Verdant paddies lined by coconut trees bending over a flabbergasting network of sinuous backwater canals, blazing sunsets spent with the loved ones while sipping freshly brewed aromatic coffee, and deep-cleansing one’s soul and body with ayurvedic spas and massages – seems a bit like a fragment of dreams, right? Well, that’s what a lovely time in Kerala promises among innumerable other possibilities.
I had been to Kerala as a child with my parents and was smitten by its exquisite natural beauty so much that I kept looking for every other occasion to revisit this place. Kali had been to Kerala too, and being the nature admirer that he is, we discussed various opportunities to visit the land but somehow couldn’t make it till, as luck would have it, he got relocated to Kochi/Ernakulam. Needless to say, we couldn’t be happier – the place would not only keep us away from the cacophony of a huge city (though it has all the amenities) but also present us with ample of opportunities to visit all the nooks and corners of Kerala taking our own sweet time.
We have literally been here for about a year, and within these few months – apart from setting up our little abode – we managed to visit few places keeping pace with our full-time jobs. To be honest, we couldn’t manage to visit the offbeat places – we stuck to the mostly-taken path and still Kerala didn’t cease to mesmerize us with its unparalleled beauty. Today, we are going to talk about one of the most iconic places of Kerala – Alleppey – along with the comparatively lesser-known Kumarakom. Now, Alleppey, as we all know, is known for its intricate network of canals that are a part of what we call the ‘Kerala Backwaters’, that ultimately opens into the massive Vembanad Lake. Right across the Vembanad Lake is a small hamlet – which has now become the hotspot of luxury tourism – Kumarakom. One can enjoy houseboat rides from both these places and witness sublime sunsets against the backdrop of the winding canals or the beautiful Vembanad Lake. But, as you can well make out, both these places present pretty similar landscape (if not entirely the same) and present similar activities – so, there is no point in visiting both these places if you are here in Kerala for a limited number of days. In that case, where should you book your stay – Alleppey or Kumarakom? However, before you start brainstorming into it, let us tell you that we have done it all for you – all you need to do is read on to know which place might suit your necessities and requirements the best.
A Relaxing Sojourn Or An Experiential Holiday?
1. The first thing while picking up either of these two destinations that you should do is ask yourself whether you would want to simply soak in the beauty of nature or go about understanding the vibe and daily livelihood of the place. If former is your choice, Kumarakom is your answer. Although the resorts in Kumarakom offer you village tours and an opportunity to meet the locals going about with their daily lives, you would have to take them separately. If you don’t want, you can chuck it off altogether and nestle yourself in the lap of luxury for a day or two.
On the contrary, a trip to Alleppey cannot be taken without experiencing the local villages on the river banks, and the laid-back and rhythmic ways of lives along these intricate trails of backwaters. You can witness the locals fishing, doing their household chores, and the children going to their schools taking the canoe ferries or adults boarding the same to go to their work, visit their relatives and so on. Looking from this point, Alleppey can definitely be termed as the ‘Venice of the East’, where the ways of lives are dictated by the rivers and canals.
2. Some of us really appreciate calmness, especially on vacations. While both Alleppey and Kumarakom promise you the same, Kumarakom definitely wins this bait as 90% of the resorts are located right on the bank of the Vembanad lake, which are literally situated in the middle of nowhere. The villages are pretty far off, and you can have your own sweet, private time once you are done with the sight-seeing (if you want to, that is – choices are always great). Kumarakom is especially great if you’re celebrating some personal occasions, like anniversary, babymoon, honeymoon and the likes.
However, with Alleppey, the thing is most of the upscale resorts are located on islands almost right next to the main town. So, if you are someone who would want to lose themselves to the scenery and calmness, the sight of buildings and factories (though there aren’t too many) may be a mood dampener. But be rest assured, peace and serenity won’t be elusive here – Kumarakom may just win by a point!
3. When talking of serenity, I often feel quite helpless while thinking about spending evenings at quiet zones. The mornings are sure for activities and sceneries, but what about the evenings at places that do not boast of great nightlife? Well, the better resorts in Kumarakom and Alleppey have ample of amenities that will keep you busy till your bedtime. For example, the fantastic Malabar cuisine (especially the prawn and beef recipes) and beer is a bond made in heaven to share with your partner. However, if you are looking for party scenes or just lounging about at a nearby cafe, Kumarakom isn’t the place boasting of evening/night activities.
Now, in case you are staying at B&B’s or at homestays (which are pretty impressive here in Kerala), Alleppey promises you a pleasant stay – perhaps tad bit more pleasant than Kumarakom. Notably, most of Alleppey’s homestays and B&B’s are located in the beach area or on one of the tiny islands that dot on the backwaters. So, you do have an option here to roam about the city or around the beach areas, where there are pretty cafes offering good food. You may also hang around the little canals winding around the city and experience a city that nowhere else in India will you find. And if you’re staying in a homestay, you can surely make a bonfire while listening to tales from your local hosts of this wondrous land that Kerala is – and watch the lively islands go into their deep slumber with the starry sky watching over and the moon peeking through the coconut trees.
Are You Looking For Something Other Than Just The Backwaters?
Kerala might seem like a thin strip of land on the southern most zone of the Indian map, the most wonderful thing about Kerala is that each and every point on its map has some tourist interest or the other. So, while planning a trip to Kerala, it may so happen that you would not get a chance to visit any of its beaches. In this scenario, Alleppey can act as a big boon for – many might not know – the Alleppey Beach or the Alapuzzha beach is located just a kilometre or two from the point where the boats and canals operate. Since it is still unknown to most of the tourists, the place is perfect for swimming without attracting much attention. There are also numerous cafes that dot the area. We particularly like the Catamaran Cafe, located right opposite Zostel Alleppey. If you are around, do give this cafe a try!
Looking from this point of view, Kumarakom does not have any beach. The closest beach to Kumarakom is the Marari Beach in Alleppey district, which is also nearly 28 km away. But if you’ve already chosen Kumarakom as your preferable destination, don’t lose heart for the Vembanad Lake promises to wow you in ways more than you can even imagine!
All in all, both these destinations provide amazing possibilities to tourists, provided what you want from your holiday. And, if you have read all the way till here, Thank You very much. Hopefully we have been able to help you in choosing one over the other. If you have any more queries or suggestions, do write to us in the comments section below. We would be delighted to hear from you.
Have a great trip!