Date: 28th August 2009
Though the main purpose of this trip was to attend a friend’s wedding, as always, being an out-of-town wedding, I’d use the opportunity to travel around. This time, it was a chance to explore a bit of south Kerala. Being from north Kerala and having only visited Trivandrum years back, I’ve longed to visit the parts of Kerala that are now most synonymous with tourism in Kerala.
We (me and a friend) left Bangalore city from K.R. Puram station in the evening and headed for Ernakulam, an overnight train ride that took nearly 12 hours. Upon arriving (really) early in the morning, we got off the train only to board the one next to it. An hour-long journey took us to our friend’s hometown in Kottayam. Given that we had a day before his wedding — and the fact that his place had little to offer in terms of “tourist sights,” we decided to head for the tourist village of Kumarakom.
When we heard Kumarakom wasn’t very far from Kottayam city, we thought of saving some time by taking an auto. Then the auto driver said it would come to around Rs. 160 (€2.50/$3). So instead, we just waited for the KSRTC bus — which cost us Rs. 6 (too low to convert!) per person. Clearly the better option.
30 minutes later, we were at the “jetty” stop, pretty much the starting point for the boat rides to the lake. There are other roads on either side of the stream that will lead you to the many resorts that surround Vembanad Lake, the biggest lake in Kerala.
We opted for the 1-hour boat ride from the KTDC which cost Rs. 350 (€5/$7). (We didn’t try bargaining because these rides were conducted by the tourism department and it was written on a board there. But you could try.)
The backwaters leading up to the lake were lined up with houseboats and smaller boats parked on either side. It was an odd mix of luxury resorts among houses belonging to villagers, both living off a tourism economy.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake, which explained all the birds flying around and getting a better view of the lake.
Kumarakom has dozens of resorts by the lake. From high-end properties from the Taj Group and the famous Kumarakom Lake resort to mid-range offerings farther away. If you can afford it, it really is a great option for a romantic sojourn.
Kumarakom was just the first stop. Next up was Thekkady and then Cochin.
Camera used: Nikon D90; post processing done in Photoshop CS3
P.S: Here’s a small video I took from Vembanad Lake:
Learn more about Kerala’s amazing backwaters: