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Odds and Ends
PJ Princess Regency
AREA: 87.341 sq. kms. Comprising of mainland Ernakulam; Old Cochin including Mattancherry, Fort Cochin, Palluruthy, and Thoppumpady; Willingdon Island; the suburb of Edappally and the exurbia of Kalamassery, Thrikkakara and Kakkanad to the northeast, and Tripunithura to the southeast.
POPULATION: 21,17,990 (2011 census).
LOCATION: Latitude, 9°57’ N; Longitude, 76°15’ E. The city lies between Tripunithura, the seat of the erstwhile Cochin royalty to its southeast and the Eloor-Kalamassery industrial belt to its north. To the west lies the Arabian Sea.
TIME: Indian Standard Time +5.30 hours GMT.
ALTITUDE: Sea Level.
LANGUAGE: Malayalam is the official language of the state of Kerala. English is widely used in business circles.
RELIGION (PREDOMINANT): Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Sikhism.
CLIMATE: Summers are hot, winters mild. The summer temperatures (March to May) vary from a high of 35°C to a low of 22.5°C, with winter months from December to February having a mean minimum of 20°C. Cochin experiences both, the southwest monsoons from June to September and the northeast from October to December. The average annual rainfall is 3099.1 mm, with 132 average annual rainy days.
SEASON: The best time to visit is between October and March.
CLOTHING: The warm tropical climate recommends light cotton clothes. Waterproofing is essential during monsoons.
WATER: Drink only boiled or bottled water.
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts. Sockets are of three round-pin variety. You’ll require plug adaptors. Voltage stabilizers are essential for electronic equipments of a sensitive nature.
RADIO: Cochin FM 102.3 MHz. [Timings : 6am - 9am, 12noon - 4pm, 6pm - 11pm (all days)], Club FM 94.3 MHz (Timing: 24 hours), Radio Mango 91.9 MHz (Timing: 24 hours), Radio Mirchi 98.3 MHz (Timing: 24 hours), Red FM 93.5 MHz (Timing: 24 hours)
NEWSPAPERS: Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, and Deshabhimani in Malayalam; the Hindu, the New Indian Express, the Deccan Chronicle, and the Times of India in English are the major dailies from Cochin.
BANKING HOURS: (Weekdays) 10 am-3 pm, some banks from 9 am-1 pm; (Sat) 10 am-1 pm. Many banks have extended their working hours upto 3.30 pm, weekdays, and upto 12.30 pm, Saturdays, with a few open 8 to 8. Some banks have evening counters. Banks remain closed on Sundays and specified bank holidays. Internet and mobile banking and 24-hour ATM service are also available. Couple of banks have installed coin wending machines at Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town railway stations.
ACCOMMODATION: Hotels range from 5- and 4-star properties, fully air-conditioned with all luxury features, to 3-star hotels with air-conditioned rooms, and 2- and 1-star hotels which offer basic amenities. Tourist lodges and hostels provide a convenient and cheap base. Furnished apartments and homestays provide all the facilities and services of luxury hotels, with a homely environment.
SMOKING: Smoking in public places including on roads, bus stands (and buses), railway stations (and trains), and restaurants is prohibited by law.
SHOPPING: You have a wide range of good buys to choose from. Among Cochin’s best buys are metalware; camel-bone carvings; wood carvings; articles made of coconut shells, bamboo cane, and rattan; embroidered screwpine mats; grass mats; and several other kinds of handicrafts. Cochin also has several good antique dealers. The major shopping centres are M G Road (textiles, jewellery, consumer durables), Convent Rd (fashion boutiques), and the Marine Drive including Broadway (readymades, electronics, spices). Jew Town in Mattancherry is famous for its curio shops and spices. Shops open at 10 am and close around 8 pm.
Huge shopping malls with multiplex cinema, food courts and restaurants, entertainment and children’s play areas, and branded outlets are the major draw for youngsters and families alike. 'A day at the mall' is definitely the most sought after pastime today.
For inbound and outbound passengers, duty free shopping is available at the international airport.
DINING: Cochin and its suburbs have a wide range to offer, from cheap street-side eateries to gourmet restaurants. In upmarket restaurants it’s a good idea to book in advance, particularly on weekends. There’s also a booming fastfood and cafe life. Restaurants open at 8 am, closing at 11 pm.
ENTERTAINMENT: Multiplex cinemas and theatres have daily shows in Malayalam, Hindi, English, and Tamil. Daily Kathakali shows at select cultural centres like Cochin Cultural Centre (Tel: 2356366, 2216911, Timings: 6.30 PM to 7.30 PM), classical dance forms and Carnatic music recitals at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall at Foreshore Road; and a range of art galleries are increasingly popular venues. Disney-style amusement centres, kiddies fun parks, bowling alleys and pool tables for yuppies are catching on as the in thing. Annual events like the Tourism Week (Dec-Jan) featuring boat races, food festivals, flower shows, shopping festivals, etc. are all well worth seeing. If you’;re in any doubt, check the local newspapers for venues and timings.
MAJOR EXPORTS: Tea, cashew kernels, rubber, spices, coir products, betelnuts, copra, lemongrass oil, coffee, fish and prawns.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES: Government of India Tourist Office, Willingdon Island; KTDC Tourist Reception Centre, Shanmugham Road Tourist Information Office, Old Collectorate.
VISA EXTENSION FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS: The Commissioner of Police, Cochin City. (Tel: 2385000).