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.
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.
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
|The origin of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, earlier Bakers’ Estate, dates back to 1847. It was in that year that Alfred George Baker started developing the wetlands near Lake Vembanad into fertile land, the Kumarakom of today. Of the 500 acres that he was granted by the king, Baker planted mangroves in 10 acres, on the southern bank of River Kavanar, and then, interfered with the land no more. Soon, local and migratory birds adopted this land as their home. That was the beginning of its growth into a bird sanctuary.
The bird sanctuary, also known as the Vembanad Bird Sanctuary, was later developed into an area of 14 acres. It is the first scientifically formed and preserved bird sanctuary in India, with about180 species of birds. The profuse bird life owes much to the location and the climatic peculiarities of the region. The proximity to Kerala’s largest lake, the fertile, untouched land ideal for insects and the mangroves all contribute to the abundant avian life.
|If you go on a backwater cruise from Alappuzha to Kumarakom, don’t forget to take a break en route at the picturesque island of Pathiramanal. The small island known for its scenic beauty is also a favourite haunt of rare migratory birds.
The island, in the middle of Lake Vembanad, is also known as Ananda Padmanabhan Thoppu and Pathira Thoppu. It comes under the Cherthala Taluk of Alappuzha district.
The Mangrove Forests and Related Flora and Fauna
|A large variety of mangrove species can be found at Kumarakom. Of these, three species of the forest variety are unique to this place. These are Brugiera gymnorrhiza, Avicennia officinalis, and Hebiseus taeliatious. The other major species are Rhizophora apiculata, Sonneratia caseolaris, Acanthus illicipholius, Kandelia candel, Baringonea recemosa, Thespesia populnea, Calophyllum inophyllum and Ceribera odollam.
The mangrove forests provide a suitable habitat for various species of aquatic flora and fauna, including the otter (Lutra lutra). Apart from the mangroves, there are a variety of plants that grow in marshy areas and are very similar to the mangrove. These include the Ardis littoralis Andr, the Canavalia obtusifolia and so on. A variety of hydrophytes and common plants including weeds and garden plants are also found in Kumarakom.
Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 13 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 94 km