A ride in the ‘Shikara’
A ‘must do’ when in Kochi is a ride through the canals of the backwaters. Last time in February 2019, we (my spouse and I) had the houseboat experience on Lake Vembanad. So, the most recent visit to Kochi in November 2019, we decided to do the canals in the backwaters of Kumarakom.
The journey from Fort Kochi -where we stayed- to the Kumarakom boat jetty is a mere 1.5 hours by car. We set out after our breakfast and reached around 10.30 am. The ‘shikaras’ or canoes are motorised and while you may want to do a prior booking, we landed up without one. The cost of the ride was Rs.2000/- for two hours and the ride takes you through a leisurely pace so that you savour every bit of the meditative experience through the canals and its tributaries.
If you reach early around 8 am, you get to see the water-lilies in bloom- white, pink and blue! Unfortunately, the blooms had closed by the time we undertook the ride.
The boatman serves as a guide too, as he reels out the names of the plants, flowers and the bird species that you encounter through the ride. Since the Kumarakom bird sanctuary is close by, you do get to see quite a few species of birds. At the outset, a cuckoo greeted us. There are lone black great cormorants or few in groups that you may encounter. We spotted the White egrets, kingfishers, various species of ducks, ravens, snake-necked cormorants and bulbuls.
Enroute, we stopped at a small shop by the banks for some tender coconut water- the sweetest I have tasted. The paddy fields at the back of the shop make a pretty site. The children playing and swimming in the water with abandon is a childhood you wish every child to have.
As you meander through the canals you see the village life go by. I will let the pictures do the talking before I next share the pictures of the Vembanad house boat pictures (from Azhapuzha) in another article.
We finished the ride around 1 pm just in time for lunch. There are restaurants nearby that serve the traditional Kerala fare. You are in luck, especially if you like sea-food!