From Alleppey To Alappuzha - The Houseboats Of Kerala

Holiday, Houseboats, Hurray!

The holiday season is almost here! It’s time to dust those travelling boots and wander far from the madding crowd. Wintertime, with its cool and crisp weather, blue skies falling leaves, and mellow winds, is the ideal time to plan a joyous holiday with friends, relatives or family.

India offers plenty of unforgettable experiences to choose from. One of them is a houseboat cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. The houseboats in Kerala offer an irresistible opportunity to traverse the backwater canals of South India and witness a slice of traditional village-life firsthand.

The backwaters in Kerala are a unique natural phenomenon that’s best explored via Kerala houseboats. Travelling in these traditional houseboats give a fleeting glimpse of the slow and rustic village life and the thriving greenery of Kerala. Plan on going for a “Kerala houseboat booking” to relish in the serene and blissful beauty of placid backwaters. It’s surely going to be a calming experience and will rejuvenate you completely.

Taking these boat tours comes with a number of exciting experiences:

  • Experience the traditional way of life. The backwaters are a great transport system for the local people. They are also the source of staple foods such as rice, fish, and coconuts. Travelling through these backwaters will allow you to witness the local activities such as locals collecting coconuts from trees or fishing from the water.
  • Taste the delicious local cuisine. As you spend some peaceful days on a houseboat, you can taste the fresh catch of the day, grilled to perfection. Or you can try out some fresh mussels topped with spices along with some local toddy wine.
  • Enjoy the comforts of a home on the backwaters. The boats are equipped with all modern facilities such as hot water, air conditioning, comfortable beds and stocked kitchens right in the lap of nature.

Alappuzha, or Alleppey, is one of the backwater hubs of Kerala with interlinking of canals, paddy fields, and coconut trees. The Alleppey houseboats are an enchanting experience where you can get gorgeous views from the windows of your houseboats. Roaming on the calm waters with the sight of migratory birds, sometimes the seasonal rainfall and the gentle breeze can be a relaxing experience. It has over 120 houseboats that combine the luxury of home and Kuttanadan style food with the quiet charm of nature to give you a holistic backwater experience.


A Brief History of Houseboats

Houseboats are huge, exotic vessels that wade slowly through the backwaters for a leisurely experience. In Malayalam, they are known as Kettuvallam where Kettu means “to tie” and Vallam means “boat”. Houseboats are a modern incarnation of the traditional vessels.

Houseboats in South India were first constructed in 3000 BC. They were primarily used for transporting spices and rice, apart from passengers. These 100-feet barges would ferry across the local villages collecting goods and selling them to traders. Most of these houseboats travelled between Cochin and Kuttanad and could carry about 30 tonnes of goods with ease.

The fascinating thing about houseboats is that not a single piece of nail is used to construct the houseboats. They are made with hundreds of jack-wood which are held together by coir ropes. A final coating of caustic black resin from boiled cashew nut shells is applied which protects the wood from rotting from continuous exposure to water. The houseboats are rowed across the backwaters with bamboo poles.

Presently, these houseboats comprise all the comforts required by travellers such as furnished bedrooms, modern toilet facilities, living rooms, kitchen, and even balconies for angling activities. These are rowed by local people and sometimes two or more boats are attached together to create a boat train for big groups of tourists.

The best way to enjoy the houseboat is to stay in one overnight, experience the Kerala countryside as the boat passes through the villages in the day, and taste the local marine cuisine.

Best Backwater Destinations in Kerala

The backwaters of Kerala are one of the most breathtaking natural wonders that makes it truly God’s Own Country. The pristine waters, the greens, and the slow pace of life are a perfect antidote to the busy city life.

The houseboats of Kerala are the best way to experience its backwaters. In the day, your eyes will be mesmerised by the greens around with the sounds of simple village life whereas at night the landscape will be enveloped in blue with the sound of the lapping of the water.

To enjoy this surreal experience, there are several backwater destinations in Kerala:

Alleppey Backwaters

The backwaters of Alleppey or Alappuzha is truly a paradise and hence is known as the Venice of the East. It has perfect landscapes with flowing rivers, lush vegetation, and clear lakes.

Alleppey backwaters draw several tourists all over the year, be it leisure lovers, honeymooning couples, adventure seekers, or nature enthusiasts. The natural beauty of the place invigorates anyone visiting it.

Plan your trip with us to have a helpful travel partner on your side who provides extensive support and tips not just for your safety but also to ensure you will have an amazing time during your solo female travel in India.

You can easily spend a peaceful holiday wandering through the beautiful maze of paddy fields, coconut groves, and villages by booking an Alleppey boat house. From the cool wind caressing your face to the peaceful sound of the lapping water, you will truly transcend to another world. Houseboat cruises are also a great way to observe ducks and various other birds on the water.

Alleppey is the hub of backwater cruises in Kerala with several backwater routes to choose from. Every route offers some unique attractions that you can enjoy. One of the best Alappuzha boathouse rides to book is the one from Alleppey to Kumarakom. This magical route is perfect to witness the beauty of Kerala with starry skies, green surroundings, and local village life.

Kumarakom Backwaters

One of the most popular backwater stretches in Kerala, Kumarakom is located in the Kottayam district. Kottayam has a dense network of rivers and canals that drain into the mighty Vembanad Lake, one of the major backwater tourist destinations in Kerala.

The Kumarakom area is one of the greenest spots with rolling hills, mangrove forests, and coconut palms on the banks of the waterways. The houseboat cruises can offer you an exciting peek into the marine life with angling options. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary nearby opens up a wonderful world of migratory birds.

Kumarakom is like a small peninsula that sticks out onto the Vembanad Lake. It’s home to rich marine life such as the pearl-spotted fish, tiger prawns, and crabs. You can also enjoy other activities such as yoga, meditation, boating, and paraskiing.

Kasargod Backwaters

Kasargod, also known as the Land of Seven Languages and Cultures, has one of the most peaceful and picturesque backwaters in Kerala. A houseboat ride passing through the spell- binding green landscape of Kasargod will truly be an enriching experience.

If you want to get away from the hectic city life and embrace some peace and quiet, then the backwaters at Kasargod is the ideal place. Located in the northern part of the state, it’s the ideal destination for peace-loving travellers and honeymooning couples.

Traversing the Kasargod backwater stretch can be an unparalleled experience where you can witness diverse landscapes such as beaches, green expanses, and enchanting waterways. An interesting spot at the backwaters at Kasargod is the confluence of four small islands which make up for a beautiful sight.

Kozhikode Backwaters

Another spectacular backwater in the northern part of Kerala, Kozhikode has a rich history. It was one of the most popular points of commerce and trading of spice and cloth, also known as calico, which earned it the name Calicut. The Kappad Beach near Kozhikode was also the place where the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama landed.

The backwaters in Kozhikode is a place of tremendous natural beauty with exotic flora and fauna, heritage buildings, and green spaces all around. The houseboat cruise can take you along the scenic Canoli and Kallai River and fill your eyes with the beauty of beaches. You can also get a unique bird watching experience by cruising on the Ashtamudi Lake, where the complex network of canals attracts a lot of migratory birds. Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary, 25 kms from Kozhikode, is also a great place for birdwatching with several migratory birds such as sandpipers, grey herons, and gulls flocking the place.

Some of the best places to explore in and around the Kozhikode Backwaters are:

  • Kappad Beach
  • Dolphin Point
  • Payyoli Beach
  • Pazhassiraja Museum
  • Kozhikode Beach

Kollam Backwaters

One of the hidden secrets of Kerala, Kollam backwaters is a treasure trove of natural beauty. Ashtamudi Lake is the second largest lake in Kerala and is located in Kollam district. Kollam is one of the most historic cities of Kerala and was a renowned trade centre in olden times.

The wetland ecosystem in Ashtamudi is the second-largest and deepest and comprises a complex network of channels. The name signifies the topography of the backwaters with Ashta, meaning eight and Mudi meaning coned. The lake gets the name because of its 8 channels which form the gateway to the backwaters and finally mixes into the numerous lagoons, canals, and inlets.

A cruise on this stretch will take you past the palm and coconut trees and the villages on the banks of the lake. You can see the local people engaged in daily tasks such as fishing and coconut husking. There is a long cruise from Kollam to Alappuzha is one of the longest, spanning eight hours, and the most beautiful.

