Day Trip to Bolgatty Palace and Vicinity

Bolgatty, an island on its own, along with the Vallarpadam and the Vypin islands are known as the Goshree Islands. It is across from mainland Kochi (Kerala, India). Until the Goshree Island bridges were inaugurated in June 2004, access to these islands were only by boat. In February 2011, a new access point to the islands materialized with the inauguration of the first International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) by Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The terminal boasts several firsts for the country including the largest individual terminal in India (4 million TEUs once the two phases are completed) and the country’s longest railway bridge (4.62 km) connecting it to mainland Kochi across the Vembanad Lake.


As for getting to Bolgatty – from Ernakulam, at the northern end of Shanmugam Road past High Court and the National Institute of Oceanography, cross the first Goshree Bridge and hang the first left (there is a sign-board which can be easily overlooked as the road is understated). From ICT Road, take a left in the direction of the first Goshree Bridge and take the 2nd right just before the first Goshree Bridge. The road leads through an unkempt locale to the entrance of the Bolgatty Palace Hotel. The hotel premises run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) is guarded like a fortress and unless one has a reservation or you are part of an event, gaining entry for the uninitiated is an exercise in negotiation - the site has a café and a restaurant that is open for visitors. Rooms are priced between Rs 8K and Rs 15K, depending on the season. Birthday parties and other functions are priced upwards of Rs 500 per head - this can be a great option as the setting is hard to beat, especially for evening out-door events. The building to the left is newly built by KTDC and the other side of that building is a private docking facility, which is a vantage spot, offering spectacular views of the Kochi skyline. The other building to the right is the old palace building (completely renovated) with the main guest rooms and the honeymoon quarters to the right. The KTDC building has a café and the old palace building has a full-fledged restaurant. The palace building showcases a huge winding wooden staircase leading up to the guest rooms – it is visible across from the main restaurant corridor. There is a large pool by the side of the restaurant and across the pool area facing the water body are the honeymoon quarters. The palace grounds are appealing and features the remnants of the 9-hole golf course, which the staff considers functional. Its practicality though is anybody’s guess! Crossing the second Goshree Bridge, which is, but a short distance away from Bolgatty Palace takes one to Vallarpadam. The terminal area is completely cordoned off, although both the landmarks - the railway line and the Vallarpadam railway bridge - are visible when driving past the bridge. The island is home to a very famous church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Vallarpadam. This imposing structure can be noticed from the main road and is less than a kilometer on the first left past the bridge. The beautiful place of worship, established in 1524, features a famed picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary believed to possess miraculous powers. The church is a melting pot for all religions, and the feast of Vallarpadathamma (Mother of Vallarpadam) celebrated between September 16th and 24th every year is a major draw-card.

The promenade along Marine Drive hugging the backwaters of Vembanad Lake is a great place to catch the evening breeze, though pollution can be a deterrent. The 1.75 KM walkway is popular among locals and tourists alike. Street vendors along with representatives of the Marine Drive Tourist Boat Association dot the pathway. An hour-long boat trip covering the prime spots along Vembanad Lake starts at Rs 50. Speed boats are another option and its pricing ranges from around Rs 400 for a quick 15 minute ride for a maximum of four people to Rs 1500 for an hour-long trip covering Cochin Shipyard, Naval Base, Oil Tankers, Wellington Island, Fort Kochi, Vyppin, Dolphin Aria, Chinese Nets, Vallarpadam Container Terminal, and Mattanchery. A far more economical option is to tough it out with the locals at one of the two Jetty's - Main Jetty (regular services to Fort Kochi, Vypeen, Mattancherry, and Varapuzha) at the end of the walkway near children's park and the High Court Jetty (service to Bolghatty Island) at the other end of the walkway. The Varapuzha route is especially scenic and recently earned a Lonely Planet mention.

There are several eateries, shopping complexes (GCDA and Baypride Mall), and a couple of touristy bridges (Rainbow Bridge and Chinese Fishing Net Bridge) along the walkway. Across from the GCDA Complex is another major shopping mall called Penta Menaka. The vicinity around Penta Menaka is a huge shopping area covered by street vendors as well as small-time shop-owners. The place is popular with the locals.



Last Updated: 07/2011.

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