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    Kerala Houseboat

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    Kerala HouseboatKerala Houseboat

    A rich tapestry of rivers, estuaries, lagoons, lakes and canals, Kerala has a 1500 kilometre stretch of waterways. The backwater cruises in the traditional houseboats called kettuvalloms is unique to the Kerala brand of tourism and there are few experiences more exotic. The backwaters of Kerala have been used for transportation, fishing and agriculture.

    The kettuvalloms sport a thatched roof over the wooden hulls and were in earlier days used as grain barges to transport rice and other cargo to the local markets. Today the houseboat is an experience in itself, it is a floating home with all the modern luxury that a resort or hotel provides. With the stunning vistas of equally vivid waterscapes and landscapes that unspool along the sides, a cruise is refreshing as it is restful. The setting is tranquil and the cruise along the endless trail of liquid blue helps you unwind, and retract from the outside world into a cocoon of sheer detachment. Juxtaposed with such scenic splendor is the unassuming rustic life that goes by on the banks, seemingly unaffected, unaware of the mesmerising world of natural scenery around.

    At night it becomes even more magical, with the boat’s engine shut off and the lanterns giving out a soft glow and the distant twinkle of dimly lit local huts which keep shifting in the gentle rocking of the boat, almost like drifting into oblivion. Alappuzha is the hub of houseboat cruises and about 2000 houseboats ply the area. While most houseboats take the standard route, there are specific trips which take you off the beaten track into less frequented territories, for a more exclusive experience. The stretch of water from Alappuzha to Kollam, the longest in the state, has perhaps seen more holidayers than the beaches of Goa. The houseboats are a big hit with Christmas and New Year revellers and this is the peak season with the cost of hiring a houseboat jumping three or four-fold.

    The backwater cruise at Alappuzha makes you witness one of the biggest man-made phenomena in the world – Kuttanad, the granary of the state where paddy cultivation is done well below sea level through a system of dykes and bunds that stretch all along the route of the cruise, the only parallel perhaps in the world being the dykes of Netherlands where land is reclaimed from sea for crop cultivation. Kumarakom, where almost all resorts offer houseboat cruises, throws up a more refined backwater experience across the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake. Whatever be your choice of location, a backwater cruise is, without doubt, the best way to discover the soul of this rustic, enchanting, history-laden, tradition-rich state that truly seems to be god’s favourite territory.

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