademarks of Dutch architecture, with its wooden floors, spacious rooms and large bay windows. Sparkling crystal and earthen pottery adorn tables and shelves, and ancient glass lamps hang from the rafters. It is an art-lover's paradise, for several paintings, decorates the walls of the rooms. But, the most beautiful scenery of all lies right outside the window - the Arabian Sea stretching away to the horizon. There have been instances when it served maritime operations and military defense purposes against invaders. Hence the secret tunnels that lie beneath the house.
To know more about this ancient bungalow that still stands strong on the shores of Fort Cochin click the following link that leads you to a web page that was posted by "The Hindu", a leading news paper in India.

The Dutch Cemetery

The 282-year-old Dutch Cemetery in Fort Kochi is considered to be an authentic record of hundreds of Europeans - both the Dutch and the English - who arrived in India to expand their colonial empire. It is the oldest European cemetery in India. Consecrated in 1724, the cemetery has 104 tombs. It is now being looked after by St. Francis CSI Church, Fort Kochi, which has the tomb of Vasco-Da-Gama. Though the cemetery remains closed for most of the day (for fear of anti-social elements entering the place), it is opened on requests made by visitors.
The 104 tombs in the cemetery are a record of prominent Europeans who changed the history of the land. The interest among tourists from Europe to visit the cemetery is so much that constant requests are made to church authorities to open the gates. With passage of time, the layer of plaster over the laterite stones in many of the tombs had withered away. Preventing further destruction of the cemetery, the tombs were replastered with a mix of lime mixture which cost a fortune but helped give the tombs back their old look. As of now, the church shells out money to pull out weeds and ensure the cleanliness of the place.
Tombstones of important personalities buried here have been preserved in the church.
What welcomes visitors to the cemetery which is tucked away behind the end of the walkway running parallel to the beach, is its heavy walls. The original calligraphic inscription `1724' at the entrance pillar has been preserved to date. The unique feature of the tombs is that none of them carry a cross, unlike in modern tombs. Both the big and small tombs resemble the Dutch architecture of the period. The inscriptions on them are in the old Dutch script. A record of persons buried here has been maintained in the church.
Reference has been made to the cemetery in the book St Francis Church, Cochin, by T.W. Venn in 1930. Venn says that the last burial took place in the cemetery in 1913 when Captain Joseph Ethelbert Winckler was laid to rest. The British Cemetery at Veli, which dates back to 1804, too is being managed by the church.