Kerala, ‘God’s Own Country’ – Part 2: Dreamy Kumarakom

The next destination on the Kerala itinerary for our wheelchair travel expert Shama Noorani was picturesque Kumarakom, a small village in the city of Kottayam. Read on to find out how accessible Kumarakom is for people on a wheelchair.

Shama Noorani, our wheelchair travel expert

Shama Noorani, our amazing wheelchair travel expert

Having left a part of me behind in Munnar, my next destination in Kerala was Kumarakom. Comprising of a cluster of small islands, Kumarakom is famous for its Vembanad backwater tourism, aboard beautiful handmade houseboats ‘Kettuvellam’ or boats tied with ropes.

Kettuvallam is made of huge planks of Jack wood (Artocarpus hirsuta) or 'Aanjili' and the entire structure is held together with coir

Kettuvallam is made of huge planks of Jack wood (Artocarpus hirsuta) or ‘Aanjili’ and the entire structure is held together with coir. Yes, no nails are used to assemble the boat!

My first reaction as we headed towards Kumarakom was that I had never seen so many coconut palms in my life! The air was as fresh as that in Munnar, and the people ever so warm and hospitable.

The Kumarakom Lake Resort stands in the serene environs of north Kumarakom

The Kumarakom Lake Resort stands in the serene environs of north Kumarakom

Almost every hotel I audited in Kumarakom had heritage buildings going back years, untouched from the exterior, with beautifully decorated rooms within. But the hotel I lost my heart to was Kumarakom Lake Resort, a premier hotel well known not only for its houseboats, delicious food and hospitality par excellence, but also for its luxurious old-world charm.

I was greeted by a lady wearing a traditional Kerala saree, who applied a ‘tika’ made of sandalwood paste on my forehead

I was greeted by a lady wearing a traditional Kerala saree, who applied a ‘tikka’ made of sandalwood paste on my forehead

As I looked around, I was drawn to a huge wrought-iron structure with over 200 oil lamps, which are lit every evening! Each piece of carefully chosen furniture went back many years and were made mostly from teak wood.

The teak wood fixture and furniture well reflected Kerala's old world charm

The teak wood fixtures and furniture reflect Kerala’s luxurious old-world charm

Every part of this sprawling hotel was accessible by wooden bridges, also made of really old exotic wood. The man-made meandering lakes were a visual delight, reflecting the palm trees and wooden structures that surrounded them.

With the perfect mix of traditional architectural charm and contemporary comforts, I enjoyed my stay at the Kumarakom Lake Resort

With the perfect mix of traditional architectural charm and contemporary comforts, I enjoyed my stay at the Kumarakom Lake Resort

For years I have dreamt about going on a houseboat ride along the backwaters, and I instinctively felt that this was right place to make my dream a reality. I was really pleased that the manager, Mr Jiju did not question my ability to board the boat when I requested a ride. On the contrary, he began setting the wheels in motion and enthusiastically offered to board me, power chair et al, if I wished!

I had pre-plannned that I would sit on my transfer sling and 4 strong men could do the rest, so that is how I boarded the houseboat. Before I knew it I was sitting on a huge wooden chair, a throne to my romantic mind, impatiently waiting for the engine to start!

A houseboat ride ticked off my bucket list

A houseboat ride in Kerala, God’s Own Country, ticked off my bucket list

This was another time in my life when I felt closest to the divine and Mother Nature. Sitting aboard the boat, with my eyes closed, sun shining down on my face, a stiff breeze blowing through my hair, surrounded by vast expanses of water and millions of palms – absolute heaven! An hour-and-a-half journey finished ever so fast, but I got off the boat feeling fulfilled in more ways than one, and I thanked Mr Jiju profusely for making my dream come true!

We finished off the beautiful day with a fabulous meal in the Ettukettu Restaurant, where we were spoilt for choice with the extensive menu. I decided to go by the dictum ‘eat in Kerala as the locals do’, and opted for a spicy prawn curry with appams, a truly to-die-for dish! I left the resort feeling fulfilled, promising myself that I would return some day and live in their awesome wheelchair-accessible cottages, with an open-roof shower area and a king-size bed that one can get lost in!

Read Part 1 of Shama’s Marvellous Munnar experience!

Read Shama’s other posts here

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Shama Noorani

Passionate about accessible travelling for all. Shama Noorani strongly believes that 'There ain't no mountain high enough. There is always a way , never give up, believe in yourself and make your dream a reality'.

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