If you’ve found yourself wondering where to volunteer in India, look no further than Kochi, Kerala. You’ll have an impactful volunteer experience and a travel adventure through this South Indian coastal city.
Situated along the southwest coast of India, this historical city is known as the “queen of the Arabian Sea” for its prominence in the spice trade dating back as far as the 14th century.
Kochi, Kerala is a bucket-list city for many, so we’ve handpicked some top spots in Kerala to help you make the most of your time while volunteering India. Whether you have a few hours, a day or a weekend off, we’ve got you covered.
Travel while you volunteer
Travelling and making the most of your time off as a volunteer is an important part of the entire experience. However, it can be a bit of a challenge when you’re on a tight schedule.
But with a plan and good time-management, you’ll be off experiencing Kochi and its surrounds.
Spend a few hours indulging in Kochi cuisine
So you’re a volunteer in Kerala and have a few hours to spare? Why not meander on over to one of Kerala’s many cafes and grab lunch with the new friends you’ve made on GVI’s volunteer programs in India?
Kochi city is packed with a variety of cuisines from a blend of different cultures, ranging from Arabian and Malabari, to French and British.
A standout dish for many when in Kochi is the local version of thali.
Meaning “plate” in Hindi, thali is just that – a round platter used to serve a variety of dishes. But when in Kochi, this thali is referred to as sadya.
Traditionally a heavy dish, sadya is usually served on a banana leaf and consists of a melody of curries accompanied by rice and sweet payasam (or kheer).
Take a day trip to Iringole Kavu
Original image: Iringol_Kavu_Temple_Perumbavur_Kerala_India_DSC_5425 by Ranjithsiji is licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0
A day off from volunteering is the perfect opportunity to visit a nearby town. This spot is close enough to be visited within a day but still far enough away to bring entirely new experiences and fresh environments.
Situated around 38 kilometres from Kochi, Iringole Kavu is one of the largest sacred Hindu kavus, or groves, in Kerala.
The grove boasts luscious forests and is home to an array of wildlife, including around 19 types of spider, four species of amphibians and seven species of reptiles. It has a serene and relaxing feel, making it the perfect setting for a day off from volunteer programs in India.
The Iringole Kavu houses a famous Hindu temple dedicated to mother goddess Durga, whose story is centred around fighting off evil forces.
The grove and temple surrounds are free to visit. But entering the temple is strictly for individuals who practise Hinduism.
Spend a weekend in a treehouse overlooking the Athirappilly Waterfalls
Located just 80 kilometres from Kochi along the Chalakudy River, the Athirappilly Waterfalls are the largest in Kerala. They gained their popularity from being featured in various South Indian and Bollywood feature films.
At 24 metres high, the top of this waterfall makes for an exquisite viewpoint to admire the surrounding environment. But the base is where you’ll really experience the full force of this impressive waterfall, with the waters crashing to the ground ahead of you.
Most tourists choose to visit the falls during Kerala’s monsoon season, between June and November, when the flow of the waterfall is at its greatest. So if you volunteer in India over this period, be sure to check out these impressive waterfalls.
Make the most of your time to rest, rejuvenate and disconnect from the busyness of life by staying in a treehouse overlooking the Athirappilly Waterfalls. Here, you can experience nature without the interruptions of being constantly connected and “online”. The only noise to interrupt the stillness of nature? Your own thoughts.
Keen to travel to Kochi, India? What are you waiting for? Get in touch to find out more about the different volunteer opportunities in India.
Megan Colborne is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.