When: November 2015 Weather : hot 28C
Nikon P900 Leica M240/35mm summilux/21mm F3.4
With a couple of days to spare, I decided to do the touristy thing and take a houseboat to the gateway of the Kerala backwaters at Kollom. Aleppi further north is the more favoured houseboating locale with a few thousand boats compared to the 20 or so in Kollom but coming from the Kovalam area with limited time, Kollom and the Ashmatudi Lake was a good alternative. Ashmatudi is one of the largest lakes in Kerala and as we took the boat from 4pm for 24 hours, it meant we could cruise way up to Munroe Island on the Kallada River….
Our houseboat for 24 hours…moored in Kollam..with 2 airconditioned rooms, an open lounge where all meals were served…
the waterway leading to the bridge and the main Ashtamudi lake beyond..
other houseboats on the lake
sunset on the Ravij Hotel…
evening on lake Ashtamudi
another evening scene
We moored for the evening opposite the Ravij Hotel and is usual for me, I awoke with the dawn and went for a walk on the shore of Kureepuzha….exploring new and unfamiliar ground is something I like to do because I never know what I will find….although really looking for birds, I sometimes stumble across other interesting things…
where we moored for the night
sunrise over the Ravij
When wandering, I will often walk down tracks like this looking for birds etc….this morning was pretty thin on birds in the location but when I rounded the corner….
I caught a glimpse of an interesting building through the trees
Beyond the gate was an old building which had interesting architectural details…
The 1087 does not refer to the year 1087 but in the Malayalam calendar is more than 100 years old…the roof has an upturned corner ….almost Chinese like!
A kind caretaker let me in to take a look and there was a very beautiful statue in the courtyard welcoming visitors…unfortunately the flute had been long lost..
the grounds were bordered by walls and arches like this….beyond was the lake where we would be cruising
beautiful blue peacock detailing..faded but still eye catching
the back view of the building…I was told it was a nobleman’s palace once upon a time…but had sadly been left derelict for a long time
wrought iron detail on balcony
another view of statue
statue facing the main entrance. Dilapidated old buildings always have an air of sadness and what might have been….and this old palace certainly made my walk more interesting…
the sun had risen by now and after a sumptuous breakfast of masala omelette we were on our way..
masala omelette for brekky
after breakfast, we started cruising into the main Ashtamudi Lake heading towards Munroe Island and the Kallada River….
the most interesting part of this traverse is the presence of numerous..in the scores, of Chinese fishing nets..they are used at nights and the central light in the middle of the contraption attracts the fish…
prime position..greater egret
on the lake were numerous terns….here neatly lined up on the fishing rig
tern in flight
colorful fishing vessels…
the heron posed
as did the cormorant
but the most memorable sightings of this trip was the sheer number of beautiful Brahminy Kites; we see them reasonably commonly in Singapore, but here in Ashtamudi, there were literally hundreds of them…often soaring in groups of 20 or more birds..
magnificently orangy brown from above with s snow white head…
and very beautiful from below too..
black streaks on chest make it even more striking
and from the wide expanse of the lake, we eventually approached Munroe Island and the Kellada River, a much narrower and very scenic stretch..
dominated by coconut trees
an occasional tree house
low lying coconut trees
life on the river
and of course the ubiquitous Brahminy Kites….
in almost every coconut tree….I exaggerate a bit but you get the point…
a chestnut headed bee eater
smooth river surface
even the cows enjoyed their bath in the river…
we then stopped off by the side of the Kallada River and our steward brought us on shore to try and buy some fresh prawns and crabs for lunch…
the flowers were pretty..here an unusual hibiscus
and we duly found our crabs and prawns!…fresh from the morning’s catch together with a plate of big fresh prawns, it only came up to US$20!
Next to our moorings, the coconut trees were prominent with cut outs as steps to climb the tree..
we travelled a very long way up the river…..
incredibly tranquil and still waters…
We finally turned back and moored somewhere for lunch…fantastic fresh prawns crabs etc…great lunch! but just before I could tuck in, I caught a glimpse of blue in tree right next to our boat!
it was a magnificent white throated kingfisher perched on a branch just next to the boat….
He turned to look at us…
the light was on him
here, we can see the nictitating membrane over his cornea…
and he finally went full frontal with us to show off his white throat and brown coat..what a treat to be able to shoot this beauty from close up!
Interesting roof construction….as we started on our way home
another couple of interesting shots as we headed back to shore…a juvenile brahminy kite without the white head…
and another view of the juvenile
a black kite appeared..
and finally a gull billed tern
gull billed tern
Cruising this part of the Kerala backwaters was fascinating and the houseboat and crew lived up to everything we had hoped for…a wonderfully different trip and recommended!