Often nicknamed the Venice of the East, Kerala has gotten this name because of the incredible backwaters. When ever anyone mentions Kerala one of the things immediately anyone says is that you must do is stay on a Houseboat in the Backwaters of Alleppey.
The word alone Backwaters does not sound very inviting , it actually conjures up images small , smelly rivers with all sorts of diseases. But that is actually the opposite. The Backwaters of Kerala are made up of lagoons, lakes and canals formed by over 900km of waterways. It has a unique eco-system with fresh water from the rivers which meet the seawater from the Arabian Sea.
Alleppey also known as Alapuzha is a popular route where you will find houseboats.The large barge type boats are called Kettuvallams. With their distinctive thatched roof covers it is hard to believe that these house beautiful overnight accomodation.Originally the houseboats were used to ship rice and spices to the port of Cochin but now days they are transported by road and the Houseboats are now a popular tourist attraction in Kerala.There are over 900 houseboats in this area something to suit every budget. Kerala is a popular state for newly weds.
Tips for the Houseboat stay :
- Carry a small bag with only what you need for the night and next day. It is impossible to luggage around suitcases from boat to boat.
- It is important to have mosquito repellent.
- Wear long pants to prevent been bitten.
- Carry suitable shoes that have grip when climbing in and out of boots.
- Before boarding there is a small store selling softdrinks, beers and snacks. Buy these here as they are not available on the boot.
It is important to know that at this point of my trip my phone was blocked and I was not able to take many images. But this was such a blessing in disguise which I will explain to you later.
After a beautiful welcome of drummers, garlands and fresh coconut water ,we boarded a ferry style boat with our belongings before we were dropped off at our homes for the night. I have a phobia about falling all the time and the thought of climbing into one boat from another had me in a panic. I decided to sit back put my sunglasses on and deal with it as we got to our houseboat. On arriving at our houseboat we entered through the huge sliding windows and that is why you need a small backpack and not a suitcase. The friendly staff helped us into the houseboat and showed us our rooms.
We were the guests of the Spice Routes Company who have 5 Houseboats. The boats are named after the local spices grown in Kerala.With a fleet of 5 houseboats which all have 5 star facilities and range from Deluxe to premium services.The Houseboat we stayed on had 3 bedrooms and it is possible to find one with 5 bedrooms or 1 room.
What to expect onboard a Houseboat ?
1. The houseboat is airconditioned which is a must as it does get very hot. And there are fans in the bedrooms.
2. Each bedroom has their own en suite bathroom with a shower and hot water.
3. There are 3 members of staff on each boat who look after your during your stay. A driver , a cook and an assistant see to all your needs.
4. Your meals are all freshly prepared from locally sourced ingredients.
5. Before sunset the Houseboats have to dock on the sides of the canals so that the local fishermen can cast their nets for fishing. Fishing is a way of life for many in Kerala and fish is a popular dish that is seen on every menu.
After we freshened up, a delicious lunch was prepared for us. Local vegetables , salads, rice and spicy fried fish featured on our menu. As we made our way down the backwaters , we could see our friends from #KeralaBlogExpress on other boats. We urged our driver to go faster to beat the other houseboats but he just smiled at us. There was not much reception so we all ended up talking and getting to know each other. Travelling with other like minded people is so refreshing and you get to learn so much about the world. Interrupted by our friends screaming hello from their houseboats was the only distractions along the backwaters. A constant supply of tea, coffee, bottled water were offered to us.
What do you see along the Backwaters?
Everyday life with children been ferried to school in waterbuses. Ladies washing clothes along canals in the Backwaters as well as preparing meals for their families. The most surprising thing was watching the local men bath in the water I for one would be afraid of what was lurking in that water.Meal preparation includes catching the fish and cleaning it all in the same water.Houses dotted the sides of the backwaters with churches and Hindu temples side by side.
I used the time to write down my thoughts the old-fashioned way in a notebook while soaking in the peaceful backwaters. It was so humbling to see the smiling locals wave and carry on with their every day life along the Backwaters. With us was a local tour guide to give us more insight into Kerala and her people. We were treated to a spectacular sunset before we docked for the night on the side of the backwaters which were lined with palm trees.
As soon as the sun started to set all the windows were closed to prevent bugs from coming in. After another amazing evening meal some coffee and a chat we were all ready to say good night and head to bed. The next morning a delicious breakfast was prepared for us before we packed and waited for our water taxi to pick us up from our houseboat and take us to land.
We said our goodbyes to the crew who looked after us and I wished we had spent another night here and that my phone was working. But then again maybe my body , mind and soul needed a digital detox as we were only on Day 2 of 15 on the #KeralaBlogExpress. This was just the start of my adventure into God’s Own Country.
Be Inspired !