Kumarakom, the tourism destination of Kerala and an ideal place to experience the backwaters of Kerala, is actually a cluster of islands close to the city of Kottayam. It is situated near the Vembanad Lake, which is Kerala’s largest freshwater lake.
History of Kumarakom
The name Kumarakom was derived from the deity of the oldest temple Kumaran. Kumaran’s Akam or place became Kumarakom. In 1878, the marshy mangrove on the bank of the Vembanad Lake was cleared and replaced by coconut plantations.
George Alfred Baker, an English farmer who arrived in India in 1857, reclaimed 500 acres of Vembanad Lake to gardens and paddy fields. He built Baker’s house, in which four generations of Bakers lived until 1962.
Apart from the efforts of the government to promote tourism in the area, what has also contributed to the growth of tourism here is the mention of Kumarakom in one of the bestsellers of the modern century- God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Following the success of the book, the Ayemenem House, where Arundhati Roy spent her early childhood has been turned into a tourist attraction.
In order to protect the ecology of the place, the Kerala government has declared Kumarakom as a special tourism zone. Following the declaration, any development is restricted in the area and must be approved by the government, as laid down in the special tourism zone act of Kerala.
People and Culture of Kumarakom
The tropical climate of Kumarakom makes it conducive to a lot of varied cultivation. The place abounds in tropical fruits like banana, mango and pineapple. There are also plenty of mangroves, coconut palms and paddy fields, along with plantations of coffee and cocoa. It is this diversity of flora coupled with the diversity of fauna which makes Kumarakom a preferred tourist destination of Kerala.
Kumarakom is perhaps the only place in India other than Kashmir, which is known for its houseboat experience. Kumarakom also witnesses boat races around the time of Onam, which is an important South Indian festival. Many different varieties of boats take part in the races.
Things to do in Kumarakom
The backwaters of Kerala drive the maximum tourism here. There are many houseboats and resorts in Kumarakom which offer an accommodation by the Vembanad Lake. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is another major attraction of the place. A tour of the bird sanctuary is possible only on canoes, which makes it one of the most unique bird sanctuaries in the world. A tour of the bird sanctuary is best taken during early morning or late evening to avoid the high temperature of the afternoon sun.
Best time to visit Kumarakom is during winters between October and February. Bird watchers can find different types of migratory birds at the Bird watching centre at Kumarakom post monsoons. Backwater cruising is prohibited during monsoons.
Travelling to Kumarakom
Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, is the closest airport at a distance of 85 km to reach Kumarakom. Tourists can hire taxi to reach Kumarakom from Cochin, drivers usually charge about Rs 1600. Cochin airport is well connected with major cities of India and abroad.
Kottayam serves as the closest railway station, which is located at a distance of about 16 km from Kumarakom.
Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, is the closest airport at a distance of 85 km from Kumarakom. Tourists can hire taxi to reach Kumarakom from Cochin, which costs about Rs 1600. Cochin airport is well connected with all major cities of India and abroad.
Kottayam is well connected via rail network and serves as the closest railway station for Kumarakom, which is located at a distance of about 16 km.
Kumarakom is also accessible by boat from Alaphuzza, which is another major tourist destination of Kerala.
Kumarakom can easily be reached from Kottayam via bus or taxi. From Kottayam there are plenty of KSRTC buses to reach Kumarakom. KSRTC bus service connects Kottayam to all cities in Kerala. Private run deluxe A/C buses connect Kottayam with major cities like Chennai, Mangalore, Bangalore and Trivandrum.
From Kottayam there are plenty of KSRTC buses to reach Kumarakom. KSRTC bus service connects Kottayam to all cities in Kerala. Private run deluxe A/C buses connect Kottayam with many cities like Chennai, Mangalore, Bangalore and Trivandrum.