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Kumarakom

Behind the peninsula stretching from Cochin down to Alleppey is a vast lagoon, Lake Vembanad, a reservoir for the streams and canals of the Keralan Backwaters. At its southeast edge the blunt Kumarakom peninsula juts into the waters, a green and brown chequerboard of paddy fields fringed by slim palms. People subsist on fish, coconuts and rice and collect mussel shells to make lime, and goods are transported in traditional boats made of bamboo and coir, many of which have been converted into houseboats for visitors. The 12-acre Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary has its own island, a breeding ground for migratory birds, and is only accessible by boat; species there include native kingfishers, golden-backed woodpeckers, flycatchers, teal and Siberian stork.

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