The Backwaters of Kumarakom, formed by the beautiful Vembanad Lake, is located about 17 kilometers from Kottayam in God's Own Country, the South Indian state of Kerala. The Vembanad Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the state and is known worldwide for its famous backwater tourism. The Backwaters of Kumarakom offer a picturesque location that proves to be a perfect backwater destination for travelers who are persistently searching for one. The lush green paddy fields, the ducks swimming in the lake and the tiny chirpy birds flying in the evening blue sky will mesmerize you as you explore the backwaters by the banks or on a boat. You are sure to get a glimpse of a blissful life in this part of God's Own Country.
The Vembanad Lake is the largest lake in Kerala and the second largest in India. It expands over an area of over 2000 square kilometre around several districts of Kerala and is known with different names in some regions - Lake Vembanadu in Kottayam, Lake Kochi in Cochin and Lake Punnamada in Kuttanad. The six major rivers of Kerala - River Pamba, Manimala, Periyar, Muvattupuzha, Meenachil and River Achenkovil feed the Vembanad Lake along with four more rivers. Several Village islands are located in or around the lake; this, therefore, makes the lake a beautiful backwater destination and puts it on the map for world tourism. Vembanad Lake is identified under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme as the Vembanad Wetland by the Government of India.
A houseboat stay is a must for tourists visiting the backwaters of Kumarakom. The feeling of being on the tranquil waters and absorbing the scenic beauty of the location must be experienced at least once in the lifetime. The ones on a tight schedule or those who prefer staying in hotels can go for boat tours to explore the backwaters on a pleasant day. One may ask the boating service provider to arrange for a chef onboard to enjoy a scrumptious meal on the cruise.
There is a range of fine houseboats that one can choose from depending on their requirement. These houseboats sail serenely through the brackish backwaters covering every beautiful area in its route for tourists to explore. These tours come in various packages ranging from INR 3500 to INR 21,000 per person per night. Food services are available in the packages along with other services like massages, market trips and fishing. One can check well in advance with the vendors to get more details. So, whether it's a solo trip, a romantic trip for couples or a family vacation, there are numerous options tourists can choose from.
Wondering what the boats are? Well, these are manly Kettuvellam Houseboats and Punting houseboats with 1/ 2/ 3/ 4 bedrooms to suit the tourist requirements. They are made of jackfruit logs and coconut fibre and you are bound to these boats cruising through the backwaters pretty much all the time. Some boats even have air-conditioning and massive sun-decks that can be used for family and corporate events. Most of these houseboats are operated using an engine. However, there are some that have a boatsman to sail using oars. The houseboats are categorized as Gold Star, Silver Star and Green Palm on the facilities they provide.
Day Boat Tours: Day trips are a favourite for those who are on a time crunch or for those who do not want to spend the night on a houseboat. The trips are arranged from Kumarakom to Alleppey and back to Kumarakom in one day. The boats sail by the beautiful paddy fields and halt at Alleppey where tourists can explore a little bit of the village. These tours include meals and snacks and a memorable experience.
Night Boat Tours: These tours begin around midday. Freshly prepared meals and snacks arranged for along with drinking water and beverages (if requested). The tour includes a pit stop at the backwater market to purchase fresh produce for the meals. Tourists get to watch the evening activities of the locals as they watch the sun go down. Post dinner the lights are dimmed and the boat sails serenely across the lake till early morning.
Boat Race: If you happen to visit the backwaters of Kumarakom during the festival of Onam, be sure to watch the breathtaking Boat Race. The Snake Boat races are fun to watch but the Iruttu Kuthi which required 50 oarsmen rowing in total synchronization shouldn't be missed at all.
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The best to visit the backwaters of Kumarakom is between September and March as the weather is pleasant to explore the location.
If you are travelling by train you can reach at Kottayam Railway Station. You can also take the boat from Muhamma (near Alappuzha) to Kumarakom Jetty. By road, KSRTC (Local Govt. Bus Station) (16 kilometres) Buses and taxis are easily available at all times of the day from Kottayam.
1. Bus services are not available to reach the backwaters. However, taxis are. One can find taxis almost at every junction in Kumarakom.
2. Wear light clothing, hats and sunscreen at all times while exploring the location.
3. Drink a lot of water. Drinking coconut water is an excellent way to stay hydrated.
4. There are several Ayurvedic Treatment Centres for Ayurvedic Massages that one can avail.
5. Visitors must negotiate the boat ride rents well in advance.
6. The peak season in Kumarakom is December. The prices are hiked at least three times during this month. The ones travelling on a budget may want to reschedule their travel plans to fit the budget.
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