To call it underrated would be yet another underestimation, Kumarakom is a small town located in Kottayam district in Kerala, covered in natural canals that run all over the town, one would think that boats are the main mode of transport in this little heaven. Kumarakom is home to India’s longest lake, Vembanad lake, it is the largest lake in Kerala and spans over different districts of Kerala including Allapuzha and Kochi. The town is set on sea level, covered in backwaters and spectacular greenery that, needless to say, one can never get enough of.
We arrived at Kumarakom from Bangalore by bus, a 7 hour journey took us from the city to Kottayam and another 40 minute auto ride from Kottayam to Kumarakom. Although a houseboat stay would have been fantastic, but we were on a village expedition and decided to book a homestay closer to village routes. One of the most striking things about Kumarakom is how every road is accompanied by a side water channel, one can see some locals making their daily commute on boats. Just like the rest of the state, the symbolic coconut and palm trees add generously to the magnificence of the town, easily making it one of the most scenic locations in the country.
Warm and welcoming…
Not very long ago Kumarakom was adversely affected during kerala floods, being a low lying region, the damaging impact of the floods can still be seen in the town. Heavy rains caused many houses to go underwater and they still stand there, abandoned. Despite this huge natural setback, the spirits of the local residents is undeniably cheery and contagious. Kumarakom is known for its iconic canoe boat racing culture, represented by boat clubs like Kumarakom Boat Club and Kumarakom Town Boat Club. We were fortunate to witness the practice session of the boat clubs, over a 1000 oarsmen in boats of different sizes and shapes participate in the festival event that is celebrated on Onam every year. The energy even during the practice sessions is awe-inspiring and unforgettable.
As we walked into the village trails and canals, we were welcomed by the locals and despite the language barrier, they were keen to welcome us into their homes and tell us about their lives in Kumarakom. We moved along the canals in a small boat, clicking photos of the villagers as they posed and smiled at the camera.
The town is surrounded by paddy fields, adding to the panoramic beauty of the town, the wetlands simply make every view worthwhile as one enjoys the local cuisine and toddy, locally brewed palm wine. Local cuisine have many marine and freshwater fish including the famous Karimeen, exclusive to specific regions of Kerala, one can relish the most authentic Kerala cuisine and try different styles of appams and cuppa.
God’s own country…
While taking boat rides in the backwaters or Vembanad lake, one can see the beautiful expanse of mangroves and coconut groves edging into the waters and as the boat passes into the canals, quiet and lovely houses along the edges become an object of envy for any nature lover. Hibiscus plants form a lovely canopy as boats floats slowly under it. Kumarakom is home to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that attracts numerous migratory birds across the year. Declared as a special tourism zone by the government, kumarakom is truly a place of natural heritage and one of the few locations in our country with proven sustainable tourism. If only true beauty of Kumarakom could be captured in photos, we wouldn’t ask you to register for Go Heritage Run’s Kumarakom marathon at this paradise on October 20th.