Destination of the Month

Kumarakom, Kerala

Kerala, a state in South India has hundred percent literacy, world-class health care systems, lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates. It provides the highest physical quality of life in India -Peaceful and pristine; Kerala is unarguably India's cleanest state. Furthermore, literacy rate for women is one of the highest in entire Asia. The people of Kerala, at all levels of society, have greater access to services and opportunities.

Blessed with the Arabian Sea on its west, the Western Ghats towering 500-2700 m on the east and networked by 44 rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that make it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. Bestowed with a pleasant and equable climate throughout the year, Kerala is a tropical land with the coast running down its entire length and the Western Ghats forming a protective barrier against the dry winds from up north.

Kumarakom, a city in Kerala was within the jurisdiction of Thekkumcore King during that period and it was also usual to have fighting and competitions among local Kings. Chundan Vallom and Veppu Vallom were widely used among the local kings for their lightning attacks and fighting in the central Travancore. During those days Vembanad Lake was a dangerous Zone; therefore the Thekkumcore King posted enough soldiers in Kumarakom and also constructed a Fort at the entrance of Kottathodu in Kumarakom. Soldiers were kept in certain areas of Kumarakom for the protection of enemy attacks and those places are still called as Padakkalam, Padanilam etc., in Kumarakom.

Fishing, agriculture and tourism are the major economic activities in Kumarakom. Kumarakom's perfectly balanced tropical climate is very conductive to cultivation. It has a moderate climate throughout the year, and has two monsoons - the south west and north east, with a combined average rainfall of 1100 mm per annum.

The place hence has expanses of mangrove forests, paddy fields and coconut groves. Fruits like Banana, Mango, Jackfruit, Tamarind, Guava and Pineapple grow here. Not to forget cocoa and coffee which are also cultivated here under coconuttrees. This rich agricultural environment is mainly irrigated using interspersed waterways and canals of the Meenachhil River. The smaller canals are often lined by hibiscus plants which lean partly over the canals to form a green canopy, from which hang the lovely hibiscus flowers.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary located here is home to many species of migratory birds who visit here during seasonal onsets. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is a habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species. It throngs with Karimeen (pearl spot) and shrimp. The bird sanctuary, a major tourist attraction extends over 14 acres (57,000 m²), and came into existence following preservation efforts from the government.

Kumarakom has a wide variety of houseboats and is well known throughout the world for houseboat experience. They are used only for tourists these days. A separate boat known as Kettuvallam is used by the people to go fishing or to transport goods. Apart from these, there are elegant special boats like Kochu-odiVallam, Odi-Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam, Churulan Vallam and Chundan Vallam(Snake Boat), which take part in the boat races during Onam. More than 1000 oarsmen in boats of different sizes and shapes participate in this event.

Tourism in Kumarakom largely revolves around the backwaters of the Vembanad Lake. The place is flocked with luxury and budget resorts lined up on the shores of the lake provide tourists with facilities for boating, yachting and fishing, with panoramic views of the lake. The other major attraction is the Bird Sanctuary which can be visited by canoes arranged by local fishermen at the entrance to the sanctuary. Best time to visit sanctuary is morning and evening. A two-hour rowing canoe trip is quite cheap, and is best undertaken in the evening or early morning to avoid the afternoon sun. Bird sanctuary is open to visitors from 6AM to 6PM.

Kumarakom is also the first destination in India to Implement Responsible Tourism practices. The Kerala Tourism was awarded for its path-breaking 'Responsible Tourism' project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The closest airport is Cochin International Airport which is approximately 80 km and takes roughly an hour by road.

Come…enjoy the great feel and tranquility of the back waters with your family at Kumarakom!