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Kumarakom Travel Guide

Kumarakom Backwater Houseboat, Kumarakom Tourism, Kerala Package Tours


Surface
There are plenty of KSRTC buses from Kottayam to Kumarakom. Kottayam is connected to all cities in Kerala by KSRTC buses. Private deluxe air-conditioned buses connect Kottayam with many cities in South India including Chennai, Mangalore, Bangalore and Trivandrum. You can reach Kumarakom by boat from Muhamma, near Alleppey. State owned boat services and private houseboats ferry from Muhamma to the Kumarakom jetty.

Train
Kottayam is the nearest railway station, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from Kumarakom. Taxi fare from Kottayam to Kumarakom is about Rs 350, and there are ample private taxis available at the Kottayam station. Besides, Kottayam is well connected by rail to all important cities in India.

Air
The nearest airport to Kumarakom is Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) away from Kumarakom. You can hire a tourist taxi from the airport to Kumarakom that charges about Rs. 1600. Cochin airport is well connected to many major cities in India and abroad, especially connected directly to the Gulf countries.

Sea
If you have arrived at Trivandrum International Airport, proceed to Quilon by road or rail (takes just about an hour). From there, you can take the regular ferry service to Alleppey - a long but pleasant ride on the backwaters. From Alleppey, it's just a short ride to Kumarakom. If you have arrived at Cochin International Airport, perhaps you might prefer a ride through the backwaters to Alleppey. There are many boat services offered at Cochin.

Good Shepherd Church
Good Shepherd Church is located behind the civil station about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from Kottayam, and is the first church of the Diocese of Vijayapuram. The construction work of the church was completed in 1882. The Italian architecture of the church is rather impressive and catches the eye first-up, with the façade still in great condition especially after it was refurbished in 1964.

Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls
Seemingly in the bosom of the rubber plantation of Kumarakom is this picturesque spot where a 100-foot (30 meters) waterfall cascades in numerous streams through jagged rocks. This site of exquisite beauty called ‘Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls’, is about 18 kilometers (11.25 miles) from Kottayam town and 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) along a sludge track from Kumarakom. Here brooks gurgle as they flow through the lush rubber vegetation, and the water roars down the mountain from such a height.

Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple
In the heart of Kottayam town is this beautiful 500-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built in ethnic Kerala style by the Thekkumkoor Maharaja. While browsing the temple, you will be impressed by the architectural detailing and colorful murals adorning the walls praising the Hindu epics. Built in the 16th century, the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple has withstood the ravages of time, especially its Koothambalam, a special building within the temple premises used for cultural purposes - considered one of the best in Kerala. Confirming to the traditional Kerala style of architecture, the temple is a specimen, and is greatly revered by Hindu devotees.

Kumarakom Beach
The Kumarakom portion of coastline is truly picturesque, and tranquil enough to spend a few idle days of sun-soaking and swimming. Fortunately, the beach is far from overdeveloped and retains a pleasant natural ambience, free from restaurants, bars or shacks that might detract from its beauty. There are ample beach resorts at a brief distance from the main beach; so you might take a stroll after a hearty breakfast at your resort, and spend a whole day under the Kerala sun, lounging around, readiing a book and working on your tan. Your camera will have a lot to take back, starting from the pristine stretch of sand lacing the turquoise water, the luxuriant coconut groves, to a clear sapphire sky. The beach is largely peaceful, but in the noon when the water activities pick up there is a bit of din. If you are feeling more energetic, go snorkeling – the waters are rich in marine life with some wonderful patches of corals, or try out other water-based activities. Even a Frisbee session or a friendly game of volleyball is a great way to enjoy the tropical sun.

Ayemenem House
Arundhati Roy’s Booker prize winning novel ‘The God of Small Things’ was set in this sleepy backwater village, Ayemenem or Aymanam, on the western bank of Vembanad Lake. About two-thirds of Aymanam is rice fields, two meters below sea level; the river Meenachil provides water to the village. The low-lying areas flood from June to August. If you are taking the road, Aymanam is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) on the Kottayam-Chunkam route. The nearest railway station is Kottayam Railway Station.

Valiyapally
Valiyapally is the second church in Kottayam dedicated to St. Mary, and is older than Cheriyapally, having been built in 1550. Nestled on the top of a hillock with the Meenachil River at its foot, this ancient Syrian Knanaya Church is among the largest and the oldest in town. Valiyapally is located about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) northwest of the centre of Kottayam. This is the mother church of most Christians of this area.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
A paradise for avid bird-watchers, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is set on an islet in the Vembanad Lake, about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Kottayam in Kerala. Spread out over 14 acres on the southern bank of the Kavanar River, you can explore the sanctuary by taking a boat ride, or hiring a canoe at the entrance to the sanctuary. Bird-watching trips are best undertaken in the evening or at the crack of dawn when the birds prepare to return/leave their forest abode and fly over the lake.

Backwater Cruise on Vembanad Lake
Kumarakom is a cluster of islets on the serene Vembanad Lake, a part of the Kuttanad region in Kerala. An interesting way to explore this green backwater getaway is by renting a houseboat (locally called Kettuvalloms) and drifting on the lazy backwaters past a wealth of mangrove forests, emerald paddy fields and swaying coconut groves. Spend leisurely hours soaking the calm and the languid pace of backwater life.

Veega Land
Spread out over 30 acres and about 300 meters (1000 feet) above sea level, Veega Land is an amusement part with a difference, for it finely combines nature, creativity and technology. Amusing fun seekers, adventure enthusiasts and leisure travelers, Veega Land offers 26 thrilling water slides, dancing musical fountain, auditoriums with live shows, floral gardens, beautiful promenades, sparkling blue pools, six restaurants and a wave pool. And you are welcomed within by Ammu, a baby elephant.

