Sunday, 7 December 2014

Backwater Tourism of Kerala

Kerala backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets and its more than 900KM of waterways.

Alappuzha - Canal Cruise



Step into the country boat and wind through the labyrinth of canals in Alleppey to enjoy spending the good time amidst the sights and sounds of the hydrosphere.
A wide range of cruise options are available from small country boats to luxury houseboats and small speedboats to big passenger motorboats. 



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.
If you are in Kerala, don’t miss to visit this.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Nearest railway station: Alappuzha, a few kilometres away.
Nearest airport: Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km

Alappuzha - Kochi cruise


En Route, The green shores throbbing with vigour and pure beauty will never tire you. The soft sunlight lends the calm water a new enchantment as the palms on both shores welcome you with a gentle whisper in the wind. Your mind will assure you that this scene will remain within you, to relieve you during all your busiest hours.
Once you enter Q S T and R Block Kayal, it is an added enchantment. It is situated at Kuttanad, popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala. Cruise leisurely through the canals, which are fringed by palm groves and paddy fields.


On reaching Kumarakom, you enter another world of wonders. This small backwater village, which is a cluster of islands, has a life of its own, with a slow, serene rhythm. The sights, sounds and fragrances will simply captivate you.
After staying back at Kumarakom for a bit and relaxing, you may proceed to Vaikom. It is time again to enjoy the placidity of the Vembanad Lake, in all its splendor. On the way, you will find a small island, Pathiramanal, seemingly afloat in the middle of the backwater. Have a brief stop and your guide can share with you many interesting myths surrounding this region.


On resuming your journey, the next halt point for you is Thanneermukkom, a village known for its Salt Water Barrier, popularly known as Thanneermukkom Bund. It is the largest mud regulator in India. Travelling through this region and savoring some delicious Kerala snacks is a simply marvelous experience.




Your next backwater destination - Vaikom offers you many interesting sights and lifestyles. You may find here the specimens of Kerala's grand tradition. A famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the prime attraction of this town. The refreshing greenery here is another add-on for you.


From Vaikom, after refreshing with a delicious Kerala meal, you may proceed to Kumbalangi. We travel via Thykkattussery, a small village surrounded by coconut groves and paddy fields, enchanting constituents of backwater life. The first sight that welcomes you to Kumbalangi is that of majestic Chinese fishing nets lining the sides of the backwaters. Pokkali cultivation, a traditional indigenous method of cultivation in which the practice of taking a paddy crop is followed by prawn filtration, is a unique farming practice at Kumbalangi.



Once through the breezy backwaters of Kumbalangi, it is time for us to proceed to Fort Kochi, known for its share of Chinese fishing nets and many historic sites. The place is worth a walk, if you would like to. However, the sights from on board are also fascinating.

Bidding adieu to Fort Kochi, let us steer towards the Bolghatty Island, our final destination. En route to the Bolghatty Island, you would pass by the panoramic view of the mainland of Ernakulam city, its skyline and the shipyard on the eastern side. Once in Bolghatty, it is time for us to unwind. Loosen yourself to the soothing cool breeze and the reassuring touch of serene sunlight.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Alappuzha
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha Town

Alumkadavu, Kollam


Alumkadavu is the place where the first houseboats in India were built. Located north of Kollam district, the waft of coir and wood is always in the air of this village. And the reason is it is a major centre for the construction of kettuvalloms which are later modified into houseboats for travellers.



The houseboats eventually take shape at the hands of skilled craftsmen of the village, who make sue of local and eco-friendly materials like wood, bamboo poles and coconut fibre.
Alumkadavu is also a coir manufacturing centre, making Kollam famous for its coir products.

Getting there  
Nearest railway station: Karunagappally railway station, about 5 km away.
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 95 km away.

Backwater stretches of Ashtamudi


Ashtamudi – So called because of its 8 arms or channels, Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. This 16 km long lake is the second largest in Kerala, finding its way into the sea through the Neendakara estuary.



 The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) Kollam provides boat rides as well as houseboat cruises. The trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is one of the most popular and longest backwater cruises in Kerala. The eight-hour journey will give you an intimate experience of the famed waterways. 

Catch a glimpse of one of the many splendours of Ashtamudi backwaters. As the boatman gently dips his paddle, without disturbing the prevailing calm, the ripples spread out gently in the shimmering golden hue of the sun.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kollam Junction, about 2 km
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 70 km

Chandragiri Fort & River


Situated near the confluence of the Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea, the Chandragiri Village is known for its large 17th century fort built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. 


The Chandragiri Fort, one among a chain of forts built by the same ruler, perched atop a hill is in ruins now. But the location offers a breathtaking view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to watch the sunset from the ancient Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam. Chandragiri is situated 4 km from Bekal.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kasaragod, about 7 km
Nearest airport: Mangalore Airport (Karnataka)  about 67 km

Chithari - a small island

Green and beautiful, a little effaced by the historic Bekal Fort and beach, Chithari is still a virgin destination. 

