Friday, January 14, 2011

Life by the backwaters of Kerala

Kettuvallom/ Kerala houseboat

.We nearly missed it but thankfully we didn't! Tourists have a once in a lifetime experience on Kerala backwaters and return home with memories to last a lifetime. December being a peak season for tourists, the houseboats were fully booked. Luckily, the General Manager of the Kumarokam Lake Resort  got us a  country boat to enjoy a 2 hour ride. That satiated our longing for a taste of the backwaters though the real experience in a full fledged houseboat to pamper your body and soul  will be something really special .

The backwaters of Kerala is a chain of brackish lagoons, rivers canals  and lakes lying parallel to the Malabar coast of Kerala state. This extensive network of waterways provides livelihood for the locals and its natural charm has brought tourists flocking to Kerala.

The boatman took charge of the 6 seater country boat. Being smaller than the big houseboats, it can traverse the narrower canals.

We left Kumarakom Lake Resort situated on the shores of Lake Vembanad. Sitting in the boat, Lake Vembanad looks like a vast sheet of glassy water, serene and tranquil.  The big houseboats, small and large ( 6 rooms and other amenities to boot) were already 'skimming' the surface and going to the  backwaters of Alleppy and the numerous canals. These Kettuvalloms are really traditional grain and spice barges that have been converted to houseboats. A tourist from USA told us she wasn't sure how to cope with the idea of 3 attendants for the 3 days she was the sole person staying on the  houseboat. It seemed so sinfully luxurious  to her. Well, we both agreed that while it lasted, just yourself enjoy before reality hits !

 Before long we were in the backwaters. I plonked myself on the front wicker chair, eager to catch the view and the sun ! We drifted along. A new world opened before our eyes and thoughts of sailing on the Mekong some years  flashed through my mind. The waters lapped as the boatman took us on easy, slow ride.  Nothing comes closer than  this  - having  clear images of  the engaging rustic life of  the people who live on the banks. We passed through  rural settlements sited on narrow strips of land between waterways. 'Hello, world!' - the hive of activity with villagers going about their daily lives is a reminder of the importance of waterways in civilisations gone by and the present.

The lush greenery greeted us everywhere. Swaying coconut trees, mangrove swamps, palms, bananas,  pandanus, leafy plants hug the banks and  mango trees already laden  with flowers, so many familiar plants that remind us of our own tropical vegetation back home. 'This Kerala) is India at its greenest and no other state can beat it', my husband hastened to add .Water hyacinths bobbed  and  floated effortlessly  in thick clusters  here and there.

Bird life is plentiful and without binoculars, we could seen their plumage as their hovered and flew above our heads.

There's also a place called home in these boats  
Think you can float effortlessly on this glassy  Vembanad Lake?

Lush greenery on either banks of the canals. The coconut trees lend such elegance to the scenery. Beyond lie paddy fields resting before the next cultivation. 
We watched as he rowed, into the hyacinths which parted as he meandered to his destination

Women power by the banks

A wedding

In flight , the white heron is part of the avian population. As we passed by in mid morning birds were aplenty flying past. The famed Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is nearby.

Rub-a dub- dub - the best view from his 'private' spot !

The daily chores go on. Men  transport goods from one village to another in their low slung dug out canoes. 

The boat almost disappearing due to the heavy rocks being transported to build an embankment

A smile bridges people, a bridge, life

The children are naturally happy to see visitors

Vivid orange, green, pink, blue buildings seem to be popular colours that dot the lush landscape. 

Fishermen preparing their nets for their catch. Fish is plentiful in Kerala and eaten daily. 

Such infectious laughter, welcome as kids know best

Very much part and parcel of Kerala life, the elephant adds extra interest to passers-by on houseboats

The steps leading down to the waterways where daily activities take place. A school in the background.

Recyclables - waste not, want not  

Astounding  varieties of architecture in the numerous churches  in Kerala. None are the same!!

Wouldn't  I want to be in one of these when I visit again!

Comorants perch and watch keenly for their feed

The country boat that took us to the backwaters

Sailing away from Kumarakom Lake Resort where we stayed for 2 nights. 


  1. Wow Keats!

    It looks like such an eclectic place! I loved the elephant shot...they are such massive pachyderms.

    Thanks for sharing all these memories.

    I like the way coconuts taste and I like the way coconut trees look!

  2. It sure is one trip to remember for life.

  3. It is indeed very nice to float along the river of life. It made me want to experience train ride again. There is so much to see. There is more life in the backyards.

  4. Looked like you have a fantastic time there taking lots of photos. The scenery is so beautiful.

  5. Heard so much of the *LoveBoat* I mean Houseboat many years ago but do not have the chance to view it. Wow thanks so much for the journey ~ big wheels keep on turnin, Proud Keats keep on clicking..Rollin rollin rollin on the river. Haha like your caption *Rub-a dub-dub* tQ ~;).

  6. Those photos are beautiful.

    I've heard so much about this place but have never actually been there. May be my next holiday destination...

    What's the best route to get there?

  7. I'm glad you didn't miss it to share with us some wonderful moments. Have a great weekend :)

  8. my colleague is from Kerala and trust me, he is the proudest Malayali I ever know! he showed me pictures of Kerala and even invited me over but it's not my time yet!
    Glad you have a great experience over there. I would surely tell him of your adventure ;)

    have a great weekend!

  9. This is something I'd like to looks so 'normal' and peaceful...
    But before India we have several other countries to visit.
    I hope your new year has had a good start. Have a great weekend!

  10. This looks lovely! I hope you are doing well, Keats!

  11. Just read about Kerala in the Woman's Weekly!! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics and giving us such a fantastic virtual tour of the place.

  12. Hello!
    As a usual wonderful post!
    Very interesting place...
    Beautiful photos!

  13. What an adventure, Keats! Imagine seeing it all from a rattan chair on a boat! What fun! I love the elephant, the leaning church, the colourful wedding by the riverbank, the smiling children.... everything! Thanks for taking us on your little trip with you!

  14. Looks so interesting and exotic from my side of the planet. Life is too short and there are so many wonderful places to see. Thanks for taking me along.

  15. looks like a wonderful place to explore. thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. The elephant is their pet. Very interesting.

  17. I see that you take a lot of photos of human and they seem very happy to pose for you including the man who appears to be scrubbing himself behind the boat. The kids' photos are priceless. They all waved at you with lots of joy written on their faces. You must have made them smile.

  18. Happy to note you had enjoyable times.Keats,I forgot.Thanks for the wonderful gift. I brought it with me to Dubai!

  19. Wow!!
    India :-)
    Lucky girl
    what do you like more
    India or The Netherlands ;-)
    You visit both !!

    Really Wonderful shots Keats
    I think you will never forget that trip !!!

  20. Such a delight post, that showed how life is in backwaters..I love your photos!


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