Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kumbalaghi Village Tour

Had been to Kerala for five days and one of the activities that I enjoyed was the Kumbalaghi Village tour.
It is run by a family with all the members of the family chipping in one way or the other.
I found it both interesting and educative. I mean I never knew that I could hold a live crab in the hand till they showed me how!
OK first things first. As soon as we arrived at the Kumbalaghi bridge, there was a guy who took us to this waiting boat which was to ferry us across.  Have traveled in a Vallom (boat) in Kerala earlier, but never expected to be ferried across seated on a nicely decorated chair in a Vallom. 

There were two oarsmen who did a good job with their poles.

There was a small predetermined halt inbetween where we were shown how toddy was tapped from the coconut tree. This tapping sound was very familiar to me in the early hours of dawn when everything is silent but this is the first time I did see it in close quarters.
You will be able to follow it in the attached video below. The guy was good enough to give us a taste of the toddy and I must say it was sweetish with a slight tang.

We proceeded to the Kallanchery island where we were welcomed with tender coconut water.

Climbing a coconut tree is not easy but this guy did it with ease using a ring around his ankles. The ring is made of natural stuff, either from the banana tree or the coconut tree strands.
Coconut tree is one tree where no part goes to waste. This was demonstrated by showing us how the husk was separated from the coconut shell with a “paara” (as known in the local language)

This husk is left to be soaked in water for about eight months after which it was beaten to extract the fibers.

 These strands were used to make a rope. The weaving of the rope is done by manually rotating two wheels. There are hooks on these wheels that rotate individually thus giving the required twist to the rope.

These thin ropes are again entwined to make them a thicker one. They are pulled taunt to remove the coils permanently. Here you can see some of the tourists trying their hand.

Earlier this was done by rolling the fibers between the palms of your  hand.

The coconut is grated and it can be used in the coconut based curries. There was a demonstration of how coconut milk was extracted.  

The palm of the leaf is used for making brooms, or it can be woven to be used for thatching roofs.
Here you can see John (one of the tourists) explaining how he uses these broom sticks as a substitute for Rawal Plug !!

These woven palm leaves fetches about Rs 6 per piece.
The ladies who demonstrated the weaving were 75 and 88 years old but their smile knocked off many years. 
Those big earrings (known as 'kunuku') were in fashion about a century ago and so is the white mundu and chatta
Then there was this lady who made intricate chains by weaving fine strands of the coconut husk with a needle.

No wonder the coconut tree is known as the Kalpavrikhsa

Coming to Crab farming, there are two types of crabs. The Green Crab (mud crab) and the Red Crab. The latter is very aggressive but it is usually the green ones that are cultivated.
This guy showed us how to hold a live crab in the hands so that we are safe from the pincers.

Shalu (the young lady who explained the process) said that these pincers can really chop off our fingers if they get a hold of it. They showed us how to tie a crab so that the pincers are rendered harmless, and this is how they are exported as the crabs can stay alive without food or water for more than a week.

Clam meat processing is another means of livelihood in this area and a demonstration was held to show how the meat was extracted from the shell.

The traditional method of fishing with the fish net was shown and our guy was lucky to get some medium sized fish.

I could see that some birds were not happy that their daily meal was taken away every time some tourists arrived.  

After displaying his catch our guy threw back the fish in the water, and our friend (the bird) looked happy and relaxed. Yes its the same bird...... they can elongate their necks real long.

We saw this coconut tree which was supported by another tree but on a closer look it gives the  impression that the coconut tree went through and through the other tree.

They had these Chinese nets too which was lifted to show us how they were operated. (it is usually operated at night for a good catch)

These small prawns comes under the delicious variety and fetches good value in the market.

Finally we were treated to a sumptuous lunch of sea food and that too right next to the river front with the cool breeze.

Truly God’s own country when it comes to nature.
I have captured most of it on video and managed to compress it to a six minute video which is attached below. Hope you enjoy it.

When Mr Martin (the one who runs the show) came to know that I write blogs he told me with a smile “I hope you will give some publicity to this place”
I thought, why not, after all many don’t know about this place and its ideal for those who make a trip to Kerala.
For those of you who are interested, click here for more info on this. 
And for those who want to have a bird's eye view of the 44 rivers that cross the state, culminating in 1500 kms of labyrinthine canals, here are three views of it.