Pathiramanal (sands of midnight)
Pathiramanal, meaning the Sands of Midnight, is a green little island in Vembanad Lake, on the border of Kottayam-Alleppey Districts in Kerala. You can reach the island by boarding a ferry along the Kumarakom-Muhamma water route. It will take about 40 minutes from Kumarakom to arrive at Pathiramanal. From the jetty close to Baker’s Mansion, the island is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away, and from Kumarakom approx. 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) towards northwest.

Bay Island Driftwood Museum
Bay Island Driftwood Museum in Kumarakom displays a unique collection of twisted stumps of driftwood etched into sculptures. These interesting pieces of wood were collected over the years from the serene beaches of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Bay of Bengal by Mrs. Raji Punnoose, a retired teacher, which she hand-sculpted to create different life forms. The museum is one-of-its-kind in the country, having a unique synergy between nature’s art and extensive persuasive imagination.

Rama Varma Union Club Water Sports Complex
The Rama Varma Union Club Water Sports Complex at Kumarakom is a great opportunity for water sports enthusiasts to try out almost every kind of aqua sports conceivable. This includes popular pursuits such as speed boating, water-skiing, wind surfing, sailing, swimming and kayaking.

Cheriyapally
Otherwise known as St. Mary’s Church, Cheriyapally in Kottayam is one of the oldest Christian churches in the country, though built many years after Valiyapally. It belongs to the Malankara Orthodox Church and was built by the Raja of Thekkumkur in 1579. In Kottayam you will find two churches dedicated to St. Mary, this one having been built and consecrated in 1579 by the Portuguese with the assistance of a local Hindu raja.

Thazhathangady Juma Masjid
About 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Kumarakom in the town of Kottayam is the 1000-year-old Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, nestled on the banks of Meenachil River. One of the oldest mosques in the country, Thazhathangady Juma Masjid is notable for its magnificent architecture and the richness in wood carvings that adorn the interiors. The mosque is a result of the efforts of the followers of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed during one of their voyages to Kerala.

Kumarakom is a cluster of islets on the eastern edge of the serene Vembanad Lake, a part of the Kuttanad region in Kerala. The backwater haven, Vembanad Lake is one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes and a major ecological resource. Set out on a boat ride towards the highly popular Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on the eastern shores of the lake. Here you can enjoy birding in the green canopy of the rubber plantation for the whole day. Spread across 14 acres, the sanctuary is an ornithologist’s paradise, being a favorite haunt of migratory birds such as the Siberian crane and other indigenous species such as egrets, herons, waterfowls, kingfishers and teal to name a few.


History
Kumarakom is a group of small islands in the Kottayam region of Kerala. Before it came in tourist glare, Kumarakom was a marshy mangrove on the edge of the Vembanad Lake. It was in 1878, George Alfred Baker, a missionary from Essex, England, set about clearing the mangrove and replacing it with coconut plantations. Baker was so taken aback by the beauty of Kumarakom that he decided to stay on for good, and in doing so he became the catalyst for development in the area.

However, the chief appeal of Kumarakom lies in its underdevelopment or its lack of masses of manmade constructions that might otherwise spoil its natural environment. The potential of Kumarakom’s bird sanctuary has of course been realized.

The state of Kerala saw early history settlers such as the Negrito tribes focused in three areas, then known as: Malabar, Cannanore and Kasargode. The Negritoc continue to inhabit the mountainous areas in the south of the country even today. The Negritos were succeeded by the Austriches, followed by the Dravidians; the latter still has a significant effect on the modern culture of Kerala.

After the Portuguese discovered the sea route to India from Europe, a wave of visitors arrived - some settled permanently into the area and contributed to Kerala’s mix of followers of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Today the Keralites celebrate the official recognition of their state on 1st November every year - a day they refer to as Kerala piravi meaning the ‘Birth of Kerala'.

Getting Around
Most attractions in Kumarakom are within walking distance of your resort. If you wish to go bird-watching or enjoy the backwater life, you would need to hire a motorboat/houseboat/canoe, whichever suits you.

Tourist Traps in the City
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Local Custom
While visiting a sanctuary, follow all rules and regulations such as keeping safe distance from the wildlife, refraining from touching or feeding animals. Besides, do not stray from the group. Make sure you do not litter the sanctuary with bottles or plastic packets, and not collect any sample flora from the park. You need to take off your shoes before entering a temple, and avoid carrying leather objects inside a religious place.

Shopping
Kumarakom is not really a place for shopping, but if you are at leisure and not wandering into the depths of a wildlife sanctuary or cruising down the calm backwaters, you could give shopping a shot. Head to the local market and pan through its variety of souvenirs made of coconut shell, bamboo and cane. The craftsmen of Kerala are lauded for their skill and creativity. Undoubtedly, they turn out an intricate motley of metal-ware, camel-bone carvings, wood carvings, embroidered screw-pine (pandanas palm) rugs and grass mats among other handicraft. If you fancy ethnic hand-crafted silver jewelry, you will find armloads of them in a great assortment. In addition to this, traditional hand-woven textiles find an important place in a shopper’s list. Don’t miss out on the wicker lampshades, brass lamps, and the truly exotic Kathakali masks, each wearing a different expression.

You are recommended to shop for some fresh and aromatic spices available in abundance here – for they are unique to this part of Kerala, and make for some sumptuous recipes.

And if you are looking for a complete shopping experience and a larger array to choose from, Cochin is the place to be, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from Kumarakom.

 

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