It was a Sunday, Myself and some of my friends have decided to go for a one-day sightseeing trip. I was in a mood to explore some village life along with backwater feelings. My regular hangout place in Kochi starts from Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Cherai Beach, Synagogue, Marine Drive and ends up by visiting Lulu Mall. Weekend traffic in Kochi is terrible, especially during Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. So this week I have decided to go for a village sightseeing trip. I have googled and found some interesting one-day package tour operators I have got stumbled upon a website called KeralaBackWaterOnline who offer various one-day excursion packages from Kochi.
The tour which is operated by Indoworld Tours, a travel operator based in Kochi. One Mr. Ramesh PK, is the man behind it and he have made all arrangements to our requirement. He is also known as “Swamy” for everyone and is famous for his down to earth and friendly attitude towards the customers. Indoworld Tours is an approved tour operator by Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and have experience in making people happy since 1996.
They have more than ten attractive one-day packages available and you can choose any of it depends on your requirement. We have decided to go for their exclusive village life experience package at Vaikom Backwater Village. People have a misconception that, the backwater in Kerala is just Alappuzha and Kumarakom. Vaikom is, in fact, the oldest township in Kerala which is just one hour drive from Kochi has many beautiful and must visit spots which are still untouched by modernity. The town is attached to the famous Vembanadu lake which connected to the backwaters in Alappuzha & Kumarakom.
The package cost was Rs.1950/- per person (Around 30 USD) including pick up and drop by A/c Car from Kochi. You have to pay additional charges if you are staying on the outskirts of Kochi or Ernakulam. The tour starts at 8.30 Am from Kochi and reaches Vaikom by 10.00 Am. We have begun from Edappally by our vehicle at 8.30 Am and reached Murinjapuzha, near to Vaikom where the tour starts from a private boat jetty. It was a small non-mechanized covered country boat which had 16 seats.
The tour started by 10.30 Am from a private jetty and the non-mechanized boat started moving slowly. There was a Govt. Approved Tour Guide to guide all of us during the trip. The guide started his job by introducing himself. His name is Shajas and a native of Vaikom and son of a fisherman. The guide was very friendly and fluent in English who took everyone’s attention within a short span of time.
The backwaters were calm and quiet, and we could enjoy the sound of nature and birds. The Vembanad Lake which is in Vaikom is the largest in Kerala. Vaikom is gorgeous with its rivers, narrow canals, human-made canals, different kind of plants and trees, and surely the backwaters. The cruising begins from a large lake and almost after 30 minutes, the boat entered into a small human-made canal. I still remember the guide’s narration; according to him, these little channels are like the nervous system of our human body. And yeah that sentence is genuine, and the cruising through that small canal was adventurous, and we got to see plenty of birds, coconut palms, etc. There was a significant number of Cerbera Odollam plants (Also known as Othalanga – A Suicide Fruit) which looks similar to Mangoes. This plant grows wild along in the coast in many parts of Kerala.
The guide Shajas was exquisite in explaining each and every small thing. The small canal was a boundary of an island, and we could see some huts which are used for people to stay at night to protect their farming land. There was an impressive shed which had a ‘No Photography’ board placed in front of it. According to the guide, there is a mad man who stays alone, and he doesn’t like getting photographed and if someone tries he may pelt stones. Luckily, we couldn’t see anyone there, and as every Indian does, I also took a pic of that ‘No Photography’ board. 😉
In between the boat has stopped near a house on the lake shore which was a typical home of a coir making members. Some ladies were making coir. It is fascinating to watch the coir making process by the village women with the help of weaving wheels. It is made from coconut fiber extracting the coconut husks. The guide has explained the complete process of coir manufacturing to all of us.
After cruising for about 3 hours, we stopped on an island called ‘Mangrove Island’ which is a private property for having our lunch. Traditional Kerala Style Vegetarian Lunch was provided on banana leaves.
There were dishes like rice, avial, kalan, olan, mezhukupuratti, sambar, curd, puliseri, pappadam served along with Payasam. Post lunch we were transferred to the mainland from the island on the same boat. And we all got shifted to our cars by sending a goodbye to our boat.
It was around 2 Pm, and we started our journey to land in 3 vehicles escorted by our guide Shajas. The midday plan was mainly focusing on village activities like handloom units, pot making, and village farm visit.
Our first destination was a visit to handloom unit which they make small wash towels. The process was similar to coir making, and it is a skilled job performed by village ladies. You can also buy the real cotton handmade sheets from here at an affordable price.
The next program was to see the making of various clay potteries. The journey to the pot making center was scenic, and the place is in a remote village near the banks of a river in Vaikom. Village men engaged in making pots and our guide Shajas did a great job by explaining the different process of pot making. He also added the problems and difficulties which these people face in their job. That includes the lack of raw materials and many social issues facing them. Most of them from our team has purchased several cooking pots and items made of clay.
Our next destination was a village house visit. We were taken to Vaikkom town and stopped in front of the Vaikom temple and had tea and some snacks from a local tea shop. Let me be frank, and it was a great experience having tea at a local vegetarian restaurant. I don’t know whether you can call it as a restaurant, but you get all varieties of South Indian dishes served here. We had hot tea along with snacks like Uzhunnu Vada, Parippu Vada, Pazham Pori (Banana Fry) and Sukhiyan.
After experiencing the local tea shop, we have proceeded to visit that beautiful house (Tharavadu) which is near to Vaikom temple, and it is known as ‘White House.’ The 300 years old big house is a Nalukettu and the house owner Mr. K V Mathew, and his wife always welcome their visitors with a smiling face. All your tiredness will get vanish once you enter this property and starts mingling with these couples. Mr. Mathew is very friendly and took all of us to show his plantation wich has coconut palms, spice plants like nutmeg, pepper, etc. Mrs. Mathew served a cup of fresh lime juice to all of us and she even invited some girls from our group to show her wedding albums. Mr. Mathew is a talkative senior citizen, who is an ex-textile businessman in Vaikom.
Later we moved to our final destination which is a famous Shiva temple. Vaikom Shiva Temple is one of the oldest and famous Shiva Temples in Kerala. The temple has a lot of history to say. Our guide Shajas was still in a whole mood and keep on explaining each and every small thing. We had a visit to the temple and the festival season was yet to begin. So there was some decoration work going on. I had a quick darshan by going inside the sanctum sanctorum while others were busy with clicking photographs.
By the time it was 6.30 Pm and all of us were about to leave. The one-day trip which gave us happiness, curiosity and new experiences are going to end here. All of us enjoyed the trip and said goodbye to our guide who guided us well right from the beginning.
I will recommend this one day trip from Indoworld tours to everyone who read this article. It is worth for what you are paying, and 100% security assured all over the journey. You can contact them on 9947705554 or 9947705557 for inquiries. Please mention that you have seen this on ‘Tech Travel Eat‘ Blog for getting some discounts. 😉 More details about One Day Tours from Kochi can be found here.
Mr. Shajas was very friendly and multilingual person who is also a Govt. Approved Tour Guide. You can hire him on an hourly/daily basis. He is also an escort/bird watching assistance person. You can contact him on 9947444972 or [email protected]
NB: My trip with Indoworld tours was a complimentary and all views are my own.