Hundreds of tourists, mostly young people in love, are arriving at Pathiramanal island near Kumarakom every day on hearing about the blooming of the 'ezhilam pala' (devil's tree). There is a local belief that wishes of lovers to be together ever after get fulfilled if they visit the island when the tree is in full bloom.
However, the biggest attraction of Kumarakom is the bird sanctuary which attracts visitors from around the world who are all praises for the place. Among them is Harvey, who arrived from Australia along with his spouse Carol to watch kingfishers. "Kumarakom is a wonderland with multi-coloured plethora of bird species, luxurious houseboats and rich cuisine," says Harvey.
Based on such good certificates, Kumarakom is now an iconic tourism destination. Kumarakom can be reached from Cherthala via the Kottayam route. It is just beyond the Thanneermukkom bund. The scenic Vembanad lake, adjacent paddy fields and coconut groves make the area one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The entrance to the bird sanctuary is near the Kavanattinkara bridge. A road starts from near the canal where safari boats conduct service. This road leads to KTDC’s ‘Water Escapes’ resort, from where a path on the right side is to the forest. A stone-paved walkway extending to two km parallel to the canal ends on the banks of the lake. There are around 150 species of birds, including migratory, in this forest.
It was an Englishman, Alfred George Baker, who converted 14 acres of forest on the banks of the Vembanad Lake into a refuge for birds. Around a century and a half after Baker’s death, the place became a major tourist attraction.
Pathiramanal island can be seen from the Thanneermukkom bund as a green haven in the middle of the Vembanad Lake. According to mythology, the island sprang up from the depths of the lake to facilitate the Sage Vilwamangalam to conduct the religious ritual of 'sandhya vandanam.'
A visit to Pathiramanal provides a chance to view rare species of birds, mangroves and 161 species of plants, including nine creepers, 22 varieties of shrubs and 13 species of climbers. A study by the Environmental Sciences Department of MG University had found 34 types of butterflies, 93 species of birds and 24 varieties of dragon flies on the island.
Pathiramanal is almost round in shape and the boat landing on the island is at the western side. From the island, Muhamma can be seen on the southwest direction and Kulakkozhichira on the northeast. On the left side of Kulakkozhichira is the Thanneermukkom bund.
After getting down from the boat at Pathiramanal, a path leads into the forest. The path is flanked by a swamp with mangroves and creepers. The devil’s tree stands tall in the middle of this swamp.
Shikara boats and houseboats conduct regular services from Kumarakom boat jetty to Pathiramanal. Another option is to go on boat cruise around the island from Kumarakom. The trip starts from near the church, turns to the north, passes the light tower and circles the Pathiramanal island before returning to Kumarakom. This two-hour journey gives pretty views of the lakeshore at Kavanattinkara, Kayippuram, Thanneermukkom bund, Kulakkozhichira and Muhamma.