A thriving port since 1341, Cochin or Kochi, bears all the hallmarks of its colonial, Arab, and Chinese influences. An unmistakable sight are the Chinese fishing nets, still in use today. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, are serene and historic, linked to the other islands by ferries and bridges. Each of these areas is worth exploring and some of Kochi’s highlights are the Pardesi Synagogue, Mattancherry Palace, the Maritime Museum, the Indo-Portuguese Museum and St. Francis Church – India’s oldest European built church, constructed by the Portuguese in 1503. From December to March, every two-years the city is transformed into an art gallery, for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, well worth a visit. November to February are the best months to travel.