A visit to Kerala is never considered complete without an exhilarating cruise along the backwaters on a houseboat. Houseboats in Alleppey & Kumarakom are as much part of its culture and tourism as its coconut groves, the Chinese fishing nets, its verdant hill stations and its tranquil sea beaches.
Let us take a look at some of the reasons why the Kerala Houseboats have acquired such an intrinsic role in its tourism.
Owing to the predominance of water bodies in Kerala, boats in varying shapes and sizes have been a principal means of Transport in the state throughout its history. Gradually Ketuvallams, boats made of wooden planks tied together with coir knots became hugely popular. Cashew kernels were boiled to prepare a caustic black resin which was used to paint the body of the boats for longevity. A Ketuvallam once built and if maintained properly, usually lasted over a few generations. These boats were extremely hardy and were originally used to ferry rice and spices. Each boat could carry over 30 tonnes of cargo.
As modern modes of transports usurped their role, the Ketuvallams began to be utilized for other purposes. Owing to their historical significance they were considered to be part of Kerala’s rich culture and heritage and were intelligently utilized in the promotion of its tourism.
Ketuvallams, today, have been reincarnated as slow moving exotic barges. Though old, as some can even trace their history to be as old as 100 years, they are an extremely sturdy and safe mode of transport for conducting leisure trips on the Kerala backwaters.
The recent versions of the Ketuvallams have however been minimally redesigned to suit the modern temperaments. However, care has been taken to retain the old world charm through the use of traditional materials in the renovation process. Natural products like Bamboo mats, sticks and wood of the Areca nut tree are usually used to build the roofs of the houseboats. The flooring is made of coir mats and wooden planks. The beds are constructed of wood, extracted from coconut trees, and coir. Houseboats do use a modern lighting system through solar panels.
Houseboats today are replete with contemporary comfort ideas including modern toilets, pleasant living rooms, and a kitchen. Most houseboats also provide an inviting balcony for angling. Though electrically driven houseboats are available, the real charm of the experience can be had only when you have oarsmen pulled your boat across the backwaters.
While the backwaters stretch along a substantial portion of the Kerala coastline, Alleppey is the most popular spot where tourists usually hire houseboats. Several local organizations offer tourists with Houseboat services. They provide package trips for families, couples or just groups of friends who come to Kerala to relax and unwind. Deluxe or luxury Houseboats comprising 1, 2, 3 and 4 rooms are ideally suited for this.
Kumarakom is another locale that offers a fulfilling experience of cruising down the emerald waters of the VembanadLake in beautifully equipped houseboats. Every company offering Houseboat cruises provides impeccable services. The facilities provided in each houseboat tend to make the experience all the more memorable.
Kerala Tourism provides a fantastic opportunity enabling tourists to savor the enchanting atmosphere of its backwaters in charmingly equipped houseboats. It is a way to commemorate the history and nurture the traditions of the state.
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