#TravelThursday, Tips, Travel

Discover the Venice of the East on a houseboat in Kerala

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.
Backwaters Kerala
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.
Kerala Houseboats 1
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 :

  1. 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.
  2. It is important to have mosquito repellent.
  3. Wear long pants to prevent been bitten.
  4. Carry suitable shoes that have grip when climbing in and out of boots.
  5. 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.
Kerala Houseboat 2

What to expect onboard a Houseboat in Kerala ?

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.
Check out this site for Kerala Tour packages when booking your holiday to this beautiful state.
Be Inspired !
Spicegoddess Signature-1

Tagged , , , , , ,

98 thoughts on “Discover the Venice of the East on a houseboat in Kerala

  1. That must have been such a wonderful experience. I made it to the finals but due to family reasons I was forced to decline at the very last moment (I guess I’ll regret it till the end of my days!). I am glad I finally found a blog where I can read about the beauty I missed ๐Ÿ™
    Happy that you made it happen!

  2. Wow!! Those house boats sound incredible. I would love to stay in one. I love the type of travel you talk about in this post. Being surrounded by the true culture and people is always so refreshing. Thank you for sharing your experience I am defiantly adding this to my travel bucket list.

  3. Wow!! Those house boats sound incredible. I would love to stay in one. I love the type of travel you talk about in this post. Being surrounded by the true culture and people is always so refreshing. Thank you for sharing your experience I am defiantly adding this to my travel bucket list. <3

  4. Kerala is a beautiful state. I have lived in Kerala for three years and loved it. I am glad that you like it ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. What an awesome experience it must have been. Fact that they are air conditioned helps and makes it easier to visit. Somehow I’ve been spoiled with AC and can’t sleep without it. Especially all those mosquitoes.
    Great post.

  6. That sounds like an amazing experience. Sitting, people-watching and jotting down the various scenes seems like the perfect way to really enjoy the entire moment.

  7. Never heard of this place – cool! Love to get new inspirations to my never-ending bucket list haha ๐Ÿ™‚ I think your broken phone didn’t do any bad to this article, you described the scenes so detailed I have pictures in my mind! Keep it up girl!

  8. What a lovely adventure! One of my favorite things to do in a new place is turn off my phone and write about the sensations I’m feeling. It makes for a much more personal memento looking back. I love looking at photos of trips, but being able to relive them with my own words is really special.

  9. Wow, Verushka. It sounds like you had an amazing time over in Venice. I have to admit, I had never heard of the house boats or the possibility of overnight stays on them but if I ever go to Venice (which is definitely going to happen in the next 5 years), Then I will look into this. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful trip with us.

  10. I was in Kerala two years ago and was able to discover the backwaters around Kollam, Allepey and Cochion. All were s;lightly different and had their own charms. Kerala is truly God’s own country. I absolutely loved it.

  11. It definitely sounds like an interesting experience, I used to love boats but lately find myself getting motion/sea sick very easily so not sure I could go on a houseboat but the idea of emerging myself into that experience especially without a phone intrigues me. Sounds like you had a great trip, thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Oh, that sounds like such a lovely experience! I’ve always wanted to stay on a houseboat, even if for a little while. The idea of exploring lagoons and canals in Kerala’s backwater sounds even more appealing. I agree your phone not working was a bit of a blessing. As travel bloggers, we sometimes forget to stop worrying about pictures and enjoy the experience.

  13. Lovely experience. Something still missing from my travel experience . Reminds me of a song of an old album shot in the backwaters of Kerela. No wonder Kerala is such a popular travel destination in India for foreigners. I think the backwater and house boat experience is quite unique.

  14. The houseboat is a reason alone to travel to Kerala! What an interesting and unique experience. It is nice now and then to experience a destination screen-free. I know that that eliminates the ability to take photos, but sometimes it is nice to have the memories and not worry about technology.

  15. There is a lot that you can see in Kerala. Also, houseboats are the highlights of this place. Hopefully, someday i would see it for myself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the tips for staying in houseboats.

  16. This sounds fantastic! I love the idea of staying on a houseboat, and it would be made even more special in a locale like this. It’s pretty amazing that they can have air conditioning running in these boats to keep you comfortable.