The Kollam backwaters is teeming with flora and fauna, including various types of mangroves, around 50 species of fauna, 40 species of birds, and 26 species of butterflies.

Kochi Backwaters

Kochi is one of the most popular harbours in Kerala and is known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. It’s the perfect place where the ancient and the contemporary meet.

Kochi backwaters are also one of the most fascinating places to visit. The placid lakes lined by coconut palms are a treat to witness. The backwaters is where a moving landscape of migratory birds, local village life, and Chinese fishing nets merge.

There are several backwater cruises that run on the Kochi route with the one Alleppey and Kollam being the most scenic. If you take a route that’s close to the Marine Drive, then you can check out some heritage buildings such as St. Francis Church, Cochin Port Trust, and Jewish Synagogue.

Kuttanad Backwaters

One of the most fascinating backwaters in Kerala is Kuttanad. The landscape is interspersed with crisscrossing blue waterways and green paddy fields. A houseboat cruise along this pristine backwaters is surely going to be an experience you’re going to cherish for a lifetime.

The Kuttanad backwaters extend for about 75 kms in between Kochi in the north and Kollam in the south with a diverse landscape of hills and sea on either end. On a houseboat ride along this region, you can expect a maze of multiple channels flanked by dense greenery and local villages hidden away from the busy road. You will also witness simple village activities such as shepherds fishing traditional cane basket nets called “Ottal”.

Trivandrum Backwaters

Trivandrum Backwaters, located in the southernmost capital district of Kerala, is a renowned backwater destination. A little away from the primary backwater hub, Trivandrum offers a peaceful and quiet holiday away from the crowd. While the popular Lake Vembanad is one major water body, Trivandrum has several smaller water bodies that offer boat tours. These lagoons and lakes are located outside the city and can be explored along with the city sightseeing.

Alleppey boat house

Things to Bring to Make your Houseboat Trip Comfortable

Just like any other trip, a houseboat trip also requires planning. Many people may have doubts in their mind as to what to carry on a houseboat trip. Here’s a breakdown of all the things you should pack before planning a houseboat trip:

Essential Items

  • Swimwear (in case you want to take a dip)
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, towels, and water floats
  • Fishing equipment
  • Life vests
  • First-aid kit
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Torch
  • Chargers and other electronics such as power banks or music players
  • Camera
  • Recreational items such as puzzles, board games, and books

Food Items

  • Drinking water
  • Snacks such as cakes and biscuits
  • Spices
  • Basic cooking raw materials in case you want to cook on the houseboat

Things To Do When on a Houseboat in Kerala

If you’re planning to book a holiday on a houseboat in Kerala, there are several activities you can do to have a worthwhile experience.

Here’s a list of things to do on a houseboat in Kerala:

  • Ride along the backwaters – The backwaters in Kerala have an interlinking network of canals, streams, and waterways. All of them are different in character, some are very narrow, some are wide, some are as wide as a lake, while some will make you feel as if you’re sailing along the sea. Once you book a houseboat, you can ask the houseboat driver to take you along as many canals as possible.
  • Pause for a while – You can also ask your houseboat driver to stop when you’re in the middle of a big lake. You can enjoy the beauty of your surroundings as the water flows away with greenery on all sides. It can truly be an enchanting experience. You can also have your meals in the middle of the river and enjoy the peace and calm.
  • Taste the delicious seafood – There are several advantages of being on a houseboat, one of them being getting to taste the delicious and fresh seafood. While cruising through the houseboat, your houseboat driver can catch the fresh fish of the day and serve it on the meals.
  • Explore the paddy fields – Cruising along the backwaters, you’ll enter many paddy fields along the way. The green paddy fields are a window to the verdant countryside of Kerala. Some of them will be harvested and you may find some local farmers carrying the crops on a boat from the fields. You’ll be able to get a peek into the simple life of the villagers can be an enriching experience.
  • Watch the beautiful sunrise and sunsets – One of the best experiences on a houseboat cruise is to observe the sunrise or sunset. Witnessing these phenomena from the houseboat can be one of the most relaxing experiences and one you will cherish throughout your life.

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