Houseboats of Kerala, the olden times Kettuvalloms refurnished and beautified for the sole purpose of Backwater Tourism. In the land of Kerala, during olden times these boats were rice barges or heavy goods carriers called Kettuvalloms. As time passed new means of transportation emerged and these boats gave way to the modern barges and faster boats. But the beauty and eco blended traditional construction gave them a new role of action in Kerala's tourism activities. A Houseboat journey through the long stretching backwaters of Kerala is considered not to be avoided at any cost for a tourist coming here, into the God's own country.If stretched virtually more than half the length of Kerala is backwaters. The longest backwater of India and largest of Kerala, the Vembanadu covers 3 districts of Kerala like Ernakulam, Alleppy and Kottayam So the way to explore a major inland landscapes and villages and the common life of Kerala is through Boat journeys, and Houseboats are the most comfortable moving living cottages you can get.
Building a houseboat
Raw materials used for building houseboats are Wooden planks(Anjily wood/Jackwood, jack fruit tree planks etc), Bamboo, coir ropes, Areccanut tree logs, Cashew-nut husk oil compounds etc. The hull of the boat is made of Anjilii wood, which is treated for enough time to make them water resistant. The planks of wood are tied together with coir made of coconut husk. Hence the name Kettuvalloms which means coir tied boats. Not a single nail is used in the making of these boats and just the logs are tied up together using coir. Obviously well trained and experienced traditional engineering done here. The woods are smeared with cashew nut husk oil extracts to prevent deterioration from water. the roof is thatched with palm and bamboo logs. Bamboo and areccanut logs are used in making the boat house walls. Apart the house boats are made moving luxury resort rooms with all the modern amenities you can expect.
Houseboat resting in the calm lake of Vembandu besides the coconut groves. A shot from Kumarakom, the backwater village of Kerala. So many inner villages like these were only once reachable through these water-bodies. The houseboat, having a sundeck can be a little bit expensive than one without sundeck. Ofcourse a sun-decked one gives you more view of the scenic life and landscapes around along with an added power to the continuously blowing lake wind. Advancements of roads and bridges has made the transportation easy and these traditional kettuvalloms used as rice barges got promoted for tourism needs only now.
A house boat family trip through the backwaters of Kerala. Photographed during a small boating trip through the calm parts of Vembanadu lake in Kumarakom. Seems the houseboat is giving the journey to a large family. May be a vacation family get together. The living rooms these houseboats have are of enough space to accommodate the need of tourists. Some of the houseboats have sundecks or balconies through in which you can spend time watching the serene beauty of the village landscapes, lake and local life.
Planning a houseboat journey
Mini houseboat journeys to multiple day houseboat journeys are available. The cost for the luxurious houseboat may range more than 10,000 INR. the cheapest houseboat trip ranges around 5000 INR/-. But the rates can be negotiated depending on how good you are in the skill of bargaining. The house boat rates also depends on the season you are selecting for the trip. Summer and monsoon sesons are offseson for houseboats and other backwater tourist activities. The months of December and January is the peak of tourism season in the Kerala backwaters.
The rate of your houseboat trip also varies depending on the size and amenities in your boat. There are luxury boat cruises having a single and upto 5 bedrooms. Air Conditioned rooms, sundecks etc are features that will add the cost. The next factor contributing the price of your houseboat trip is the route and length of your river tour trip. Their are short houseboat tours like Aleppy to Aleppy and also boating trips that starts from one backwater township and endsup in another. There are day night trips which lasts more than 22 hours. You can select acccording to your needs and member count of your tour group.
Kollam to Alleppy backwater trip is one of the renowned lengthy trips through the long stretching mighty backwaters of Ashtamudy and Vembanadu. Erected old Chinese fishing nets, water lilllies, goose and duck folks, fisher men doing their jobs in small canoes, green groves of coconut trees and green stretch of green paddy fields in the villages will make your journey a memmorable one. Along with all these you can ask for local delicious recipes especially fish cuisines made of freshly caught lake fish from the boat crew. Vegetarian an non-vegetarian food will be freshly prepared according to the tourist's needs.
Give a visit to Alleppy, renowned as the Venice of Kerala and from their you can get in contract with any of the houseboat tour operators. Just make sure about the boat's condition and amenities before giving any advance money and try to get a written contract if the boat journey is going to be done another day.
Have a nice journey...
photo blog of Kerala