Have you ever gone houseboat cruising on the backwaters of Kerala? If you havent, make sure you do. This ones really an absolutely wonderful, unforgettable experience!
The houseboats of today - huge, slow moving, exotic barge used for leisure trips - are the reworked kettuvalloms of olden times. The original kettuvalloms were used to carry tonnes of rice and spices - a standard kettuvallom can hold up to 30 tonnes - from Kuttanad to the Kochi port.
Traditional Kerala houseboats, Kettuvallam, glide past, powered both by gondolier-like boatmen with poles and by sail. Kerala's houseboat cruising is not just restricted to the backwaters, you also get a chance to explore the wildlife and indulge in some water sports such as water skiing, water sailing and angling. The most popular backwater cruise is from Kollam to Allappuzha.
THE TRADITIONAL HOUSE BOATS
Kettuvallams, the stitched boats provide the best way to experience the colourful backwaters of Kerala. The Kettuvalloms of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length.
The traditional houseboat, the indispensable part of the picturesque backwaters of Kerala, was mainly used in Travancore and Kochi and in the Minicoy Islands in olden times.
The wood commonly used to make Kettuvalloms is 'Anhili', which is found in abundance in central Travancore area. Large planks are tied together using hand made coir ropes and beaten coconut fibres.
This gives the Kettuvallams enough strength to withstand heavy waves in the sea. These long cargo boats are a familiar sight on the backwaters. These traditional Kerala houseboats undoubtedly form one of the most abiding images of the backwaters in Kerala.
Today, these goods carriers have been adapted to make the most exciting tourism product in India, the luxuriously furnished houseboat. Kettuvallams or the 'house-boats of Kerala' dot the serene palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala.
Witness The Making Of the Traditional Kettuvallams
At a quiet spot just outside the small town of Karunagapally, 23 kms north of Quilon, it's possible to watch the construction of traditional Kettuvallams. Kettuvallams are built entirely without the use of nails.
It requires great skill and adroitness to construct these giant boats by tying huge planks of jack wood together. The boats are applied with fish oil and cashew nut oil and left to cure for days.
Oil is simultaneously applied atleast three times before the boat is set on water. Each jackwood plank is joined to the next with coir rope, and then the whole is coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. With careful maintenance, they last for generations.
Enjoy The Backwaters of Kerala
A sojourn in Kettuvallams, the Houseboats of Kerala, offers a panoramic view of one of the most picturesque aspects of the God's Own Country. One can cruise in it through the palm-fringed backwaters, throughout a night in waxing moonlights.
The lullaby of the waves and the dazzling delights of the moonlit night can be experienced by spending a couple of nights aboard the Kettuvallam. The traditional houseboat of Kerala is one of the most enduring images of the backwaters.
These houseboats of Kerala are converted version of the "Kuttanadan Kettuvallams".
The Luxury in Water
Kettuvallams, the large traditional boats are converted into floating luxury dwelling units.
These house boats are available in all sizes and shapes, the most popular accommodation type being a suite, having one or two bath attached bedrooms, one living room, kitchenette, an open lounge, deck and a crew comprising oarsmen, a cook and guide.
The houseboats are generally powered by a small outboard engine, allowing one to cruise along the backwaters. A recent innovation is a small conference room in a houseboat.
Price For Comfort
A 24-hour stay costs somewhere in the range of Rs. 6000. There are cheaper ones including dormitories and one bedroom. About 250 boats operate along the backwaters.
Cheaper boats are available for much less but it is a cheaper experience too. At the dockside, called Finishing Point at Alappuzha, the town of houseboat operators and the starting point for backwater journeys, the boats are available for even Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per day.