Introduction: Kumarakom is a tourist village in Kottayam district, Kerala, India. It is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerala.
History: Kumarakom is a minor destination comprised of a collection of small islands in the state of Kerala. Before its popularity as a tourist town, Kumarakom was an area located near a marshy mangrove on the edge of the Vembanad Lake. In 1878, George Alfred Baker, a missionary from Essex, England, set about clearing the mangrove and replacing it with coconut plantations. Baker was so taken aback by the beauty of Kumarakom that he decided to make it his home and in doing so he became the catalyst for development in the area.
Description: Kumarakom comprises a small town situated on the edge of a collection of small islands that are connected by what’s known as the backwaters of Kerala. These interconnecting waterways feature canals, lakes and rivulets that are rich in natural life and provide picturesque scenery, as well as supporting a large collection of wildlife species. Birds are what Kumarakom is perhaps most famous for, with an entire area designated a protected reserve and large numbers of indigenous and migratory species available for viewing. Boat trips offer visitors the chance to get closer to the habitats of these birds without destroying anything of their delicate ecosystem.
Kumarakom Quick facts
Kumarakom Geography and Climate
Climate: Kumarakom's climate is moderate on account of its proximity to the ocean, with temperatures rarely falling below 16ºC and rarely climbing higher than 38ºC, which in the latter case is somewhat cooler than the 40-plus degrees that some parts of India experience in the summer season.
The monsoon season follows the summer and is quite short compared to that of other regions,ends sometimes in August; although mild spells of precipitation can be expected until the beginning of November. The cool, dry season follows and is the most popular period for tourists as temperature is bearable and chances of rain are extremely low. The winter season lasts from November till March.
Best time to visit Kumarakom
The best season to visit is between November and March. The seasons are as follows:
From the CochinInternational Airport it is an 85 km delightful ride by road to the Muhamma boat Jetty. From the Trivandrum International Airport it is a 175 km (approximately 3.30 hours ride by road) to the Muhamma boat jetty. From the Calicut International Airport it is 180 km ride to Muhamma.
How to reach Kumarakom by Rail
From Bombay, Madras or Bangalore, you can take a train to Kerala. The best place to alight is either Cochin or Kottayam (the nearest railhead, just 16 km away by road). Kottayam links you to all major cities in Kerala and India with numerous trains plying this route daily. From Cochin, you could also take a south bound train via the Alleppey route (enjoy picturesque scenery as the route flanks the backwaters and the sea on its way). Alight at Chertala for a short 14 km ride to Kumarakom.
Cochin International Airport and the Trivandrum International Airport.
How to reach Kumarakom by Water
If you have arrived at Trivandrum International Airport, come to Quilon by road or rail (takes just about one hour). From there, you can take the regular ferry service to Alleppey - a long and delightful ride on Kerala's backwaters. From Alleppey, it's just a short ride to Kumarakom. If you have arrived at Cochin International Airport, perhaps you might prefer a ride through the backwaters to Alleppey. There are many boat services offered at Kochi.
Kumarakom has very little in the way of festivals that it celebrates exclusively, with most of its calendar comprised of religious events that are celebrated nationwide. The Onam harvest festival in August and September, however, is Kerala’s biggest annual affair and sees Kumarakom host some of the traditional snake-boat races that are typical of the event.
Republic Day - Kumarakom joins with the rest of the country in celebrating the day on which India adopted its constitution in 1950. Festivities in Kumarakom are reserved and hardly on the scale of those seen in New Delhi or other large cities.
Sivratri - Hindus in Kumarakom unite to honor Lord Shiva in an event that runs from the end of the month through till the following month. The activities are religiously orientated with prayer and rites offered to Shiva throughout.
Festival of Colors - Kumarakom celebrates this national festival with traditional activities that include locals dousing one another with cold water on the festival’s second day. Families enjoy get-togethers with feasting and celebrations.
Ugadi - New Year festivities are enjoyed as enthusiastically in Kumarakom as everywhere else in the country, with locals decorating their doorways and getting out in their best clothes for celebrations with friends and family.
Buddha Purnima - When the full moon arrives, Buddhists in Kumarakom come together to celebrate the birth, death and enlightenment of the Buddha. This day is also known as Vesak Day.
Guru Purnima - Kumarakom’s Buddhist residents take the time to celebrate the birthday of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa with religious rites involving the worshipping of gurus as deities.
Ganesh Chaturthi - Hindu residents of Kumarakom, as well as those across the country, celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesh in this 10-day festival which often runs into September.
