Laced with canals on the banks of the Vembanad Lake is the serene and beautiful city of Kumarakom

Laced with canals on the banks of the Vembanad Lake is the serene and beautiful city of Kumarakom. Known for the many houseboats that ply on these Kerala backwaters, Kumarakom is a great destination for family trips, honeymooners, bird lovers, and people who wish to enjoy Kerala’s natural beauty. Home to a variety of flora and fauna, Kumarakom is a favourite destination for migratory birds as much as it is for tourists. Besides being the pride of Kerala tourism, Kumarakom has a healthy mix of farming and fishing that also supports the local population.

Located near the city of Kottayam, Kumarakom is also easily accessible from Cochin. With the nearest railway station being located about 16 kilometres away in Kottayam, and the closest airport about 80 kilometres away in Cochin, Kumarakom– the land of the backwaters and houseboats– can also be reached either by buses frequenting between these two cities or taxies that can be hired to Kumarakom! If you are looking for a fancier way to travel, simply hop onto a ferry boat that starts at Alapuzha.

A strategic post for the ancient kings of this area, Kumarakom was originally the place that the royalty hid their soldiers in, in case any enemy tried to attack the kingdom from the waters. This is also the reason for the popularity of snake boats in Kumarakom, which were initially used as stealth boats by soldiers to raid enemy troops.

With over 70% of the population being Hindus and most of the rest following Christianity, Kumarakom is known to celebrate all Hindu and Christian festivals with great pomp and show! It is also home to some of the most beautiful temples and churches in Kerala.

Winner of various prestigious awards including the prestigious ‘UNWTO Ulysses Award’, Kumarakom has also been declared a Special Tourism Zone by the State Government as per the Kerala Tourism Act of 2005. It has also bagged the National Award for ‘Best Responsible Tourism Project’ for its unique initiative. Kumarakom has been successfully able to integrate the local community with the hospitality industry and various government agencies to create a model to empower the locals while promoting and sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

Vembanad Lake Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

The following are the must-visit places to visit in Kumarakom whether you are travelling alone or with family:

Top 9 places to visit in Kumarakom:

1. Vembanad Lake

2. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

3. Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall and the Surrounding Rubber Plantation

4. Bay Island Drift Museum

5. Thanneermukkom Bund

6. Pathiramanal Island

7. Jatayu Rock

8. Ettumanoor Mahadevar, Thirunakkara Mahadevar and Vaikom Mahadeva Temples

9. Kumarakom Backwaters

1. Vembanad Lake

The city of Kumarakom sits right on the shore of Vembanad Lake, so it is practically impossible to visit Kumarakom and not visit the lake! The largest lake in Kerala and the convergence point of 10 rivers, Vembanad Lake is the pride of Kumarakom and Kerala Tourism. Besides being the venue for the annual Nehru Trophy boat race, Vembanad Lake also houses some of the best houseboats that cater exclusively to tourists. You will get a special insight into the serene beauty of Kerala by signing up to stay in one. One of the primary attractions in Kumarakom, these houseboats can be rented for a cruise for a few hours, a half day or an entire 24-hour period, with all meals included. The experience is customisable depending on what the guest is looking for. Available in different sizes, you can pick between tiny boats with just a single bedroom and bigger ones that have as many as 10 or more rooms. Fresh, hot food is cooked and served on the houseboat itself, giving you a chance to relish some of the best of Kumarakom food while enjoying scenic views. In fact, the meals served on the boats are authentic Kerala cuisine and generally include the prevalent fish of Kerala. With prices ranging from as low as INR 2500 that can go up to even INR 50,000 per night, Kumarakom offers various houseboat options to choose from. While one should definitely enjoy the backwaters from the houseboats, there are plenty of resorts lining the lake as well in Kumarakom, offering you the best of both worlds–the freedom to walk around the land enjoying the lush landscape and enjoying the serene, glistening waters of the lake at the same time.

If you are visiting Kumarakom during the Onam festivities in August, you may be lucky enough to catch the two local clubs that participate in the boat festival, practising for the tournament.

2. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Thanneermukkom Bund Jatayu Rock

Looking for places to visit in Kumarakom? This lush green forest cover on the banks of the Kumarakom Lake is a must visit for all bird lovers, nature lovers, and photographers. Home to kingfishers, egrets, cuckoos, woodpeckers, parrots and Siberian cranes, this sanctuary– spread across 14 acres of land in Kumarakom– is also a paradise for many migratory birds between November to February.

It is open round the year from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM This park enjoys excellent weather all year round and can be visited any time you wish. However, if you wish to see many species of birds, June to August is the best time to visit the sanctuary. Tickets are priced at around INR 50 for Indians and INR 100 for foreign nationals. This Kumarakom Bird sanctuary on the Kerala Backwaters is a must-visit no matter how old or young you are. Once here, do remember to take a canoe ride to the small island in the middle of the sanctuary to experience the best of these tranquil backwaters. Home to over 180 species of birds, this sanctuary also has the distinction of being the first scientifically preserved bird sanctuary in India. Be sure to take a walk down the one-kilometre trail to enjoy some fresh air. While on your walk you will get to see wood beetles, teals and darters, too. A number of buses that ply from Kollam and Cochin stop right at the entrance of the sanctuary, making it one of the most accessible places to visit in Kerala.

3. Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall and the Surrounding Rubber Plantation

A great destination for photographers in Kumarakom is the Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall and its surrounding rubber plantations. Though not as majestic and gigantic as the Athirampalli waterfalls, this site has water cascading from over 100 feet. It is a paradise for backpackers and families alike. Surrounded by lush green on all sides, one can’t help but feel like one is being hugged by nature itself. With a delightful climate and cool breeze thanks to the water droplets from the falls, the waterfalls certainly top the list of the ten best destinations to visit while in Kumarakom. There are a lot of Kumarakom resorts within a ten-kilometre radius of the falls if you wish to stay overnight. The best time to visit the Kumarakom falls is immediately after monsoon when everything is green and beautiful. Having said that, the waters here are inviting all through the year, thanks to the tropical climate in Kerala.

4. Bay Island Drift Museum

By far one of the most unique concepts for a museum- and definitely the first of its kind in India- the Bay Island Drift Museum in Kumarakom is one of the most frequented museums in Kumarakom. A gem of Kerala Tourism and in Kumarakom purview, this museum showcases some of the most creative driftwood sculptures.

Open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Tuesday till Saturday and from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays, this museum was first started by a retired school teacher–Ms. Raji Punnoose. Today, it is home to some of the best driftwood artefacts that were created and sustained by waves, before being recovered and improvised n. It was founded and run by an all-women team and offers all tourists free entry, today. Winner of various prestigious awards in India, this museum is the pride of Kerala tourism and displays hundreds of exhibits that were recovered directly from the Andaman Sea by the proprietor of the museum while she was posted there as a teacher. The sculptures include artefacts made from driftwood and various roots of trees and plants. The holder of numerous national records including a mention in the Limca Book of Records, this museum also features in the Lonely Planet as a must-visit destination while touring Kumarakom.

5. Thanneermukkom Bund

The Thanneermukkom Bund in Kumarakom, originally constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme is popular with photographers and tourists looking for a serene experience.

Constructed in 1974 and functional since 1976, this bund is the largest mud regulator in India. While it has proved to be a blessing for farmers of Kuttanad who farm on low-lying lands, the bund has had its adverse effects on the natural balance of the area as well. With the access of the backwaters entering the sea blocked, not only has this bund affected the sea level here but the salt water used to cleanse the waters here has also been stopped from entering the fresh waters, resulting in a decrease in the number of fish and the sudden rise of water hyacinths. This lack of salt water has also led to pollution in the waters and the surrounding lands.

That said, it is certainly a popular attraction that sees several hundred tourists every day. Built across the Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom, connecting Allapuzha and Kottayam, there are frequent buses available from Cherthala, Alappuzha, and Kottayam to this destination in Kumarakom.

6. Pathiramanal Island

Located right in the middle of the Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom, Pathiramanal Island is a tranquil destination for trekkers, picnickers, and bird watchers. This island exudes a quaint and rustic vibe and offers a picture-perfect break with experiences very different from other parts of Kerala.

Also called Ananda Padmanabha Thoppu and Pathira Thoppu, and home to some of the many mangroves of Kumarakom, this island has been inhabited for centuries now and is accessible only by boats. A little detour while on a backwater cruise will take you to this beautiful island that is sure to leave you spellbound.

Recognising the potential this destination offers, Kerala Tourism along with the Kerala Government has even introduced the Pathiramanal Biodiversity Conservation and Responsible Eco-tourism Development Project on this island. Known not only for its breath-taking natural beauty, this island is also home to several species of birds. Talk to the locals here and you will hear the story of how the island was named so.

Pathiramanal, when translated, means ‘midnight sand’. Legend has it that the place got its name when it was magically created by an ancient saint while he was sailing through the Vembanad Lake at midnight and had the urge to relieve himself. Home to some of the rarest flora and fauna, this island today has several exotic plants which cannot be found anywhere else. You will also get to see dozens of mussels breeding in the waters near this island.

Known best for its dense vegetation and diverse bio-diversity, the Vembanad Lake, truly gives visitors a glimpse of why Kerala is called God’s Own Country.

PS: Do visit the small mysterious temple located in the midst of the dense vegetation- it sits right in the middle of this idyllic island in Kumarakom.

7. Jatayu Rock

Straight from the Ramayana, this 65-acre land is considered to be the land where Jatayu, the mythological bird, fell after being injured trying to rescue Sita from Ravana when he was flying back to Lanka on his Golden Chariot. You will see a large stone sculpture of Jatayu here.

This destination is a must-visit for tourists who love a spot that offers wonderful photography opportunities. Surrounded by forest lands all around, this rock attracts many travellers and is open all seven days a week.

Known to house the world’s largest bird sculpture, this park also holds the distinction of being the first PPP tourism initiative in Kerala. A cable car ride here is priced at INR 400 and is a fun activity that you must not miss.

The park also has an adventure zone your kids are sure to love. Still under construction, this adventure zone is already a major attraction for tourists travelling to Kerala, especially Kumarakom. One can only wonder how busy the place will be once all the phases are functional.

