The Kerala Backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes, and inlets, formed by more than 900 km of waterways. Known to have a unique ecosystem, the fresh water from the river meets the seawater from the Arabian sea. The fresh water is extensively used for irrigation purposes. The water is a breeding ground for aquatic life. Aquatic animals such as crabs, mudskippers; water birds such as terns, kingfisher, darts, inhabit the water body. The backwaters of Kerala are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
The backwaters serve as a mode of transportation for the native people. The waterways are used to ferry commodities like spices, rice from one destination to another. In recent times, efforts have been made to convert the backwater lands for rice cultivation to strengthen the livelihood of the local people.
Amidst the tall palm trees, there are a number of tourist destinations that mark the starting and ending points of the backwater tours. The gliding of the ketuvallams (Kerala houseboats) in the serene waterways is a sight to behold.
The ketuvallams are one of the popular tourist destinations of Kerala. The government has classified them as platinum, gold and silver. Traditionally, ketuvallams were used as grain barges to transport the harvested rice along with the scenic backwaters. Once upon a time, they were used as living quarters by the royal family. Nowadays, they are converted into floating cottages for the convenience of the tourists. They are equipped with a sleeping area, with attached western-style toilets, and a dining area where the in-house staff serves Kerala style dinner to the people lodged in the houseboats. The houseboats are of various capacities and can be hired as per the size of the family or visiting group.
Alappuzha (Alleppey) popularly called the ‘Venice of the East’ houses canals and coconut palm-shaded streets that serve as the gateway to Kerala Backwaters. However, the journey from the historical town of Kollam to the Alappuzha, which also happens to be the longest, is considered to be as the best aspects of Kerala backwater tourism. The ride gives a glimpse of the village life and the lush greenery that the region is blessed with.
A trip to God’s own country is incomplete without visiting the scenic backwaters. Do embark on a cruise trip to feel the fresh sea breeze wafting on your face amidst the serene blue sea.