Onam - This is Kerala’s biggest festival and falls in the Malayali month of Chingam which can be August or September depending on the lunar cycle. The festival celebrates the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali. Kumarakom and other destinations in the state host a series of exciting snake-boats races which are enthusiastically attended by large numbers of residents.
Dussehra Festival - The victories of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana and Durga over the demon Mahishasura are celebrated in the Dussehra Festival, a 10-day affair based on the concept of good triumphing over evil.
Diwali - It is celebrated across the country; this is one of the most significant festivals in the Hindu calendar and is a three-day affair marked by the lighting of Diyas( small earthen lamps) and the setting off of fireworks.
Children's Day - It is held to coincide with the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, this event sees a programmed of activities for the young ones in Kumarakom.
December: There is always Christmas to look forward.
Malayalam is the main language of Kerala although Hindi and Tamil are also commonly spoken and understood. English is spoken by a large number of locals, especially those in hotels and tourist restaurants.
Kumarakom Religious Places
Visitors will need to travel the short distance to nearby Kottayam, where a host of interesting temples and churches indicate the religious diversity of the area.
Cheriyapally: Otherwise known as St Mary's Church, Cheriyapally in Kottayam belongs to the Malankara Orthodox Church and was built by the Raja of Thekkumkur in 1579 making it one of the oldest Christian churches in the country. Beautiful murals on the church’s interior walls depict famous biblical events.
Good Shepherd Church: Also belonging to the Diocese of Vijayapuram, the Good Shepherd Church is older than the Vimalagiri Church, having been completed in 1882. The church’s style is distinctly Italian and its exterior is still in good condition after a renovation in 1964. The church celebrates the feast of the Good Shepherd in April every year.
Thazhathangady Juma Masjid: Some 16 km from Kumarakom in the town of Kottayam, Thazhathangady Juma Masjid sits on the banks of the river Meenachil and is notable for being one of the country’s oldest mosques, having been built over a thousand years ago. The mosque displays some stunning architectural beauty outside and some beautiful wood carvings in its interior. Followers of the prophet Mohammad were responsible for building the mosque on one of their first trips to the Kerala region.
Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple: Also in Kottayam and situated at the heart of the town, Thirunakkara Mahadeva is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and constructed in a distinct Kerala style by the Raja of Thekkumkur at the beginning of 16th century. The temple’s interior is notable with its collection of murals telling stories from Hindu Epics.An annual festival, the climax of which is a ceremony called the Aaraattu draws large number of Hindu followers.
Valiyapally: This is the second church in Kottayam to be dedicated to St. Mary and is older than Cheriyapally, having been built in 1550. It is also among the largest churches in the town. Valiyapally is located approximately 4 km northwest of the centre of Kottayam and is best known for its two 8th century Persian crosses, the inscriptions of which indicate that they are one of the earliest examples of Christianity in the whole country.
With Kumarakom’s chief appeal based around its wonderful natural environment, it’s not surprising that most of the attractions of this destination are outdoor activities of one kind or the other. The scenic sanctuary around which the whole place revolves, offers opportunities for bird-watching and fishing; while down at the beach, typical sand and sea pursuits are available.
Beach activities: Kumarakom’s gorgeous sandy beaches offer plenty of opportunities for seaside activities. Enjoy fun on the sand with a Frisbee session or an informal game of volleyball between friends. Alternatively, head for the sea and enjoy swimming, snorkeling and other water-based activities.
Bird-watching: Kumarakom is a dream come true for ornithologists with the location’s own bird sanctuary offering the opportunity to view a large number of both resident and migratory birds. Take a boat trip around the islands and you may spot species such as crow pheasants, snake bird, little cormorants, tree pies and white-branded water hens. If you are lucky, then you might also catch a glimpse of the brightly colored kingfishers, the night herons or the golden-backed woodpeckers, all of which are indigenous to the area.
Boat trips: Whether for the purpose of bird-watching or just for the fun and for a general appreciation of the area’s beauty, boat trips around the four islands of Kumarakom can be pleasant, relaxing and highly aesthetically pleasing. Small boats complete with local guide can be hired from the edge of the Vembanad lake.
Fishing:Angling enthusiasts need bring only themselves on fishing trips within the Kumarakom sanctuary, as equipment is provided by local operators. The waters of Kumarakom are home to a large variety of species of fish and even novices will have a reasonable chance to make a catch. Anyone going home empty-handed however, is unlikely to feel too down about it as a day of relaxation amid the gorgeous natural environment is compensation enough.
