Kerala Backwater – What are backwaters?
The Kerala Backwaters are a part and parcel of Kerala tourism. These backwaters are formed due to the back-and-forth motions of sea waves, giving rise to intoxicating water bodies like lakes, canals, lagoons, deltas, and estuaries.
How will you gain access?
Trivandrum and Cochin are two international airports in Kerala. Calicut has a domestic airport connecting Kerala to the major cities of the country. Kerala has a well-laid rail network. There are 8 National Highways and 58 State Highways linking the state of Kerala to all the important cities of the country.
What are backwater houseboats?
The houseboats or Kettuvalloms are a fantastic example of Kerala’s traditional craft. These giant structures, on average, measure about 80 feet in length. What is most fascinating about the structure is the fact that it is amazingly devoid of nails. Yes, you will not find a single nail. The boats are shaped by tying wood planks with special coir ropes. No wonder, the boats are luxuriously made catering to the needs of the visitors. There are at least two bedrooms with an attached bath, an open lounge, and a deck. The rooms are comfortable and hygienic. You will find a cook, an oarsman, and a guide on board. There is also an opportunity of linking two or more houseboats, as per your needs, giving rise to a boat train. Last but not least there awaits a cuisine that is so traditional and so very delicious. The meals are supplemented with freshly caught fish.
What is the average cost of a backwater tour?
The starting range of a Backwater tour package, on average, is about Rs. 5000 to Rs. 6000 per night. However, the rate per night can go up from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000. The package cost is inclusive of accommodation for 2 persons, breakfast, lunch, dinner, airport/railway station-hotel transfers, houseboat cruise, and all applicable taxes.
Which are the chief backwater destinations?
» Alappuzha Backwaters
Alappuzha, popular as the Venice of the East, is a district of immense beauty. The district has the Arabian Sea on its west and is home to a fair number of lakes, lagoons, and freshwater rivers. The snake-boat races, the houseboat holidays, the beaches and the coir industry of the place attracts a huge number of vacationers and tourists from all around.
» Kuttanad Backwaters
Kuttanad is known as the “Rice Bowl of Kerala”. The unique landscape and the scenic beauty of the place make it known all over. What is most interesting about the place is that farming is done here below sea level. The rivers Pampa, Manimala, and Achankovil beautifully meander down the length and breadth of the place.
» Kottayam Backwaters
The mesmerizing backwaters, lush greenery and the vast expanse of rubber plantations, all combined, provide an ethereal setting for a backwater tour here. The St. Mary’s Church, one of the oldest churches in Kerala, is yet another attraction of the town. The church was erected way back in the year 1585. The Ettumanoor Shiva Temple and the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple bear some fantastic murals and sculptural compositions.
» Kumarakom Backwaters
The Kumarakom backwaters lie to the north of Alappuzha. The quaint tiny hamlet of Kumarakom stands on the Vembanad lake. The village provides facilities like boating, fishing, sightseeing, etc. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is home to numerous migratory birds including Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron, and teal.
» Kollam Backwaters
The Kollam backwaters are located at a distance of 71 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. The district is famous for its marine and cashew industries. The place also has some temples built in the traditional architectural style. The very popular Ashtamudi Lake covers 30% of the town. The 8-hour long trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala.
» Trivandrum Backwaters
The enchanting district of Thiruvananthapuram is surrounded by verdant hills of the Western Ghats on the east and the northeast and the Arabian Sea on the west. The chief backwater areas of Thiruvananthapuram include Thiruvallam and Veli. The vast shoreline, the world-class beaches, the historical legacy, the backwater stretches, and the chromatic cultural heritage of the district make it one of the most coveted spots in Kerala.
Things to do
There are many activities and things to do in the Kerala backwaters. Some of the most popular include:
- Houseboat cruise: The most popular activity in the backwaters is a leisurely houseboat cruise. These houseboats are equipped with all the necessary amenities and offer a chance to explore the serene beauty of the waterways at a relaxed pace.
- Bird watching: The backwaters are home to a rich variety of birds, making it an ideal destination for bird watching. Some of the species found here include kingfishers, egrets, herons, and darters.
- Fishing: Fishing is a popular activity in the backwaters and visitors can try their hand at catching a variety of fish, including prawns, crab, and other seafood.
- Village walks: The backwaters are surrounded by small villages and rural areas, and visitors can take a walk through these areas to learn about the local culture and way of life.
- Ayurvedic treatments: Kerala is famous for its traditional Ayurvedic treatments and visitors can take advantage of these to relax and rejuvenate.
- Water sports: There are also opportunities for water sports, such as kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding in the backwaters.
- Visit temples and churches: The backwaters are dotted with ancient temples and historic churches, and visitors can take a tour to learn about the religious heritage of the region.
- Local cuisine: The backwaters are also renowned for its local cuisine, including seafood and traditional dishes, and visitors can enjoy delicious meals in the local restaurants.
In conclusion, there is a lot to see and do in the Kerala backwaters and visitors are sure to have a memorable experience.
Where to Stay
There are several options for accommodation in the Kerala backwaters, ranging from budget-friendly homestays to luxurious resorts. Here are some popular options:
- Houseboats: The most unique and popular way to experience the backwaters is by staying overnight on a houseboat. These boats are equipped with comfortable beds, a kitchen, and other amenities, and offer a unique and peaceful way to explore the waterways.
- Resorts: There are many resorts located along the backwaters, offering a range of accommodation options, including cottages, villas, and suites. These resorts often have their own private lagoons and offer a variety of activities, such as yoga and Ayurvedic treatments.
- Homestays: For a more authentic experience, visitors can stay in a homestay, where they can interact with local families and learn about the local culture and way of life.
- Hotels: There are also many hotels in the backwaters, offering basic amenities and a convenient base for exploring the area.
No matter what type of accommodation you choose, you are sure to have a memorable and enjoyable stay in the Kerala backwaters.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Kerala backwaters depends on the type of experience you are looking for and your personal preferences. Here’s a general guide to help you choose the best time to visit:
- Summer (March to May): This is the hottest time of year in Kerala, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C. This is a good time to visit if you are looking for a warm and sunny holiday.
- Monsoon (June to September): The monsoon season brings heavy rains to Kerala, which can cause some disruption to travel plans. However, this is also the time when the backwaters are at their most beautiful, with the lush green vegetation providing a stunning backdrop to the waterways.
- Winter (October to February): The winter months are the most popular time to visit the backwaters, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C. This is the best time to visit if you are looking for comfortable weather and clear skies for sightseeing.
Regardless of when you visit, the Kerala backwaters are a beautiful and peaceful destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression.