A twenty-minute bus ride west of Kottayam brings you to the shores of Vembanad Lake, where the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary forms the focus of a line of ultra-luxurious resorts on the water’s edge. A backwaters cruise hereabouts is a much better bet for peace and quiet than in Alappuzha or Kollam, although you will have to pay a little more if you want to arrange things from here: your hotel or homestay will be able to help.

The small Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary in the wetlands is a good place to spot domestic and migratory birds such as egrets, osprey, flycatchers and racket-tail drongos, as well as glimpses of otters and turtles in the water. There’s a paved walkway for a lot of the route, but it does get tricky in parts. The best time to visit is between November and May before the sun rises; the one and only official guide can’t be booked in advance and is snapped up by 6.30am.

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