Ernakulam district is a cluster of islands connected by lagoons and backwaters. Kochi, one of the finest natural harbours in the world, was once a major centre of commerce and trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi, is also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. The foreign traders have left their mark on this beautiful island. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around on the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots.
You will have to agree with the Spanish traveler who scribed in his memoirs that no journey through India is complete without experiencing the rail journey through OottyCoonoor and the boat ride through KochiVarapuzha water canal. The mesmerising journey that starts from High Court junction at Ernakulam provides a beautiful glimpse of the broad backwaters that embraces Kochi. In their journey to Varapuzha, the boats are anchored at more than 20 docks. The oneandahalfhour long boat ride provides a kaleidoscopic view of the vibrant cultural life against a natural backdrop.
The solitary boat rider and the fisherman who thuds hard on his boat to attract customers from the distant island towards his catch are but a few isolated images that stay in mind long after the trip. Barges that contain liquid ammonia gas too sail by. The taste of toddy and the hot spicy fish curry served at the riverside shops lingers on one’s tastebuds. No wonder, the ride through the Kochi backwaters itself is the highlight in Fil Franperson's work 'Hidden Kerala', which has been written for KTDC. The boat passes through Mulavukadu, Korumkotta and Vaduthala to reach Chittur where it stops for a refreshing break. The island of Moolampilly, seen on the other side, is famous for its earthen pots. So exquisite were those vessels moulded at Moolampilly that during the IndoChinese war, it was rumoured that these pots were manufactured in China itself.
The boat resumes its ride through the islands of Pizhala, Kothadu and Chennoor before it reaches Varapuzha. The boat anchors beside the ancient St. Joseph Mount Carmel Church. The cultural remnants of the work of early missionaries attract tourists to Varapuzha. The crematorium of the 12 missionaries could also be seen here.
If your eyes long to have yet another glance of the picturesque backwaters you can return to Kochi by boat itself. Or else, you can get down at Cheranallor and catch a bus to Kochi. Taxi service is also available. Accommodation can be arranged at resorts in Korunkodu and Kothadu islands. Homestay facility is available at Chenoor and Kothadu.