Difference between revisions of "Kumarakom"
Revision as of 16:08, 18 January 2010
Kumarakom is a tourist village in Kottayam district, Kerala, India. It is a cluster of little islands on the "Vembanad backwaters". It houses the popular "Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary".
The history of this exotic backwater village revolves around the "Baker House" (also known as the "History House"), which was built by the British missionary Alfred George Baker, whom the locals called "Kari Saipu" (possibly an elision from "Baker Sahib"). Four generations of Bakers lived in the house until 1962. It is reported that they spoke Malayalam, the local language, and even wore the "mundu", which is the traditional formal wear of the people of [Kerala] (a plain white "dhoti", with golden silk lining). The Baker Memorial School in Kottayam, was started around 1825, by members of the same family. The Baker House itself was in ruins, until it was taken over by the Taj Group and restored into a luxury heritage hotel.
Situated in the Kottayam district of Kerala, which is already known for its lush greenery, this exotic backwater village adds more than a sparkle to it. The landscape basically consists of a cluster of island villages in and around the large "Vembanad Kayal" backwater body (which is also, incidentally the largest in Kerala), with a plethora of branched bodies all lined by beautiful, thick, lush and peaceful greenery. A large number of coconut trees line the horizon to add the perfect tropical touch to the landscape.
With the onset of the monsoon rains, some time around June, the little streams and lagoons break their flow beds and irrigate the fertile land to an overwhelming cover of green. Shrubs, grass and bushes cover every available inch of land to provide a fantastic treat to the eyes with the morning dew and surface mist on the water bodies, spotted in colors with blooms of algae and lillies.
Flora and fauna
Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of tropical flora and fauna. An important point of interest is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, where a significant number of bird species are known to make migratory visits. The park area covers around 15 acres and functions under the aegis of the government of Kerala. Originally, developed as a rubber estate by the English colonial enterpreneurs, it was formerly known as the Baker estate. One of the important migratory species is the Siberian crane. Other tropical species such as the egret, heron, waterfoul, ducks, moorhens and kingfisher are commonly found.
The Vembanad Lake, is home to many marine and freshwater fish. Varieties of shrimp, prawn and fresh water fish are boutiful. The "Pearl spot" fish is found in relatively lower numbers, and is a local delicacy.
Approx. 2 hours from Cochin International Airport.
via Kottayam (16km)
via Cochin International Airport (75 km)
The local cuisine of Kerala is a large variety of lesser known delicacies of the most exotic genre. It is markedly different from cuisines from other parts of india, in its emphasis on non-vegetarian culinary and liberal use of a wide variety of spices. It is heavily influenced by the Syrian Christian taste buds.
Some of the popular items are listed below:
Otherwise known as "Pearl Spot", this is probably the most exotic freshwater fish of them all. With its rich flavors, it is a culinary delight. Common dishes are "Karimeen Pollichathu" (a Kerala version of grilled fish, prepared with rich spices, wrapped in a banana leaf on burning coal), fry and curry (prepared either in chilly paste with a special kind of tamarind or with coconut milk or paste).
This is the local name for tapioca (a tuber). It is boiled with rock salt and then sauteed with grated coconut, onion, red chilly and curry leaves to make a solid meal commonly eaten with spicy fish or beef curries or roast.
A local bread prepared with fermented rice and coconut dough. It is slightly sweet and is an excellent combination with meat dishes (beef, pork or chicken) or stew.
The state of Kerala itself is popular for the large varieties of seafood including shrimp, prawn, crab and squid amongst others. It is difficult to find such varieties of spicy and exotic preparations of seafood anywhere else in the world.