It had been long that we did not go to any new places. Bidar and Srisailam were hectic as we were travelling in Bike. This time we were planing for a week trip without bike.One fine afternoon,we came to know about Alleppey from one of my class mates. These pictures were nice. I was impressed with the arrangements.While discussing with my mates,my close friend suggested Kumarakom,just opposite to Alleppey with same facilities.
As per wiki Fishing, agriculture and tourism are the major economic activities. Kumarakom's perfectly balanced tropical climate is very conductive to cultivation. The place has expanses of mangrove forests, paddy fields and coconut groves. Fruits like Banana, Mango, Jackfruit, Ambazhanga, Puli (Tamerind), Chaambenga, Peraycka(Guuva), Aathaycka and Pineapple grow here. Also, cocoa and coffee, chena(yam) and chembu (colocasia), grow well and were cultivated under the coconut trees. This rich agricultural environment is mainly irrigated using interspersed waterways and canals of the Meenachil river. The smaller canals are often lined by hibiscus plants which lean partly over the canals to form a green canopy, from which hang the lovely hibiscus flowers.
In the olden days, when the bund separating the backwaters from the sea was not yet built, the water in the canals moved in and out with the sea tide and it was salty. After the Thanneermukkam bund was constructed, the connection to the open sea was not free anymore, and so the tidal movement of the water in the canals stopped. It stagnated and then plenty of water hyacinths started growing densely in the canals,forming lovely green carpets with pale lilac flowers carpets.
We checkout few places like makemytrip,yatra and few local travel agent. We were not that happy.Finally with the help of tripadvisor and yatra,we selected our journey. As per the guide,we booked ticket in 17320 up Sabari express.Initially we got booking till Alleppey but later in the journey we extended to kottayam. It was almost 27 hours journey from Hyderabad. As our hometown is in West Bengal,that is 26 hours journey minimum,so that was not a big problem for us.We took railway food from railway canteen.We settled down a bit.
We got introduced to a couple who were going for honeymoon and a family who is going to home town Kerala for a vacation. We learned from them that most of the boats used Coconut oil for curry,and they used local rice which was hard to digest.From train we called up the hotel and house boat owner for the food inquiry. Both of them assured us that mustard oil would be used and they would give us normal rice.We took local food like dahi bada,idly,plain dosa for refreshment.Friday at around 12 noon we boarded the train and we reached Kottayam at 3 PM nextday.After train crossed Hyderabad border ,It was beautiful green scenario all along.From Kotyam we took auto to reach Kumarakom. The road was ok .There was a huge language problem.But we could make a conversation with him with little telegu and broken English.It was a 30 minutes journey to the hotel. No proper signboard was available. The more we approached towards kumarakom, the more we got paddy field along with scenic beauty.
After a lot of inquiry we finally found our gold field resort.we booked the Vambonad lake view rooms. we were tired . Just after a quick bite to the pokara and a sip of tea we slept. In the evening, we sat by the lake and enjoyed the backwater view.Later we went to market and fixed an auto who would drop us to the near by jetty. we came back to hotel for dinner.The dinner was buffet. We tasted the crab and fresh fish. we called for the day.
Next day,we wake up by alarm,enjoyed the sunrise in vambonad lake. We were full of joy.An excitement engulfed us to see the house boat. Also we were anxious to see how we would spend 24 hours there. Auto guy was very punctual. He came in right time. We checked out from hotel and headed for jetty. There we got introduced to Mr Sreekumar the owner of the boat. Name of the boat was Maniyara.
After we boarded the house boat,a cool perfumed tissue was given just to clean and get relaxed.After that welcome drinks were served. There were 2 persons,one driver and one cook in the ship.
We started exactly at 11AM in the morning. The scenic beauty of vambonad lake was awesome. We started clicking pictures. Driver knew little English.We started chatting with him.The boat was a motorboat. It was an A/C boat. The wash room was also neat and clean. All costly materials were used. We took bath and were ready for lunch.the boat was running for 2 hours and it needed a break too. We landed near an abandoned church. As we were Bengali and fish lover,Srikumar had arranged two types of fishes in lunch. The food looked yummy. We jumped on the table.As we wanted our dishes with less spice,the cook had made all the dishes with mild/no spice. We ate full. Specially the dal fry and fish fry were awesome. The Menu was something like -
- Potato curry
- Fish fry
- Fish Kaliya
After such huge lunch,we sat on the A/C hall.We were watching all the birds and paddy fields. We went towards Alleppey and saw how the local people use boat as a medium of transport.Along with us there were several other boat.The lake was beautiful with colorful boats.There were different varieties of boats. Double Decker,2 BHKs,1 BHK,AC,Non AC. Surprisingly,we found one Indian oil petrol pump in an Island specially made for boats.We saw how big boats took diesel. Near around 4 o'clock they served hot pakori with tea.As this was my birthday,they made birthday payas[Sweet rice made of milk].We headed towards the fish market.Fish market was no way a market place,it was just a tiny island with 3/4 vendors. We got fresh jumbo fresh water prawn,cultivated in Vambonad lake.It was costing Rs750Kg. We purchased 2 Kgs.Around 6 o'clock we reached a paddy field where there was a connection of electricity. I must say they had arranged a lot for tourists. There were another boat of the same owner came. We chatted a bit with other boat passenger. from then on words,the captain and cook went to their cabin nearby.The boat was tied with a big tree.
