Backwaters are small rivers crisscrossed by several canals and lakes. They have their course extending to a long distance in between the lands. Kerala, India’s Southern-most state is famous for its backwaters with the mesmeric lush green view on either side. Cruising in a houseboat in these backwaters would take you to a calm and peaceful countryside away from the din and bustle of city life. The backwaters weaved by lush green palm trees and coconut groves on both the sides welcome the tourist traveler to discover and explore the culture and lifestyles of the people of Kerala.
Houseboats called as “kettuvalloms” in the regional language, are cruise ships in backwaters with a house constructed on the top of a huge boat. This house is furnished with all the modern amenities suited for a stay of one or two days. These luxurious houseboats are the cultural heritage of Kerala and are promoted by the Kerala Tourism Department for entertaining tourists.
Origin and Making of Houseboats
The backwaters flow through the four districts of the state – Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kochi. As half part of Kerala is covered by backwaters, there was an imperative need of water transport to connect villages to towns and cities in the past. This was accomplished by building a small boat made up of wooden planks. This small boat was the goods carrier in the water that could carry tons of cargo from one place to another. Later with the developments in transport industry, this boat was re-built to form a huge, massive, luxurious houseboat of the present-day.
A house-boat can be typically called as a handicraft of a relatively bigger deal. Most of the houseboats have a dimension of 95-107 feet length and 13-19 feet breadth at the center. Larger wooden planks are joined and tied together using hand-made ropes of coconut fiber to form the hull of the ark. Strong and costly wood is chosen for its making considering the safety standards. The ceiling of the house is made up of bamboo poles and to enhance the ambience, palm leaves are being thatched to it. The boat is maintained by varnishing with cashew-nut oil, oil produced from cashew-nut that grows extensively in the agricultural parts of Kerala. The Kerala house-boat is an eco-friendly product as all the raw-materials used for its construction are nature-friendly.
Accommodation ranges from single to five bedrooms depending upon the number of people. The rent of the houseboat may vary depending upon the rooms and gallery. These fabulous houseboats are facilitated with sundeck, gallery, kitchen and a toilet.
A minimum of three crews are appointed inboard- boat driver, cabin assistant and a chef. The menu offers traditional cuisines of Kerala, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Tender coconut water is the popular drink of this land, which is cool with a light sweet taste. Houseboats are driven with the help of concealed diesel engines and also by making use of solar energy.
Information on how to reach and where to inn
“Alappuzha” is a town full of canals that meander parallel to the land all around. So “Kumarakom” in Alappuzha district has been epitomized for houseboat destination. There are so many hotels and resorts in Kumarakom from where you can go for a houseboat cruise. First, take a fly to Kochi International Airport, Kerala. Take a drive to Kumarakom which is 70 km. from Kochi. There are so many resorts that have backwater tour packages. Choose one among them depending upon your requirement.
The best season for cruise is during October-January of winter. During this time tariff changes from Rs. 7000 to Rs. 9000 for two adults. Kerala has its monsoons in June-September when tariff rate falls to Rs. 6000. Cost for each additional person is Rs. 1250.
The tranquil cruise in the houseboats
The traditionally built Kerala houseboats floating in the backwaters would remain an unforgettable holiday experience in the land of India. The natural view of this green state which consists of coir villages, temples, country homes and other sceneries when gliding past is inexplicable.
Many species of aquatic life such as crabs, frogs, mudskippers and water birds such as terns, darters and kingfishers live in these backwaters. This nature’s ride develops creativity; any creative artist gets the inspiration to produce his own creative works at the highest standard.
Credit (photographs) :
Kerala houseboat : Jiths
Gallery : mysterybee
Hallway : Albany