Beth said...

This is a very interesting post! The photos are wonderful!

Dana said...

Wonderful photos! I feel like I learned so much!

NRIGirl said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

rama said...

Very informative, with good pictures and video. Looks you had a good time in Kerala.

Daisy said...

Great post! I enjoyed seeing these pictures and reading your narration. Nice video too! I learned a lot from this.

Caroline said...

This is the most amazing post I have read in a while!!! It is so informative and beautifully captured. Thank you Joe for all your efforts and love to put this together. Love all the familiar voices in the video too!

Anuradha Shankar said...

wonderful!!!!! i have heard of kumbalaghi, but have yet to go... and it all sounds tempting, except for the sea food!

anilkurup said...

The video has been edited well. Yes Gods own country indeed. Wonder if people who live in Kerala realise it .

Gina Gao said...

Thank you for sharing! I liked the video.

Aparna Bose said...

Lovely post.very well put and the pictures are absolutely great.worth the effort.

diane b said...

That was a very interesting village tour. They certainly showed you a lot of their culture in a short time .he seafood lunch sounded like it would have been delicious.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Oh wow, what an experience! You got some amazing pictures too.

Unknown said...

wow!! great work..beautifully written.

Kappu said...

whoa, prawn culture, crab fishing, coconut coir making AND good food - now thats a mini heaven!

Do visit my post "Oblivion"! Would love to see you by! *cheers*

CAntony said...

You've not only done justice in capturing the beauty of Kerala... but also the vibrancy of the culture and lifestyles. What a treasure!

Thanks for sharing the info... and your talent!

Meredith Paul said...

Wow, what great photos...Looks like you had a great time!

Ms Sparrow said...

What an interesting tour! Thanks for sharing the good time you had and all that you learned.

Kathy said... very VERY interesting. What an experience u had!

whiteangel said...

Very interesting. The video I also enjoyed.

Dave King said...

Fascinating post - obviously a most memorable trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Sabi Sunshine said...

Very Interesting .... Like the crab framing and coconut part most. Keep it up

Rajesh said...

Wonderful tour of the village.

Dina Lettre said...

What an amazing adventure! Lovely photos...and now I want some crab. :)

Sharad Kulkarni said...

Enthralling...this will be definitely in my itinerary..

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Love the photos and found it all very interesting. Thanks also for stopping by my blog and commenting. It's great to meet you!

EG CameraGirl said...

Thank you for taking us on this tour. I have never seen a person climb a coconut palm. Amazing.

Joscelyn Marcedo said...

Its awesome Joe, the pictures and the narrative too! Wow!

Prathima Rao said...

Nice pics..Gave a lovely insight of the people of the village..Thank u for sharing..
Prathima Rao
Prats Corner

Indrani Ghose said...

This is like a documentary.
Excellent shots! and what a huge crab!

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Your pictures remind me I need a vacation badly :) Until that vacation, I'll just live through your pictures :)

padmaja said...

Today for some reason I thought of your blog n felt I should go and catch up , I saw your comment in my inbox, a synchronicity there!
Beautiful narration, seems like an amazing package. The coconut tree is always my favorite, teaches us to be a useful human being in every way. Now I will catch up with other posts!

Purabi Naha said...

Kerala is amazing and one trip is not enough to see the whole of Kerala. It is truly called "God's own country" because of its scenic beauty. Loved the pictures....especially the one with a crab!

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful post. And stunning pictures. Many thnaks.

Greetings from London.

Janie said...

Very interesting about the many uses of the coconut tree. I don't think I'd want to hold that big crab!

Richa Singh said...

Kerala itself is a beautiful place as we all know and you have captured it at its best, especially the whole vocation side which is a rare sight to see :)

Love ur pictures and the write up accompanying them :))

Sara SHOEmaker said...

wow these photos are stunning! I would love to get out and see the world one day . I would go crazy with my camera

The House of Shoes

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thanks for taking us on your trip with you! I love your blog and am your newest follower. I appreciate your visit very much.

Kathy M.

Happy Kitten said...

Thank you for visiting my blog... love your is so refreshing to go through your posts and snaps...