We were free to go anywhere.But miles after miles there were no trace of human.We returned as the sun was about to set.At around 7:30 they started the electric shower and bath tub. We refreshed ourselves with hot water. Our boat was having a TV with local cable connection. We enjoyed some local music along with a movie. At around 9 PM,they served dinner.
All same dish with two more extra dishes..1. Prawn 2. Chicken
When we finished dinner,it was too much for us. We had to take antacid.:)
At around 11PM we slept. In this time I just wanted to let you know more about kumarakom as per same wiki,Tourism in Kumarakom largely revolves -around the backwaters of the Vembanad Lake. Several luxury and budget resorts lined up on the shores of the lake provide tourists with facilities for boating, yachting and fishing, with panoramic views of the lake. The other major attraction is the Bird Sanctuary which can be visited by canoes arranged by local fishermen at the entrance to the sanctuary.Best time to visit sanctuary is morning and evening. A two-hour rowing canoe trip is quite cheap, and is best undertaken in the evening or early morning to avoid the afternoon sun. Bird sanctuary open time is from 6AM to 6PM
Kumarakom is the first destination in India to Implement Responsible Tourism practices. Kerala Tourism was awarded for its path-breaking 'Responsible Tourism' project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
Taj Garden Retreat the first modern tourist resort in Kumarakom is established in the Victorian two storied bungalow built by Alfred George Baker in the year 1881, on huge pieces of Teak wood rafters packed in mud as a base. This house on the lake at Kumarakom was the house of four generations of the Baker family, for over a hundred years. The bird Sanctuary and the two storied Bungalow built by Mr.A G Baker on the muddy land are places of interest for tourists from all over the world. The bungalow still remains grand but silent reminder of an age and people whose hard work cannot be erased by time.
A boatman propels a traditional kettuvallam on Vembanad Lake
Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is set in Ayemenem or Aymanam village, which adjoins Kumarakom. The explosive success of this novel has given some added tourism impetus to this area. The Taj Garden Retreat hotel complex is centered around a building that is called "History House" in the novel; it was built by British missionary Alfred George Baker, whom the locals called "Kari Saipu" (possibly an elided form of "Baker Sahib"), as in the novel. Four generations of Bakers lived in the house until 1962, speaking Malayalam, and even wearing the mundu. The Baker Memorial School, Kottayam, was started by a daughter of this family in 1925. The Baker family's house is in ruins in the novel, as it was in reality before was developed into a hotel and has been restored by the Taj group. The Ayemenem house, where Arundhati Roy spent part of her childhood (like the twins in the story), can also be visited in the village, which can be reached by boat along the Meenachil river that figures prominently in the story.
Kumarakom has been declared a Special Tourism Zone by the Kerala state Government, as legislated for by Kerala Tourism Act, 2005. Development in the area is therefore now controlled by the guidelines written by the STZ committee, and published at http://www.keralatourism.org/specialtourism.php.It had won top honours including the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Responsible Tourism Project and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment. Really it was a clean city.Litter free.Smoking free. Alcohol free.
Morning was great with a bright sunlight. At around 7am they served tea with bread,butter,jam. Boat was now untied. We were all set to return. While coming back they served again tiffin. fresh pakodi with coffe.The return journey was quick.At around 10:30 AM we reached to jetty. The driver and cook was very helpful to unload our trolleys.They cleaned the deck and changed the bed sheet for next passenger.The same auto guy was waiting for us in jetty.We came back to our hotel,Which was booked accordingly.This time we got a better room. We were told that the room was upgraded with no extra charge. This was a rest day for us. So no big activities.Just had lunch.We slept during afternoon.Went to bazar for gifts.In the after noon ,we fixed the same guy for sightseeing.In the after noon we played carom. Now while playing carom,we listened some kumar sanu's Bengali songs.We got curious. We went to kitchen and asked. We came to know that there were two Bengali cooks in the same hotel serving us.This news made our dinner.We went back .Enjoyed sunset.We ordered as per Bengali dish.The fish cooked by them was awesome. We called for the day.
Next day we went to Kumarakom Bird sanctuary and few temples. Bird santuary was neat and cleaned. Mr Mohan a bird watcher was our guide. He showed us different birds.As it was hot ,and it was not a breeding season,there were no migratory birds. But the birds we saw were regular. Some of the portion,back of the sanctuary were not allowed to go , as people try to disturb the bird. We took a small boat to see that part.1 hour with the cost of Rs200.
Next day, It was all set to return. We came to bazar for cash withdraw from ATM.The hotel only accepted cash. We paid everything by cash. The same auto guy dropped us on Kottayam railway station.We took the train and came back to Hyderabad.