Kerala..the God’s own country. True to its name, visit to Kerala post-monsoon is a green experience. There are many tourist places in Kerala to be visited.
Visited Kumarakom Lake Resort at Kumarakom, Kerala on 23rd and 24th Septmber, 2014. The tour was booked through MakemyTrip. It was 4 nights 5 days luxury tour of Kumarakom – (Alleppey) – Kovalam – (Trivandrum).The resort is located about 72 kms from Cochin (Kochi) airport).
Boat Ride on Vembanad Lake
On the day we reached Kumarakom Lake Resort, we were welcomed in a traditional style by placing a tilak on the forehead by the hotel staff. By the time we reached the resort, it was 5.30 p.m. On arrival, we were provided with cocounut water. The check in was without much ado or delay. We were provided with a luxury pavilion room overlooking the Vembanad lake.
The room provided to us was quite lavishly spaced with a huge bathroom with zacuzzi. The bed was so soft, you won’t feel like coming out! The doors of all the rooms are made of wood with latches of the olden era with a huge key.
In the evening, we did some fishing on the streams flowing inside the resort property. The property has well marked walking track with green grass and trees of different kinds around. At the entrance to the room, there is a wooden cot and a wooden bench for seating. 2 chairs are also provided for seating with a view of the lake.
Relaxing by the lakeside was quite an experience with slow wind blowing across. There were house boats around the lake property. There is also a swimming pool next to the lake. Swimming in the pool late in the evening was quite refreshing. The pool is well maintained with helpful staff around.
We watched sunset from the poolside. There are hammocks provided near the pool besides the pool chairs for guests to relax.
The Ettukettu restaurant provides both buffet and a la carte food. The restaurant is well decorated and maintained by quite efficient and young staff. During dinner time, the resort provides variety entertainment for the guests. The resort has Vembanad – a seafood restaurant and bar by the lakeside. It also has a yoga and meditation center, activity area for pot making, weaving, fishing etc. The resort also provides houseboats on payment.
The dance performance of Ottam Thullal by the artist was a mesmerising experience, particularly his facial expressions and the dance style. After dinner and a peaceful walk along the river side, we retired for the day.
The buffet breakfast provided by the resort was quite filling with vast variety of items. After breakfast, we decided to take a boat ride at Alleppey backwaters.
On the way to Alleppey we visited
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which is very near the resort. We were informed at the outset by the sanctuary staff, that there were no birds to be seen. Migratory birds arrive only during season starting from February. But we could see photographs of variety of birds that frequent this sanctuary during season like Great Cormorant, Darter, Indian Shag, Little Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Median Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Blackcrowned night Heron, Purple Heron, Oriental White Ibis, White breasted water hen, small blue kingfisher, white breasted kingfisher, Storkbilled kingfisher, Brahminy Kite etc.
Inside the bird sanctuary, there is a small butterfly garden where we saw butterflies of different colours.
Thereafter, we went for a boat ride at Alleppey which is located at about 31 kms from Kumarakom. This is the backwater area where nearly 1200 boat houses are located. The 2 hour cruise charged us Rs.1,400/- per couple.
During the cruise, we halted at ‘Aradhana Restaurant”, (a lakeside restaurant) where fish fry was the attraction. They also had an eagle which would claw on to your hand and head. It was a big attraction with foreign tourists.
Eagle at Aradhana Restaurant
Moving further on, we halted at Ammus Restaurant at Ootamangalam for some local toddy. The fish fry of Aradhana Restaurant coupled with toddy from Ammus brought a festive mood to the boat ride. We could see some birds during the cruise like water crow, breeding of ducks, white heron etc. Enroute we also saw Lake Palace resort, a huge resort at Pattaturti and the snake boat viz., boat used in the boat race in the backwaters.
On the way back from Alleppey to Kumarakom, we visited Marari Kulam Beach, one of the cleanest beaches we have seen. A number of foreign tourists were seen sun bathing at this beach.
After having our lunch, we returned to the resort for some rest in the afternoon.
After having our breakfast at Kumarakom, we started our journey by car towards Kovalam. It was a day of strike by autos and taxis in the state of Kerala and we were stopped by the local taxi unions at a number of places along the 175 kms journey. Kerala being dominant in trade union activities, we were apprehensive about safely reaching our destination. The car driver was very smart who took us through side roads wherever there were union activists stopping taxies on the main road. Ultimately, we reached Koavalam safely.
We stayed at The Leela near Kovalam beach for 2 nights. The experience was nightmerish. A 5 star hotel of repute, not able to provide some basic requirements of tourists was something we could not fathom.
At the outset, the door key did not work requiring a master key to open the door followed by a another key.
The dining area is placed with tables in a such a clutter, there is hardly any legroom between chairs of adjacent tables.
Swimming is not an option around lunch or dinner time as the pool is surrounded by restaurant.
Water was filled in the glasses provided on the table after half the meal was consumed. This may be unintentional but all the same a basic courtesy when the guest is seated.
At dinner time, some tables had candles lit while others did not even though candles were placed on all the tables and the tables were occupied.
Although the room was booked with meals all inclusive, we were served with a bill for dinner. After lot of explanation and frustration, it turned out the bill belonged to someone else.
Bathroom is as big as any in a suburban Mumbai flat.
The room attracts mosquitos at night but basic requirement of mosquito repellents were nowhere to be found in the room.
Frequent power failure resulting in ‘black-outs’ between power outage and starting of the genset. Auto switch over, if possible, would be helpful to guests particularly those with small children.
The side lamp provided in the room was non-functional. On request, house keeping person replaced the bulb from one of the other lights in the room and assured the technician will replace the bulb but the technician probably was busy.
Bathroom at Hotel Leela
Even the Kovalam beach, which was so beautiful with golden sand, has turned out to be a non-favourite as the sand has turned black and the sea shore is filled with hotels and restaurants. The only thing we could enjoy while on the beach side was the fish fry.
Getting into Kovalam beach was a non-starter. Hence, we decided to visit Poovar backwaters for a boat ride. We engaged a motor boat with Lake Port Backwaters for a bargained price of Rs.3,000/- per couple. The boat ride was a good experience.
Moving on the neyyar river, the boat took us through Mangooves Forest which reminded us the backdrop of film “Anaconda”. There is a green fruit called Mangoove fruit (which looks like a mango) on many trees on the way, which, if consumed, could result in death as the fruit is poisonous.
Moving on, we visited the Estuary Point i.e., this is a point where the neyyar river meets the Arabian sea. The beach here is golden with big waves hitting the shores.
At Estuary Point, there are many prominent resorts like Isola Di Cocoa (ayurvedic beach resort), Estuary Island Resort, floating cottages, Poovar Island Resort among a few. There is a floating restaurant called “Stephen’s seaside floating restaurant” which is built on a number of boats with a clear view of the river and sea. This is a nice place for a stop over for snack or tea. There is an elephant shaped rock in the river and a meditation place on top of another rock.
This boat ride is a bird watcher’s delight as we could see a number of birds along the shores from water crow to kingfisher to golden eagle and so on.
After a delicious fish curry lunch at a restaurant on the Kovalam-Vizhinjam road, we returned to the hotel.
On 5th day in the morning we moved on to Tiruvananthapuram Airport whic is at a distance of 17 kms from Kovalam for a flight back to Mumbai and then onwards to Pune by road.
Excepting for the disappointment at Kovalam, the tour has been full of wonderful memories and quite relaxing.