  17. Why was your phone blocked?! As someone who is addicted to her phone, I might have cried! I didn’t realize houseboats had air conditioning, silly me. I definitely want to visit one!

  18. The backwater houseboats are such a lovely experience. We didn’t stay on one, but we saw several during a day-long cruise in Kumarakom. I’m sure its a heavenly way to see Kerala. Great post with lots of helpful information.

  19. Your post reminded us of our trip to Kerala where we stayed a whole day on houseboat sailing through the amazing landscape and savoring on the traditional dishes. Alleppey is indeed a beautiful place and worth a visit.

  20. Correct me if I wrong, because it looks like staying in a houseboat is very relaxing. I think I may have a good sound sleep, coz it feels like you are a “baby in a cradle”. And also the sound of waters make sme fall asleep. This is great!

  21. What an amazing experience this must have been! During my trips I love doing local activities and this sounds the perfect way of exploring the daily life of the villages you pass by. It’s so great that you have a cook on the boat that makes you fresh dishes using local ingredients. If I will visit Kerala (it’s bound to as I’m on my way to my third trip to India in just a month) I will definitely save a few days for a boat stay.

  22. What a picturesque experience! I’ve only been on a boat once before and I was very glad i didn’t get sea sick. With the waves on the ocean did you find yourself drifting off to sleep much easier? I can only imagine so. I very much cherish local produce and would enjoy having local chefs introduce new delicacies to me.

  23. Such a neat experience to stay among such exotic waters. I would love to see the Hindu temples. Bummed you didn’t get more pics but at least you were able to live in the moment!

  24. Sunset over the backwaters is a magical experience. My trip through Alleypey too has left a mark. Loved it and have been recommending it to all. Did you get to taste Karimeen?

  25. Love this post! Have never visited Kerala, but have always read and heard about of how amazing and gorgeous it is. its on my bucket list to rent one of those water houses and spend a weekend in Gods own country!

  26. Good Tips, It could be a preparation for when we wanted to go there. I see a very unique boat. Would we be able to fish on the boat? I like travel to places that are great for fishing.

  27. Wow! Kerala sounds like a really nice place to visit! The tips you give are really useful as well and sometimes it’s good to have no phone! ๐Ÿ˜€

  28. I’ve travelled to India several time but never to Kerala. I learned to know that visiting one region of India doesn’t mean you know it all. And reading your article I got this confirmation once more

  29. I’ve visited all the South Indian States for work a few years ago when I was in India but never got a chance to visit Kerala! Hope to go there soon some day in my life!

  30. Kerala is indeed God’s own country in many ways. The scenic beauty of the state is mesmerizing. I have not stayed on a houseboat in Kerala, but hope to do so someday.

  31. I like the idea of a houseboat. The fact it is air conditioned, it is something to give a try indeed. and I am pretty sure it doesn’t get boring to take a day tour of it as well. On the side note, I had a little laugh out of amazement from the backwater’s usage. Anyhow, that makes the people of the place interesting and unique. It’s something we don’t get to see every day.

  32. My mum went here last year and fell in love with Kerala. We’re now trying to find a time that works to go back together so she can show me everything!

  33. Kerala looks like such a cool destination! I’ve not been to India yet, but when I go, I will be sure to check this place out. Staying at a houseboat is a great idea as well – totally something I’d enjoy.

  34. Wow, what a gorgeous place! i had no idea there was a Venice of the East but now I have to go visit it! Your tips are amazing! This sounds like one awesome experience!

  35. Visited Kerala multiple times but so far not plan for houseboat is not materialised . Thanks for sharing all the details .I will save them for my next trip to Kerala!are the boats toddler friendly ?

  36. We were there last year and we loved it too. We didn’t stay overnight in a houseboat, but explored the Backwaters from a homestay. The people were so friendly and it was a great insight into local life in Kerala.

  37. I love Kerala – I stayed on one of the houseboats back in 2008. It was my first trip to India and I thought it was incredible. It was so peaceful gliding through the backwaters – and the food cooked for us was absolutely delicious! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  38. What a lovely sounding respite! Digital detox is necessary. These days I cherish the places I travel to without a SIM card. I talk to my husband more that way too!

  39. I would love to visit Kerala. Doing a houseboat there sounds like such a relaxing and wonderful experience. It sounds like you really get pampered!

  40. Pingback: Homepage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *