Also known as the ‘Gateway to Kerala’ and renowned for its picturesque backwaters, tranquil beaches and impressive number of palm trees, Cochin is an area of outstanding natural beauty!
Therefore, when visiting this enchanting area of India, there are certain attractions that just can’t be missed such as, floating down the peaceful backwaters, witnessing one of Cochin’s extravagant (and slightly scary) Kathakali performances, seeing the Chinese fishing nets and spending a night on a traditional Keralan house boat.
However, despite how incredible these attractions are, a lot of the time I find that the most memorable experiences I have whilst travelling are when I discover things a little ‘off the beaten track’.
Therefore, here are my top three ‘off the beaten track’ places to visit in Cochin, Kerala, which I discovered during my last visit to India. Enjoy!
Visit the Co-operative washing centre
This fascinating back-to-basics launderette is a hidden gem in Cochin!
From washing and drying to ironing and folding, here, you get to watch the different stages involved in washing the locals clothing and bedding, and there’s not a washing machine or tumble dryer in sight…
As you venture through the open air launderette you see men using a trough filled with water, washing powder and A LOT of man power to wash and rinse clothes and bedding.
You are then led through to a field lined with rustic washing lines made from bamboo sticks and wood. Here, the newly washed items are hung over string made from woven coconut, which is called coir. The field looks like a web of bunting – it is awe-inspiring!
Finally, you are shown through to a room filled with smiling men and women chatting, ironing and folding the washing. They use traditional irons, which are made from unbelievably heavy iron and contain glowing coals at the bottom of the instrument to create the heat.
I will never quite understand how the tiny Indian women manage to lift these irons everyday, they must have killer biceps!
This co-operative washing centre does not have an admission charge however, the guide does suggest you leave a donation.
Nevertheless, with a guided tour and the invaluable opportunity to see and understand how washing is done in the area, it is a small price to pay for such a memorable experience!
Go to the Ginger Factory
This ginger factory is fascinating.
When you first enter, you wander through a courtyard covered in drying ginger – it is astonishing to see how white the ginger looks at this stage of production.
Once you have admired the drying ginger, a worker from the factory shows you around and explains the next stages of selecting, packaging and distributing the ginger.
Similarly to the co-operative washing centre, this factory does not have an admission charge however, it does appreciate donations of any kind.
This is a very quick tour however, it is an interesting lesson learnt on how ginger gets from plant to packaging!
Stay on Cherai Beach
Cherai Beach takes serenity to a whole new level.
Surrounded by the calming backwaters, peaceful ocean, lavish palm trees and endearing Chinese fishing nets, this beach is the ideal place to visit for a couple of days relaxation.
Situated approximately an hours tuk tuk and boat journey from Cochin, travelling to Cherai beach can be quite a trek.
However, once you are swinging in a hammock, overlooking a sensational sunset and watching dolphins swim across the horizon, all with a ‘special tea’ (beer) in your hand, you will understand why the journey is more than worth it!
When I stayed in Cherai I stayed at Brighton Beach House. Offering basic accommodation, mouth-watering food, friendly and helpful staff and a view to die for, I couldn’t recommend this place anymore.