A Scenic Canal Cruise
Like a sharp-beaked water bird that gracefully floats on the tiny waves, the boat slowly sailed away in the canal. It was a calm, leisurely ride without disturbing the beautiful pictures created on the surface of water by the slanting coconut trees and the lush greenery in both banks. The boat proceeded serenely, making way amidst the branches of trees that reached out to touch the water. The whole experience was bringing tranquility on the faces of our foreign fellow travelers, who had come here to escape from the hustle and bustle of busy Western urban life.
The journey is along the canals at Munroe Island, Kollam. Andrea, Nilos, Moritz and Kim Borter were our fellow travellers. The ride was a soothing experience for us too, entirely different from the daily routine of adventurous travel on the congested roads of Kerala.
The foreign tourists were having a great time, enjoying the glimpses of rustic life on either side. After some time, the boat stopped by for them to have tea. On the shore, local people were making coir and the foreigners watched the whole process in awe. Then came another boat, carrying a couple. They were Prof Ahmos and wife Eboni from Egypt. Sitting on the chairs they leisurely sipped the tea and enjoyed the breeze, trying to forget the chaos back in their native land.
We continued our journey. Now there are two country boats in the water. They are carrying travellers to exquisite vistas of incredible beauty. The boat is heading towards the prawns hatchery, past the scenic temple courtyard and the banyan tree platform. The journey that starts at Karoothrakkadavu, concludes at the same place. We the travellers wish the journey would never end.
The canal ride in Munroe Island is a tour package that has become super hit within a short period of time. Most of the visitors to this place are foreigners and North Indian tourists. The price of the package is Rs 500 per person. The tourists will be taken to the Munroe Island in a Tempo Traveller from the office of the Kollam District Tourism Promotion Council office near Boat Jetty. The boat ride would start from Karoothrakkadavu and end at the same place. It is a five-and-a-half kilometer journey through the canal. Tourists can choose from two timings- one that starts at 9 am and ends at 1.30pm or the other that starts at 2pm and ends at 6.30pm.
There is also another package worth Rs 1,750 that includes massage in the Ayurveda centre. In yet another package worth Rs 1,500, the journey starts at 10am and ends at 5pm.
The Munroe Island was formed by the sediments brought by the Kallada River to Ashtamudi Lake. This fertile land filled with canals, coconut trees and paddy fields is also rich in biodiversity. Delicacies from the lake such as prawns, pomfrets and clams are available here.
The island, which was the favourite place of Colonel Munroe, was later named after him.
Munroe Island (or Munroothuruthu, Manrothuruthu, Munroethuruth) is located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada River in Kollam district of Kerala in South India. The island, accessible by road, rail and inland water navigation, is about 25 kilometres from Kollam by road, 12 kilometres west from Kundara and about 25 kilometres from Karunagapally. The place is named in honour of Resident Colonel John Munro of the former Princely State of Travancore. The island measures 13.4 square kilometres (5.2 sq miles) in area.
How to reach:
By road: 25 km from Kollam
By rail: 27km from Kollam
By air: 71 km from Thiruvananthapuram airport
Backwater village tour (half day programme): Kollam DTPC’s prestigious canal cruises, operating twice a day to the Munroe Island, are the best of its kind in India. Departure: 9 am. Return: 3.30 pm. Departure: 2 pm Return: 6.30 pm. Attractions: Winding canals, Village life, Coir making, Boat building, Fishing operations, Migratory birds and Spice plantations.
Backwater village tour (full day programme): Departure: 10 am from Kollam Return: 5 pm. Attractions: Ayurveda factory visit, Canal cruise in row boats, Village life, Coir making, Boat building, Fishing operations, Migratory birds, Spice plantations and Toddy tapping
Village canal trip and Ayurvedic rejuvenation (half day programme): Departure: 9 am from Kollam Return: 5 pm.
Contact DTPC (Kollam) 0474-2745625
(Translated by Mary Deepa David K.)