Archive for November, 2009

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary – A Diamond in India's Ecological Crown

 

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

“I am the eagle, I live in high country,
in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky,
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers,

but time is still turning they soon will be dry,
All those who see me,
and all who believe in me,
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.”

This inspiring poem by American singer & poet John Denver is favourite among all the bird lovers / ornithologists in the world. The best part about my New Year Party, last year, was that I specially organized a trip to Kerala with my family and enjoyed the divine green beauty while staying in a houseboat and exploring the serene backwaters of Kerala. Still I was upset, as I did not get an opportunity to visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary due to lack of time. But positively, I got an invitation through a friend of mine to attend a two-day bird watching programme in Kumarakom, which was organized by WWF – India in connection with World Wetlands Day. That invitation brought a broader smile to me.

I arrived at Kottayam Junction on the scheduled date, which is the nearest railhead to Kumarakom (15 km). A cab took me to the hotel I was booked in. On the first day of the programme, all the guests were taken to the 14 acres wide Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that lies on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. It’s hard to believe that one of the smallest parks in the country can be so stunning.

We clicked several local birds like waterfowl, cuckoo, parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes. The day ended perfectly. We all got back to the hotel and shared our experiences with each other till the wee hours. The next day was scheduled for a cruise along the Vembanad Lake, which is considered as the best way to experience the sanctuary. Houseboats and motorboats are easily available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.

Our first halt was Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake. This 10 acre island serves as a home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. Kingfishers, golden-backed woodpeckers and grey herons were the main attractions there. That short tour to Kumarakom left me mesmerized in every context.

Posted on November 27th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  1 Comment »

Kerala Backwater Tourism: Beauty,Excitement, Fun & Relaxation

Kerala Backwater
Kerala Backwater

I tell stories not to promote places, rather to inform the readers about the wonder destinations and to develop interest of people about places to see in India. Therefore, I am not just another wanderer – I am the God’s man! And this story is about the journey of the God’s man to the God’s own country – Kerala. Steeped in greenery and natural beauty, the state offer countless fascinating attractions. It was a seven day trip during which I explored picturesque beaches, virgin landscapes, ancient temples, enchanting wildlife sanctuaries, aromatic spice/tea plantations etc. But the best part was, undoubtedly, Kerala backwaters.

The green state of Kerala is blessed with 44 rivers and a superb network of canals, lakes, lagoons and estuaries. These are the places where the true Kerala lifestyle can be enjoyed at its best. A Kerala backwater tour can take you through all these fascinating attractions and let you enjoy traditional Kerala art forms. On my tour to Kerala, I was booked in a luxurious houseboat that offered me a pleasant sail through palm trees, pandanus shrubs, leafy plants and bushes.

The traditional houseboat or Kettuvallom was simply another heaven to me. That eco friendly boat, built with bamboo poles, coconut fibre, ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. offered me the bet facilities like a star rated hotel. It had proper bedroom, attached bathroom, power backup, sitting area, kitchen and sun deck. Moreover, I was provided with a cook and an assistant. So my journey was awesome with authentic seafood delicacies prepared by the cook and the interesting facts about Kerala served before me by the assistant.

We started our journey from Kollam, popularly known as ‘Swapnadesh’. The houseboat first took me to Alappuzha / Alleppy that is always compared to the watery city of Venice. There I visited some of the ancient architectural wonders and temples. On my visit to Kuttanad, I explored beautiful lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets. This was the time when I captured a number of colorful birds in my camera. My next halt was Kumarakom, where I enjoyed the cruise on Vembanana Lake and indulged in some of the common water sports.

Located alongside the coastline, Kasargod is a nice destination with immense natural beauty and shopping options. I found some good handicrafts & sarees for my mother at reasonable rates there. On my backwater tour in Kerala, my last destination was Thiruvallam, where I enjoyed the relaxing canoe rides.

After the complete tour of this green state with all the attractions, I realized that Kerala backwaters definitely serve as the perfect medium to explore waterways and have a closer look at the local villagers, their traditions and living. As Kerala backwaters are connected to almost all the major cities of the state, important from tourism point of view, they offered me wonderful opportunities to have a glimpse of culture, history, adventure, beauty and traditions of Kerala.

Posted on November 13th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kollam Tour: Kerala in Miniature

Kollam

Kerala Houseboat

Searching for a destination gifted with the best of waterways and the best of greenery?  Plan out a Kerala tour and go through Kollam travel guide. This  old seaport is also known as Quilon and is located on the banks of Ashtamudi  Lake, about 70 km from Thiruvananthapuram. Apart from serving as a  wonderful gateway to Kerala, this beautiful district is also known as a  renowned trade and commerce centre.

Background
Earlier a  renowned trading point for spice, Kollam has been a favourite place for  the traders of Persia,  Arab, Rome and China. It was established as a  modern trading centre by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and the British. For the past few years, it has emerged as a leading  cashew trading and processing industry in India. Moreover, Kollam is an  important hub for the state’s marine products.

Major Attractions:

Ashtamudi Lake
This second  largest lake of the state offers the best of backwater cruises. The backdrop  of Chinese fishing nets forms the spell binding view here. Dense coconut  groves and palm trees surrounding the entire lake make it an ideal  place for your vacations. Kollam Boat Club offers ample opportunities  for cruising alongside the waterline.

Kottankulangara  Chamayavillanku
This is a  unique and interesting festival, in which all the men dress themselves  like women and perform various art forms in devotion to Goddess Bhagavathy.  Organized at the Kottankulangara temple in Chavara in March – April, the  festival is marked by the ‘Damsels’ that come to the temple at night in  a long procession with lighted lamps in their hands.

Jatayupara
As the  name suggests, this huge rock at Chadayamangalam is dedicated to the  mythical bird Jatayu in the epic Ramayana. As the legend goes,  that huge bird died here only while fighting against the demon King Ravana,  who kidnapped Devi Sita. Jatayupara serves as the venue for the ‘Crafts  Festival’ that is held annually during December-January. This  festival features the craftsmanship of artisans from all over the country.

Kottarakkara
Earlier  being the capital of Travancore Royal family, Kottarakkara is popular as  the place from where the famous Indian classical dance form originated.
Kollam  has no dearth of attractions. It is also frequented for the Picnic Village (the main centre of recreational activities), Rameshwara Temple, Palaruvi Waterfalls and the fresh water lake Sasthamkotta.

Kollam is favourite among history buffs because of several ruins of palaces and  forts that are worth visiting. The scenic beaches are a treat to all the  honeymooners as well as the routine vacationers.

Posted on November 9th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off