Kerala - that piece of land with a predominant verdant landscape is a much sought out tourism destination in India. Situated in the south western Malabar Coast, Kerala is cradled between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea. A region which can truly be termed paradise, Kerala is renowned for its pristine beaches, mist shrouded hill stations, emerald landscape, exotic flora and fauna, placid backwaters and sophisticated art forms.
Backwaters are a unique Kerala phenomenon that makes Kerala stand out from other regions. It is a complex labyrinth of manmade and natural canals and inlets, estuaries of over forty rivers and five lakes. Before ferries, roads and bridges came, backwaters were the means of transportation for local people. Above all that, they depended on backwaters for means of livelihood such as agriculture and fishing. Now also backwaters are contributing to the tourism economy of Kerala in a large scale.
One has to engage in Backwater tourism to know Kerala fully. The shores and backwaters make for scintillating landscape, with shores lined by houses, swaying coconut trees, emerald flora and lush green paddy fields, fishing nets and various activities of life, and backwaters marked by water flowers especially water lilies. A cruise through Backwaters savoring this landscape is a remarkable affair. You can enjoy backwater tourism in Alleppey, Kochi and Kollam.
Houseboats are now the buzzword in Backwater tourism. Apart from Kollam, Kochi and Alleppey, you can arrange for houseboat cruises from Kumarakom. Kumarakom is a tiny village on the shores of Vembanad Lake blessed with all the bounties of a Backwater village. There are world class resorts and hotels from where you can plan a Houseboat voyage.
Kumarakom Houseboats like other houseboats are luxurious modern day versions of “Kettuvallams” of yester years. “Kettuvallams” were used to transport rice and house hold items through Backwaters. They come with thatched roofs over wooden hulls to offer protection from elements of nature. Although the form remains the ancient way, modern day houseboats are two to three storied affairs with one to five bedrooms on offer. Apart from sleeping space, the houseboats have dining space and sit out open on all sides from where tourists can relish the scintillating landscape that Kerala Backwaters is. Houseboats are adjoined with generator, thereby providing air conditioning. They come attached with western style toilets also. A crew including a cook accompanies the guests and the menu is mainly local variety chiefly indigenous fish but the taste of guests prevails.
Houseboats are ninety five to one hundred and fifteen meters in length and thirteen to fifteen meters in width. They are made mostly of wood of “Anjili” (Wild Jack) and the accessories used are mainly local and eco friendly. It is to be noted that no nails are used but coir is employed by tying.
Houseboats come in various varieties such as deluxe, super deluxe and luxury. Kerala Luxury Houseboat as name suggests come with luxurious amenities like air condition, foam beds and cushions to sit on. The interiors are finely decorated and the menu on offer is diverse.
To spend a night in houseboat docked in backwaters is a heavenly affair, especially if the night is moonlight. You can ask to switch off electric lights and spend time in lanterns alone, to get a local feel. The distant views as spots of illumination are a marvelous sight.
For more information about Kerala Houseboat visit www.keralahouseboats.org.in
Palaces on Motion in Backwaters