Land and water share
an extraordinary kinship in Kerala. This land which
is believed to have sprung forth from the sea continues
to bask in the tender life giving care of the waters,
that lap gently on its coast, cascade down its hills
and valleys and rests calmly in exotic backwaters and
There is a different Kerala along these backwaters,
throbbing with its own unique culture. For you as a
visitor to Kerala, it can be an incredibly different
experience just floating on these waters in a country
craft and absorbing this unusual representation of Kerala's
You might begin at
Alappuzha, which is hailed as the Venice of the East,
because of its intricate maze of backwaters, canals
and bridges. When the visitor leaves Alappuzha on a
boat voyage through Kuttanad, he will find himself travelling
along canals where the level of water is often higher
than that of the green fields on either side.
You could journey
right up to Cochin via the backwaters. Many beautiful
sights greet you along the way, such as the Chinese
fishing nets, said to have been introduced into Kerala
by the traders from Kublai Khan's court.
A beautiful backwater
spot accessible from Alappuzha is Kumarakom. Breathtaking
green, the village slumbers by the Vembanad Lake. On-cruise
scenery flashes up vivid contrasts of lush greens and
deep blues. As the boat glides along the gorgeous green
of the fringed palms the ripples in the blue water blend
into little wavelets.
The place is so beautiful that Henry Baker, an Englishman,
built his bungalow here in the last century. Now this
elegant English bungalow is a Tourist complex.
A 14-acre bird sanctury
adds to the natural beauty of Kumarakom. Birds such
as Water Ducks, Cuckoos, Siberian strokes spend happy
By the Vembanad lake
nestles a golden yellow island, Pathiramanal which is
a heaven of peace for the tourists.
The short boat ride
Cochin will transport you to a world of quiet and peace
of warmth and friendliness.
Again from Alappuzha,
you could go upto Kollam. The route winds up the Pampa
river to Champpakkulam, an island hamlet, then into
the Karumadi Canal. The statue of karumadikuttan is
believed to be of Buddha. Some see it as a remnant of
bygone era when Buddhist monks came to Kerala with the
message of love and non-violence. The past Trikunna-puzha
across Kayamkulam Lake and Ashtamudi lake finally drawing
in the ancient port of Kollam. Throughout the scenery
continues to be ravishing.
It is in the months
of August and September that the moist, rain-drenched
earth and the glorious everflowing backwaters burst
into song together, as over hundred thousand men and
women gather on the banks to witness a spectacular water
regatta the SNAKE BOAT RACES. Boat race crews begin
to practise for the race months before the grate day.
they live together, eat together, toil together to work
themselves into a smooth, co-ordinated team. On boat
race day, the chundan Valloms as the greatest racing
boats are called are slicked down with a special oil
to make them glide effortlessly through water. The crews
then visit a shrine carrying the stroke and largest
steering oar with them. And having offered prayers to
the Almightly, they are now ready to war with their
fellow men. the air crackles with excitement as the
best of the 130 feet Chundan Valloms, each manned by
over a hundred rowers, fly through the waters at break
neck speed, egged on by the fierce competitive spirit
that makes the event and the spectators lusty roars.
the most famous of these are the NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE
on the second Saturday of every august and the ARANMULA
RACE which is connected with a temple festival. There
are a dozen other Snake Boat races. The latest addition
is the one in connection with the GREAT ELEPHANT MARCH
held on 19th of January every year.