One one of India’s most interesting towns, Kochi was a principle port and important centre of the spice trade on the Malabar Coast. A picturesque town of tumble-down buildings, vibrant bougainvillea and a languid palm-fringed harbour, Portuguese, Dutch and British settlers have all influenced this charming city which was first settled by Vasco da Gama in 1502. Due to its small size, much of historic Fort Kochi can be explored on foot. Visit the church of St Francis, the oldest European church in India, then walk to the town’s waterfront – site of the Chinese fishing nets and the many fish stalls that sell the catch. Also of interest is Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Kochi, and the town’s fine synagogue located in an area known for its antique and curio shops. Pettitts have led the way in designing tailor-made holidays and tours to India for over 25 years.