Beautiful Kumarakom, the Best Tourist Spot in Kerala and India

Pradeep Kumar BStarred Page By Pradeep Kumar B, 22nd Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/42swripi/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>India>Kerala

Have you heard of Kumarakom? If you are an enthusiastic tourist and if you know something about the tourist spots in India, you must have heard of Kumarakom also. It is in south India, in the state of Kerala. The main attractions here are the backwater expanse and the houseboats that sail through it. Come and relax. There is no place like this in this universe.

God’s Own Country, that is Kerala

Have you ever come to Kerala? If you are interested in experiencing the real beauty of nature, you should come to Kerala. Yes, we Keralites proudly call it the ‘Gods Own Country’, which it really is. This state in the southern parts of India is filled with greenery. It is renowned for its rivers, backwaters, beaches, highlands and the lush green foliage that fills everywhere.

Kumarakom, the Most Attractive Place in Kerala

Kumarakom is the most renowned countryside attraction for tourists, in central Kerala. The nearest town to Kumarakom is Kottayam which is about 16 kilometers away. Kumarakom is a beautiful stretch of land projecting into the backwater known as the Vembanad Lake. Coconut palms line the banks beautifully. Vast expanses of paddy fields splashed with green color cool your eyes. Mangroves with umpteen varieties of birds perched on them are a treat to the eye. House boats, a specialty of Kumarakom are seen sailing through the backwaters along with country rafts and canoes.

Kumarakom has a variety of species of flora and fauna. Its rich aqua life includes exclusive species like Kumarakom Karimeen (a spotted fish used to make delicious dishes), Konch (Tiger Prawns) and Njandu (a variety of crab). The bird sanctuary is another attraction of Kumarakom. It is a haven for both native and migratory birds.

The most attractive part of tourism at Kumarakom is the house boat. House boats here are very large country boats equipped with all modern facilities. House boats have bedrooms, kitchen, dining room etc. It is a pleasure to sail in them through the Vembanad Lake, imbibing the scenic beauty of rural Kerala. You will never forget the experience.

A little about the history of Kumarakom

The history of Kumarakom starts with the respectable English man and visionary named Alfred G. Baker. Alfred G. Baker formed the main part of Kumarakom, reclaiming it from 500 acres of wetland. The Baker family hailed from Essex in England. Henry Baker Sr. was a missionary who came to India in the early nineteenth century. His two sons Alfred and Henry Jr. were born in India. They lived in Kerala and both of them are remembered for the many contributions they had made in the social, economic and educational sectors of this state. Alfred Baker chose Kumarakom as the place for his enterprising activities.

Alfred G. Baker requested the King of Travancore (At that time the state of Kerala was not formed and Kumarakom was part of the State of Travancore, ruled by the King) to grant him 500 acres of wetland in Kumarakom. His intention was to develop the land for cultivating paddy and coconut. In 1847, the King granted him the land.

It was a Herculean task to reclaim the land from the Backwaters. Baker, with help of native workers accomplished the project. The wetland was filled with earth and leveled. Of the newly developed land, 150 acres were used to plant coconut trees and the rest, for cultivating paddy. But he left about ten acres of the land for the free growth of vegetation. This part of the land later became the haven of umpteen varieties of birds, both migratory and native. Now it is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.

Alfred G. Baker died when he was 72. He was buried at Kottayam, the nearby town. Robert George Alexander Baker, the grand son of Alfred G. Baker, who later became the owner of the Baker Estate, left Kumarakom for England with his family in the 1960s and settled in Essex. The property at Kumarakom was managed from there for the next fifteen years. Robert George Alexander Baker died in 1989, in England. The 100 acres of land and the house where four generations of the Baker family lived was finally sold to the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation in 1982. It was then leased to the Taj Group of Hotels.

The Taj Group renovated Baker’s bungalow and converted it into the first modern tourist resort in Kumarakom. It is now known as Vivanta by Taj, Kumarakom and stands as a monument of the Baker family’s contributions to the development of Kumarakom.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

As said earlier, of the 500 acres of land Alfred George Baker received from the King, ten acres were not used for cultivation. This part of the land lies on the southern bank of the river known as Kavanar. He planted mangroves there. Soon this became the haven for local and migratory birds. It is now known as the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Migratory birds from as far away as the Himalayas and even Siberia are seen in this sanctuary. About one hundred and eighty species of birds were spotted here.

