Kochi, formerly Cochin, is a major port city on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea and is part of the district of Ernakulam in the state of Kerala. Kochi is often called by the name Ernakulam, which refers to the eastern part of the mainland Kochi. The civic body that governs the city is the Corporation of Cochin, which was constituted in the year 1967, and the statutory bodies that oversee its development are the Greater Cochin Development Authority and the Goshree Islands Development Authority.
The city of Kochi (pop. 601,574) is the most densely populated city in the state and is part of an extended metropolitan region (pop. 2.1 million), which is the largest urban agglomeration in Kerala. Kochi city is also a part of Greater Cochin region and is classified as a B-1 grade city by the Government of India, making it the highest graded city in the state. Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourists in Kerala. Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India according to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Company on behalf of the Outlook Traveller magazine.
As a result of successive waves of migration over the course of several centuries, the population of the city is a mix of people from all parts of Kerala and most of India. The pan-Indian nature is highlighted by the substantial presence of various ethnic communities from different parts of the country.
Kochi has a diverse, multicultural, and secular community consisting of Malayalis, Konkanis, Gujaratis, Bengalis,Marathis, Punjabis,Tamilians, Biharis and a few families of Jews among other denominations, all living in peaceful co-existence. The city once had a large Jewish community, known as the Malabar Yehuden—and now increasingly as Cochin Jews—that figured prominently in Kochi's business and economic strata. The Syro-Malabar Church, one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches, has its seat at Ernakulam. The headquarters of the Archdiocese of Verapoly and the Diocese of Cochin are also situated in the city.
Prominent places of Christian worship include the St. Mary's Cathedral, the St. Antony's Shrine at Kaloor and St Mary's Bascilica,Vallarpadam. Appropriate to its multi-ethnic composition, Kochi celebrates traditional Kerala festivals like Onam and Vishu along with North Indian Hindu festivals like Holi with great fervour. Christian and Islamic festivals like Christmas, Easter, Eid ul-Fitr and Milad-e-sherif are also celebrated. A merry making fest called the Cochin Carnival is celebrated at Fort Kochi during the last ten days of December.
Like elsewhere in Kerala, football is the most passionate sport among locals. Kochi is home to two of India's major professional football teams, FC Kochin and Chirag United Kerala and also teams like Josco FC since 2008. India's fourth largest stadium and third largest cricket stadium, the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium located in Kaloor, is a major facility for football and cricket. Recently, the stadium was renovated to facilitate more cricket tournaments as well as for hosting IPL Matches. Kochi was home to the Indian Premier League cricket team, the Kochi Tuskers which won franchise rights to play IPL which participated in the 2011 edition of IPL. Sreesanth who plays for the Indian National Cricket team hails from Kochi.
The Maharaja's Stadium located on MG Road in the heart of the city, is the major athletic facility in the state with synthetic tracks and turf grass as per international standards. The Ambedkar stadium, maintained by GCDA, will be developed exclusively for Football with funds from Government of Kerala and FIFA. Spanish club Real Madrid has proposed to set up a football school in Kochi. The Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex at Kadavanthara is a major indoor stadium, mainly used for conducting badminton, tennis and basket ball tournaments. The 25m X 10m swimming pool at the centre is one of the larger water sports facility in the state, where regular swimming competitions and coaching are conducted. The FACT Grounds at Udyogamandal, Sacred Heart's College Grounds and St.Albert's College Grounds are the other major training facilities for various games like volleyball, badminton, cricket etc.
Kochi ranks among India's major seaports, partly due to being one of the safest harbours in the Indian Ocean. The port, administered by a statutory autonomous body known as the Cochin Port Trust, offers facilities for bunkering, handling cargo and passenger ships and storage accommodation. It also operates passenger ships to Colombo and Lakshadweep. Boat services are operated by Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation, the State Water Transport Department and private firms from various boat jetties in the city.
The junkar ferry for the transshipment of vehicles and passengers between the islands are operated between Ernakulam and Vypin, and between Vypin and Fort Kochi. However, with the construction of the Goshree Bridges (which links Kochi's islands), ferry transport has become less essential. The main boat jetties are Ernakulam Main Boat Jetty near Park Avenue, High Court Jetty in Banerjee Road, Embarkation Jetty in Willingdon Island and Fort Kochi Jetty.