The Houseboat on Backwaters
The original Kettuvallams (Houseboat) were used to carry tons of rice and spices from south of Kerala to Cochin. When modern trucks replaced this system of transport, people came up with a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old. By constructing special rooms to accommodate travellers, these boats cruised forward from near-extinction to enjoy their present popularity.
These are boats with a thatched roof cover over wooden hulls. The boat is made of planks of jack-wood joined together with coir. This is then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. While converting kettuvallams into houseboats, care is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats, sticks and wood of the areca nut tree are used for roofing, coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood of coconut trees and coir for beds. Nowadays, Solar panels are preferred for lighting.
Today, the houseboats boast of the same comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Parts of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm leaves open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views and supplemented with freshly cooked fish from the backwaters.
Cruise starts from Kumarakom at 1200 Noon. Initially cruise through Vembanad Lake the largest natural lake in Kerala. Onwards to the lake margins where canals run through the so called ‘C block, H Block and R Block’ areas that have been reclaimed for cultivation. Here one can see highly picturesque rice fields that are below the water level.
Reach Karumady, where guests can visit the ‘Karumadikuttan’ ancient Buddha Statue and onwards towards Champakulam, where you can visit the ancient St. Mary’s Church. You can stop along the canal bank at many locations to buy souvenirs, arts and crafts or to purchase fresh seafood from local villages. Otherwise just explore the beautiful environs on foot, leaving your Rice Boat moored along the canal bank.
Reach Moonnattinmugham, the meeting place of three rivers, for night anchoring.
Cruise continues in the morning towards Alleppey to reach the jetty near the Snake Boat Race Finishing Point at 1000 A.M.