Global Holidays has been to Kerala in India to see for itself what it is like to cruise on the famous Kerala Backwaters. We were staying in the holiday resort of Kovalam which is on the southern tip of India. Kerala, or Gods Own Country, as the locals like to call their Indian State is a lush green paradise, and some parts of Kerala are criss-crossed by inland rivers, lakes and canals that make up the so called Kerala Backwaters. The boats were originally used to transport rice and other goods; over the years the industry declined but in recent years they have been refurbished as houseboats and improved the tourism and economy of the area. The boats retain the traditional local style mainly made of wood and coir without a single nail being used.
These inland waterways have become a “must see” holiday attraction in Kerala, and it is possible to take a cruise on your very own house boat either for the day or to stay overnight. When we first saw the network of rivers’ lakes and canals, we were stunned by their size. This area is nothing like the Norfolk Broads, well maybe it is, but it is on a much bigger scale.
We had a driver who drove us in a comfortable air-conditioned 4 wheel drive vehicle on a hair raising 4 hour drive to the town of Alleppy where many of the houseboats start their backwater cruises. There were just the two of us and we had our own crew of three to look after us. There was the captain, our own cook and another crew member. We were served all our meals under cover on deck and meals were served on large coconut leaves instead of plates. Our cook managed to serve us some fabulous freshly made curries from fish caught minutes before which we ate as we sailed along watching the incredible scenery.
Our houseboat had just one bedroom with an ensuite bathroom which was quite basic but this was part of the charm and adventure. It is very relaxing as you chug along. Many people live on the banks of the rivers and we saw them bathing and washing clothes in the river. We threw packs of colouring pencils to small children as we sailed past; we had heard it is tradition to do this so we went prepared. The children certainly appreciated them and ran alongside our boat waving and thanking us.
The scenery was absolutely stunning and varied from narrow canals where we could see into peoples houses to wide open lakes. It was very peaceful and relaxing and gave the feeling of stepping back in time. We tied up alongside a bank in the evening and ate our evening meal with some cold beer watching the sunset. Our room had air conditioning, a double bed and a basic bathroom with shower. We slept well, lulled by the sound of the water outside. In the morning, we awoke to coffee and breakfast and watched the local children, smart in their uniforms, going off to school on the river bus. We travelled further along the Backwaters and returned to our starting point where our uniformed chauffeur drove us back in style to our hotel, the Leela Palace in Kovalam.
These are some of the photos that we took as we sailed the Kerala Backwaters. We hope that you enjoy them. Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450 if you are interested in a holiday to Kerela.
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