The island is accessible only by boat, often wooden canoes that belong to the locals. A part of the Bekal Tourism Project, this backwater area has all it takes to ome a mega tourist destination. Chithari is located 7 km from Kanhangad.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kanhangad, about 5 km
Nearest airport: Mangalore, about 50 km and Calicut International Airport, about 200 km

Kavvayi Backwater at Payyanur

 


In Kannur, an inspiring stretch of water body Kavvayi Kayal could perhaps be your next, most fascinating destination among the backwaters in Kerala. The backwaters down the south of Kerala; like those in and around Kollam and Alappuzha have their own unique attractions, surroundings and ways of life. Kavvayi Kayal too has its own unique elements that could easily make you fall in love with it.


You can simply unwind by taking a walk along the land that fringes the Kavvayi Kayal or else may step into one of the country boats and relax in the cool breeze while enjoying the abundance of surrounding greenery. This backwater stretch is full of interesting sights and experiences that would keep preventing your interest level from hitting a low. Locally called as Kavvayi Kayal or the backwater of Kavvayi, this lesser known backwater of northern Kerala is the result of the five rivers viz. River Kavvayi and its tributary streams Kankol, Vannathichal, Kuppithodu, and Kuniyan.

From an ecological point of view the backwater of Kavvayi and its surrounding region is considered to be of significance. The backwater and the wetlands are home to a variety of fauna and flora.

Another interesting sight that one could encounter while on the backwaters of Kavvayi are the nearly half a dozen of small and big islands. The backwater setting at Kavvayi is the biggest wetland in north Kerala with an area of roughly 37 sq km.

A boat ride ideally from Kotti-Kottappuram would enable a visitor to see and enjoy the many inspiring sights of Kavvayi Kayal.
Getting there
Nearest railway station: Payyannur, about 3 km
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport, about 154 km

Kumarakom

 

The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors.


An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors many other leisure options. Boating and fishing facilities are available at the Taj Garden Retreat, a sprawling old bungalow-turned-resort.
Waterscapes, the backwater resort of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has independent cottages built on stilts, set amidst coconut groves and panoramic view of the backwaters. Holiday packages involving houseboats, traditional Kettuvalloms (rice barges) offer great experiences.


Getting there
Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 13 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 94 km

Kumbalangi - Model fishing village near Kochi


Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is India’s first designated ecotourism village and the first rural tourism village of the state. Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project is a unique initiative to transform the tiny island as a model fishing village and tourism spot. Here at the Kumbalangi Tourism Village one can fully savour a variety of natural splendours, and ecological balance of the location. The model village, the first of its kind in the country is located near the port city of Kochi in Ernakulam District. It is a veritable treat to its visitors with the famous Chinese fishing nets and many other sights to savour.



As art of the model village project at Kumbalangi, a nearby island near Palluruthy would also have plenty of interesting vistas and activities in the near future. This coastal hamlet without doubt provides a fascinating glimpse of the simple and prosperous livelihood of the villagers, and also unravels the age-old culture and heritage of the place.

Kalagramam, an artist’s village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as well as fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here. Many houses in the village are homestays and visitors can book their stay directly with homestay operators or seek the assistance of the village council.


Getting there
Nearest railway station: Ernakulam, about 14 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 46 km

Kuttanad - the rice bowl of Kerala


It is the major rice granary of Kerala, where vast stretches of verdant paddy fields are interlaced with enchanting backwaters create some of the unforgettable sights.

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala is all about an agrarian community, striking a chord of harmony with its physical setting. Noted for its farming below sea level (about 4 to 10 feet) the land of Kuttanad possesses a socio-cultural fabric of its own. Four major rivers in Kerala viz. Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region.
The most popular route taken to get close and explore Kuttanad is the Alappuzha-Changanasserry road. This road goes through the heart of Kuttanad and gives visitors plenty of options to watch the day-to-day life at Kuttanad. The best thing for a visitor to Kuttanad is that, one can take deviations from either side of the Alappuzha-Chanaganasserry road to reach villages, predominantly consisting of farmers. During the harvest season the vast expanse of paddy fields, at some places dotted with islets of coconut trees, will be busy with farmers engrossed in different farming activities;done in the traditional manner. 

Quite early in the morning itself one can sight the women folk heading towards the paddy fields carrying their lunch box and sickle, and on the other hand men could be seen already on the fields till the land, sowing the seeds, getting rid of weeds, diverting water channels etc.
The Kuttanad area is also rich in avian population, and one can easily find flocks of parrots hovering in the paddy fields, especially those fields with rice stalks in bloom. You may also come across a black blanket sweeping across the sky, which on close look will reveal as yet another flock of birds. And this time its is the darter birds, which haunt the backwaters in and aroundKuttanad and the adjoining Vembanad Lake.


