Kottayam, Kerala: Shikara (Canoe) Cruise in Kumarakom Backwaters
|Cruising down Kavanar River in Kumarakom. Photo by Pinay SoloBackpacker|
After our lunch cruise of Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam, the Kerala Blog Express team was excited to explore more of the state’s scenic backwaters! Our bus then took us to Kumarakom, a village in the district of Kottayam that’s known for its backwater tourism.
|Riding a shikara (traditional canoe) provides a more intimate experience of Kerala’s backwaters|
Compared to cruising in a kettuvallam (traditional houseboat), one can have a more intimate experience of village life in the backwaters by taking cruise in a shikara or traditional canoe that can navigate narrow waterways and take you to charming hamlets to get a glimpse of the daily life and activities. Our shikara entered a small canal that led to quaint village where we witnessed pandan and coconut leaf mat weaving. We were then led to a row of coconut trees next to a big rice field where we were shown how palm wine or toddy – locally known as kallu in Malayalam – was harvested from severed coconut flower stalks. It’s just like how we collect tubâ in the Philippines. The village reminded me a lot of home!
|Local villager collecting kallu (palm wine or toddy)|
Local men also demonstrated how to use a metal coconut-climbing device to scale a coconut tree, which was something I haven’t seen elsewhere, including the Philippines. I gave it a spin, and operating it was tougher than it looked. I just climbed two meters from the ground, and didn’t trust the device enough to go any higher. Nonetheless, it was a fun experience.
|Vembanad Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Kerala|
Kumarakom is also known for having the some of the best resorts in Kerala. So I was looking forward to where we were checking in. So upon returning to the river jetty, our group boarded another boat that took up upriver to the shores of Vembanad Lake – the largest in the backwaters of Kerala – to the beautiful village resort of Coconut Lagoon where we spent a night. My cottage was located along the mouth of the Kavanar River across the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary so now and then I had egrets and herons for neighbors. I especially enjoyed walking along the lakeside in the morning watching the birds and boats on Vembanad Lake. This was one of my favorite stays during the entire trip, as it was very peaceful and atmospheric!
WHERE TO STAY: Located along the shores of Vembanad Lake, Coconut Lagoon is a “barefoot luxury” resort that exudes the village charm of Kumarakom while offering five-star cuisine and amenities.
This blog post was made possible through Kerala Blog Express, a blogger tour organized by Kerala Tourism that took 27 travel bloggers from 14 countries on a two-week journey from Thiruvananthapuram to Wayanad. The exclusive tour was held from March 9 to 26, 2014.
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