Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kumarakom Bird Santuary

This write-up is more for us to remember what we did in Kumarakom. Otherwise, we forget in a few weeks how exactly we spent our time travelling and if it was worth it.
It also gives some details about our stay and the people we met - for house boats and bird watching.

KTDC Waterscapes
Canoe boat ride
Trip on public ferry

2 Jan 2014 - Day 3 – Kumarakom

Places visited:
  1. Stay at KTDC Waterscapes
  2. Kumarakom Bird sanctuary
Travelled by train in the morning from Ernakulam town to Kotayam. Rs 180 for 2 people.
There are prepaid autos available at the station – 300 rs to Kumarakom. There are buses and the bus station is 500 mtrs away from the station.

Reached the resort by 12 pm and checked in to the room. Asked for a canal facing room and got room 304.
We walked around the resort once and went for Lunch. Lunch was quite expensive – only buffet was available and cost us 650 per person.
Around 4:30 pm we walked into the bird sanctuary. It’s a 2km walk one way but we did not see many brids. 
Animals and birds noticed were – Monitor lizard, 3 bats foraging for fruits, turtles, Koyal. We finished our wlak by 5:45 and proceeded to the Bird interpretation center to seek more information.

The person at the center (Mr Liju) gave us information on canoe(local) boats and how we can reach Allepey through a ferry.
Tomorrow the plan is to take a local boat for bird watching at 6:30 am with Mr. Sabu.

After this, we took a stroll on to the left of the resort’s entrance gate. We passed a bridge below which the Meenachil flowed.  She separates the Kumaram and Ilaakiyam village. Arundati Roy belongs to the second village.
We reached a small shop called Ashadom and purchased some bread, jam and chips. On the way back, we found a small tea shop “”. Tea was good for Rs 8 per cup.
We came back to the room and had a light dinner – bread with jam and some chikkus. Trying to read the book on birds – “ Birds of the Indian subcontinent” that we bought in Fort Kochi.

3 Jan 2014 - Day 4 – Kumarakom
What we did?
1.       Birding trip by local canoe – Rs 900
2.       Ayurvedic massage – Rs 2250
3.       Sunset ride on motorboat – Rs 550

We did go for the birding trip early this morning. Managed to wake up at 5:30 am and reach the boat jetty by 6:30 am where Mr.Sabu was waiting for us. He is an ex-military man who has served in the army for 20 years. An ardent bird-watcher he was enthusiastic to find that his passengers are learning the trade.  The canoe trip started in the small canal inside the resort premises that led to the vast expanse of the lake.   
We noted 40 species of birds in the next 3 hours as we cruised around the lake. We, first-time bird watchers, were happy J. The book helped us lot but without Sabu it would have been useless trying to recognize them.

Here is the bird list:

Same day, I went for an Ayurvedic massage – a bit overpriced at the resort but absolutely recommended. Mine lasted for 60 minutes and cost Rs. 2250. I use a lot of natural products already in my cleansing routine and got to know of some more from the masseuse.

We went on a romantic motor boat ride during sunset – good one but I liked the morning canoe one better. There is nothing much to see in the evening and that too in a motor boat.

4 Jan 2014 - Day 4 – Allepey ride

What we did?
1.       Took a public government ferry – From Kottayam to  Allepey
2.       Hot Kitchen
3.       Jain temple
4.       Allepey beach
5.       Took a public government ferry – From Muhamma to  Kumarakom

This was the best cruise of the trip – economically, environmentally and aesthetically. Kanjiram is about 15 kms from Kumarakom and can be reached by bus or auto. You will have to catch 2 buses to reach Kanjiram – Kumarakon to Ilakiyam; Ilakiyam to Kanjiram. Since we were running late we chose to take the auto for Rs 250 and reach on time to board the 12:00 pm ferry. There are specific timings and you can get to know this from the locals outside the hotel.

The 2 hours ride was lovely as we passed through rice fields in the Kuttanad area. Again it took us through canals and the Vembanad lake where we could see many of the recognized birds. The Ferry stops were interesting to watch and it acted like a public bus between these disconnected areas.  There were other tourists with us in the ferry and it cost us just Rs 15 per person. Absolute must-do for this place.

We reached  Allepey at 2 pm and went staright for lunch at Hot Kitchen. This was one of the recommended vegetarian hotels by Lonely planet. The other one was Sree Udupi Durga Hotel. Lunch was good and cost Rs.49.  The spread was the usual Kerala cuisine of sambar, rasam, rice, papadam and payasam.
We wanted to buy some choir products but dint find any shops nearby. We took an auto to the Jain temple and saw it from outside. From here the beach was just a km away. It was hot but we walked around a bit and took some snaps. I will not recommend going here after seeing lovely Goa beaches which are heaven compared to this.

The return ferry was only at 5:30 pm. Since it will get dark on the way back and we would reach pretty late we decided to the take the bus to Muhamma at 4 pm. Muhamma is 15 km from Allepey and lies in a straight line on the other side on Kumarakom jetty.  The ferry went through the lake for the next 45 minutes and we reached Kumarakom boat jetty which is about 4 kms from our resort by road.

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