Backwaters of Kerala - more beautiful than the canals in Thailand and infinitely less crowded than those in Milan - offer an amazing array of holidaying options in Kerala. Caressed by the Arabian Sea in the southern tip of India, Kerala backwaters are complex network of lagoons, lakes & canals. Cruising down the backwaters is an experience to cherish for a lifetime. Life on the backwaters is entirely different; water being the key to everything.
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.
The Kettuvallam or 'boat with knots'- was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only - not even a single nail is used during the construction. 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. With careful maintenance, a Kettuvallom can last for generations.
A portion of the Kettuvallom was covered with bamboo and coir to serve as a restroom and kitchen for the crew. Meals would be cooked on board and supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters. Today, the tradition is still continued and the food from the local cuisine is served by the Kuttanad localities, on board.
When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport, some one found a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in demand. With a bit of alteration these boats cruised forward from near extinction to enjoy their present popularity among tourists for houseboat holidays in Kerala.
Now these are a familiar sight on the backwaters of Kerala offering tourists exotic travel experiences. The houseboats have all the comforts of a luxury 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 open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. And what is truly magical about a houseboat holidays in Kerala is the breathtaking view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural Kerala that it offers - while you cruise the backwaters.