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We slowly row away from the shore towards the canals of Kollam, sun shining brightly up our heads, striking a balance with the canoe, to the chirping of birds in the distance on a hot Friday afternoon.
Cruising through the narrow waterways of Munroe island with almost 3-4ft in depth, the ubiquitous greenery of this location fascinated me. And, the moving canoe disturbed the clear reflection of the trees in the water, forming ripples.
We passed through plenty of archways devised by the abundant coconut trees. Stretches of land were covered in nets dedicated to prawn feeding. And tiny fishes swarmed to eat the tiny lumps of coconut flesh in masses.
Between the village kids playing by the water and the villagers striking a pose for us, the journey continued with cow dipping itself in the rejuvenating waters, kingfishers perched on tall coconut trees, eagles flying high in the clear blue sky, dover of ducks by the shore quacking around and an abandoned fellow canoe enjoying it’s moment of solitude, all engulfed in a green cocoon of nature.
Just what I needed to transcend myself into the mystical backwaters of Kollam.
More than once lost in my own world of photography, I ducked just about time before hitting the low bridges and branches. The friendly villagers gave us a demo of the coir retting and weaving process. The coir is then used to manufacture carpets in industries.
Sitting on a canoe, sipping on the sweet tender coconut and devouring on the flesh was unlike my usual days. To shake things up a bit, I even tried rowing the canoe by myself. FYI, not as easy as it looks!
The timeless beauty of this location blew my mind away and I was left Wowing through the whole time. As a consequence, for better or for worse, I was rendered ALMOST speechless.
Here we were the only outsiders in the island cruising away through the village backwaters of Kollam and I wondered how did I ever stumble into a surreal world like this!
I found myself in Kollam for a friend’s wedding. Willing to capitalize on the situation, we contemplated on making a short visit to Alleppey backwaters. However, I wasn’t looking to do a houseboat or open backwaters tour as I found it boring when I did it in Kochi. I was looking for something else, something offbeat, something where I would get the real feel of Kerala. Just then, our hotel owner asked us to check out Kollam backwaters. Having never heard of Kollam backwaters before, we decided to give it a shot.
As it turns out, I would have to concede with the hotel owner.
It has to be by far the most rewarding experience I had in Kerala.
Later when I went on an Alleppey backwater tour two years later, and it just paled in comparison to village backwaters in Kollam. I was glad that we listened to my hotel owner and were flexible enough to try out the village backwater tour in Monroe island as opposed to the popular one in Alleppey. Going off the beaten path is rewarding, no less.
Kollam Village backwater canoe tour
The canoe tour takes off in Monroe island. A quaint island located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada river at a distance of 25km from Kollam. And, it amounts to Rs. 600/- per person.
Apart from Kollam, village backwaters tour is also available in Kochi and Alleppey.
Tip: You might find a lot of tour operators haggling while heading to the tourism office in Kollam. Make sure you head to the DTPC(District Tourism Promotion Council), a Govt. of Kerala agency that organizes a list of Kollam backwaters tours through canals. They have fixed price tours and it is usually cheaper compared to other tour operators. It includes transportation to and from Monroe island by auto.
From the office, we hopped onto an auto and it took us close to the island. We then boarded a public ferry, for a short distance in the interim, carrying locals and vehicles since there is no direct road access. Such is the way of life in Kerala! The journey lasted for about 2 hours through the Kollam village backwaters and every moment was a bliss.
When in Kerala, stray away from the cliched houseboats and immerse yourself in the tiny villages of Kerala through the village backwaters for a gratifying experience.
If you’d like to take matters into your own hands, then maybe you can try out kayaking through Kerala.
Located 5 km from Thangassery Light House, Xavier’s Residency has air conditioning(A/C) room and serves continental breakfast. The hotel owner is a friendly fellow and can help you out in your tours.
Alternatively, browse through dozens of the range of hotels in Kollam of different budget types and book your accommodation.
How to reach Kollam
The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport which is around 57 km from Kollam.
There are usually trains to go to Trivandrum which has a pit stop at Kollam. The train journey is preferred since it is over 12-hour journey. However, take care of your belongings and don’t leave anything unattended.
Departure – 16:45, Arrival – 8:45
Departure – 17:25, Arrival – 7:20
There are buses available to Kollam from Bangalore, most of which have the final destination as Thiruvananthapuram. However, I wouldn’t suggest traveling by bus since it is a good 12-hour journey to Kollam.
Interesting experiences in Kerala
So, have you cruised through the Kollam backwaters especially through a village? How was your experience like?
Let me know in the comments below.
sabrinatrevisOct 12, 2017
Aaaw Raksha I’m so happy to have found an Indian travel blogger that suggests this magical places! I’m a jungle lover, I can’t wait to visit Kerala ❤
Raksha RaoDec 1, 2017
Thanks, Sabrina. I’m a jungle and nature lover too. Try it out when in Kerala. It is totally worth it 🙂
LizJun 30, 2018
Thank you for sharing this hidden gem. Kerala has been on my list for a while and I already saved this article for when I finally make it!
Mayuri PatelJun 30, 2018
This is so beautiful, looks better than alleppy.I find alleppy much commercial and would love to visit some offbeat.This is looks perfect place.Thanks for such information
MadhuJun 30, 2018
Kerala is really amazing I visited kovalam and kochi. But yet to experience the houseboat. Your post inspires me to plan soon and explore more of gods own country
Raksha RaoJun 30, 2018
Well, I would suggest you try out village backwaters through a canoe instead of a houseboat. Anyway, houseboats can’t access these areas as the water depth is just around 4ft in depth, which is too low for it. You are going to thank me later 🙂
EllisJun 30, 2018
I was there 4 years back and it is such a magical place. There is a great homestay on Munroe’s island as well that made it an even better experience
Raksha RaoJul 1, 2018
Oh, nice. You stayed at Munroe island. That would have been a fab experience 🙂
MayuriJun 30, 2018
I so wanted to visit Kerala for my honeymoon. I will be saving this guide, Kollam is so beautiful and looks like a great destination for a lovely retreat
Sujay KumarDec 11, 2018
Thanks for sharing this.Are there other options available for Munroe island apart from canoe as I shall be travelling with my parents and small kids so a houseboat would be better option.
Raksha RaoDec 16, 2018
Hey Sujay. There are a few options available. A popular one being Munroe Island Lake resort. You can find more here – https://www.booking.com/searchresults.en-gb.html?aid=1250247;sid=109d99b8f20d913b091dc9acf93116e7;dest_id=900055576;dest_type=city;group_adults=2;keep_landing=1;no_rooms=1&
Also, there are Club Mahindra properties in Munroe island. I’ve heard it’s quite nice.
Happy travels 🙂