If Kerala is India's most beautiful state, which many believe, then the lovely port of Kochi (formerly Cochin) is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, and some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colourful present. In recent years however it has been something of a boomtown – indeed one’s first taste of the city is likely to be the Singapore-esque lines of tower blocks springing up among the newer, larger districts of Ernakulam and Tripunithura. For most however, your base will be in the historic island settlements of charming Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. Here one finds tight streets and colonial heritage – the Portuguese, Dutch, and British have all passed through and left their mark – and in the present day a diverse wealth of communities, spanning a dozen religions, originating from every corner of India. Thanks to its treasure trove of architecture, Fort Cochin also boasts an array of tastefully-renovated boutique accommodation: several of India’s most characterful properties are found within a few square metres. Seeing the major spots will likely consume half-a-day at most, leaving the rest of your time free to roam the streets, soaking in the atmosphere. A must in any trip to Kerala, Fort Kochi makes an ideal introduction to God’s Own Country, a stylish way to round off a trip, or a pleasant break whilst moving between the beaches, backwaters, and hills.