The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.
The Kerala Backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. In the midst of this landscape there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram, covers a distance of 205 km and runs almost parallel to the coast line of southern Kerala facilitating both cargo movement and backwater tourism.
Houseboats in Kerala backwaters
The houseboats are large all-wood vessel, which have the traditional name of the “ketuvalloms” or houseboats. Today, this is a vibrant industry with a large workforce depended solely on the prospects of tourism. Meeting up to the world standards, the houseboats are equipped with modern facilities and as large as a hotel suite. You have the opportunity to dine, drink, relax, enjoy a massage, or watch the beauty of the place right from a room. The rooms are often air-conditioned, have fire safety equipments, a general manager, cook, and chefs. The houseboats provide amenities like ayurveda massage, beauty treatments, and dining extravaganza.
Houseboat – Kerala Backwaters
Inside Houseboat – Kerala Backwaters
Honeymoon in Kerala backwater
The houseboats provide an extra advantage to the honeymooners, who enjoy the bliss of nature and the comforts of a luxury hotel. The houseboats offer exclusive honeymoon packages to the couples and the newly weds. It is even more memorable when you have your better half. You wake up to the breath taking beauty of nature and then sail to beautiful destinations at the same time. The largest stretch of Kerala backwater is between Vembanad and Kumarakom.
Houseboat Restaurant – Kerala Backwaters
Kumarakom, which was a sleepy town for years, has been transformed into a busy tourist destination with plush resorts around the Vembanad Kayal and the backwaters.
Chundan vallams or snake boats are narrow boats over 100 feet (30 m) long, with a raised prow that stands 10 feet (3.0 m) above water and resembles the hood of a snake. Traditionally these were used by local rulers to transport soldiers during waterfront wars. In modern times, it has spawned a new sport – the Vallam Kali (boat race). Each chundan vallam accommodates about a hundred muscular oarsmen.
Boatrace in Kerala Backwaters
Kollam (earlier known as Quilon) was one of the leading trade centres of the ancient world, eulogised by travellers such as Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. It is also the starting point of the backwater waterways. The Ashtamudi Kayal, known as the gateway to the backwaters, covers about 30 per cent of Kollam. Sasthamcotta Kayal, the large fresh water lake is 28.5 km from Kollam city.
The 8 hours boat ride from Kollam to Alappuzha is the longest cruise in Kerala and is delightful ride with lotuses and water lilies all around. The historic Thangasseri Fort is near Kollam, which is situated 71 km north of Thiruvananathapuram.
With the Kuttanad region and the Vembanad Kayal nearby, Alappuzha (earlier known as Alleppy) attracts tourists throughout the year. The criss-crossing canals in the area evoke comparisons with Venice, but the differences are also substantial. Each has an identity of its own. Amongst the notable sights is the palm covered Pathiramanal Island in Vembanad Kayal, one hour by boat from Alappuzha. The place is famous for the snake boat races and also has a number of historic colonial buildings and a beach.
The Kuttanad region is a vast area of partly reclaimed land, covered with bright green paddy fields, separated by dikes. The level of water is a few feet higher than the level of the surrounding land. It is an amazing labyrinth of shimmering waterways composed of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets. Lined with dense tropical greenery, it offers a glimpse into rural life-styles of Kerala. Kuttanad is a backwater paradise and an ideal destination for a backwater cruise in Kerala. It is possible to drift along in a houseboat and enjoy the scenic view of the Kerala countryside.
Kottayam – Kumarakom
The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Kayal, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The blue backwaters of Vembanad Kayal and the amazing shades of green of the vegetation, combines with the quietness of the place to make it an idyllic holiday destination. Many of the resorts also offer ayurvedic treatment While Kuttanad is ideal for a house boat cruise, the resorts are the main attraction in Kumarakonam. One can also take a boat trip in Kumaramonam It is located 15 km west of Kottayam. The bird sanctuary and the drift
Srinivas, a singer summed up: “Imagine opening your eyes every morning to a sheet of still, blue water and majestic palm tress gently swaying in the breeze. To define the feeling in one sentence: Nature undisturbed by man is wonderful and inspiring, and Kumarakom is just that!”
Munroethuruth or Munroe Island is a place surrounded by kallada river, Ashtamudi Lake and Sasthamkotta Lake in Kollam district ,MunroeIsland is a cluster of eight tiny islands, Blessed with a number of criss-cross canals and zigzag water channels, this Island plays a host to many migratory birds from various countries around the world. You can watch birds such as King fisher, Woodpecker, Egret,Bee-eater, Crow pheasant, and Paddy Birds. There is yet another rare chance to see the traditional Indian spice plants such as Pepper, Nutmeg and Cloves.
The first community tourism programme in the State will start functioning from the MunroeThuruthu islands.Coir making is a home industry to almost all the village living people. It is very interesting to watch the coir making by the village ladies with the help of weaving Wheels. They make the coir ropes by hand. In addition to this, on the way, you can see the process of extracting coconut oil from the “copra” [dried coconut]. Among the routine traditional engagements, duck, poultry farm and prawn breeding are common in all houses.
Kasargod in north Kerala is a backwater destination, known for rice cultivation, coir processing and lovely landscape, it has the sea to the west and the Western Ghats to the north and east. Cruise options are Chandragiri and Valiyaparamba. Chandragiri is situated 4 km to the southeast of Kasargod town and takes tourists to the historic Chandragiri fort. Valiyaparamba is a scenic backwater stretch near Kasargod. Four rivers flow into the backwaters near Kasargod and there are many small islands along these backwater stretches, where birds can be seen.
Thiruvallam backwaters are just 6 km from Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital. Known for its canoe rides Thiruvallam is becoming increasingly popular with tourists. Two rivers, the Killi and the Karamana come together at Thiruvallam. Not far from Thiruvallam is the Veli Lagoon, where there are facilities for water sports, a waterfront park and a floating bridge. The Akkulam Boat club, which offers boating cruises on Akkulam Lake and a park for children, is also a popular tourist attraction near Thiruvallam.
Kozhikode (also known as Calicut) has backwaters which are largely “unexplored” by tourist hordes. Elathur, the Canoly Canal and the Kallayi River are favourite haunts for boating and cruising. Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam is fast becoming a popular water sport destination.