Have you been to God’s country Kerala? Mr. Suburbia was born there and spent many of his summer holidays at his grandparents home in Thiruvananthapuram (which is also known as Trivandrum). One of his favorite things to do is take us around to different places he used to visit during his childhood. During one such trip, we spent a day cruising the back waters of Alleppey in Kerala on a Houseboat… fresh fish with some toddy for lunch and endless views of Palm trees, lush green vegetation and calm waters!
What to expect on a houseboat in Alleppey, Kerala
We did boat ride from Alleppey where you can do a day trip on the boat instead of staying overnight in one. Alleppey, Called as Venice of the East, is beautiful with lovely lakes, beautiful lagoons, and freshwater rivers. The Backwaters of Kerala is a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes, and inlets formed by more than 900 km of waterways. The backwaters present a unique ecosystem where freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. Local oarsmen take you to an amazing world of lush greenery and tranquility hidden from street views. From small wooden boats to large rice barges, there is something for everyone on the backwaters.
The houseboat that we had arranged picked us up from Alleppey Finishing Point Jetty and look us cruising through the lush green paddy fields and traditional Kerala villages. We went on the Punnamada Lake – the site of the famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race. We stopped at a local toddy shop ( which is local rice alcohol), you can bring your own beer or other alcohol. Since we had requested for some local fish, our cook stopped to pick those up.
We opted for the day cruise, you can also do an overnight on the houseboat which is probably the most common thing to do. But all they do is dock near the banks of the canals and the houseboats all dock up near each other. If you have a loud group next to you, you might not get a peaceful sleep and you might also run into the issue of mosquitoes. So IMHO day cruise is the way to go!
For either of the cruises, you set sail on a traditional kettuvallom. These giant 100-foot longboats have been adapted into fully furnished houses ranging from one to four bedrooms. Boats have open-air living rooms, AC in the bedrooms and fully functioning western-style bathrooms. Each boat also comes with a captain, a chef, and other houseboat guides to take care of your every need while on board. They do have nice TVs in the bedrooms if you choose to watch some shows or a movie instead of enjoying nature and the views. The boat comes with all the supplies for the chef to make lunch and a tea and snack for the evening or dinner if you are spending the night.
You can get to Alleppey (also called Alappuzha) from Kochi in about 1.5-hours, some tours (like this private tour) will even pick you up from your hotel in Kochi. Once you get onboard the traditional boats, the cruise duration is around four to five hours. We watched the everyday life along the water, where kids came back from school, local women washing clothes or cooking, tending to livestock or just sitting and chatting with their friends. We were floating past tiny villages, patches of coconut groves, rice paddy fields, and homes.
A Kerala-style lunch was served with dishes such as sambar, rice, avail (which is a mix of cooked vegetables in a coconut curry), along with the fish we had bought. For dessert, we had payasam – a rice pudding flavored with cardamom, saffron, cashew, and pistachios. The kids played card games and took naps when they got tired captaining the boat. Tea was served around 4 pm while we enjoying the views. We wrapped up around 5:30 pm and made it back to the Hotel in Kochi by 7 pm.
If you are visiting Kerala, I highly recommend spending a day in one these houseboats especially in Alleppey. You will see why the Viceroy of the Indian Empire, Lord Curzon, who was so mesmerized by the scenic beauty called Alleppey “The Venice of the East.”
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