| KUMARAKOM - Backwaters of Kerala
On the shores of the enchanting Vembanad lake, 14 kms from Kottayam (travel time: 20 min), lies Kumarakom in its small town hush. Redolent of restful peace.
A boat ride in the countryside offers a close look into an engaging rustic life. Skiff-fishermen launching there cockeshell boats. Large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks. Women, neck-deep in water, with there waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with there feet. And aimless cattle grazing in lush pasture-land, where white lotuses lie here and there in small, low-lying pools.
At Kumarakom, you could sail the backwaters in rented houseboats, which are poled by local oarsmen and are simply furnished with a living room, a bedroom and a bath, together with a raised central platform creating a private sit-out for the passengers. Sections of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allowuninterrupted views. Boat trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together - make for a convenient mode of sightseeing when the company is large. The more adventurous could perhaps indulge in water sports such as windsailing andwater skating. You could also take a canoe out into the quite lagoons and spend time angling. Make sure you sample Karimeen and fresh toddy - the favourite fresh water food and the local wine.
THE KUMARAKOM BIRD SANCTUARY : Set in 14 acres of wooden land nearby. A visit here acquaints you to the variety of migratory birds that flock here in thousands, some from the Himalayas. Some from as far as Siberia. In addition, you court the native kingfishers, ablaze in psychedelic colours, walk under rookeries of egrets and night herons or lone, golden-backed woodpeckers. and maybe even delight in the acrobatics of the paradise fly-catcher.
From Cochin a fascinating one and half hour journey by speedboat or luxury cruiser or a two hour drive, gets you to Kumarakom.
For tour packages, please click www.exoticjourneys.com