Situated on the banks of the largest lake in the state of Kerala, this island village is best known as a jumping off point for backwater cruises.
Kumarakom is a collection of small islands on the eastern banks of Vembanad Lake. The backwater destination features lagoons, coves and a labyrinth of canals among a landscape of mangrove forests and coconut palms.
Explore the waterways on a houseboat cruise. Rent your vessel for a day or for several nights. Make sure you select a boat with a good on-board chef who can cook delicious local specialties for you.
There are various cruise routes through the waterways. A popular course takes you from Kumarakom to the town of Alleppey, known as the Venice of the East for its numerous canals. Along the way, you will pass several luxury lakeside resorts.
Fishing is not only important for the livelihood of the locals, but it’s also a popular pastime. Rent a small boat, called a vallam, and try your luck on the lake. You can fish with nets, a rod or a bow and arrow. Most of the fishing takes place at night and your catch could include clams, shrimps and karimeen.
Try and coincide your visit with one of boat races that feature many of the locals. The contests are accompanied by processions and musical performances. One of the biggest is the Sree Narayana Jayanthi Boat Race that takes place in August/September.
There are also a number of attractions away from the water. Walk among wildlife at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which occupies 14 acres (6 hectares) on the banks of the lake. See waterfowl, parrots, larks and migratory birds from the Himalayas and Siberia. Stop by the Bay Island Driftwood Museum to see wood fashioned into animal shapes and unusual forms. Visit some of Kumarakom’s temples such as Sree Kumara Mangalam Temple and Puthiyakavu Devi Temple.
Reach Kumarakom by flying into Cochin International Airport and then drive or take a taxi to cover the 48 miles (77 kilometers) to the islands. A fun way to get in is to rent a houseboat at Alleppey and then travel across Vembanad Lake.