Kumarakom in Kerala's Kottayam district is one among the 17 places picked by the Union Tourism Ministry from across the country to be developed as iconic tourist sites.
A group of tiny islands with lush greenery along the Vembanad Lake: that is Kumarakom for you. It takes only a short drive of 12 km from Kottayam to reach Kumarakom. Situated below the mean sea level, it is also known as the Netherlands of Kerala.
Vembanad is Kerala's largest backwaters and India's longest lake. The beauty of the Vembanad, stretching from Kochi in the north to Alappuzha in the south, is undoubtedly the biggest highlight of Kumarakom. The lake attracts migratory birds from various corners of the world. A ride on a houseboat along the Vembanad is a must-do while in Kumarakom. The serene cruise along the majestic lake is an unforgettable experience.
Located just 34 km from Kumarakom is the Aruvikuzhy waterfalls. A great spot for clicking memorable snaps, there are many attractive trekking spots in the vicinity of the over 100-feet waterfalls. Also do not miss the St Mary's Church at the top of the waterfalls.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Migratory birds from different parts of the world flock to the 14-acre bird sanctuary at Kumarakom. Situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, it is nothing short of a paradise for bird lovers. It is also an ideal locale for leisurely walks and short picnics.
Bay Island Driftwood Museum
This museum boasts of a rare collection of sculptures made from driftwood. These sculptures are made from the driftwood collected from the shores of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The trunks and roots of trees in their journey through the ocean get sculpted by Mother Nature into various recognisable forms such as birds, animals and fishes, before being washed ashore.
An island measuring 10 acres in size located in the middle of the Vembanad Lake, Pathiramanal is home to diverse species of beautiful birds, including rare ones which have migrated from far-off lands. A visit to this exotic island adds a distinct flavour to the Kumarakom trip. Entry to the island is free.
For the connoisseurs of food, few places can match the abundances of culinary delights offered by Kumarakom. The local karimeen (pearl spot) fried in the plantain leaf is the ideal dish to start with. Kumarakom is dotted with quaint restaurants offering the traditional cuisine that packs the local flavours.
Kerala is billed the God's own country not only for its lush greenery, but also for the plethora of traditional dishes it offers to gourmet lovers. Apart from the plenty of resorts, homestays and hotels, one can indulge the taste buds at the shacks serving the local toddy too.
Several tourists flock to Kumarakom in search of these local toddy shops, that are famous not just for toddy but for the ultimate combination of tapioca and fish curry. These shops also offer several delicacies made from pearl spot, prawns, and crabs caught fresh from the backwaters. Along with these, you can also choose from the mouth-watering mutton stew, duck fry, and beef fry to go with your plate of palappam.
Places of worship
Within Kumarakom and its surrounding areas, there are several places of worship. Talikotta Shiva Temple, Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, St Mary's Church and Vaikom Mahadeva Temple are some of them. Most of these are centuries-old and stand testimonial to the architectural greatness of Kerala. After you are done sightseeing in Kumarakom, head straight to Vaikom, which is at a distance of 18km from here.
If you want to just sit peaceful by the sea, and watch the waves hitting the shores, then Vaikom beach would be the perfect place for you. About 30 benches have been set up by the beach. Ten sculptures commemorating the Vaikom Satyagraha have also been placed along the path leading to the beach by the Lalitha Kala Akademi. An FM Radio would also do its bit to entertain the visitors out to enjoy the view of the beach.
How to reach Kumarakom
By road: Kochi or Kottayam are the nearest city/town to Kumarakom. Once you reach Kochi or Kottayam, you can easily catch a cab or bus to reach Kumarakom.
Apart from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses, many private buses also conduct services to Kumarakom. Luxury bus services are also available from the cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and Coimbatore.
By rail: Kumarakom is at a distance of 15 km from the Kottayam railway station.
By air: People opting for air travel would need to get down at the Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery. Taxi services are available from Nedumbassery to Kumarakom, which is at a distance of 94 km.