Kerala is a verdant piece of land blessed by lush green vegetation. It is nestled between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea. Kerala is located in the southwestern part of India. Dubbed God’s own country, Kerala is endowed with bounties of nature galore which makes it one of the more favorite tourism spots.
Pristine beaches, breathtaking hill stations, laid back backwaters, exotic flora and fauna, verdant landscape and rich and suave art forms – the attractions Kerala pack in its kitty are numerous. Out of which, backwaters is a unique Kerala phenomenon. It is an exclusive Kerala occurrence. Kerala backwater is a complex network of manmade and natural canals and inlets, estuaries of over forty rivers and five lakes. Before bridges, roads and ferries came into being, backwaters were the means of transportation for local folk. They depended on backwaters for means of livelihood like agriculture and fishing. Backwaters are continuing to play its economic role to perfection. Backwater tourism now is a high earner for Kerala economy.
Backwaters make for excellent landscape with shores lined by abodes, swaying coconut trees, emerald flora and lush green paddy fields, fishing nets and various activities of life; and backwaters lined by water flowers especially water lilies. Cruise along backwaters savoring this landscape is a deeply memorable experience. Alleppey, Kochi, Kollam and Kumarakom are the epicenters of backwater tourism.
Houseboats are the new poster boys of backwater tourism. Houseboats are modern day luxurious versions of “Kettuvallams” of yester year. Kettuvallams were used to transport rice and household items through backwaters. They came with thatched roofs over wooden hulls to offer protection from elements of nature. Although the form remains unaltered, Kerala houseboat is two to three storied affair with one to five bedrooms included. Apart from sleeping space, dining space and sit out open on all sides, from where tourists can relish the exquisite charm of backwaters, are included. Houseboats come adjoined with generators and provide for full time air conditioning. Western style toilets are also attached. Although they are motorized, houseboats are run at a meandering pace, enabling the tourists to savor the setting fully. A crew including a cook accompanies guests. The menu is of indigenous variety usually including local fish. But in the end whims of guests prevail.
Houseboats are of ninety five to one hundred fifteen feet in length and thirteen to fifteen feet in width. The wood used in carving the boat is of “Anjili” (Wild Jack). The accessories that go into the making of the boat are absolutely local and eco-friendly. It is to be noted that no nails are used and instead coir is used for tying.
Alleppey Houseboat meander through the canals and inlets of the “Venice of East”, as Alleppey is fondly called. The shores are of exceptional beauty that one will never feel like ending the cruise.
Spending a night in houseboat docked in backwaters is a heavenly experience. Tourists have the choice of switching off electric lamps and spending in the light of lanterns alone, to get a local feel. One can see abodes and boats as static and moving spots of illumination, respectively, far off. If you are lucky, you could witness fireflies adorning the tree branches, blinking eternally.
Houseboat cruises in Backwaters is an experience that will inspire the muse in you. You will feel like a poet.
Rajesh Raj is an eminent analyst and writer in Travel & Tours related topics. He has authored many books on Alleppey Houseboat & Kumarakom Houseboat. Find more information related to Kerala backwater houseboats log on www.keralabackwaterhouseboats.com
Feeling like a poet in Backwaters