It was indeed an incredible sight. Watching the rain from a boat in the middle of Vembanad Lake. Our little boat swayed and heaved. The strong winds shook the trees on the bank. And there was no one to be seen around. Though it was an amazing experience to enjoy the rain, we were a tad bit apprehensive. But Jayalal who helmed the boat gave us his assurance that there was nothing to be worried about.
A journey to the heart of Kuttanadu to explore the enchanting beauty of Kainakary; to see the pristine landscape which is still untouched by the buzz of modernity; to breathe in some fresh, clean air and obviously to taste the much-famed fish delicacies of Kuttanadu. This was our major goal when we caught an early morning bus to Kainakary. We took an auto to the Panchayat junction and the lush green fields on both sides of the tiny road welcomed us.
At Kainakary junction one of our co-passengers on the bus came near us. A chef at one of the many toddy shops at Kainakary, this man changed a lot of things for us. It was he who introduced us to Jayalal, the skipper of the shikhara boat Hiroshima, which was to be our ride for this amazing adventure.
‘Hiroshima’ is a shikhara boat( contact -9809938393, 9645611315) with eight cane chairs neatly arranged and an overhead roof to block the sun. The shikhara boat had the luxury of a DVD player and a speaker, and a few dailies as well. Jayalal agreed to show us around in his boat for 400 rupees per hour. Our first stop was at Chellappan chettan’s toddy shop where we had a scrumptious breakfast.
From the rivulets to the lake
Kainakary is a small isle which lies to the east of Kuttanadu. Small rivulets run through different directions here and finally reach the Vembanadu Lake. A shikhara or a house boat ride through these rivulets is one of the main attractions here. These trips will take you close to nature and the rustic village life that Alappuzha has to offer.
The bathing ghats are bustling with activities. Drinking water tankers being carried in boats were quite an interesting sight for the people of Kainakary still depend on these tankers for clean drinking water. The excess usage of pesticides in the fields, in fact, pollutes the drinking water sources of this small isle. It seems people are really busy building bunds to prevent the floods, but they know that a heavy downpour could wash away the bunds and flood their homes and fields.
Kainakary in the movies
Kainakary has been featured in many Malayalam movies. 'Don't you want to see where movies are shot?, asked Jayalal. He went on to say that a lot of people come searching for these locations. He showed us the places where movies like ‘My Boss’, ‘Sound Thoma’ and ‘Pullipulikalum Attinkuttyum’ were shot.
Kainakary is a peaceful place adorned by nature; there are not many vehicles to pollute the environment. Though a bridge is being constructed, people would still have to depend on boats or ferries due to its unique geography.
Once we entered the Vembanadu Lake, we saw houseboats – a lot of them in fact. The R block with its lush green fields enchants us with its unmatched charm. Jayalal took us to a ‘selfie’ spot, and we couldn't really resist the temptation.
‘Live’ fish fry
A trip to Kuttanadu is not complete without enjoying a delicious meal at the toddy shops. In fact foodies from around the world throng to taste the fish delicacies of Kainakary. Jayalal took us to a toddy parlor and restaurant where we could select the fish we wanted to eat. They would prepare the fish the way we order, that too in front of us.
Here comes our boat
We got into a government run boat service(KSWTD)to reach Alappuzha which was the last stop of our journey. We clambered on to the top deck so that we would have a decent view of the surroundings. We watched the boat sail past the row of houses, temples, churches, schools and green fields on the banks of the lake. Each time a houseboat came in sight, the driver would honk.
The splendid beauty of the lake
From Alappuzha, we took a government boat back to Kottayam. The sights were similar – of paddy fields, villages, and water. But it was already getting dark and suddenly all these same sights began to feel. The chiaroscuro of light and shade was creating magical effects on nature, and the whole scenery began to look like a painting which was done by some great artist. Needless to say, we captured it all.
When we finally got down at Kanjiram boat jetty, the last bus to Kottayam had already gone. It would take us about Rs 150 to take us to Kottayam town. And as we chugged along, all we could think about was the day well spent in this lazy Alappuzha village.
Translated from Malayalam. Read original here