Often referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala’s enchanting backwaters offers the visitor an enchanting maze of lagoons, canals and estuaries. These waterways are traversed by traditional houseboats and canoes and the occasional snake boat race. The area is replete with lush paddy fields and coconut plantations, not to mention fleets of ducks.
Today the backwaters are home to a unique way of life. Over 900kms of these waters are navigable and the most exciting way to explore them is aboard a kettuvallom, the traditional mode of transport. Keralan houseboats are made by tying together pieces of wood. Not a single nail is used in its construction. Once a goods carrier, the houseboats today come equipped with en suite bathrooms and air-conditioning.Here are just a few of the places we would recommend you see whilst in this most beautiful part of India:
Kumarakom – Nestled among lush paddy fields, highlands and rubber plantations is Kumarakom, one of the most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala offering boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences. A particular attraction is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which is a favourite haunt of migratory birds such as the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is an ornithologist’s dream!
Kollam – Kollam is one of the oldest ports on the Malabar Coast and the gateway to the magnificent backwaters. An eight hour cruise from here to Alappuzha (Alleppey) includes a stop at the picturesque village of Alumkadavu, home to the skilled artisans famed for making the kettuvalloms.
Alappuzha – Home to a vast network of lakes and lagoons it is also the venue for the renowned snake boat races. Nearby Kuttanad.known as the Rice Bowl of Kerala is the very heart of the backwaters and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The island of Pathiramanal (Sands of Midnight) is home to rare migratory birds.
Kochi – A cluster of islands on the vast expanse of Vembanad Lake, Kochi is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. A cruise through the winding waterways here will take you to many quaint spots including the islands of Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
Kozhikode – the backwaters of Kozhikode remain largely unexplored and unspoiled. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and Kallai River are all recommend for boating. Kadalundi has a beautiful bird sanctuary and also plays host to the Korapuzha Jalotsavam – a water festival.
Valiyaparamba – Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous small islands, this is probably the most scenic stretch of backwater in Kerala and a much favoured spot for backwater cruises.
Thiruvallam – This serene stretch of backwater is famed for its canoe rides. There is also a temple dedicated to Parashurama, the legendary founder of Kerala. Also worthy of mention is the Veli Tourist Village and the Akkulam Boat Club.