Kumarakom is a world famous tourist destination in Kerala. It is essentially a group of islands scattered on the Vembanad Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in Kerala. Chief attractions are the houseboats and the bird sanctuary. The Kumarakom bird sanctuary spread across 14 acres attracts a large number of bird watchers and ornithologists. The sanctuary is the haunt of birds like teals, egrets, darters, herons and cuckoo. Migratory birds like Siberian Stork also arrive here in flocks.
In addition to watching birds, tourists can enjoy boating and fishing in the backwaters. The Taj Garden Retreat is a modern resort that was once an old bungalow. This resort provides both boating and fishing facilities.
Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) also runs a backwater resort called Waterscapes here. It has standalone cottages built on stilts. They provide a panoramic view of the backwaters. Typical Kumarakom holiday packages include houseboat rides.
Kumarakom enjoys pleasant climate throughout the year. It is the epicenter of backwater tourism in Kerala. The Vembanad Lake teems with both saltwater and freshwater fish.
Boats and Kumarakom Boat Race
Kamarakom is famous for its houseboat tourism. Tourists can hire a variety of houseboats (kettuvallams).
Kumarakom boat race
Southern parts of Kerala are famous for the boat races. Several different kinds of boats participate in these races. The snake boats called Chundan Vallams can seat over a 1000 oarsmen. While snake boats participate in the Kumarakom boat race, a smaller boat called iruttukuthi is the major contender in this race. It can seat only around 50 oarsmen. Boat races are organized around Onam, the biggest festival of Kerala. The big canal near the market is the venue of the Kumarakom boat-race. Kumarakom also has a private sailing club.
Kumarakom has plenty of luxury and budget resorts along the shores of the lake. These resorts offer facilities for boating, yachting and fishing. Local fishermen arrange canoe trips to the bird sanctuary. Evenings and early mornings are the best time to visit the sanctuary. Kumarakom bird sanctuary can be accessed between 6 am and 6 pm. You may also want to read about the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan.
Kumarakom is famous for its eco-tourism initiatives. Kerala government’s Responsible Tourism practices have ensured the involvement of local community in the tourism activities and thus brought about their economic development. Read about the top reasons that make Kerala one of the best tourist destinations in India.
Taj Garden Retreat, the first luxury tourist resort in Kumarakom, is actually a two-storied Victorian style bungalow built by Alfred George Baker in 1881. The Baker family occupied this house for over 100 years. This bungalow was in a ruined state when the Taj group converted it into a modern resort. The house itself is a tourist attraction. Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is set in the Aymanam village near Kumarakom. The remarkable success of this novel also played an important role in increasing the tourist potential of Kumarakom and its surrounding areas.
How to get there
Kumarakom is well-connected by road and rail. The nearest railway station is Kottayam railway station. It is about 13 kilometers from Kumarakom. Buses and taxis are available from Kottayam to Kumarakom round the clock. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport (about 94 km)