BANGALORE: The world famous backwaters has always been a tempting invitation to the God’s Own Country. What awaited us at Kumarakom, which hit the headlines after the much-hyped visit of former prime minister A B Vajpayee, was the endless expanse of picturesque beauty.
The moment I touched my feet on the rain-soaked land, the images of Booker winner Arundhathi Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’ set in the backdrop of Ayemenam village, started flashing through my mind. The magnificent ambience of the lush green spot surrounded by the serene waters of Vembanad lake, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the state, is worth cherishing for a lifetime. Once it had been a sleepy hamlet, a cluster of small islands, but an exotic and invigorating place. Houseboats with luxurious facilities welcome you to the magnificent world of backwaters.
The area has been identified as a special tourism zone by the government. Riding on the wave of booming backwater tourism, many villagers ventured into houseboat service, a money-spinning business. These houseboats were earlier used to transport rice and spices between Kuttanadu and the Cochin port. A 100-feet long houseboat can ferry as much as three big lorries can.
Many companies offer well-furnished luxury houseboat service ranging from `10,000 to `20,000 for 12 hours. A two-hour trip will cost you at least `2,000.
Speed boats, raw boats and country boats are also available. After 'fierce' bargaining, we settle for one with medium facilities to savour the experience of travelling in a houseboat built like a traditional Kerala ‘Tharavadu’ floating over the mystic waters. You can also try your hands at steering the boat and fishing. Of course, learn some cooking lessons from local chefs at the well-furnished kitchen inside the boat. Mouth-watering fish varieties like karimeen (pearl spot) and pomegranate curry accompanied by tapioca fry are served. Migratory birds seen at small islands on the way caught our fancy. Rain accompanied us as we cruise through the waters. The 14-acre bird sanctuary houses a wide range of rare migratory winged beauties. Pathiramanal is a must-visit island for those who wish to go high on the Kerala special sweet toddy. For travelbugs, Kumarakom offers enough chances to marvel the nature’s bounty at its best. Even after leaving the place, the beauty of evening sun disappearing in the darkness, star-filled sky and the enchanting silence of waters in the late hours of night, beckoned me back to the backwaters.