Kerala Backwaters, House Boats Kerala
Kumarakom Backwaters provides the best stage for visitors looking for exclusive experience of Kerala backwaters
This placid resort village of the Kerala backwaters drags the muse out of even the most poetically challenged. So pack your quill and head for what are arguably the most beautiful acres along the Kuttanad backwaters. And the backwaters come alive with its palm-fringed canals, clumps of coir retting in water, a fishing boat returning with the day's catch, a boat laden with pots and pans making the rounds to shoppers in waterfront houses.....
Things to See and Do
Make no bones about it, Kumarakom backwaters is a resort destination. This tiny village on the edge of Vembanad Lake was practically unknown till one Henry Baker purchased land from the erstwhile Raja of Travancore to build himself a grand home. When the last of the Bakers left India, Taj Hotels stepped in to turn it into a fancy resort changing the fortunes of the once quiet fishing hamlet. Kumarakom backwaters today is a maze of modern resorts and heritage homes-cum-hotels spilling over the island's bank.
The road from Kottayam ends at Kumarakom's jetty, right near Market Junction and the Bay Island Driftwood Museum. The Bird Sanctuary is north of the jetty, where the Meenachil River meets Vembanad Lake.
The Kerala backwater tour has to be experienced slowly, leisurely and languidly. The best way to do it is to hire a kettuvallom, the traditional cargo boat-turned-houseboat. These house boats Kerala range from tiny canoes to houseboats capped by elaborate superstructures of bamboo and rosewood, panelled with mats of screw pine.
KTDC offers motorboat, speedboat and pontoon boat rides. There are scores of private operators too, at the boat jetty. Take the waterways past paddy and coconut groves, along fresh-water canals and rivers that debouch into Vembanad Lake. Pathiramanal Island, 10-acre isle an hour's ride from the bird sanctuary, is an ideal midway point for a backwater picnic.
Around Onam, the waters of Vembanad at Kumarakom come alive with boat races such as the Kumarakom Arpookara Vanitha Jalamela and the Kavanthikara boat race. It is also possible to fish in these backwaters. Some of the resorts also offer water-skiing and windsailing.
The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is spread across 14 acres on the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake. It is best visit the sanctuary on foot by a 1.5km-long walking track where you are likely to spot heron, darters, storks, teals and common egrets. Or take a boat ride, which brings you closer to waders like waterfront and ducks, and some fliers like parrots, larks and flycatchers. Between November and February the sanctuary turns into a transit lounge for migratory birds.
Bay Island Driftwood Museum
A distinctive building with its pillared veranda and sloping tiled roof at Market Junction invites inspection. This unique museum displays 'the art of the sea'- chiselled driftwood gathered from the beaches of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, hence the name. The driftwood pieces were chiselled by curator Raji Punnoose, a retired teacher, into shapes that vary from a crocodile found off Port Blair's Wandoor Beach to sculpture of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose addressing an audience from wood collected off Mayabunder Beach in Middle Andaman. You can also purchase some sculptures here.
Where to Stay and Eat
Kumarakom has many expensive resorts and quite a few inexpensive homestays. Most offer Ayurvedic treatment and backwater boats kerala cruises.
You can dine on delicious Kuttanad food at any of the hotels and homestays here, with prior reservations. Grilled lobster, karimeen pollichathu and creamy prawn curry is on offer at Kumarakom Lake Resort's Vembanad Seafood Bar, which offers a beautiful view of the Lake. The resort also offers the Ettukettu and Thattukada restaurants.
The specialty at Coconut Lagoon's Tharavadu and Fort Kochi restaurants is also seafood.
Waterscapes has Pearlspot Restaurant offering karimeen and various Kuttanadan dishes of duck.