Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters & Beyond, Kumarakom is a window to the Best of the Backwaters, from rare village experiences and engagement with the community, up-close-and-personal, to cruising these emerald green waters and discovering the history of Kumarakom which is, interestingly, linked to a British family.
Kumarakom, a cluster of little islands on Vembanad Lake in Kottayam district of Kerala, is fabled as a stunning backwater destination. The complex labyrinthine backwaters are peppered on both sides with villages and farms, temples, churches and mosques, bazaars and coconut plantations.
On the banks of what is India’s largest lake stands one of the destination’s newest retreat, Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters & Beyond, Kumarakom. The retreat, a curated collection of 27 luxurious villas and suites, is set within acres of lush tropical gardens with enchanting views of a silent, stunning panorama dominated by emerald green foliage and the brilliant sapphire of the lake. It is suffused with world-class amenities but in the ambience that truly pays tribute to the surroundings. Classical Kerala architectural-style villas are a window to the world of authentic experiences and the best of the backwaters.
Birding in Kumarakom
The verdant Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, on the eastern banks of the Vembanad Lake, is a short drive from the retreat. On a leisurely walk through this green haven, guests will have an opportunity to learn about its history. It was once a private estate belonging to the Baker family. The credit for developing both Kumarakom village and the bird sanctuary goes to Englishman Alfred George Baker, who the laid the foundations of the Kumarakom village and the bird sanctuary by reclaiming 500 acres of wetlands from the Vembanad lake during the 1840s. Later, Baker’s descendent, Henry developed this bird sanctuary—acres of lush wooded land home to a host of migratory birds, especially in winters, is a birder’s paradise, from the endemic flycatchers, herons, parrots, waterfowl and owls to the migratory Siberian cranes. The sanctuary abuts the village home in some places and on the walk, guests can stop for conversations with local fishermen plying their boats early morning, or watch while the village wakes up slowly to the rhythm of nature.
The villages are also home to the practitioners of south India’s oldest dance forms—the ritualistic dance theatre, Kathakali and Mohiniattam, one of the eight classical dances of India. The retreat can organise performances and interactions with the artists, including a trip to watch the Kathakali artists put on their elaborate make-up and their splendorous costumes that can take hours to put on.