An important trade centre of spices and rubber in southern Kerala, Kottayam also proudly bears the sobriquet ‘The land of letters’ or ‘Aksharanagari’. Kottayam is the first town in India to achieve 100 percent literacy. The contributions it has made to the growth of print media in the state, also make Kottayam worthy to be called the Land of letters. Many popular newspapers and magazines in Malayalam are being published from Kottayam. Kottayam is also closer to many traveller’s destinations as Peermade, Munnar and Thekkadi, and pilgrim centres as Sabarimala, Vaikom, Manarcaud, Bharananganam and Mannanam.
A labyrinth of backwaters with shimmering water, the brilliant green of mangrove forests, coconut palms lining the embankments, blue skies, flocks of migratory birds skimming the water – that is Kumarakom, a veritable dreamland!
Every year, more than seven million tourists visit Kerala, a place that the National Geographic Magazine has described as one of the must-see places in a lifetime. Kumarakom is an important stopover for a majority of these tourists. This famous tourist backwater hub is a cluster of islands on the eastern banks of Lake Vembanad.
Compared to adjacent villages, the lake has its maximum length and breadth near Kumarakom - about eight km. With the huge lake on one side and with a network of calm canals running through it, Kumarakom, a masterpiece created by man and Nature together, enjoys a unique position on the map of Kerala.
Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 13 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 94 km
If you are cherishing the idea of spending some good time amidst the sights and sounds of the hydrosphere, then step into a country boat and wind through the labyrinth of canals in Alappuzha. While cruising through these canals, one would come across the many interesting aspects of day-to-day life on land and water.
A wide range of cruise options are available here - from small country boats to luxury houseboats and small speedboats to big passenger motorboats. Small boats are preferred for cruise through the canals.
The canal networks linked to the Vembanad Lake offer an inspiring and interesting experience. Enjoy the sights of vast stretches of paddy fields, coconut lagoons and pied King Fishers hurtling down to catch the fish. You would also come across small islands, locals engaged in fishing activities on country boats, children being ferried to schools and kettuvallams, the majestic rice barges, gliding over the canals. Another interesting sight is that of large flocks of ducks being shepherded to newly-harvested paddy fields.
You could also drop in at villages on the banks to check out the techniques and procedures of coir making. It's also a chance to try out the ethnic cuisine from local eateries. Tapioca and fish delicacies and coconut toddy, the natural beverage extracted from coconut trees, are the highlights of backwater cuisine.
If you are in Kerala, don't miss a cruise through the canals of Alappuzha. Boats can be hired from the jetty, close to the KSRTC bus station.
Nearest railway station: Alappuzha, a few kilometres away
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km