For Keralites, Gods Own Country provides amble opportunities for day trips. The other two are both in Vypin Island, one in Malippuram (12KM from High Court, Ernakulam) and other other in Narakkal 8KM further North.
To get to their flagship facility in Chembu, take SH15 from Thiruvankulam and drive around 13KM and the destination is to the Right (there is a sign-board - at Kattikunnu just before Panackal Devi Kshethram). Ticket counter is to the Left at the main entrance gate - Rs 200pp (kids 5-12 Rs 100) including lunch for the whole day (Timing 10AM to 6PM) or Rs 25 after 4PM. There is some parking to the Right and there is also parking spots straight ahead. To the Right is an interpretation facility that appears unused and there are restrooms there as well. There is a bund road that takes you to the main visitor area. On either side is water that is not very deep and one can spot plenty of fishes. To get to the main site, it is a walk of around 10-15 minutes on the bund road. Altneratively, one can hire a motor boat (tickets can be purchased at the main entrance counter for this as well).
It is a beautifully built up setup with a couple of watch towers on the way. There is also a nicely constructed building just before the main site - apparently, it is a meeting hall but it appears largely unused (it was locked up when we visited). Once you reach the main site, the overall area appears raw and shabby. Public funds allotted were probably used up and so the rest of the facility was left without getting an uplift. There is one rundown building that provide all services: food, restrooms, kitchen, dining area, and rentals for activities are all given out from there. There are a number of staff in the building but overall they do a very haphazard job and so the service levels are below average. The bund road extends around half a kilometer further and that is the hang-out area for the visitors for the day.
Opposite the main building is the area cordoned off for bathing/swimming. The water quality didn’t appear very good for either activity and so we did not attempt to go in the water - they do provide tubes, if you need them - the area that is cordoned off is not that deep at all. The half-a-kilometer bund from that point on has several hammocks spread-out over the entire facility - it is done in the traditional way were coconut trees act as poles to tie the hammock on either side. Most visitors set up there own little picnic spots around these hammocks and on some spots there are small huts as well (some constructed on stilts in the water). Basic fishing rods and bait (wheat-dough flavored with butter & turmeric) are provided and with that one can easily catch small fishes although for larger ones they are inadequate. Row-boat and pedal-boat rentals are also available for a small fee.
The lunch area can get crowded, especially during local holidays and it is best to go when they start lunch-service (around 12:30PM). The standard fare offered is a fish-curry-and-fry-meal (one small piece each) along with ice-cream as dessert. If you need more fish, one has to order before hand (at-least by 12PM) - upwards of Rs 100 per dish - the pricing is very moderate compared to prices outside.
On summer days, it can get very hot in the afternoon. There is usually a good breeze in the bund areas and that protects you to a certain extend. Kite flying is listed as an activity although that was not available - it is possible to do this in certain spots, if you bring your own kite but chances are high for it to fall in the water!! We decided to call it a day after lunch as there was not much else to do to hold our interest. On regular weekdays, the place is not that crowded and so it is a nice place to hang-out with a good book.
Overall, we rate this a good spot for a day trip, if you can spare a regular weekday. On weekends and holidays, the place is too crowded and chaotic to provide a nice experience.
- Kumarakom Day-trip report.
- Kumarakom KTDC Water Scapes - Day-out package - Review.
- Aquatourism by Matsyafed, Chembu - Day trip Review (this post).