Kumarakom Houseboat | Kumarakom

Kumarakom | Kumarakom Houseboat

Kumarakom is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometres (10 mi)), in Kerala, India, famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.

Environment of Kumarakom:

Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a noted bird sanctuary where many species of migratory birds visit. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen (Pearl spot), shrimp (chemmeen in the local language) and prawns. The bird sanctuary extends over 14 acres (57,000 m²), and came into existence following preservation efforts from the government. It is a major tourist attraction.

How to reach at Kumarakom:

Kumarakom in Kerala, South India is just a few miles (16 km) from the nearest city, Kottayam. As entry point to India; you can fly to Mumbai (Bombay) or Chennai (Madras). There are daily flights to Kerala where, as entry points, you have a choice of three international airports - Kochi (Cochin), Kozhikode (Calicut) and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).

By Road:

-From the Cochin International Airport it is an 85 Km delightful ride by road to the Muhamma boat Jetty. From the Trivandrum International Airport it is a 175 Km (approximately 3.30 hours ride by road) to the Muhamma boat jetty. From the Calicut International Airport it is 180 Km ride to Muhamma.

By Rail:

From Bombay, Madras or Bangalore, you can take a train to Kerala. The best place to alight is either Cochin or Kottayam (the nearest railhead, just 16 Km away by road). Kottayam links you to all major cities in Kerala and India with numerous trains plying this route daily. From Cochin, you could also take a south bound train via the Alleppey route (enjoy picturesque scenery as the route flanks the backwaters and the sea on its way). Alight at Chertala for a short 14 Km ride to Kumarakom.

By Water:

-If you have arrived at Trivandrum International Airport, come to Quilon by road or rail (takes just about one hour). From there, you can take the regular ferry service to Alleppey - a long and delightful ride on Kerala's backwaters. From Alleppey, it's just a short ride to Kumarakom.If you have arrived at Cochin International Airport, perhaps you might prefer a ride through the backwaters to Alleppey. There are many boat services offered at Kochi.

Economy of Kumarakom:

Agriculture, fishing and tourism are the major economic activities. Kumarakom's perfectly balanced tropical climate is very conductive to cultivation. The place has expanses of mangrove forests, paddy fields and coconut groves. Fruits like Banana, Mango, Jackfruit, Ambazhanga, Puli, Chaambenga, Peraycka, Aathaycka and Pineapple grow here. Also, cocoa and coffee, chena(yam) and chembu(colocasia, grow well and were cultivated under the coconut trees. This rich agricultural environment is mainly irrigated using interspersed waterways and canals of the Meenachil river. The smaller canals are often lined by hibiscus plants which lean partly over the canals to form a green canopy, from which hang the lovely hibiscus flowers.

In the olden days, when the bund separating the backwaters from the sea was not yet built, the water in the canals moved in and out with the sea tide and it was salty. After the Thanneermukkam bund was constructed, the connection to the open sea was not free anymore, and so the tidal movement of the water in the canals stopped. It stagnated and then plenty of water hyacinths started growing densely in the canals,forming lovely green carpets with pale lilac flowers carpets.

Boats and Kumarakom Boat Race:

Kumarakom has a wide variety of houseboats and is well known through out the world for housbeoat experience. They are used only for tourists these days. A separate boat known as Kettuvallam is used by the people to go fishing or to transport goods. Apart from these, there are elegant special boats like Kochu-odi Vallam, Odi-Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam, Churulan Vallam and Chundan Vallam(Snake Boat), which take part in the boat races around Onam time. The Kumarakom boat-race is conducted in the big canal in the centre near the market. There is a private sailing club in Kumarakom, located on the shore of the Vembanad lake.

Kumarakom Adventure:

With Kumarakom’s chief appeal based around its wonderful natural environment, it’s not surprising that most of the attractions of this destination are outdoor activities of one kind or the other. The scenic sanctuary around which the whole place revolves, offers opportunities for bird-watching and fishing; while down at the beach, typical sand and sea pursuits are available.

Beach activities:

Kumarakom’s gorgeous sandy beaches offer plenty of opportunities for seaside activities. Enjoy fun on the sand with a Frisbee session or an informal game of volleyball between friends. Alternatively, head for the sea and enjoy swimming, snorkeling and other water-based activities.


