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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Fort Kochi - Part 9 : 3 Cafes, three experiences

Wall to wall shelves filled with books, paintings by local artists, interesting sculptures to stare at while we ate; juices, pancakes and sandwiches, made just as we wanted them. What more could we ask for? That’s what mealtimes were like for us, at Fort Kochi.

Our first halt was at the David Hall Art Gallery, recommended by our host. After the churches and the beach, Samhith wasn’t so keen on an art gallery, but we headed in to escape the rain, glanced at the paintings, and then, spotting the café, headed straight in, to grab a seat and order. We deserved some sustenance after our walk so far, didn’t we?

Post some brownies, milkshakes and juice, we belatedly realized that the rain had stopped, and headed back to continue our tour; but not before chatting for a while with the manager, about the history of the beautiful house. This is one of three houses built by the Dutch East India Company between the late 1670s and 1690, and was either the home of the Dutch Commander, or a military hospice for Dutch soldiers. Later bought by a Jewish family, it was named ‘David Hall’. The house has changed many hands over the years, and now, after much restoration, is an art gallery exhibiting the work of local artists, and the café inspires you to sit down for a while and take a second look at the works!


The Pepper House Café had been recommended by Sudha as soon as I told her I was heading to Fort Kochi. However, by the time I reached there, I had forgotten the name. Then, in an auto on the way to Mattanchery, I espied the place, and suddenly remembered that this was the one! Which was why, after our visit to the Dutch Palace and Jew Town, we headed here for a late lunch.

Lunch turned out to be pancakes, sandwiches, more brownies, milkshakes, and of course, juices! High on sugar, Samhith and I explored the place while Shankar settled down with his sugar free juices, and that is when we saw this….

Pepper House Café was originally two godowns, used for storing goods to be shipped; one overlooking the waterfront, and the other the street, separated by a courtyard. The buildings have been renovated, and part of it is used as a café, part of it was used as an art gallery for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and one whole section is used as a repository of books – mostly on art, the personal collection of noted artist Bose Krishnamachari. One huge room houses the books while another, an impressive collection of DVDs. Oh yes, this room also has TVs and DVD players available with headphones, so visitors can watch what they want, in peace!

The Kochi Biennale Foundation(KBF), in association with Pepper House Café, also has a residency programme, funded by the KBF, which invites artists, writers, musicians, and indeed anyone else with a creative bent, to spend two months here and use the Pepper House as a Studio for their creative efforts! What a brilliant concept to encourage artists! Now that is one programme I would love to be a part of!

Tearing myself away from all those books was hard, to put it lightly! However, we realized we had spent so much time here, that our late lunch had turned into evening snacks! There was no way we could have dinner after all that, so, after some more time spent wandering around, we headed back to our homestay.


The next morning, we walked down to Kashi Art Gallery, in time for breakfast – Omelets, pancakes again, more milkshakes and juices (yes, with and without sugar, with extra sugar syrup and honey). Setting it apart from the other two cafés was the art – it dominated the entire space!

From the path leading the way inside designed like a railway track with real sleepers fixed between smoothened stones…

To modernistic sculptures which adorned the walls and corners….

This was truly an Art Café!

Located on a peaceful and clean street near the Cathedral, this one is an old house, with the seat outside taking me way back in time.

It is also one of the most popular cafés in Fort Kochi, and turns up first in a Google search, and on restaurant suggestions, and, in a city now filled with art cafés, it speaks volumes about the kind of place it is!

The food we tried at the three cafés was similar, because neither Samhith nor I are very adventurous when it comes to filling our stomachs. However, they do offer more than just pancakes, sandwiches, milkshakes and juices. It was the experience we relished more than anything, and all three were unique, and memorable in their own way.

We stayed in Fort Kochi for just one full day, and these three were the only cafés we were able to try. There are many, many more, especially in Jew Town, and all of them look interesting in some way or the other, and are worth a try.

  • David Hall is located right opposite Parade Ground. For more details, see their website.
  • Pepper House Café is on Kalvathi Road, between Fort Kochi and Bazaar road.  You will pass this way when you visit Mattanchery. They don’t have a website yet, unfortunately, but just a page on the KMB website.
  • Kashi Art Gallery and Café is on Burgher Street, very near the Cathedral. Check their website for more details. Psst!  They have a art residency programme too! 


  1. Definitely the best cafes in Fort Kochi. Probably you could add Tea Pot cafe to it.

    1. I have heard of it, Niranjan, but since I didnt go there, I cant write about it.

  2. Pepper House, Fort Kochi is absolutely a beautiful place. Been there recently...


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