The best India backwaters tour is in Kerala, a small state in the south west of India. No other place in India has such a vast stretch of backwaters.
Exploring all of Kerala's backwaters is an almost an impossible task. But even a day on these beautiful stretches of water can be an amazing experience.
There are a number of places and an even greater number of stretches of water that make for excellent backwater tours.
So I'll tell you about few of the best destinations in Kerala backwaters in India. These destinations have the options for all budgets.
Kollam (Quilon), India Backwaters Tour
A houseboat trip is a must in your itinerary. DTPC Kollam (District Tourism Promotion Council) offers a number of rides along the Ashtamudi Lake and its offshoot canals.
You can buy the tickets on the day from the tourist offices at the boat jetty, and some of the hotels. In addition DTPC offer exclusive overnight Kettuvallam cruises.
DTPC also runs half-day canal trips to nearby Monroe Island, as well as guided tours taking in coir-makers, boat-builders and bird-nesting sites.
DTPC Tourist Information Centre
Plat form No. 5
KSWTD Boat Jetty
There are plenty of other operators at the jetty near the bus station. If you are staying at one of the lakeside hotels, you can board the boat from there.
You can have far better impression of backwater life if you travel between villages on the very cheap local ferries. The tickets are sold on the boats themselves. Consult DTPC for timetable and route information.
Alleppey, India Backwaters Tour
Alleppey is on the banks of Vembanad lake, the biggest backwater body in Kerala. The town is well placed in the backwater ways.
Naturally Alleppey has the largest number of houseboats. And so you can find the backwater tour of your choice in Alleppey than anywhere else.
Village Tours and Canoes
Most houseboats are too wide to squeeze into the narrower canals connecting villages. To reach these more idyllic remote areas, therefore, you'll need to charter a punted canoe (Vallam).
The slower pace means less distance gets covered. But you can experience the backwaters closer and those live by it.
Individual guides have their own favourite itineraries. You'll also find more formal "village tours" advertised across the Kuttanad area.
They tie together trips to watch coir makers, rice farmers and boat builders in action with an opportunity to dine in a traditional Kerala village setting.
Kettuvallam may be the most comfortable way of cruising around the backwaters and have the best of typical Kerala, India backwaters tour.
But you'll get a much vivid experience of life actually like in the region by jumping on one of the local ferries that serve its towns and villages.
Particularly recommended is the 29km trip from Alappuzha to Kottayam, which wind across open lagoons and narrow canals, through coconut groves and islands.
Arrive early to get a good place in boat with uninterrupted views.
There are other numerous local routes. Better to seek the help of tourist office as they are little bit complex.
Good places to aim for from Alappuzha include Neerattupuram, Kidangara and Champakulam.
ATDC/DTPC Tours and Cruises
The most popular excursion of all the Kuttand region is the full-day journey between Kollam and Alappuzha. All the private players offer their services.
The principal boats are run on alternate days by the Alleppey Tourism Development Co-op (ATDC) and District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC). They are very keen in promoting Kerala, India backwaters tour to the visitors.
The double-decker boats leave from both Kollam and Alappuzha daily. Tickets can be bought in advance or on the day at the ATDC/DTPC counters, other agents some hotels.
Both companies make three stops during the eight hours journey, including one for lunch.
Many tourists find Alappuzha-Kollam too long, with crowded deck and intense sun.
An alternative, enjoy Kerala, India backwaters tour, is to charter a four-or-six seater motorboat through DTPC and ATDC. Slower double decker country boats are also available.
The Administrative Office
Tourist Reception Centre (DTPC)
Near KSRTC Bus Station
Kochi Backwater Trips
Coir production, rope-making, toddy-tapping, fishing and crab-farming are the main source of income in the backwater villages south Kochi.
Easily reachable via the national highway, they're scattered over an expanse of huge lagoons and canals.
KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) day-trips offer a leisurely and affordable way to explore the area.
It is also worth considering the trip out to Kumbalanghi village. It is an award-winning community based tourism project.
You start the tour with an auto-rickshaw drive to the city limits, where you are transferred to a country boat for punted 20-30 minutes crossing to Kumnalanghi.
Guided visits around the settlement and its various industries are followed by lunch next to the lagoon. You can try your hand at fishing with a proper Chinese net.
Kumbalanghi Village Tours
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