Photo Credit : Kumarakom
Kumarakom is located about 16 kilometers far from the city of Kottayam in Kerala, This place is famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala. Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Birds Sanctuary is a noted bird sanctuary where many species of migratory birds visit. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen (Pearl spot also known as Etroplus suratensis) shrimp (Metapenaeus dobsonii) common name Poovalan chemeen. The bird sanctuary extends over 14 acres , and came into existence following preservation efforts from the government. If you are lucky you will chance upon a Siberian Crane, a special visitor during the migratory season. It is a very beautiful place to live.
Major Tourist Attractions:
- Boats & Boat Races: 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-odi Vallam, Odi-Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam, Churulan Vallam and Chundan Vallam (Snake Boat), which take part in the boat races around Onam time. More than 1000 oarsmen in boats of different sizes and shapes will participate in this event. Even though Snake Boats participate in this race, the importance is given here is for iruttukuthi, in which about 50 oarsmen row. The Kumarakom boat-race is conducted in the big canal in the centre near the market. The Sree Narayana Ever Rolling Trophy will be given to the winner at the end of the day. There is a private sailing club in Kumarakom, located on the shore of the Vembanad lake.
- Thazhathangadi: Once the most important place in Kottayam, Thazhathangadi by the River Meenachil and with the Vembanad Lake not far off, was strategically vital for trade. A quiet town today, it still flaunts the sprawling houses built by the merchants of yore. Made largely of wood, these houses are excellent examples of the architecture of the time.
- The Vembanad Lake: Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. After Lake Superior in China, Vembanad is the second largest freshwater lake in South Asia and the largest in India. An enchanting picnic spot and a much sought-after backwater tourism destination, the lake provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. Stretching for 110 odd km and spanning three districts, the Vembanad Lake is at its widest point at Kumarakom. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta – the snake boat races.
- Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Birds Sanctuary, an ornithologist’s paradise, is a favourite haunt of migratory birds. June to August is the breeding season of resident wetland birds like Siberian stork, cormorants, darter, white ibis, egret, darter, heron and teal. Between November and May is the season of migratory birds like pigtailed duck, garganey teal, spot billed duck, osprey, marsh harrier, steppey eagle etc. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary. Pathiramanal, an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat from here.
- Tourist Land, Vaikom: This is a quaint picnic spot ideal for a languorous break. Tourists can avail of various recreation options including boat cruises on the Vaikom Lake.
- Mannanam: Besides being associated with the Blessed Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mannanam is the seat of the first seminary of the Malabar Church (1833), the first Catholic Sanskrit School in Kerala (1846), the first private printing press (CMS Press started by Rev. Benjamin Bailey in 1846), and the first daily newspaper in Malayalam, the Deepika (1887). A brilliant repertory of church history is preserved at the Chavara Art Museum. An enchanting boat journey through the Pennar Canal to the picturesque backwater districts of Alappuzha and Ernakulam is provided by DTPC and accommodation is available at the Mannanam DTPC Tourist Home.
- Maniyamkunnu: The majestic mountains here that slope down to meet the beautiful valleys below are truly spellbinding. Kayyoor,
- Poonjar Palace: The palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palanquin, a thoni – carved out of a single piece of wood – for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, different varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (dancing Lord Shiva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures which narrate stories from the Puranas (the legends of ancient India). However, the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on stone walls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rock cut lamps are rare in India. Poonjar Koickal Devaswom Board.