is an island-village on the out skirts of
Cochin city of Kerala State in South India
. As Kumbaangi is close to the heart of
Cochin city reaching there would pose no
problems whatso ever. Innumerabl number
of buses both private and KSRTC ply towards
Kumbalangi. By road it is 45 Km.from the
Kochi International Airport , 15 Km. from
Ernakulam Railway Station, and 16Km.from
Ernakulam KSRTC Bus Stand (Govt.bus stand).
is surrounded by backwaters. A ring of Chinese
fishing nets literally encircle the island
–village bearing witness to therich
aquatic life. An array of mangroves separate
land from water providing a breeding ground
for prawns, crabs, oysters and small fishes.
The village which is 16 Sq.Km .in area is
home to fishermen, farmers, labourers, toddy
tappers and coir spinners all alike.
Kumbalangi project was set in motion in
2003 to help the local people, the economy
and the locality through tourism,"
says M C Sivadathan, President of the Kumbalangi
panchayat (village council). "And in
order to achieve this, we have done away
with many concepts typical of tourism elsewhere.
Our idea is to create job opportunities
for the villagers, while also ensuring that
tourists have a good time seeing and experiencing
real village life,'' he explains. The panchayat
- with financial assistance from the state
government - is implementing the project.
30,000 people live in this seven square
km village. The main occupation in Kumbalangi
is fishing, and there are over 100 Chinese
nets in the backwaters that face the village.
The region - once rich in fish and mangroves
- was losing its ecological capital.
there are about 10 houses that offer rooms
to visitors. This facility is generally
within a residence, where two or more rooms
with attached baths are set aside for guests.
The per day charge is about Rs 900, inclusive
of breakfast. Lunch and dinner are also
provided at an extra charge. The tourists
sit with the host family and eat the same
food they eat. They can walk through the
village, watch fisher folk at work, fish
themselves, go canoeing and visit the farms,
among other things. They can also contact
the panchayat if they require assistance.
people also wondered whether Kerala food
would be palatable to foreign taste buds.
The result, though, has been extremely satisfactory.
"Other than making the food less spicy,
we do not deviate from traditional cuisine,"
says Lilly Lawrence, who supervises cooking
in the Retreat. "There is a huge demand
for fish and seafood, such as prawn and
shrimp. Everything is available locally,"
she says. Lawrence recalls, "Initially,
we were worried about whether guests would
like the village and its rustic ambience.
But we realized that this is a novel experience
for them. We have had tourists who stayed
with us for weeks, reading books, fishing
or simply watching the backwaters."
Tourists also find that there is no huge
communication gap, because at least one
member in a family, if not all, can converse
occupation that's seen quite a revival is
that of boatmen. The village is well connected
by road to the mainland, and the local community
did not patronize them very much. However,
tourists are keen on cruises. Fisher folk
and boatmen also demonstrate various fishing
techniques for the tourists.
the Kumbalangi project, Kalagraamam, an
artists' village, is also being set up.
The initial plans were to erect a cottage
in the middle of the backwaters. Later,
the panchayat members, tourism secretary
and the tourism minister were all agreed
that this would disturb the backwaters ecology.
Kalagraamam, therefore, will now stand on
four acres of land inside Kumbalangi. It
will showcase the traditional fishing equipment
and handicrafts of the region.
goal the project has is to bring the village
back to its ecologically glorious days -
about 25 years ago. Towards this, pokkali
farming, a crop pattern that alternates
between rice and fish (each for six months
a year), is being brought back in full form.
Also, mangroves that were once in abundance
in the region are being planted once again.
So far, about 50,000 mangrove saplings have
been planted in the area. "We used
to have plenty of fish here because of the
mangroves. The planting of mangroves will
lead to a better environment for the fish
to live in. (Mangroves grow in marshy areas,
where fish also find comfort.)," says
Kumbalangi panchayat is well aware that
being a tourist destination also brings
with it greater responsibilities. "Tourists
will not come unless there are proper roads
and lights. So, the roads and canals have
been strengthened, CFC lamps have been installed,
and 600 biogas plants have been set up for
waste management. Kumbalangi is also the
first panchayat in the state to set up such
a waste management system. A park has also
been constructed for visitors to relax in.
The most remarkable thing about this project
is that what we do for the tourists also
directly benefits the local population,"
Cultural Heritage Zone – Beach – Chinese fishing nets – Tomb of Vasco De Gama –Fort Manuel – St. Mary's Basilica – (10km)