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Backwaters of Kumarakom!
Aug 11, 2004 03:04 PM 3042 Views
(Updated Nov 21, 2004 09:47 AM)


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Kumarakom- is a small village about 15 kms west of Kottayam town in Kerala. It is called as ''Kumaragam'' in local language


We took a overnight train from Chennai to Kumarakom. This is the best way to reach Kumarakom. Kottayam is the nearest railway station (about 15 Kms). During the journey, you could enjoy the dense vegetation ,the beautiful water lakes and the greenery that is feast to the eyes. This is one of the specialties of the Gods Own country. From Kottayam you can take a taxi to Kumarakom. It would cost around 200 Rs (In Kerala, taxi / auto rates are calculated on return fare basis only. Even if you travel one way, you will have to pay for journey both ways. Approximately, you are charged 5 Rs / km for a taxi).

The nearest airport is Cochin (80kms). From Cochin you could take a taxi or you could travel half-way by road and take a ferry from Thanneermukkam jetty for Kumarakom..

You can also reach Kumarakom from Thekkady / Periyar Tiger reserve (130 kms) by road.


One of the specialties of Kumarakom is the traditional cargo boat called Kettuvellom. These big boats are modified into cruise boats and house boats. They have all basic facilities like kitchen, toilet, bathrooms, sit-outs etc. These boats gracefully move around the backwaters, enabling you to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad lake in a relaxed pace. Almost all the hotels here offer a Kettuvellom for stay. (All of them also charge double their cottage rent for these house boats, be careful).

There are many resorts / hotels which provide very good accommodation in Kumarakom. There are at least three of them which are extra-ordinary.

  1. Coconut Lagoon :This hotel I would say is the best of all, mainly because of the strategic location on the Vembanad Lake & Kavanar river junction. It is run by Casino group of hotels. The resort has more than 40 individual Kerala village style cottages with open air bathrooms. To make it as natural as possible, banana trees are grown inside bathrooms. My experience with the food served in Casino group of hotels is - outstanding... It is a short stroll away from the bird sanctuary. Another plus point is you can reach this place only by boat, making it very special. The one major consideration would be the budget.(It would cost around 6000 Rs per couple for accommodation & food per day)

  1. Golden Waters :We stayed in this beautiful resort. This is located on the northern side of the Kumarakom village, by the Kavanar river. There are many man made canals which run parallel to each other inside the resort, resulting in a very natural and scenic ambience inside the resort. It has 28 independent cottages, some with water flowing under them and some with water flowing besides them. The cottages are typical Kerala style. The major plus point is the bathroom. They are very big and roomy. To give a natural twist, the bathrooms have glass top roofs. You can see the rain falling or the sun's rays beaming through the glass top, giving you a unique experience.....The prices are round 4500 Rs per couple per day.

The resort has very natural settings. The pathway leading to the cottages itself is very picturesque, with many canals and their corresponding over bridges to take you to the other side of every canal. Their food is very good and they will make your taste buds come alive with the variety and taste of the dishes on offering. The individual cottage provided to me had a canal by its side. From the sit out you could sit and watch for hours together, the water flowing and the singing of the birds. Traditional Kerala type canoe is available as an in-house boat. You have an option of taking this small boat to your cottage or half way to your cottage (depending on the location) from the restaurant. They have a very good swimming pool, which is maintained very well and is quite enticing even to people who do not know swimming. There is a Ayurvedic center in the resort

  1. Taj Garden Retreat : A typical Taj resort. It is a old bungalow belonging to Mr. Henry Baker(the person who originally developed the backwaters of Kumarakom and is also responsible for developing what is now a bird sanctuary). This beautiful bungalow has been preserved in the old style and has now been modified into hotel with modern living facilities. This is very also near to the bird sanctuary.


Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary:To reach the sanctuary from the vehicle park area, you will have to walk on a small cement walk path for slightly ~2 Kms. The path is thru dense bamboo and mangrove vegetation. You can alternatively take a canoe from halfway point on the walk path, up to the sanctuary. We took the canoe option and had a very nice boating experience early in the morning.(It would cost you 125 Rs). The best time to visit the sanctuary is around 6.00 am.

Once you reach the sanctuary, you will have to cross small canals using the tree bridges (these are small portions of palm / coconut tree which are cut and placed across the canals to enable crossing) and then walk by the back waters slowly. The local guard (who doubles as a guide) will help you find the birds. The sanctuary is unique in one sense... No effort is taken to clear the vegetation to enable easy sighting of the birds. The vegetation is allowed to grow on its own and you will have to swerve thru bamboos and tree branches to get a good view. But this facilitates us to see the birds in their natural homes without disturbing their life. When we were there, we saw quite a few variety of birds including white heron, grey heron, ibis, snake bird, cormorand ducks & hill mynas. It was a very different experience.. Do not have very high expectations on the quantity of birds you can sight the birds, but rather concentrate on the natural habitat.

Vembanad Lake : We took a speedboat to the Vembanad lake. The experience was very thrilling to say the least. It was made more interesting by the heavy winds blowing and drenching us fully even as we were sitting inside the boat. The lake is very big and deep. At the intersection point of the lake and Kavanar river, a big colony of water weeds gather together, making it almost impossible for the boats to move from one side to another. It was quite an experience to see the boat drivers take us skilfully thru the weeds. It is must do if you are a person who needs a different experience....

Patharimanal island :This island is located in the middle of the Vembanad lake. Sun set seen from this island is very scenic.

All in All, we spent a wonderful and peaceful weekend in Kumarakom. The cycle we followed was very simple.... eating, swimming, boating, watching birds and sleeping. Any of you want to get away from City life ????? This is the place. Just remember one thing, tourist season is from october to march - so rates are alarming during this time.... be careful in choosing your package.

The best time is september when you can get monsoon rates without much rains and can enjoy the after effects of the monsoon. ENJOY!

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