Kerala is known for its backwaters, lush green paddy fields and some awesome beaches. A major stretch of backwaters lies in Kottayam district in Kerala. A large network of rivers and canals empty into the huge Vembanad lake here. Vembanad lake itself is a developing tourist destination with facilities for boating, fishing, bird watching and other sightseeing experiences.
Kumarakom is a green peninsula jutting into the Vembanad lake situated 15 kms from Kottayam.
Kochi , located 75 kms away is the nearest airport.
Like in any place in Kerala, the coconut tree is omnipresent and the gracefully bent coconut palms swaying in the breeze against the backdrop of the backwaters leaves everyone mesmerized.
The omnipresent Coconut palms
Much of the rural life in these areas is intricately connected to the canals and backwaters. Many houses are located along these canals and a boat ride on the canals gives one a sneak peak into the day to day lives of the locals. Most houses here own a boat and that meets most of their transport requirements. Even the women folk in these villages are deft at handling these boats.
A typical house along the backwaters with their boat
Mangrove clusters also dot the shores of the Vembanad lake where migratory birds arrive and thrive regularly. That provides bird watching opportunities to tourists.
A Cormorant family
One of the best ways of exploring these backwaters is to take a boat ride on one of the many houseboats that cruise these canals and the Vembanad lake. The houseboats are iconic of Kerala and are made of wood and have woven bamboo/palm mats used to provide shelter and shade.
A typical houseboat
These houseboats have all facilities for lodging of guests with a kitchen, bedroom, dining area etc. There are houseboats of various sizes with the larger ones having multiple rooms to accommodate more people. They all follow a particular itinerary.
A typical overnight cruise itinerary:
A typical overnight house boat cruise starts around 11 am. The houseboats are anchored along the jetty which abuts the side road and is lined by local houses and shops. The driver and assistant pick up the requirements for the overnight stay including any special meal requests from the guests and then set out.
The initial part of the boat ride is invariably through a narrow channel with houses on either side. After sometime the boat leaves the narrow channel and enters the lake. The driver takes a round of any particular area of the lake and by noon, halts for lunch and siesta.
Lunch is usually typical Kerala cuisine with fish and other varieties of seafood being the highlight. After lunch and siesta, the boat again cruises other parts of the lake and anchors around sunset at another jetty. Here the boat is connected to powerline for the airconditioning and other requirements. The guests are free to take a walk around the jetty or visit the local market or just laze around and enjoy the ambience.
Dinner is again provided according to the guest’s choice. Next morning the boat again starts and cruises the lake and breakfast is also provided. By around 10 am, the boat reaches the jetty from where they started.
We did an overnight trip on a house boat after driving in from Kochi and leaving the car at one of the houses along the jetty.
Some pictures as we cruised Vembanad lake and its surrounding areas. Take a look…
Our houseboat before it left the shores…
The narrow channel with houses on either side.
Soon we were in the open waters of the Vembanad Lake
A typical kerala style lunch with fish curry
Some of the resorts along the shores of the back waters
And some Chinese fishing nets along the shores
Sitting on the upper deck and relaxing as the boat cruised along
The beautiful sunset painted by mother nature…..take a look
And gradually it got darker
After the houseboat anchored, we just took a stroll on the village road and returned to the boat for dinner. Next morning we enjoyed the sunrise views and were treated to some nice tea and biscuits .
Then we again cruised and enjoyed some more views….
Peaceful morning on the backwaters….
Followed by some authentic Malayali breakfast…
A typical kerala breakfast of Puttu( rice & coconut preparation) , Kadalacurry(chickpea gravy) and Nendrapazham(banana)
With that, the boat had reached its starting point and we stepped ashore and on to our car and drove back to Kochi.
We had a nice relaxed time on the houseboat and this is an excellent holiday destination….more so for small groups of friends and family to meet up and spend time with each other.
So do add this to your list…
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