Places to Visit in Kumarakom
Kumarakom is a cluster of little villages in the Vembanad Lake coming within the Kuttanad region of Kerala. Located 10km West of Kottayam Town, this village is interlocked by placid tropical waterways, low-lying paddy fields and coconut and mango groves. A British Missionary Henry Baker ventured to reclaim this land to make a rubber estate and fruit farm about 200 years ago, which was subsequently expanded by his descendants to a larger plantation. During the post-independence era, these assets including a majestic bungalow were transferred to the Government which chose to set up a nature reserve in a 14-hectare plot. The bungalow was later handed over to the Taj Group of Hotels, to set up a resort. The location being easily accessible by road from Kottayam Town, the village became the focus of backwater tourism. With the lush greenery, the presence of vast backwaters and camping of domestic and migratory birds in the village, Kumarakom earned its rightful place in the tourism maps since the past few decades. This enchanting backwater destination offers many leisure options to the visitors.
The Birds Sanctuary at Kumarakom is a favorite spot for migratory birds from Siberia and Europe and hence a paradise for bird-watchers. The picturesque small island of Pathiramanal located in the middle of Vembanad Lake beckons every visitor visiting Kumarakom. Another attraction related to Nature is the functioning of Bay Island Driftwood Museum which displays unique collections of sculptures made of driftwood initially by a hydrodynamic action of seawater and later by modern art techniques. The museum displays a beautiful blend of nature's creativity. Boating in the lake is quite popular involving almost all the visitors to Kumarakom. The Vembanad Lake is a very vast expanse of water over a length of about 70 km and is linked to the Arabian Sea at Kochi. With huge lake stretching on one side and a prominent network of rivers/canals inside the village, this part of Kerala with its greenery is a favorite destination in the minds of the world tourists and ipso facto Kumarakom occupies a unique position in the tourism map of the country. During the occasion of Onam festival (Aug/Sept) the waters in the village become quite alive with several boat races witnessed by the huge crowd of people who line up along the river banks. Kumarakom backwaters are now well known to the world as a gift of nature in all respects. There are quite a large number of species of plants, animals, fishes, and birds present here.
MAIN TOURIST DESTINATIONS IN KUMARAKOM
1. Bay Island Driftwood Museum
A museum to display a unique collection of superior quality driftwood sculptures of very high artistic value, prepared through a rare and innovative modern art form, is functioning at Chakranpadi, Kumarakom North. It has a huge collection of driftwood structures of various shapes and designs. During her professional tenure in the Andaman archipelago, a dynamic lady school teacher used to pick up pieces of driftwood deposited by the sea on the shores comprising twisted tree trunks stumps, roots etc. which had the potential to be made into sculptures with marginal efforts. Many of these wooden parts were centuries old and having driftwood across the seas, they became more resilient. The picked up pieces were cleansed, dead parts removed, scraped and trimmed to conform to the shape she had in mind.
This driftwood museum in the only one of its kind in India as certified by the Limca Book of Records 2013. The Government of Kerala awarded its prestigious Most Innovative Tourism Project Award to this Museum in 2004. The Museum inculcates in visitors the qualities of imagination creativity originality and initiation to produce useful articles out of materials which are normally considered waste.
The museum is located on the side of Kottayam to Vaikom main road at Chakranpadi. Website: bayislandmuseum.com, Visiting Hours: Tue-Sat 10 am to 5 pm, Sun: 11.30 am to 5.pm. Entry to the museum by pass Ph. Nos. 0481-2526223, 09447464296 Allow 45 min for the visit.
2. Birds Sanctuary
The sanctuary is located at Kavanattinkara, in the north-western part of Kumarakom. The area becomes a transit location for migratory birds, between November and March every year. It becomes a winter home for them during this period. It is preferable to visit the sanctuary on foot along the 1 km long walking track. One main spot Siberian cranes, wood beetles, storks, teals, darters, egrets and herons along this route. Two sides of the sanctuary are surrounded by water. Waterfowls, ducks etc. and birds like the cuckoo, kingfishers, larks, parrots and fly catchers may be viewed if a boat ride is undertaken. May to July is the breeding season for local species of birds like pond herons, egrets, and Indian shag. This is the first scientifically preserved bird's sanctuary in India with about 180 species of birds. The existence of the sanctuary owes much to its location and the nature of climatic elements experienced.
The Buses from Kottayam Town, Kumarakom Market and Cochin side stop in front of the entrance to the sanctuary. Visiting Hours - 6 am to 6 pm.
3. Pathiramanal Island
The Pathiramanal Island with 10 acres area, is one of the islands in the Vembanad Lake and is located about 6km off Kumarakom shores of the Lake. It may be planned to visit the island during the boat cruise in the lake, as the Island is accessible by boat only with about one hour ride. This picturesque island is also a favourite abode for migratory birds during winter. Certain rare plants are observed growing on the island. Besides, few varieties of medicinal plants also grow in the waters very close to the island. A jetty has been provided on the western side of the island for catering to the needs of tourist watercraft. Embarkation/Disembarkation of tourists is safe and comfortable.
4. Vembanad Lake
Vembanad Lake is bordering the Kumarakom Village on the western side. The lake is the largest among more than half-a-dozen lakes in Kerala State and also the longest in the country. Three rivers which originates from the hilly region of the State finally discharge themselves to this lake (also known as kayal). The proximity of the lake is also a reason for the advent of the migratory birds to Kumarakom. Boating and fishing are borne in their minds by the tourists as soon as this location is selected for tour. House boats, Motor Boats and Speed Boats are available for hire at several places of the village and charges depend on the type and capacity of the water craft and the duration of the proposed cruise in the lake.
Flocks of birds flying across the lake during the early hours of the day is an interesting sight. One may find migratory birds in large numbers skimming in the lake water in search of fish. The lake is infested with marine creatures abundantly.
It is not advisable to undertake a kayal cruise during the monsoon season (June-Sept) with inclement weather conditions.
5. Kumarakom Backwaters
The village of Kumarakom and its surroundings are the most beautiful locations of the Kuttanad backwaters. Palm-fringed Canals, brilliant greenery of paddy fields and groves, rivers, and lake with shimmering water make the tourists enjoy the bliss of nature. To explore the beauty of the backwater, it is preferable to engage a house boat/ motor boat and sail through the rivers and canals in a leisurely manner and engaging a guide of required. Houseboats provide all modern facilities needed for a comfortable journey along water routes. Fishing is also common in all parts of the backwater which can also be tried. This is also an opportunity to study closely about the numerous fauna and flora of the locality the elevation of which lies below the sea level, like in Holland (Netherlands).
TOURIST DESTINATIONS NEAR KUMARAKOM
Juma Masjid, Thazhathangadi
The Juma Masjid at Thazhathangadi is considered as one of the oldest mosques in India, having been built more than 1000 years back. This mosque has special architectural features like a square inner courtyard, wooden gabled roof with carvings, latticed windows etc. and also a bathing place similar to those exist in Hindu Temples. It is believed that the mosque was constructed by Habib Dinar the son of Malik Dinar who was the first to spread Islamism in this country. The mosque is located on the banks of river Meenachil along the western boundary of Kottayam town. Visiting hours: 7 am to 6 pm.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple
The Thirunakkara temple located at the heart of Kottayam Town constructed by Thekkumkoor Raja, offers the traditional architecture adopted by Hindu Temples in Kerala, and It is more than 500 years old. A prominent feature of the temple is its Koothambalam which is a low-roofed stage on which dancers perform. Anathottil is provided for the use of the temple tusker, nearby. There are four subsidiary shrines also in the temple complex. The colourful annual festival is in summer every year, attracting devotees from all over the Kottayam District.