Vembanad Lake, Kerala, India

Lake Locations:

India - South - Kerala -

Stretching 60 miles in length along the southern tip of India, scenic 373,622-acre Vembanad Lake is India’s longest lake and the largest lake in the state of Kerala. Although the majority of the lake is shallow and marshy, the Vembanad wetland system is ecologically important due to its lush mangrove and coconut patches and beautiful habitat for resident and migrating waterfowl. Residents of the lake depend on the water for their livelihood which includes agriculture, fishing, and tourism. One of the most popular activities on the lake are houseboat cruises which take visitors to the many small tranquil lagoons which showcase the breathtaking tropical backwater flora and fauna.

A unique characteristic of Vembanad Lake is the location of the Thanneermukkom salt water barrier. The barrier was constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme to prevent salt water from flowing into the Kuttanad low-land agricultural areas. This barrier essentially divides Vembanad Lake into two parts – one side with brackish water and the other side with fresh water fed by rivers draining into the lake. This barrier has helped the farmers in Kuttanad where fields sit below sea level, but it has also created ecological problems, primarily the rampant growth of the water hyacinth which thrives in fresh water. Steps are being taken to control the spread of this invading plant.

Although fishing and farming have sustained the area surrounding Vembanad Lake for many years, tourism has become the main source of income. The Lake is famous for its lush green surroundings and exciting luxury houseboat cruises. Most of the cruises start from the Vembanad Lake jetty and take visitors on an unforgettable journey around the lake. It is common for there to be hundreds of houseboats or kettuvallams crisscrossing the lake. There are also numerous resorts and villages nestled on the banks which welcome tourists. The village of Kumarakom, made up of a group of tiny islands, is one of the hot spots on cruise routes. Stops for picnics, fishing, and bird watching are the main themes of the cruises. A typical houseboat ranges from 67 to 95 feet in length and has a width of around 13 feet in the middle. A houseboat can be rented for a day or a week and can accommodate up to ten people. Houseboats come with a three member crew – a chef, a driver and a cabin assistant. Meals are traditional Kerala specialties, usually fish. Most houseboats have fully furnished bedrooms, sundecks, and restroom facilities.

Anglers wishing to try their luck in Vembanad Lake can book a fishing cruise. All necessary fishing equipment is provided. The waters of the lake are home to a large variety of fish to include several species of catfish and perch. Guides make sure anglers of all ages catch some fish which can then be prepared for lunch or dinner. For those who’d like to explore the lake on their own, canoe and kayak rentals are available.

There is no shortage of vacation rentals or real estate on Vembanad Lake. If a houseboat doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, resorts and lodges can be found in the cities, ports and villages around the lake. The port of Kochi is located at the lake’s outlet to the Arabian Sea and is a popular tourist town. The town of Alappuzha (also known as Allepey), is called the “Venice of the East” for its large network of canals that meander through the town. Kumarakom is the most popular resort village on the lake. The area is dense in mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the eastern shore of the lake. This 14-acre sanctuary is a major tourist attraction and home to hundreds of birds including Siberian storks. There are also several wildlife sanctuaries within a few hours drive of the lake which offer everything from elephant rides to up close visits with tigers and other indigenous wildlife. Village markets are also popular with tourists and offer great souvenirs to remember your vacation by.

A vacation on Vembanad Lake would not be complete without a visit to Pathiramanal Island, located in the center of the lake. Accessible only by boat, this 10-acre, palm-covered island is a haven for hundreds of rare birds migrating from different parts of the world. A resort on the island can accommodate a small number of guests. The name Pathiramanal means “sands of night”. Starting from Kumarakom, the enchanting island is a 40 minute boat ride away.

The landscape surrounding Vembanad Lake has much to offer hikers and sightseers. The Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls are just over a mile from Kumarakom and provide a beautiful picnic spot near sparkling streams and a 100 foot drop waterfall. Kottayam is an ancient town famous for its 700 years-old churches. The city of Vagamon sits 360 feet above sea level and offers hikers a spectacular view of beautiful valleys, sprawling meadows and the greenery of tea gardens.

For a truly one-of-a-kind vacation, consider a houseboat cruise along the palm-fringed waterways of Vembanad Lake. Glide past flowering water lilies, lush paddy fields, scenic villages, and ancient temples, all from the privacy of your own boat. Hike along tropical nature trials, have a picnic near a waterfall, and enjoy the colors and sounds of some of the most exotic birds in the world. At the end of the day, sit back and relax on the deck or your houseboat or lakefront cottage and enjoy an incredible Indian sunset.

Things to do at Vembanad Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Vembanad Lake

  • Catfish
  • Perch

Vembanad Lake Photo Gallery

Vembanad Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 373,622 acres

Average Depth: 3 feet

Maximum Depth: 8 feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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