The Kerala backwater destinations mainly cover four districts of the state - Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kochi. The largest backwaters body, the Vembanad Lake flows through Kerala backwater destinations of Alappuza and Kottayam and opens out into the sea at the Kochi port. The second largest backwater stretch is the Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam, hailed as the gateway to the majestic backwaters of Kerala. Kerala boat cruise from the magnificent Ashtamudi Lake to Alappuzha is the longest and the most enchanting backwater experience.
Major Kerala backwater destinations
This backwater country with its vast network of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers is immensely beautiful. Venue for the world-renowned snake boat races, Alappzuha is also famous for its marine products and coir industry.
Known as the rice bowl of Kerala because of its wealth of paddy crops, Kuttanad in Alappzua is the very heart of the back waters in Kerala. This is one of few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.
10 km from Kottayam nestled among lush paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations is Kumarakom, one of the most popular and most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala. An exotic picnic spot, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing attraction here is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is an ornithologist's paradise.
Kollam is 71 km to the north of Trivandrum. It is one of the oldest ports in the state. Kollam is where the magnificent network of waterways begins. From the famed Ashtamudi Lake, known as the gateway to the backwaters, a 130km long system of interlinked canals and lakes winds all the way to the north. The eight-hour trip here to Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala.
Kochi, a cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake, is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. It is more popular as the queen of the Arabian Sea. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is going about in the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots including the picturesque islands of Bolgatty, Vypin, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
Other Kerala backwater destinations in the South
6 km from Trivandrum, this serene backwater stretch is en route to Kovalam. It is famous for its 2000-year-old temple on the banks of River Karamana. This backwater offer canoe rides, kayaking and cruise in traditional boats.
8 km from Trivandrum the backwaters of Veli is a popular place of boating. Sandwiched between the Veli lagoon and the Arabian Sea is the Veli tourist village. Facilities at the village include water sports and an 18-acre water front park with a floating bridge connecting the beach.
10 km from Trivandrum on the banks of the tranquil backwaters of Akkulam is a popular tourist village of with various leisure options including boating, a children's park with swimming pool and a musical dancing fountain.
53km from Trivandurm, a confluence of the sea, river and the backwaters, this secluded picturesque spot is worth the visit. The Priyadarshini Boat Club here offers boating facilities.
23 km from Kollam along the vast expanse of the Kayamkulam Lake is the picturesque little village of Alumkadavu. This hamlet by the backwaters is home to skilled artisans who craft the enormous kettuvalloms.
Other Popular backwaters in the North Kerala
Unexplored and unspoilt, the backwaters of Kozhikode offer delightful holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favourite places for boating. Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary and Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam (water fiesta) are popular Kerala backwater destinations.
30 km from Bekal fort in Kasargod, this is perhaps the most scenic of the Kerala backwater destinations. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, you can explore the backwaters in a houseboat from Kottappuram in Neleshwarm to Kannur through Valiyaparamba Backwaters.
5 km southwest of Nileshwaram one of the oldest coir factories in Malabar is situated among the placid backwaters of Kottapuram. The longest walking bridge in Kerala is also in Kottapuram.
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