Water sports: The Rama Varma Union Club Water Sports Complex at Kumarakom offers visitors the chance to pursue almost every kind of water sport conceivable with the list including popular pursuits such as speed boating, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, swimming and kayaking. Both members and guests are permitted to use the facilities of this reputable private club.
Kidding around Kumarakom
Although Kumarakom does not offer a plethora of child friendly activities, there are a few attractions on offer, that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Parents who are intent on taking the little ones here will really need to improvise and make use of the area’s natural beauty, or be prepared to travel some distance to other destinations in Kerala where attractions are available.
Beaches: Kumarakom beach is a lovely place to kill a day or two during a trip to the area and the ideal location for the kids to enjoy some fun on the sand or in the sea. The beach is far from overdeveloped and maintains a pleasant natural ambience, free from hordes of restaurants, bars or similar outlets that might spoil the environment.
Swimming pools: Some of the larger hotels have their own pools, which are ideal places to take the kids on days when the weather is that bit too hot and parents just want to relax on the lounge and let the little ones enjoy the cool water.
Veega Land: Claiming to be India’s most loved entertainment centre, Veega Land is located in the small town of Pallikkara in the state of Kerala. This exciting theme park is home to a large selection of exciting rides, auditoriums with live shows, pleasant promenades and a series of swimming pools with water attractions. The park is within a reasonable traveling distance of Kumarakom to make a daytrip a possibility.
Shopping opportunities in Kumarakom are limited .This small resort is concerned much more with preserving its natural beauty and delicate ecosystem than satisfying the consumer needs of tourists.
There are however, places to pick up handicrafts, the kind of things that would make good souvenirs or gifts to take home to friends and family; these include knick-knacks made from coconut shells such as lamps, lampshades and ashtrays as well as textile goods and items of clothing. For a greater shopping choice, visitors should take a trip to Cochin which is 70 km from Kumarakom and home to a much larger retail selection.
Famous To Eat at Kumarakom
Kumarakom offers you a plethora of dining options, from super luxury restaurants to local eateries. Dining out options include many options such as Chinese, North Indian, continental, American and more. Rice and fish is the staple diet of Kumarakom. Also, like other parts of Kerala, you will find coconut as a major ingredient in all the food items that you get to eat here. Other food is typically south Indian like idli, dosa, uthapam and sambhar. Food is generally very spicy and will have a rich taste of coconut which may not be cherished by people coming from outside of Kerala.
Kumarakom Museum and Hill Stations
Bay Island Driftwood Museum: This museum features the artistic works of Ms Raji Punnoose, a retired teacher from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The museum’s collection features interesting pieces of wood that have been twisted and shaped naturally by water and then further sculpted at the hands of Ms Punnoose, creating finished works that display a mix of natural and manmade influences. Many of the pieces resemble living creatures such as animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes. It is the only one of its kind in the country.
Weekday: 10.00 am to 05.00 pm
Sunday: 11.30 am to 05.00 pm
The Onam harvest festival in August and September is Kerala's biggest annual affair and sees Kumarakom host some of the traditional snake-boat races that are typical of the event. Snake boat race is the largest team sport in the world.
It's a good idea to learn a few Malayalam words to secure better understanding
Do not forget to use sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to protect you from the sun
Be sure to ask for a receipt when you exchange currency as you will need it in order to change money back at the end of your holiday
Whatever season you choose to visit it's wise to bring appropriate clothing, bearing in mind that skimpy outfits not only risk over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun but also risk offending locals who are devoutly religious and observe strict codes of moral conduct. It's far better to bring light cotton clothing of the long-sleeved and long-legged variety if you intend on spending any amount of time in the sun; otherwise a high SPF sunscreen is essential if you intend on exposing arms and lower legs
Must do at Kumarakom
Be respectful to the culture and heritage of the land
Be cautious to conserve energy by switching off lights, fans when you go out of hotel rooms, house boats etc
Consult your doctor for medical advice before traveling in Kerala
Follow the rules and regulations applicable in parks
Keep safe distance from all wildlife and do not stray from the group
Touching or feeding animals in jungle are strictly prohibited
Not to do at Kumarakom
Do not forget to put off your shoes before entering into a temple
Try not to carry any leather object inside a religious place like temple
Do not make any remark that can upset the communal harmony of Kerala
Do not pollute or overuse water resources to maintain ecological balance
Do not damage plants or collect any sample flora or fauna from the park
Do not litter the sanctuaries with plastic packets or bottles, maintain ecological balance
Do not disturb animals by flashing lights or getting too close to avoid frightening animals