Kumarakom is a dream come true for ornithologists with the location’s own bird sanctuary offering the opportunity to view a large number of both resident and migratory birds. Take a boat trip around the islands and you may spot species such as crow pheasants, snake bird, little cormorants, tree pies and white-branded water hens. If you are lucky, then you might also catch a glimpse of the brightly colored kingfishers, the night herons or the golden-backed woodpeckers, all of which are indigenous to the area.

Boat trips:

Whether for the purpose of bird-watching or just for the fun and for a general appreciation of the area’s beauty, boat trips around the four islands of Kumarakom can be pleasant, relaxing and highly aesthetically pleasing. Small boats complete with local guide can be hired from the edge of the Vembanad lake.


Angling enthusiasts need bring only themselves on fishing trips within the Kumarakom sanctuary, as equipment is provided by local operators. The waters of Kumarakom are home to a large variety of species of fish and even novices will have a reasonable chance to make a catch. Anyone going home empty-handed however, is unlikely to feel too down about it as a day of relaxation amid the gorgeous natural environment is compensation enough.

Water sports:

The Rama Varma Union Club Water Sports Complex at Kumarakom offers visitors the chance to pursue almost every kind of water sport conceivable with the list including popular pursuits such as speed boating, water-skiing, surfing, sailing, swimming and kayaking. Both members and guests are permitted to use the facilities of this reputable private club.

Tourism in Kumarakom:

When nature is all you need to recuperate, Kumarakom is undoubtedly the most invigorating, fascinating paradise in Kerala, God's own country. Theslender coconut palms standing here, there and everywhere, its never ending paddy fields, meandering lagoons and backwaters, mangroves nesting birds of a hundred varieties can peacefully calm and invigorate your mind with renewed inspiration for your vocation and life. That is the pristine beauty of Kumarakom.

Kumarakom the charming emerald peninsula jutting into the ever-effervescent Vembanad Lake takes you into the heart of the scenic lake where you'll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes. The fresh water of the lake runs into the mainland making a labyrinth of lagoons, brooks, canals and waterways. The backwater houses a variety of species of both fauna and flora. They are rich with marine life namely the exclusive 'Kumarakom Karimeen' (pearl spotted fish), Konju (tiger prawns), Njandu (crabs), Chemeen (prawns) and many more.

As the monsoon winds bring rain to the shores of Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom is transformed into a rich fertile land. The streams, lagoons, brooks break their banks and provide nourishment to springs and shrubs that sprout from every available space.

Water birds, migratory birds, mangrove shores and the renowned bird sanctuary form their niche. The resorts nearby offer comfortable accommodation and exclusive leisure options like an Ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, fishing and swimming. The adventurous could indulge in water sports such as windsailing and waterskiing. You could even take a canoe out into the quite lakes and armed with a fishing rod, catch your own supper. Make sure you do not miss out on Karimeen and fresh toddy, the favourite fresh water food and the local wine.

The local spring season emerges from August and coincides with the harvest festival of Onam, blooms the tourist and the local people.

And so,
..Come & Ride
-through the backwater country that offers a glance of the rustic Kumarakom life.
..Come & Watch
- the swaying paddy fields with the herds of ducks and other water birds.
..Come & Roam
-the lofty coconut palms standing upright above the evergreen foliages of the mangroves and other wetland vegetation,
..Come & sail
-on the canoes, houseboat, country boats silently through the zigzagging waterways
..Come & listen
the occasional call of the migratory bird.

All liven up an image of that eternal beauty for which Kumarakom is much famous.

Climate: Kumarakom enjoys a well-balanced tropical climate. The lowest and highest temperatures recorded are 16.10 C and 37.80 C. There is always a cool, fresh breeze, which makes even the warmest weather readily agreeable. The South West monsoon is from early June to early August. However, slight drizzles persist till early November. Average rainfall is 1100 mm per year. The peak tourist season is from November to March.

