Houseboat Stay on Backwaters
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Houseboat Stay on Backwaters
There is a Kerala that lives along these backwaters, throbbing with its own unique culture. For you, as a visitor to Kerala it can be an incredibly different experience just floating these waters in a country craft and absorbing this unusual representation of Kerala life.

Vembanad Lake Houseboat You might begin at Alapuzha (Alleppey) which is hailed as the Venice of the East, because of its intricate maze of backwaters, canals and bridges. A few minutes after you move out of the old fashioned dock, you will find yourself surrounded lush palm groves and lovely stretches of paddy fields the swaying coconut palms almost dip into waters and on chunks of land that mudge the backwaters are little children playing in the sun. You might see housewives cleaning rice for the days meal or pounding Coconut husk for coirfiber or sweeping the Muttom (front yards), completely oblivious of the regular traffic that ply to and fro across these waters dawn to dusk. And there are boats packed with coir, whizzing along to some commercial centre. There are small boats/canoes too, and Chinese style junks often manned by women dressed in the typical check dhotis and stark white blouses. If you wish you could break journey and actually taste its raw sweetness. You could even ask your boatman to take you into one of the thatched country shops for a glass of fermented nectar, which is served with places of delicious carp or Karimeen - a fish that is special gift of these backwaters.

Breathtaking green, the village slumbers by the Vembanad Lake. On cruise scenery flashes up vivid contrasts of lush greens and deep blues. As the boat glides along gorgeous blues of the fringed palms ripple in the blues waters and blend into the little wavelets. The place is so beautiful that Henry Baker an Englishmen built his bungalow here in the last century. Now this elegant English bungalow is today Taj Group Hotel. Again from Alappuza, you could go up to Kollam (Quilon).

The route winds up the Pampa river to Chempa Kulam an Island hamlet them into the Karumadi canal. The statue of Karumadi Kuttam is believed to be of Buddha. The past Trikunnapuzha, across Kayamkulam lake & Ashtamudi lake finally drawing into the ancient port of Kollam. Throughout the scenery continues to be ravishing. Kerala tourism luxury cruisers MANIAKOM, SAGARA RATNA, ASHTAMUDI, PATHIRAMANAL, all pretty vessels, luxuriously appointed with plush seats, well stocked kitchenettes and modern conferencing facilities.

Kerala Houseboats - Kettuvalloms - Rice boats of Kerala.
Rice Boats of Kerala The "Green Gateway of India", Kerala, with its palm-fringed backwaters and waterways surrounded by lush green countryside is a tourist's delight. A ride on a traditional houseboat known as "Kettuvallom" may bring along an incredible experience of their life and culture. This, apart from the fact that one keeps enjoying the floating holiday throughout the course of the journey, makes backwater cruises a trip down fantasy lane.

Stretching over 1500 kms, the serene, palm-fringed backwaters-a unique glistening web of lakes, lagoons, canals and rivers-are the essence of Kerala. The 900 kms of navigable backwaters can now be explored on the country-made traditional. "Kettuvalloms" (or boats). Gliding along the calm waters and viewing picturesque scenery of backwaters, canals, lush coconut groves, paddy fields, screwpine hedges and mangrove forests can be a unique experience while visiting this southern coastal state. These traditional houseboats of Kerala are one of the most enduring images of the backwaters-its natural, cocoon-like profile complementing the surrounding countryside. As the boat slowly cruises through backwaters, absorbing this unusual representation of Kerala life, the traveller enjoys an ultimate vacation experience-an experience of a floating holiday.

"Kettuvaloms" were traditionally rice boats used for transporting paddy and other commercial goods in the olden days. These study flat-bottomed rice boats were specifically designed to carry heavy cargo and to provide living accommodation for the boatmen. Reminiscent of a tharawadu (traditional house of Kerala) these boats, built with a domed mat roof, were created using the traditional materials and skills of the master craftsmen of Kerala.

"Kettuvaloms" have always remained an integral part of Kerala's culture: in the ancient poems like the Unnuneeli Sandesam and in the early modernpoems like the Mayoora Sandesam of Kerala Varma Valiya Koyithampuran, description of "Kettuvaloms" and their association with the local culture has been specifically mentioned. "Kettuvaloms" were primarily used for transporting paddy and other commercial goods.

In modern times-with the trucks and goods trains gradually replacing the "Kettuvaloms" in its prime function-these boats, the culture around the land the people who made them had slowly begun to fade into oblivion. It is at this juncture that tourism stepped in to use these ancient crafts in a modern context-precisely a heritage preservation exercise.

Houseboat Sitting Room In the past, rich families seeking pleasure-filled past time, spent summer vacations drifting down the backwaters in a cool, punted houseboat. The charm of these floating cottages was rediscovered by the famous architect Laurie Baker who suitably converted them into boats fit for tourists. The result was that in a very short time these boats became immensely popular among them who throng Kerala to spend a peaceful floating holiday amidst natural verdant scenery.

Whether it is an exploratory, overnight cruise through narrow canals, a circumnavigation around the still, vast waters of Lake Vembanad, or a longer passage from Cochin to Alleppey, the experience is quite different from any other holiday. One couple has the exclusive run of the entire boat-ensuring privacy for the guests who are attended to by a personal cook and two boatmen. There is a cosy double bedroom mid-ship, with an en suite bathroom and a well furnished sitting-room complete with its own sun deck at the bow.

In the stern, there is a fully-fitted kitchen. Ever mindful of the environment, in some boats, power is supplied by discreet solar panels hidden in the roof. The boat, almost 50 feet long, is propelled from the bow and stern by the boatmen using punting poles (an outboard motor is sometimes used on longer cruises). During the fitting out of the boats, great care is taken to use only natural materials. In the sitting room, for example, the floor has been lined with coir matting and the walls with woven palm panels. The arched ceiling is made out of split bamboo, lashed together with coir binding and covered with palm fronds. Simplicity is kept uppermost in mind-the soft colours creating a light and airy atmosphere. The furniture-a mixture of rosewood, mahogany and cane-includes south Indian "essay chair" with its long armrests, a drink cabinet, an old round table and roll cushions on the balustrade sundeck. Overall, the design reflects a strong Chinese influence; especially the sides which open up to create winged awnings. The private bedroom is dominated by a large double bed shrouded in a fine Houseboat Bedroom mosquito net. The cotton sheets and curtains are white, too, creating a dreamy, romantic nest. There is an electric fan and a window open to the stars at night, along with spindled wood carving to complete the mood of the rustic charm (sleeping out in the open, on the sundeck is also possible if one so desires). In the adjoining bathrooms, there is full running water; a shower, hand basin and western style lavatory. The kitchen has been designed to make the boat entirely self-sufficient. The chefs only serve traditional houseboat fare (the spice content can be reduced, if required) including freshly caught Karimeen-a delicious backwater fish otherwise known as pearlspot-local vegetables and rice. Beer, too, is served on board; other drinks can be ordered and brought on board before departure. There are no fixed itineraries for houseboat cruises. These houseboats are mainly based at Alleppey, Kumarakom and Quilon from where one can board the same for stay and cruise for one, two or more nights, as desired.

However the tourist generally prefer one or two nights program. Some of the suggested itineraries are given overleaf.

Write to us for a detailed program and rates.