Tourist Attractions in Kottayam
Kumarakom gained national and iternational importance with the visit of Prime Minister of India, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee in December 2000 .
Kumarakom is a small village 14 km.west of Kottayam. It is a part of Kuttanad, which is a 'wonder land' lying below sea level, comprising of a number of islands, in the back waters. Kumarakom Village covers an area of 5166 He. of which 2413 He. is lake portion, 1500 He is paddy fields and the remaining 1253 He. is dry land. Kumarakom is a paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut
groves interepersed with enchanting water ways and canals adorned with white lillies. Situated on the Vembanad lake, this small water world has plenty of traditional country boats, crafts and canoes which will take you into the heart of scenic Kerala. The resorts near by offer comfortable accomdation and exclusive leisure options like Ayurvedic massages, Yoga and meditation besides boating, fishing, angling In the last Century, Henry Baker, an English man, attracted by the beauty of the place, selected Kumarakom as his residence and built a bungalow, obtaining 104 acres of land from the then Maharaja
of Travancore. He also made a beautiful garden. Preserving the old style, the beautiful bunglow ofBaker has now been modified into the Taj Garden Retreat, a hotel with modern living facilities. The Kerala State Toursim Development Corporation is converting this place into a Tourist Complex. K.T.D.C. has constructedCottages here and it runs a floating restaurant. Boating facilities are also provided by the Corporation. Coconut lagoon is a beautiful resort here.
Kottayam has a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake, a fast developing back water tourism destination. Vembanad lake is having 83.72km. length and 14.48km. width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams are modified into cruise boats and house boats, with all basic facilities like kitchen, toilet, bathrooms, sitouts etc. These boats gracefully move around the back waters, providing facilities to tourist to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad lake in a relaxed pace. The Kumarakom tourist village offers house boat cruises and holiday packages.
In the Vembanad lake there is a small beautiful island called Pathiramanal or the Midnight sands. This lonely island in the Vembanad Lake is accessible only by boat.
In the festive months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam are turned into festival centres. The serene lakes comes alive during onam with a spectacular water regatta- the snake boat races. It is amazing to watch oars men, atleast a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing. In the Kumarakom boat race, about 50 types of boats viz; veppu, ody, churulan and few snake boats participate.
Another attraction of Kumarakom is the Bird Sanctuary spreading over 14 acres of land. Located on the banks of theVembanad lake, the sanctuary is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. Local birds like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl and water hen other common varities like the wood pecker, sky lark, crane and parrots can also be spotted here. 91 Species of local and 50 species of migratory birds are found here. Best time to bird watch is June-August and migratory birds
during November- February. A cruise along the Vemband lake is best way to experience the sanctuary.House boats and motor boats are available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.