If there was a place called paradise on earth, it would have to be called Kumarakom! This quaint little village consisting of numerous islets nestled in the heart of the Vembanad Lake, which is the largest lake in Kerala, has to be seen to be believed. Set in the backdrop of perfectly aligned, lush bright green paddy fields, fringed with swaying coconut trees, this lake forms a part of a much larger network of canals and rivers that are collectively called the backwaters.
A labyrinth of backwaters shimmering with the reflection of azure blue skies, the green of mangrove forests and the coconut trees lining the embankments like sentinels of old make Kumarakom a virtual dreamland. The National Geographic Traveler has ranked this location among the top 50 places to see and among the seven million tourists visiting Kerala every year, Kumarakom is a must-see stopover. The award-winning book titled ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy may also have something with it as she describes the life set in Ayemenem, a village adjoining Kumarakom.
As compared to adjoining villages, the lake has its maximum width at Kumarakom, a breath-taking 8km! The nearest railway station to get here is in Kottayam city, about 13km away and the nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, about 94km away. The canals running through Kottayam drain off into the vast vembanad lake where activities like fishing, boating and sightseeing are popular; then there is the annual water regatta – the snake boat races during Onam when the whole area comes alive with the thrashing oars of a thousand oarsmen as they slice their way to the finishing line.
Sight-seeing from a well-furnished houseboat is the best way to experience the backwaters at close range. Gliding through the picturesque backwaters is sure to steal your heart as you pass through palm-fringed winding canals with dappled sunlight creating jewel like effects on the silent waters and only the sounds of the birds to keep you company. You can experience the rustic rural life as you pass by numerous neatly set-up tiny hamlets lining both sides of the canals where excited children wave at you, happily chattering away among themselves.
Glimpses of vast expanses of paddy fields, golden if you are visiting during harvest time or bright green at other times form part of the scenery along with flocks of ducks swimming around the banks in quest of food. It’s this deeply silent vibrancy that gives Kerala the name of ‘Gods own Country’! All of this and more make Kumarakom a popular holiday destination for the discerning travelers. Nature lovers can have a gala time at the nearby bird sanctuary spread out over 14 acres of land and is a favorite haunt of migratory birds. Numerous types of waterfowls, wild ducks, cuckoos, egrets, teals and migratory birds make this an ornithologist’s paradise.
Though Kumarakom is smaller than its neighboring cities, it is blessed with a greater number of high-end luxury resorts to provide quality residence to its discerning visitors. One of the resorts even offers independent cottages built on stilts over the lake for those visitors who want to commune with nature at close quarters. So next time you visit Kerala do make a date with Kumarakom.