Places of Interest in and around Kumarakom:

Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls:

Pay a visit to the picturesque Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls Located 18km from Kottayam town, 2 km down a mud lane from Kumarakom is this beautiful picnic spot where streams tinkle as they make their way through the landscape and waters roar as they cascade down the mountains from a height of 100 ft. Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat fromhere. This 10 acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water madeway for the land to rise from below. The island can be accessed only by boat. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.


Kottayam is an ancient town famous for its churches, especially the 700 years-old churches, the Cheria palli ('small church') with exceptionally lovely paintings over the altar and the Valia palli('Big Church') perched on a picturesque hillock over a small cluster of houses. In the St.Mary's Church Kuravilangad built in 355 AD there is an old bell which bears a hitherto undeciphered inscription. The mortal remains of the blessed Alphonsa and the Blessed Father Chavara are entombed at the St.Mary's Church at Bharananganam and the St.Joseph's Monastery Church at Mannanam respectively. Thousands gather at these holy shrines during festive occasions. Pala town and Kanjirappally, nourished by the Meenachil and Manimala rivers respectively are centers of rubber plantations. The Ettumanoor Shiva Temple 12 km north of town, has exceptionally beautiful wall paintings and sculptures inside the temple. In the heart of Kottayam town is the much venerated Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple.


This is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus and Muslims. Sree Dharmasastha Temple here is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Pilgrims going to Sabarimala alight here.

Aranmula - Pathanamthitta:

50km from Kottayam, Aranmula is the site of the splendid Onam festival boat races, usually in early September. These races unlike the more sporting Nehru Trophy race at Alappuzha in August are essentially religious, based on a temple festival. Caparisoned elephants with beaded umbrellas, processions of decorated floats, and highly ornate boats make this a lovely event to witness. Aranmula is also the centre of bell metal mirror crafts.


Vagamon, 64 km from Kottayam and 34 km from Pala, situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level is a trekker's paradise. It is an ideal tourist spot surrounded by the greenery of tea gardens, beautiful meadows and valleys. Other attractions: Thangal Para, Indo-Swiss project, Kurisumala Ashram.

Elaveezha Poonchira:

Elaveezha Poonchira is yet another picnic spot accessible from Pala and located in the midst of beautiful hills.


40km from Kottayam, famous for the Shiva Temple. The festival in November-December, last for 12 days and the 'Panchavadyam' is an important musical performance.

Kerala Boatraces:

Backwaters host many special events during August to September. The electrifying races by carved wooden boats set the backwaters on fire.

Boat races are held in connection with Onam, the harvest festival in August/September. Scores of long snake boats and other smaller crafts participate in these events. The largest team sport in the world, the snake boat races are preceded by colourful water parades.

Usually a snake boat is manned by four helmsmen, 25 singers and 100 - 125 oarsmen who row in unison to the fast rhythm of thevanchipattu (song of the boatman). Thousands of people crowd the water's edge to cheer the huge black crafts as they slice through the waters to a spectacular finish.The oldest of these events have curious legends and myths attached to their origin. Myths closely linked to the rustic people and their beliefs.

A calendar of the snake boat races of Kerala from July to September.

- Champakulam Moolam Boat Race,
- Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali,
- Payippad Jalotsavam,
- Nehru Trophy Boat Race.

Other boat races held during Onam (August / September):

ATDC Boat Race, Alappuzha, Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race, Pulinkunnu, Neerettupuram Boat Race, Kumarakom Boat Race, Karuvatta Boat Race, Kavanattinkara Boat Race, Kumarakom Arpookara Vanitha Jalamela, Kottayam Mahatma Boat Race, Mannar, Thazhathangadi Boat Race,Kottayam, Kottapuram Boat Race, Kodungallur and Kumaranasan Smaraka Jalotsavam, Pallana.The Indira Gandhi Boat Race (held on the Ernakulam Lake during the Cochin Carnival in the last week of December )

The 'Nehru Trophy Boat Race' named in honor of the late Prime Minister of India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, is the most exciting of all the boat races. It is held on the second Saturday of August. During the 'Onam' festival, many boat races including the spectacular Aranmula boat-race are conducted in the Alappuzha region.

Kumarakom - Bird Sanctuary:

Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the bird sanctuary is spread across 14 acres. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, an ornithologist's paradise is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal.