The park is also known as the Jatayu Nature Park or Jatayu Earth’s Centre and is easily accessible by road from all major cities of Kerala. With facilities that include a cable car ride, Helipads, and local flying services, 12D cinema, digital museums, and Ayurvedic and Siddha Cave Resort, there is plenty to experience here at Jatayu Rock. The first of its kind, Jatayu Rock is a joint venture between Kerala Tourism, Mr Rajiv Achal and a host of private equity holders. A cluster of four hills, the place offers different experiences in each of the four hills, promising to be a great entertainer for tourists of all kinds. Jatayu Rock is a classic example of one of the most wondrous places to visit in Kumarakom.

8. Ettumanoor Mahadevar, Thirunakkara Mahadevar and Vaikom Mahadeva Temples

Deriving its name from the word ‘Manoor’ meaning ‘land of the deer’, this ancient temple of Lord Shiva is one of the oldest and most renowned temples of Kerala. If the locals are to be believed, this temple dates back to a time before the Mahabharata was written. It is believed that the Pandavas and Maharishi Vyasa stopped by this temple on their long journey to pray. One of the oldest temples of Kerala, this temple houses art from ancient times, including that from the Dravidian times. You will get to see beautiful murals and paintings on the walls inside the temple. The wall painting in the fresco of the temple of Lord Shiva is considered as one of the best wall paintings in India.

So popular is this temple among locals, tourists, and pilgrims alike that it features as one of the 108 Shiva temples that pilgrims must visit across the country to attain moksha. This temple is not just famous for its divine Shiva statue and its many beautiful paintings, but also is known to house Ezhara Ponnana, which when translated, means the ‘seven and a half golden elephants’. Legend states that these eight golden elephants, seven of which were two feet high and the eighth which was a foot high, were presented to the temple by the then king of Travancore, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma. These elephants are kept in a safe in the temple and are brought out for the devotees to see once every year. Made of Jackfruit tree wood, these elephants are said to be covered with over 13 kilograms of gold plates. Open every morning and evening, don't miss out on visiting this temple on your trip to Kumarakom.

Also, part of the 108 Shiva temples are the Thirunakkara Madevar and Vaikom Mahadeva Temples, also worthy of a quick pit stop. Over 500 years old, these temples are immersed in history and hold great reverence among locals. The temples were built by various kings that ruled Kerala back then. Legend has it that the Shiva linga housed in the Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple was installed by Sage Parashurama himself. The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple offers a calm and meditative ambience for pilgrims who travel long distances to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Within the temple is an oil lamp that burns all day and all night! The doors of these temples in Kumarakom open for pilgrims every day from 4:00 AM to noon and again in the evening from 5:00 PM till 8:30 PM.

9. Kumarakom Backwaters:

Last, but definitely not the least, while in Kumarakom, or while touring Kerala for that matter, don't miss the opportunity to explore the backwaters of Kumarakom that links back to the Vembanad Lake. One of the most breathtaking experiences of Kerala Tourism, these backwaters are undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Kumarakom. There are plenty of houseboats sailing on these backwaters waiting to ferry and entertain tourists visiting Kumarakom. If you book a luxury resort on the waterfront, it is likely that they will offer a sunset cruise on these Kumarakom backwaters as a part of their tariff. Tourists who have been on a backwater cruise rate this experience as one of the best experiences of their lives. Originally a cluster of islands around Vembanad Lake, it is these backwaters that form the lifeline of Kumarakom.

One of the major attractions in Kumarakom, these backwaters are known for their boat and houseboat cruises. Your options are endless, ranging from single roomed houseboat to even multi-room luxury houseboats. You will find canoes and vessels of all sizes floating in these waters, either transporting people, fishing or just moving from one island to another. This in itself is quite a breathtaking sight! You will also get to see a bunch of floating shops bringing you various curios right to where you are. Watching the sun setting in the west from one of the houseboats is one of the most spellbinding experiences one you can enjoy in God’s Own Country. A perfect vacation for all, you can sail around the waters through the day and experience fishing in the waters in the evening around sunset. In short, Kumarakom is simply magical!

Named after the deity of its oldest temple Kumaran, Kumarakom is the Akam, or home, to lord Kumaran. Home to fertile soil and an abundant source of fresh waters, Kumarakom prides itself in being one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Kerala. One of the best locations for honeymooners as well as for families or solo travellers, Kumarakom is the torch bearer for Kerala tourism and a real example of why Kerala is called the ‘God’s Own Country’. With an abundance of flora, fauna and natural resources, Kumarakom is truly a paradise for man, animals and birds alike.

If our list of the ten best places to visit in Kumarakom has intrigued you enough to plan a visit to this nature-kissed destination, be sure to book your accommodation in Club Mahindra Kumarakom resort in Kerala. This Kumarakom resort is like no other resort and offers a myriad of modern amenities at half the price of a 5-star hotel. Several Club Mahindra reviews are a testimony to the hospitality you will enjoy at this resort in Kumarakom.

About Club Mahindra

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 290,000 members , who can holiday at 140+ resorts in India and abroad.

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