Kerala Backwaters India
The green, sinuous, palm fringed backwaters of Kerala are unique in themselves. Coming here gives you an experience equivalent to or even much better than what you feel at the canals in Thailand, or the backwaters in Milan. The sparkling and emerald green waters acquiring the hues of tall huge green palms attract the tourist in quest of serenity and intangible beauty.
Remaining in the backstage for long, used just as the state's trade highways, now the Backwaters of Kerala has attained a full-fledged status of an indispensable tourism element in Kerala. The best way to enjoy the Kerala backwaters is to take a cruise on a Kettuvallam (house-boat). The real adventure lies in enjoying the sound of water ripple when the rudder touches the water and cover endless stretches of water without getting down anywhere. The best time for the cruise is the dusk which can be peeped in from one Kettuvallam among several, as you pass a world of coconut trees, marshy groves, shallow lakes, deep canals, and long boats. Your backwater odyssey introduces you with the delicate aqua-creatures like twittering kingfishers, eye-catching cormorants and gliding ducks. The coastline of Kerala is dotted with delightful backwater destinations.
Alappuzha is one of the major backwater destinations while your tour in Kerala. The intricate network of canals through this town has earned it the sobriquet "The Venice of the East". Small but long country boats dominate the waters. The coir workers present an interesting scene as they soak coconut fibre in pools, beat them and wind the strands on long spindles stretched between an endless line of coconut trees.
A place quite close to Thiruvananthapuram, is the Veli Aakulam lagoon. Water sports, a floating restaurant, an amusement park, speedboats and other facilities added its name in the list of hot-spot tourist destinations in Kerala. The east end of the lake is flanked by two scenic hillocks.
It is one of the oldest ports of the backwaters, with the ferry to Alappuzha taking more than 8 hours. Once the old port city of Kollam, on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake is now known as the centre of the cashew industry.
A small village that is 12 kilometres west of Kottayam town. Located on the banks of the beautiful Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is a 14-acre bird sanctuary known for the local varieties of water fowl, cuckoo, water ducks, and migrating Siberian storks. Just 80 kilometres from Kochi (Cochin), this area has unique Kettuvalloms, boat racing, motorboat and water sport facilities. The houseboats compete with the Kashmiri Shikaras, plied by local oarsmen with a living room, bedroom with attached bath and a raised central deck for lazing on cushions while watching the world go by.
Well situated in the north Kerala, the cool backwaters of Kozhikode lie waiting to be explored. This old commercial town attracts travellers for its history, wonderful backwaters and leisure sports.
Alumkadavu, which is hardly 20 kilometres north of Kollam, is where Kettuvalloms are built. These huge, long and tapering barges were traditionally used to transport goods, with a portion covered with bamboo and coir servicing as a rest room and kitchen for the crew. You can see a rural Kerala preserved through the ages.
Ernakulam - Kochi
Its natural harbour, one of the best in the world, has made Kochi earn the sobriquet "Queen of the Arabian Sea". All the islands that make up Kochi are well connected by ferry. The Chinese fishing nets, a method of fishing established in Kochi during the times of Kubla Khan line the waterfront.
The other equally beautiful water bodies lying elsewhere in North Kerala are Veli (in South Kerala), Kadinamkulam, Edava, Anjengo, Madayara, Peravur, Ashtamudi, Kayamkulam, Kodungalur, Chetuva and Valiyaparamba.
In the monsoon months, the backwaters reverberate with the sound of the traditional snake boat races, featuring the 130-feet-long chundan boats. Atleast 16 of them, with over a hundred rowers each, competes for the honours during the races. Apart from other boat races, the most important one is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. The Aranmula Boat Festival is the most traditional race. The boat carnival starts on the day of Thiruonam, the most auspicious day of the Kerala festival, Onam.
Whether you glide through the backwaters by Kettuvalloms or by a simple vallom (river boat), the experience becomes undeniably unforgettable.