As you explore the villages, don't forget to take a walk by the numerous canals that crisscrossKuttanad, which are lined by tall coconut trees swaying in the breeze. During most part of the day, these canal stretches would be abuzz with different activities. There will be vendors on boat selling vegetables, grocery and fish to households on the banks of these canals. You would also come across big country boats called Kettu Vallams on which goods like coconut husk, rice grains etc. are transported to nearby markets in bulk. Among the sights on the backwaters here at Kuttanad, the most fascinating obviously is that of the ducks, quacking together in high decibels and moving across the backwaters in large numbers;shepherded by men on small boats. One can also catch men playing on the backwater;some diving down to collect lime shells from the depths and others fishing with their nets and traditional cane basket called Ottal.

For those interested in trying out few local dishes may do so by dropping at the small traditionally built wayside eateries, which are quite famous for backwater fish delicacies and tapioca. A popular naturally extracted beverage is the toddy, which is available in plenty and enjoyed by many for its speciality.
You may also find Kuttanad, a bit more exciting, if you hire a boat. You can hire motorboats, houseboats etc. from the boat jetty operated by the government as well as private groups near the KSRTC Bus Station at Alappuzha or else may get on one from places like Kidangara, which is on the Alappuzha-Changanasserry road. Some of the places worth visiting in the Kuttanad area are Nedumudy, Kaavalam, Champakkulam etc.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Alappuzha.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha

Marine Drive - Kochi


Marine Drive in Kochi, is a popular hangout and this scenic stretch offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the Kochi Harbour.

Shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, caf├ęs and supermarkets line the drive. The Rainbow Bridge and the International Tourism Boat Jetty Complex are other attractions here.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Ernakulam, about 3 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 29 km

Picnic Village in Kollam


Located in the sprawling 200-year-old Guest House campus where Lord Munroe once stayed, this tourist village at Ashramam along the backwater front, is the main centre for recreational activities in Kollam. 

The place has a boat club, a children's traffic park and Tamarind Hotel in addition to an adventure park. The Paaramparya Museum in the same premises has on display paintings from different parts of the country including Warli, Kalamkari and Madhubani as well as Kerala mural art. It is located 1 km from Kollam city.


Getting there
Nearest railway station: Kollam Junction, about 2 km
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 70 km

Placid backwater stretch of Ashtamudi, Kollam


Tag with District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) of Kollam and allow them to be your guide, as you glide over the placid backwater stretch of Ashtamudi in Kollam.




Ponnumthuruthu Island near Varkala


A delightful getaway surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters, this uninhabited isle is accessible by boat from the makeshift jetty at the nearby Nedunganda Village.

A 100-year-old Shiva-Parvathi Temple, rebuilt a decade ago, is also situated here. Ponnumthuruthu Island is just 10 km away from Varkala, the famous tourist destination in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Varkala, about 5 km away
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 30 km away


Valiyaparamba backwaters, Kasaragod


Located 30 km from Bekal, Valiyaparamba in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in the state. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favoured backwater resort that offers enchanting boat cruises.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Payyanur Railway Station is about 9 km away
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport is about 175 km away


Willingdon Island, Kochi


Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Ernakulam South, about 3 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 26 km

Sasthamkotta: Queen of Lakes, Kollam


Sasthamkotta, situated about 29 km from Kollam town, can be rightly called the 'Queen of Lakes'. This vast fresh water lake flanked by hills on three sides is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha Temple, which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. 

This temple dedicated to both Lord Ganesha and Lord Ayyappa is surrounded by hills and forests, and the monkeys inhabiting the premises are considered holy. The monkeys of Sasthamkotta are believed to be the faithful entourage of the ruling deity, the Dharmasastha and therefore they have a spiritual ambience about them. The monkeys are devotee-friendly, and the thousands of devotees visiting the temple take pleasure in feeding these monkeys with nuts and fruits. 

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kollam, about 29 km
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 71 km

Valapattanam, Kannur

Kannur is that part of the legendary Malabar Coast where King Solomon's ships anchored to collect timber to build the 'Temple of the Lord' and to secure most needed spices. Here in the little hamlet on the banks of the river Valapattanam, is a giant of the modern timber industry - Western India Plywood Ltd., the largest wood-based industry in South East Asia.


The timber industry of Valapattanam thrive on the rich forest resources of the district. Teak, Iruli,ElavuKarimurukku, sandalwood (Sandalum album) etc. are found in plenty in the forests here. In addition are cash crops like tea, coffee, rubber, tobacco, cashewnuts etc. 

Kannur is the only place in Kerala where Pukayila (tobacco) cultivation is carried on successfully
Valapattanam is also a famous fishing harbour as well as the main source of the irrigation project in the district. It is a fascinating experience to watch the traditional mode of timber transportation - by tying long pieces of timber together and allowing them to float down the stream.


Getting there
Nearest railway station: Kannur, about 7 km
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport, about 93 km from Kannur town
 

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