Eco Tourism village Kumbalangi

A good place to live is a good place to visit

Responsible tourism inspires me to turn into a responsible traveler-making better places for people to visit in and better places for people to live in. It enhances the wellbeing of local communities and brings gereater economic benefits to locals, maintains the diversity and preserves cultural heritage.

In the series of responsible traveler I chose to visit the closest place that offers responsible tourism before embarking on to a journey of visiting many other places in the world that offer responsible tourism and help reach
out to many travelers.
Kumbalangi is a tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is India’s first designated eco-friendly tourist village and the first rural tourism village of the state. The place offers a remarkable glimpse of the wealthy livelihood of the villagers. Mainly occupied by farmers, labourers, fishermen, and toddy tappers. Since this island is occupied by backwaters on all four sides, the main occupation is fishing and paddy cultivation with over 100 chinese nets that provide support to the village.  It demonstrates a fine example of how natural resources for tourism can be utilized without harming the environment. The formation of mangroves separate land from water providing a breeding ground for prawns, crabs, oysters and small fishes.
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My tour to the village was hosted by Martin. Martin has lived his life in the village and is one amongst 10 house owners who provide home-stays to explore the beauty of the village. The per day charge ranges from Rs 900-1200 (15-20 USD), inclusive of breakfast. Lunch and dinner are also provided at an extra charge. The tourists sit with the host family and eat the same food they eat. They can
walk through the village, watch fisher folk at work, fish themselves, go cruising on kayak (a small boat) and visit the farms, among other things.  The day tour costs Rs 1200 (20 USD) without lunch and Rs 1750 (30USD)  with Lunch.
The village started loosing its cultivation when mangroves started to disappear a few years ago and that also impacted the fishing. since it has a crop pattern that alternates between rice and fish (each for six months a year).  The mangroves that were once in abundance in the region are being planted once again. So far, about 50,000 mangrove saplings have been planted in the area. “We used to have lot of fish here because of the mangroves. Replanting of mangroves has lead to a better environment for the fish to live in” says Martin.
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The Panchayat (Local village council) fulfils
its greater responsibility towards tourism by strengthening roads, lighting and having setup bio gas plants  for waste management. This is mainly because the locals have benefitted out of increase footfalls of the tourists. A brand new hall was being constructedmartin’s house to provide a sheltered ambience to the tourists. The village tour was comprised of 3 hours where I could witness coir making, Prawn, fish, lobster culturing, weaving of coconut leaves, coconut harvesting and finally a tour to the spice farm.
What a moment when I caught hold of a huge lobster that was clamping on the net with super strength. The husk of the coconut is submersed in water for 6 months and then processed for coir making that makes the quality finer compared to processing the husk when it is still green. I tried my hand on making the coir though it looked simple but it scratched my hands which made me understood how the locals have mastered this art through generations. 
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A walk around the village was an enthralling experience. Can a place be this green? Full of mangroves, variety of orchids planted inside e
ach household, clean roads, whiffs of freshly sprouting leaves,  nutmeg trees,  strings of green peppers slithering across the surface and vast vembanad lake backwaters  emanating cool  fresh breeze. It was heaven. I was in no mood to leave.
Before I said good bye to Martin (with a promise to return) he presented me with a freshly plucked mega size passion fruit and few pods of nutmegs to take home.  I held it as a prized posession as I was carrying nature home.

 

 

 

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