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Kerala General Information  >> Kerala Hotels >>  Ayurveda in Kerala  >>   Hill Stations in Kerala   >> Kerala Backwaters   >>
Kerala Houseboats  >> Kerala Beaches >>  Kerala Tour Package >>   Kerala Boat Race

Backwaters

Alumkadavu
Gliding along the calm and serene backwaters flanked by green leaves and palms, seeing a rural Kerala preserved through the ages and completely hidden from the road is an enchanting experience to any visitor, more so while sailing a slow-moving, spacious Kettuvallam. Alumkadavu, a quiet spot in the town of Karunagapally - hardly 23 kms. north of Quilon (travel time: 30 min) has become a hot point of Kettuvallam building, with more than a hundred people involved.

These huge, long and tapering barges were traditionally used to move tones of goods across kingdoms, with a portion covered with bamboo and coir serving as a rest room and kitchen for the crew. A familiar sight on the waters, these vessels are built entirely without using nails.
Planks of jack wood are joined together with coir rope and coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. With careful maintenance they last for generations.
Today, widely and appropriately called houseboats, they carry furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Some are powered by a 40 HP engine. At Alumkadavu, you can even find a floating conference hall, designed to seat 35, with a dais and a sophisticated public address system.

Calicut

Up north in Kerala, the meandering backwaters of Calicut (Kozhikode) lie waiting to be discovered. With a bewitching beauty of its own.  North east of the city, Elathur offers an ideal jump-off base into the Canoly Canal - a name taken after its British builder and administrator. The canal links itself to the Kallai River which unhurriedly threads through the city and offers its shores to CalicutÂ’s historic timber trade. The produce of which is believed to have even adorned the courts of King Solomon and Queen Sheba a few millennia ago.  Further south lies Kadalundi with its charming bird sanctuary - haven to an amazing assortment of delightful water birds.  Another river of the region - Korapuzha - is fast gaining popularity as the venue of the water sports festival - the Korapuzha Jalotsavam - staged every August.

Kumarakom

At Kumarakom, you could sail the backwaters in rented houseboats, which are poled by local oarsmen and are simply furnished with a living room, a bedroom and bath, together with a raised central platform creating a private sit-out for the passengers. Sections of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. Boat trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together - make for a convenient mode of sightseeing when the company is large. You could even take a canoe out into the quiet lagoons and spend time angling. Make sure you sample Karimeen and fresh Toddy - the favorite fresh-water food and the local wine.  This is an ideal place for backwater cruises. A beautiful backwater spot accessible from Kumarakom is Alleppey.  On the shores of the enchanting Vembanad lake, 14 kilometers from Kottayam (travel time: 20 min), lies Kumarakom in its small-town hush. Redolent of restful ease.A boat ride into the countryside offers a close look into an engaging rustic life. Skiff-fishermen launching their cockleshell boats. Large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks. Women, neck-deep in water, with their waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with their feet. A 14 acre bird sanctuary is situated on the eastern banks of the Vembanad Lake. The sanctuary adds to the natural beauty of Kumarakom. Birds (waterfowl, water ducks, cuckoos, wild ducks etc.) nest and spend happy summers here. Birds like Siberian Storks migrate here every year. The sanctuary is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alleppey (Alappuzha) - Kuttanaad

The sweeping network of canals, honey-combing the town of Alleppey (Alappuzha) has earned for the place its sobriquet - "The Venice of the East." Small, low-slung country boats are the taxis of this waterland.  It is a heart-warming sight to see them carry a motley assemblage of cycles, goats, fisherwomen with cane baskets, school children, toddy-tappers with their knives and pots, duennas in white with gold earrings, Syrian Christian priests and a bare-chested boatman apiece.
Do not miss out on a ride into Kuttanad through shimmering, green paddy fields and tail-wagging, head-bobbing groups of ducks. The coir-workers too present an interesting sight as they soak coconut fibre in pools, beat them out and weave the tough brown strands into long ropes on spindles stretched between endless coconut trees.  Alleppey becomes the cynosure of the eyes of the world in August - September, every year, as it plays host to the celebrated Snake Boat Races - a water regatta unique to Kerala.

Quilon (Kollam)

The charming old port city of Quilon (Kollam) on the banks of the picturesque Ashtamudi Lake is now known more as the centre of cashew industry. Traces of a once prosperous trade with China are still seen in the form of Chinese fishing nets, huge Chinese water pots, blue and white porcelain and sampan-like boats.  Quilon is an inviting gateway to Kerala's backwaters. For an interesting backwater experience, take the regular ferry to Alleppey - a rigorous ride lasting more than 8 hours. As the old ferry putters from one village on the waterfront to another, you are treated to a full range of lives and activities and some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. For the less intrepid, shorter cruises can be made in the larger comforts of the houseboats with idyllic villages such as Alumkadavu as your launch base.  The nearest airport, Trivandrum, is 71 kms. away. It takes fractionally over an hour to get to Quilon by road or rail from Trivandrum.

Tourist Village at Akkulam

Akkulam is one of the first picnic spots in the suburbs of Trivandrum City. This place is only 10 kms away from the Central Railway Station. The spot is developed on the banks of Aakkulam Kayal (lake), which is an extension of the Veli Kayal (lake). The calm and serene atmosphere and its unique natural beauty is fascinating for the tourist. The village consists of the Boat Club, Swimming Pool, Children's Park, an Anthurium Project and a Snack Bar.


The Backwaters Treatment

Swaying coconut palms and meandering waterways create a magical charm to the land. special magic of the backwaters: a great and glistening web of rivers ,canals, lakes and estuaries where time flows at a measured pace and yesterday and tomorrow merge into an ever-lasting , jade-green, today.
The bluish waterways and the green land mélange to create a mood that begger description. When you first encounter the backwaters they look unreal: slow flowing watery highways meandering between palm-hung banks. Clearly, the best way to encounter these water lands is to hire a houseboat. These long, broad-beamed, boats were once rice boats carrying mounds of grain from the Kuttanad , rice bowl of Kerala, to the great voracious cities. Then a complex of roads feathered out across the State and the rice boats lost business to the trucks.

This is when the bright entrepreneurs of Kerala said: "Anything Kashmir can do, we can do better!" They bought rice boats from the out-of-work owners, made stately rooms, bathrooms, open-sided lounges, and kitchens, on board; employed the original owners as captains and crew on their own boats; brought in a chef and a guide, and were in business
.
You can, for instance, choose either to be part of the scene or, detachedly, away from it. Your houseboat, except when it ties up alongside in the firefly haunted night, is never so far away from the banks that you cannot share, vicariously, in the lives of the people of the backwaters. Yet, you are never really close enough to become intimately involved in their trials and tribulations. You can, with complete freedom, pick and choose your passing involvement as if you were plugged into a Virtual Reality experience.
For the passengers, the backwaters' houseboat experience is a step further on the rejuvenating trail. The environment of Kerala, the atmosphere of this green State, is therapeutic in itself. Just being in Kerala, as we've said, is a health-enhancing experience. But when you experience it in the peaceful drifting of a houseboat through the backwaters, you're adding a deep dimension of serenity to your therapy.
Squadrons of brown and white ducks paddle past, arrowing for little thatched-and-tiled settlements on the palm-shaded embankments. Women hang out bright pennants of washing while their husbands, with bare, bronzed, bodies, fish with rod and line, or flared filigrees of nets, or with bows and harpoon arrows, or even with spiked bamboo probes, extracting skulking crabs from water-lapped eaves of the levees.


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