The Colorful Extravaganza Called Kochi Carnival – A Photo Story


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.’

Check out the high res images on Behance

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.

Let’s address the elephant in the carnival

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.



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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.

Contestant may be single but the rear tire says otherwise
He kept shouting Wallah Al Habibi after every 5 minute
This pirate couple has got it right
Well, hello there…
Let me pose and go out of focus
Shaikh That Booty Yo!
Participants love dressing up as their favorite movie characters
Happy Spectators
People work really hard on their themes. Like this team brought Egypt on the streets of Fort Kochi.
The imperial guard doesn’t look amused
Waiting for Moses.
We even had guests from China
And Williams Sisters were too generous to pose for me


Eyes on the target, soldier!



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 Venueย  – 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.

Check out high res images for Kochi Carnival on Behance i

I hope you enjoyed this Kochi Carnival photo story. You can also follow my work on Instagram and Facebook

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Caitlin-Rose

    What an excellent post. Your photos truly tell the story of the carnival and have encouraged me to add this to my bucket list!

  2. Indu Indra

    You have brought Kochi carnival alive in your pics. Wonderful shots. I have been to Kochi and visited Fort Kochi as well but not during carnival. Though I still loved the city and the heritage around Fort Kochi.

  3. dwyeraddie

    This looks like such a fun experience. It really is colorful! I am surprised to see the photo of Christ carrying the cross. They definitely ring in the New Year differently than where I am from!!

  4. Summer

    This looks like so much fun. I love the blending of the different religions/cultures. The colors are a photographer’s paradise. Thanks for Sharing!

  5. Purvi Kamaliya

    Stunning pictures, I must say. I had heard a lot about this carnival and while researching more about it I stumbled upon this post . Quite informative and useful.

  6. Alex Trembath

    I actually met a guy from Kerala today who told me about this carnival! Great to see it in pictures… some awesome photography. Thanks for posting, keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Such colourful frames. I never knew Cochin had carnival events too. Looks like the entire city was celebrating.

  8. Alexander Popkov

    This festival is an explosion of colors! I want to photograph it some day.

  9. moimehr

    Okay, so this is really something new and fresh! Like everyday teaches you something or the other, this is my learning of today, I am delighted and ashamed at the same time to have learned about it only today though am an an Indian. The pictures are so colourful, and the artists look so much into the character they are portraying. Glad you brought it up. So, if I have to experience this parade, I need to be there in Kochi on the new year day, right?

  10. annakapys

    I’ve heard about this carnival on TV (it was a program about LGBTQ community in India) ! Lovely pictures – your country has so much to offer and I would love to go to Kerala during the carnival!

  11. Johann Kuruvilla

    Beautiful pictures Anshul. You captured them well. The carnival has been the highlight of Fort Cochin since the past few decades. Like you mentioned it has its origins from the Portuguese times and many people from my family have taken part in it over the years. Nice to read and see them from the perspective of an outsider.

  12. Eric Gamble

    Your Pictures are amazing first of all! Darcee & I were i Fort Kochi over the new year of 2016 into 2017! Loved all the people there and the excitement of the new year was felt everywhere. Loved all the costumes and we saw a display of Kalarippayattu which blew my mind.

  13. dorothyadele

    It’s such a colorful event and you captured it well. I love how the participants enjoyed posing for you.

  14. Denny George

    My hometown is about 60 KM from Kochi, and I’ve had the opportunity to see the carnival quite a few times. However, I haven’t visited for over a decade. Your pictures brought the good old days alive for me again.

  15. Erica edwards

    Stunning photos. I love the colors nd the entgusiasm you e captured. This truly looks like an experience to be remembered, and one that I’m adding to my bucket list!

  16. Best Place for Travel

    Colorful India colorful Kochi…. Realy love Indian carnival. Wonderful shots it is really colorful! I am also surprised to see the photo of Christ carrying the cross.

  17. Annreeba

    Excellent post! Colorful pictures. I love the way how the peoples enjoy.

  18. Joanna Davis

    The carnival looks fantastic and all those people dressing up so colorful definitely make up for a fun parade. Your photos have captures so well the spirit of the festival.

  19. Ethel

    Surprising that Hindi culture and religion has so much similarities with Christianity! it was good and educative read. …. and ohhh. all those colors. Love them!

  20. Lucy

    Your photos are fantastic of the carnival, you really captured it well. What a fun day to have and everyone looks like they are having a great time.

  21. Amber

    Wow, look at all these colors! This would be such a neat carnival to see. I love all the various costumes.

  22. Blair Villanueva

    I love supporting carnivals voz this is the time people with different views are gathered together for one purpose. So awesome that transgender community are active! Let’s party!

  23. Jay COLBY

    The colors are stunning! The carnival looks like so much fun great pictures.

  24. Synz

    Gorgeous photos! Love how colorful the carnival is. Look soo much fun! ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. Synz

    Gorgeous photo! I love how the Carnival is so colorful and looks so much fun! ๐Ÿ˜€

  26. This carnival looks so much fun and very colorful. I love seeing those beautiful costumes and great photography too!!

  27. kiwi

    Where is Kochi in India?? I love this Carnival I never been to a real one but I love this photo recap of the Kochi carnival!

  28. Wanda Lopez

    Looks like you had a blast. Very colorful outfits and decor. Everyone was just having the time of their lives. That’s awesome!

  29. KC Puentespina

    Festivals always make me so happy. When I was younger my Dad would take us to all these different festivals in the Philippines. Unfortunately, times have changed. Being in a crowd full of people these days isnโ€™t always a good idea because of the threat of terrorism. The dangers make me so paranoid!

  30. Nicole

    I have never heard of this carnival before, but it looks really interesting! I love all of the bright colors! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Hey Sharonoox

    Amazing pics! Love these cheerful vibes and bright colors of this carnival. Everything looks so spectacular and interesting. It looks like a fun and exciting carnival! Thanks for sharing!

  32. I love bright colors so this celebration certainly calls to me. I would love to experience the pageantry and fun of it all in person some day.

  33. Mary jingjing

    What a colorful festival indeed. I enjoy being with the people celebrating festivals and its a wonderful experience too.

  34. Holly Hood

    All of the beautiful pictures made me feel as though I was there. Thanks for introducing me to the Kochi Carnival.

  35. forktrails

    Woe, you have some great pictures. I am sure you had an amazing experience at the carnival. I would love to visit it sometime too

  36. Mohammed Alkaf

    What a lovely and very alive carnival! I love the pictures and how everything is so colorful ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Bhushavali

    Whoa! I didn’t know such a festival is happening. Its the Mardi Gras of south India! Goa carnival is famous, but not this one. Since how many years has this been happening?

  38. Lynnette Marte

    You got some amazing shots. Love seeing the beauty of other’s culture and traditions.