Just over an hour’s scenic drive south of Kochi, laid-back Kumarakom lies along the shores of India’s longest lake, Vembanad. Connected by intertwining waterways, a journey through them, on a traditional kettuvallam (house boat) is a must. Birdwatchers will enjoy the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, whilst bookworms might like to know that nearby Kottayam, is the setting of Arundhati Roy’s classic ‘God of Small Things’. Some excellent hotels line the lake’s shores, providing unspoilt views, many offering world-class Ayurvedic facilities. Best visited in the months of November to February.