The period from June to August is said to be the best time for bird watching at this place. From November to February large numbers of migratory birds are seen. Sail through the Vembanad Lake or River Kavanar in a houseboat or motorboat or canoe and you will be able to watch them. You can also take a walk along the one and a half kilometer walkway inside the sanctuary.

House boats in Kumarakom

The houseboat has become a mascot for tourism in Kumarakom. The houseboat here at Kumarakom is a modified ‘kettuvallom’. Kettuvalloms are very large country boats in Kerala which were used in olden times to carry large quantities of rice, spices and many other things through water. With the development of road and rail transportation these huge country boats were neglected and shelved.

They came back in a big way with the development of tourism in Kumarakom. They were modified as houseboats and have become the main tourist attraction of Kumarakom. They are usually about 70 feet in length and about 15 feet in width. But now a days much larger kettuvalloms are made for the purpose of making them into houseboats. They are made of jackfruit tree wood and coir ropes. No nails are used and the wooden planks are tied together using coir ropes to construct them. A black resin made from cashew nut shells is used to give a protective coating on the wooden planks. Bamboo poles and coconut palm leaves are used to make the roof. Most of them are fitted with engines, while some are not motorized and they have oarsmen.

The Inside of a Houseboat

Houseboats are actually small resorts floating on water. They have one, two or three bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, lounge etc. Some of them are air-conditioned. Many have TV sets, electric fans, cold and hot water in bathrooms and many other facilities. Two storied houseboats are also there. Some large ones have conference halls also. Business meetings are arranged by many companies in houseboats. The food cooked and served in houseboats is very delicious.

Houseboat Cruise, the Main Attraction of Kumarakom

On hearing the word Kumarakom, the first thing that comes to the mind of anyone who has visited Kumarakom is the houseboat. While cruising through the Vembanad Lake you take in the scenic beauty of rural Kerala. The view of the bird sanctuary is marvelous. Migratory and local bird varieties like water ducks, herons, egrets, cormorants, Siberian storks etc. can be seen in large numbers. Most of the resorts here arrange Sunset Cruise. Tourists are taken on houseboats during sunset to have the magnificent view of the Vembanad Lake.

Kumarakom, Not for Hectic Activities

What is tourism for you? For some, it is a hectic activity like boarding a vehicle in the morning and moving from place to place, peeping through the window of the vehicle to view the countryside and other places you are passing by, reaching some distant place in the evening and sleeping in some hotel, boasting to yourself of having seen the maximum number of places in the minimum time and like that. But Kumarakom is not for such speed. Speed is not the word here. You should come to Kumarakom to relax. Relax your mind and body. You stay in a good tourist resort for two or three days. Enjoy the beauty of the place. Sail in a houseboat. Imbibe the rustic beauty of Kuttanad, the area of which Kumarakom is a part. Lie down with your head resting in the lap of mother Nature and relax. Forget the rest of the world. Just think that there are only you and the beautiful Kumarakom in this world. Then forget about time and finally of yourself too.

Experience the Goodness of Ayurvda

Ayurveda is the ancient system of medicine in India. Ayurvedic spas and health care centers are there in all the main tourist resorts of Kumarakom. Rejuvenating and stress relieving treatments are available there. Experienced Ayurvedic doctors and masseurs are available at the spas and health care centers.

How to Reach Kumarakom

Kumarakom is in the State of Kerala, in South India. The nearest town to Kumarakom is Kottayam, which is 16 Kim away. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport which is 85kM away. There are the other two international airports in Kerala, namely, Kozhikode(Calicut) and Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum). Trivandrum is 175 Kim away and Calicut, 180. From these airports you can reach Kumarakom by road. You can reach Kottayam by rail from these places and then from Kottayam, by road to Kumarakom. Reaching Kumarakom from Kochi (Cochin) by boat is also possible.

Videos

Here are some videos of the beautiful Kumarakom. You will have a taste of Kumarakom on watching them.

Useful links

Kerala tourism
Kumarakom

Image credits

Beautiful Kumarakom: wikimedia commons
Kumarakom Houseboat 1: wikimedia commons
Kumarakom Houseboat 2: wikimedia commons
All the other photos: Pradeep Kumar B

Tags

Ayurveda, Backwater, Calicut, Cochin, Gods Own Country, Houseboat, India, Kerala, Kochi, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Kumarakom, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Migratory Birds, Pradeep, Pradeep Kumar, Pradeep Kumar B, Resorts, Sunset Cruise, Thiruvananthapuram, Tourism, Trivandrum, Vembanad Lake

Meet the author

author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
I live in Tiruvalla, a small town in the state of Kerala, in India. I am an electrical engineer and I love to write.

expertscolumn.com

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Comments

author avatar Delicia Powers
22nd Apr 2012 (#)

Just breath-taking my friend thank you for this delightful tour..wonderful article Pradeep!:0)

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
22nd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting, Delicia.

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author avatar Tess Irons
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Nice places, Pradeep. Thanks for giving us a tour. Congrats on the well deserved star.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you, Tess.

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author avatar Val Mills
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

You have really done justice to this place with your detailed article. It sounds like a great place for relaxing in.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank youVal, for commenting.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

It is a masterpiece Pradeep, and you have done more than justice with your wonderful write up.

Brings back memories of yonder when I was in Allepey for nearly ten years, In 1978, I had taken a humble boat ride in Vembanad lake with an English couple and saw the huge expanse of water that could easily pass off as a sea! The later developments have been positive and the weeds floating on the lake is now history. Hopefully, invasion of tourism will not spoil the rustic beauty of this wonderful place situate in the heart of God's own country - siva

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you, Siva. I am delighted to know that you had been here in Alleppey for a long time.

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author avatar Buzz
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Spectacular page, images and videos, my friend. No doubt a great place to visit.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you Buzz. Planning to visit Kumarakom?

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author avatar mistyleaf
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Beautiful place to relax. Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you mistyleaf, for commenting.

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author avatar michiedoll
24th Apr 2012 (#)

nice place, hope i can go there for a vacation.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting. Do come to Kumarakom. You will find the place really worth visiting.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
24th Apr 2012 (#)

this is such a beautiful piece Pradeep...and it is lovely that you care so much about it...reflected in your words...thank you

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you very much for commenting. I have read many of your articles and I like them.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
29th Apr 2012 (#)

I enjoy yours too love...

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author avatar Hickory Cottage
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Beautiful.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
25th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
25th Apr 2012 (#)

What a feast of astounding images of God's own country!

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
26th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you, Rathna.

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author avatar Retired
25th Apr 2012 (#)

WOW! What a place, I wish I were there right now. Stunning.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
26th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you, jennyreeve.

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author avatar LOVERME
26th Apr 2012 (#)

exquisitely beautiful one must visit in ones life time i have been too

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
29th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you very much for commenting.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
29th Apr 2012 (#)

My dear Pradeep,
As a naval officer I had done four tenures each of two and half years in Kochi. I love Kerals, its cleanliness compared to other states, the people warm and friendly and several things. Your pictures and videos show Kerala had progressed so much from what I had seen. I devoted few pages in my book to describe the beauty of Kerala, its back waters and other features.
Your blog did full justice to your state. In fact, your Dept of Tourism should use your blog.
Superb!

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
29th Apr 2012 (#)

I am very happy to know that you stayed in Kerala for some time. Thank you for your good words about this place, its people and my article. Hope to meet you some day.

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author avatar Maurice G
30th Apr 2012 (#)

love to pay a visit, a well deserved star. Thank ypu

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
2nd May 2012 (#)

Thank you Maurice, for commenting. Do pay a visit to this place. You are always welcome.

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author avatar Gemma Linas Buquiran
7th May 2012 (#)

beautiful houseboats!

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
8th May 2012 (#)

Thank you GemMa, for reading and commenting.

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author avatar Uma Shankari
10th May 2012 (#)

Beautifully illustrated and well presented, with all the minute, but interesting details. Great job.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
10th May 2012 (#)

Thank you Uma for your kind words.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
22nd May 2012 (#)

Lovely share. Thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
22nd May 2012 (#)

Thank you Karim for reading my page and commenting.

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author avatar Joseph l.Cox
27th May 2012 (#)

Wow, beautiful,loved your article seeing places i will never get to visit.I would like to but no time.Execlent job makesme want to go there, you are a very talented man, someday maybe i will write as well as you.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
27th May 2012 (#)

Thank you for your kind words.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
9th Sep 2012 (#)

Why stopped writing!

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
9th Sep 2012 (#)

I am coming back soon my friend.

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