Kerala Backwater Tourism
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 (including Ashtamudi Kayal and Vembanad Kayal) linked by 1500 km of canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually the entire 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.
Vembanad lake is the largest of the lakes, covering an area of 200 sq km, and bordered by Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts. The port of Kochi (Cochin) is located at the lake's outlet to the Arabian Sea. Alleppey, "Venice of the East" has a large network of canals that meander through the town. The Vallam Kali (the Snake Boat Race) held every year in August is a major local sports & tourist attraction in the backwater areas of Kerala.
A land of canals lagoons, lakes and rivers, which Kerala backwaters have now become a part of the lives of its people and a kaleidoscope for the visitors to see the rural and real life in the heart of Kerala. The tough and labor-intensive jobs of boat building, prawn cultivation and coir manufacture are a part of the daily livelihood of Keralites. Alapuzha (Alleppey) & Kumarakom are the starting-point of the boat cruise through these backwaters as one reaches the land of Kuttanad, also known as the rice bowl of Kerala, because of its paddy fields.
Kumarakom has a spectacular lagoon to behold and coconut trees have become icons of Kerala tourism industry. There are bird sanctuaries to see along the shores and the village life has the attraction of simplicity and old-age world. There are bungalows that have now been converted into heritage hotels and ride of local houseboats called 'Kettuvallams' are indispensable for every traveler to Kerala. Kerala has traditional snake boat races with 130-feet long Chundan boats as its stars that add further value to its backwaters. The most prominent among these races are Nehru Trophy Boat Race at Alleppey and Aranmula Boat Race. Take the journey to the hearts oflagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and deltas of Kerala will be an amazing experience for the Tourists. The land of swayingpalm trees and blue waters and skies, which is aptly named as 'God's own country'.
Houseboat (Kettuvallam) is a kind of house boat in Kerala, India. Kettuvallam literally means "bundle" or "package" boat ( Kettu means tied with ropes, and vallam means boat - Malayalam language). A house boat is about 60 to 70 feet in length and has a width of around 15 feet in the middle. The boat is made of wooden planks joined and stiched together using coconut fiber ropes.Usually the wood used will be 'Anjili', The roof covering is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves. The outside of the boat is painted using cashew nut oil, which acts asa protective coating. During the time when road and rail transportation was expensive or unavailable, traders used Kettuvallam as a form of main transportation in the inland waterways. The boats had enough facilities for cooking and sleeping for the boatmen. Sometimes boatmen's families also accompanied them. These boatmen were also famous for the folk songs they sang while rowing the boat and for their style of cooking which they developed for the conditions inside the boat.
The new generation Houseboats are renovated forms of original Kettuvallams. The modern type House Boat have all the creative comforts like a Hotel ie well-furnished bedrooms, modern hygienic toilets, cosy living rooms, dining area, beautiful kitchen and in some cases even a balcony for angling. Most of the Houseboats are powered by remarkably unobtrusive inboard diesel engines and use solar energy for power requirements.