Thousands and thousands of people dressed in their finest, stand on the two sides of the main street of Fort Kochi. A police van passes by, following which a group of priests march with an elephant with trunk covered in gold. This is the sign that Kochi Carnival has started. The same moment I realize, ‘oh shit, wrong lens.’
What is Kochi Carnival
Kochi Carnival is the annual celebration and the welcoming of the New Year in Kerala. This event is being organized in Fort Kochi area of Cochin for years. The carnival, like most of the carnivals around the world, witnesses beautifully dressed people getting as creative as they can (hint: they created an entire set of Bahubali along with the cast) and then show off in a parade on the first evening of first January.
I am writing this Kochi carnival Guide that will help you understand the following.
- What to click on Kochi Carnival
- What is the date of Kochi Carnival
- The place where Kochi carnival takes place
- Photography guide to Kochi Carnival
- How to book hotels for Kochi Carnival
On the night of 31st December, the people of Kochi welcome the New Year by burning a huge eggify of Pappon Ji. Pappon ji is not to be confused with Santa Claus, although he looks very much like him. The origins are said to be from time when Kochi was a Portuguese base. The town still carries a lot of heritage and culture of that bygone era in the form of buildings and food. This is also the sign of starting date of Kochi Carnival.
Christmas in Cochin marks the beginning of this Carnival. The five day following Christmas display different colorful performances, music, dance and martial arts. Due to lack of information, I arrived in Kochi on 25th December and spent my time exploring Cafes of Kochi. After spending two nights in Zostel Kochi, I went to backpack in Alleppey and returned to Kochi on 31st so that I could enjoy the festival.
In order to attend Kochi Carnival, you should book hostels around Fort Kochi. Kochi Carnival is one of the biggest festivals in Kerala and is attended by many visitors from all around the world. The date of Kochi Carnival is on 1st of January every year.
Here is a small photo story for Kocchi Carnival for the rest of the event as words will be too small to define the experience.
You’ll see a number of people dressed like mythical figures from Hindu religion. They lead the procession while dancing, posing and fighting with each other.
Kochi Carnival witnesses a huge participation from the Transgender community. Isn’t it amazing to see how all genders get equal importance in this state?
The interaction between the participants and the spectators is really interesting. People cheer for their close ones who are a part of the event. Every team has its own music, some get their recordings specially made just to stand out from rest of their competitors.
Mythical and pop culture figures are an important part of the rallies. You’ll see Bahubali sets, Shiva Parvati skits and even Onida Devil scaring the shit out of children.
Nothing left me as happy as Kochi Carnival did. I was excited, running like Children with the participants. The people were so nice that they even told me to get on the stage so that I could get clearer views. I am not going anywhere else to celebrate next New Year and the one after that.
Solo travel tips for Kochi Carnival – If you are solo traveling in Kerala during Kochi Carnival then make sure that you book a hostel in advance. For the backpackers coming to Kerala on Kochi Carnival, you need to book your hostel or hotel or stay home in Fort Kocchi Area. Most of the stay homes in Kochi get full in advance and many others are overpriced. But you can make plan accordingly and enjoy Kochi Carnival in Fort Kochi
Kochi Carnival date is 1st Jan of every year and Pappanji burning takes place at 31st December Midnight. Don’t plan to leave Kochi on 1st January because long traffic jams will make you miss your bus or train. It is a better idea to move out from Kochi on 2nd Jan.
How to reach Fort Kochi – If you are coming to Kochi by bus then it will drop you at Vytilla. Distance between Vytilla and Fort Kochi is almost 45 minutes and you can find regular local buses from the hub itself.
How to reach Kochi Carnival Venue – I would suggest you to stay in Fort Kochi area during Kochi Carnival. The Carnival starts at 1 PM and the area gets crowded by 12 PM only. You’ll find signs around the areas from where the Carnival would pass.