Though it is the famous beach that makes the place so attractive, there are certain places near Cherai that will capture your imagination. These are mainly religious centers that are relevant historically too. They are remnants of the colonial past and cultural diversity of Cherai. The Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro Malabar church, Portuguese Fort, Pallippuram Syro Malabar church, Azheekkal Sree Varaha Venkireshware temple and so on make Cherai a place of diverse culture and long history.
The important places to visit near Cherai are:
Top attractions in Cherai
There is a beautiful holiday destination near Kochi in the form of a beach. The Cherai beach is a nice spot for those who want to spend their time outdoors relishing sunset. The beach is almost 10 kilometers long and does not usually have high tides. The gentle waves lapping on the shore make the beach ideal for swimming. Dolphin sightings frequently reported in the area making it a favorite spot for the tourists.
It would be the best holiday yet if you include Cherai Beach too in your tour package to Kochi.
The oldest existing European fort in India is a great tourist destination near Cherai. The historical fort was built by the Portuguese in 1503. Later it was captured by the Dutch in 1661 and was sold to the Travancore Kingdom in 1789. The historical monument is hexagonal in shape and is constructed using laterite, lime plaster, and wood. The walls are thickly plastered with mortar to protect from gunfire.
There is an underground cellar that stores gunpowder. There also existed an underground tunnel to escape from enemies during emergencies which are permanently closed now. It would be great to include the fort also on your Cherai tour program.
Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro Malabar church
One of the best places to visit near Cherai is a historical church. Believed to be the first church in India, Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro Malabar church was established by St Thomas the apostle of Christ in 52 AD. It is one of the seven churches that he established in India. The Kottakkavu pond where St Thomas baptized the Jews who were already settled in Kerala is another tourist attraction.
In the 9th century AD, two bishops from Persia, Mar Sabor, and Mar Proth visited the church and founded a Persian cross here. The Kottakkavu Sliba, as the cross engraved on granite stone, is still preserved here. Pilgrims from far and wide come to pray at the church and see the holy relic. It would be a refreshing stop on your Cherai tour.
Basilica of Our Lady of Snows, Pallippuram
Basilica of Our Lady of Snows – or locally Manjumatha Church – is a historic and religious center built by the Portuguese. The church was built soon after they built the fort in 1503. It is an exciting place to visit near Cherai. The old Portuguese architectural style will surely enthrall you.
The legend says that during the Mysorean invasion in the 18th century, the church was mysteriously saved by a mist that left the invaders wandering without the sense of direction. Since then the church is named Manjumatha (lady of the snow) church.
Azheekkal Sree Varaha Venkireshwara Temple
There is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Sree Varaha Murthy which is a tourist attraction near Cherai. The temple belongs to the Gowda Saraswat Brahmin community of Kerala. It is considered as the only Sampoornakshetra (complete temple) of the nagara type in South India. Hence it is a sight that cannot be missed while on a trip to Cherai.
It is believed that the idol of Sree Varaha was installed at Azheekal in 1565. Later the location developed into a prominent temple of South India. It houses all the 7 deities of the Gowda Saraswatha Community. There is also a temple Ratham (chariot) in the temple which was dedicated to the deities in 1909. The religious location also served as a sanctum for preserving the community's unique mode of worship, language, and culture. Still, they maintain an identity of their own even though they mingle freely with other communities in Kerala.