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CITIES OF
INDIA

KUMARAKOMBack

Kumarakom is a tourist village inKerala . It is a cluster of small islands on the Vembanad backwaters. It houses the popular Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. It is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometres (10 mi)), famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vemabanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.

Kumarakom has a wide variety of houseboats and is well known through out the world for housbeoat experience. They are used only for tourists these days. A separate boat known as Kettuvallam is used by the people to go fishing or to transport goods. Apart from these, there are elegant special boats like Kochu-odi Vallam, Odi-Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam, Churulan Vallam and Chundan Vallam(Snake Boat), which take part in the boat races around Onam time. The Kumarakom boat-race is conducted in the big canal in the centre near the market. There is a private sailing club in Kumarakom, located on the shore of the Vembanad lake.

Kumarakom is on man-made land reclaimed from the vast Vembanad Lake. The name Kumarakom was derived from the deity of its oldest temple Kumaran. Kumaran's Akam or place became Kumarakom. The place was fertile and most suitable for cultivation of rice and coconut trees. This village was part of Vadakkancore kingdom. But in 1750 Marthanda Varma the King of Travacore conquered and annexed it to Travancore. The first Christian Church was built here in the year 1769 in the land granted by the King of Travancore.

The modern history of this exotic backwater village started with the arrival of the English farmer Alfred George Baker in 1847. He reclaimed 500 acres of Vembanad Lake and made garden land and paddy fields. He built the Baker House (also known as the History House). Mr.Baker was the beloved Kari Saipu (possibly an elision from Baker Sahib) of the locals. 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.

 


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