A visit to the bird sanctuary, set within the lush acres of wooded land nearby, acquaints you to the variety of migratory birds that flock in thousands, some from the Himalayas, some even from as far as Siberia. In addition, you can get thrilled of the native kingfishers ablaze in psychedelic colours, experience a walk under rookeries of egrets and night herons or lone golden-backed woodpeckers and even delight in the acrobatics of the paradise fly-catchers.

Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat from here. This 10 acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water madeway for the land to rise from below. The island can be accessed only by boat. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.

Attractions of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary:

The main attractions are local birds like the waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes. Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are seen here during their respective migratory seasons.

Viewing the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary:

Houseboats and motorboats are available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.

Best Time to Visit at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

The best time to bird watch is between June and August. To watch Migratory birds, November to February is the best time.

Famous To Eat at Kumarakom:

Kumarakom offers you a plethora of dining options, from super luxury restaurants to local eateries. Dining out options include many options such as Chinese, North Indian, continental, American and more. Rice and fish is the staple diet of Kumarakom. Also, like other parts of Kerala, you will find coconut as a major ingredient in all the food items that you get to eat here. Other food is typically south Indian like idli, dosa, uthapam and sambhar. Food is generally very spicy and will have a rich taste of coconut which may not be cherished by people coming from outside of Kerala.

Kumarakom Museum and Hill Stations:

Bay Island Driftwood Museum: This museum features the artistic works of Ms Raji Punnoose, a retired teacher from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The museum’s collection features interesting pieces of wood that have been twisted and shaped naturally by water and then further sculpted at the hands of Ms Punnoose, creating finished works that display a mix of natural and manmade influences. Many of the pieces resemble living creatures such as animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes. It is the only one of its kind in the country.

Hotels and Resorts in Kumarakom:

  • The Zuri Kumarakom
  • Taj Garden Retreat
  • Kumarakom Lake Resort
  • Coconut Lagoon
  • Backwater Ripples
  • Eastend Lakesong
  • Whispering Palms
  • Water Scapes
  • Cocobay Resort
  • Golden Waters
  • Paradise Resorts
  • The Backwater Resort
  • Cruise N Lake
  • Evergreen Huts Kumarakom
  • Lake Palace Family Resort
  • The Manor Backwater Resort
  • Paddy Field Vembanad Lake Villas

Homestays in Kumarakom:

  • Philipkutty's Farm
  • Coconut Creek
  • Tharavad Heritage Home
  • Vaithara Kumarakom Homestay
  • GK's Riverview

Tips of Kumarakom:

Kumarakom Travel Tips:

  • It's a good idea to learn a few Malayalam words to secure better understanding
  • Do not forget to use sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to protect you from the sun
  • Be sure to ask for a receipt when you exchange currency as you will need it in order to change money back at the end of your holiday
  • Whatever season you choose to visit it's wise to bring appropriate clothing, bearing in mind that skimpy outfits not only risk over-exposure to the harmful effects of the sun but also risk offending locals who are devoutly religious and observe strict codes of moral conduct. It's far better to bring light cotton clothing of the long-sleeved and long-legged variety if you intend on spending any amount of time in the sun; otherwise a high SPF sunscreen is essential if you intend on exposing arms and lower legs

Must do at Kumarakom:

  • Be respectful to the culture and heritage of the land
  • Be cautious to conserve energy by switching off lights, fans when you go out of hotel rooms, house boats etc
  • Consult your doctor for medical advice before traveling in Kerala
  • Follow the rules and regulations applicable in parks
  • Keep safe distance from all wildlife and do not stray from the group
  • Touching or feeding animals in jungle are strictly prohibited

Not to do at Kumarakom:

  • Do not forget to put off your shoes before entering into a temple
  • Try not to carry any leather object inside a religious place like temple
  • Do not make any remark that can upset the communal harmony of Kerala
  • Do not pollute or overuse water resources to maintain ecological balance
  • Do not damage plants or collect any sample flora or fauna from the park
  • Do not litter the sanctuaries with plastic packets or bottles, maintain ecological balance
  • Do not disturb animals by flashing lights or getting too close to avoid frightening animals

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