Kerala boat cruise is one of the main reason why tourists come to Kerala. No holiday in Kerala is ever complete without a Kerala boat cruise.
No wonder that lonely planet selected Kerala backwaters as one of the 10 best boat journeys in the world.
Kerala backwaters; a network of waterways and canals, lagoons and lakes form a world of its own. Lined by the hundreds of coconut palms, these beautiful backwaters are the lifeblood of Kerala Tourism.
The web of water waves its way through entire villages with vast fields of lush green paddy and plantations of coconut palms.
Kerala has 900km long waterways known as the backwaters. For centuries they were the main transport and communication lines. Even now hundreds of villages connected to the outside world only through the backwaters (known in Kerala as the Kaayals).
There are backwaters almost everywhere in the coastal areas of Kerala.
Vembanad Lake is the largest backwater stretch which extends over 200 sq km. Majority of Kerala boat cruise operations are based here. Vembanad spreads out over three districts- Alappuzha, Kottaym and Ernakulam (Cochin). It meets the sea in Cochin.
Another important lake that forms the part of the backwaters is Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam (Quilon).
Kerala Houseboat Routes
It is not possible to explore all of Kerala's backwaters in a single visit. But even a day on these delightful stretches of water can be a memorable experience.
There are a number of towns and even greater number of stretches of water that make for excellent backwater cruises.
There are lot of travel agencies and tour operators that offer Kerala boat cruise along the backwaters.
Valloms (small, sleek canoes) or Kettuvallams (large timber-hulled traditional cargo boats) can be hired for trips.
Kettuvalloms are used as houseboats for longer trips. They are modernized to suit the 21st century tourists offering plenty of facilities ranging from posh interiors to well-cooked local meals.
The main take-off points for Kerala boat cruise are Alappuzha, Kollam, Kochi, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram.
Cruise durations given below are as offered by most agencies.
Alappuzha is the most important town for backwater cruises. You can find the best of Kerala boat cruise here.
Alappuzha lies in the heart of the Kuttanad region, the rice bowl of Kerala. One of the few places in the world where crops like paddy, yam, cassava and bananas are cultivated below sea level.
Among the most popular cruises starting from Alappuzha are:
The centre of cashew nut industry, Kollam is one of the oldest ports along the Malabar Coast.
Location of Kollam makes it an important place in the backwater map of Kerala. The city is tucked away between the sea coast on one side and Ashtamudi lake on the other side.
The most popular of all the cruises beginning at Kollam are the ones going all the way to Alappuzha.
Kottayam is known as the land of 'letters, latex and lakes'.
And its nickname says Kottaym is centre of printing and publishing. The district has vast rubber plantations and lakes.
Kottayam offers a number of short cruises in to backwaters.
Cochin and Ernakulam spread across the Vembanad Lake where it meets the Arabian Sea. The city's many islands - Bolgatty, Gundu, Willingdon, Vypeen and Vallarpadam - are scattered around the area.
The city offers a range of attractions, historical and natural. Hiring a boat to go exploring the backwaters within the city itself is a great experience.
State run KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) operates day-long cruises in the area. Another popular 3-hour trip which take visitors to nearby coir-making villages and vast coconut plantations.
In addition, government department plus a number of private operators too run ferry services. They link the different sections of Kochi and Ernakulam to each other.
If you have more time for a longer Kerala boat cruise, go for a Kettuvallam. It is an unforgettable experience.
Some of the more popular cruises are:
Situated in the south of Kerala, away from the main backwater area, Kerala's capital yet offers a chance to see a bit of the famous waterways.
The historic town of Calicut is also a destination on the backwaters circuit. A number of waterways- the Canolly canal and the rivers Kallai, Korapuzha, Chaliyar and Kuttiadi-form Kozhikode's link with Kayals.
Canolly canal, which is named for the British administrator responsible for building it. Among the popular Kerala boat cruise from Kozhikode are:
In the upper north, the district of Kasargod lies between the sea and the hills. This isn't a backwater country in the full sense compared to Alleppey and all. Still there are opportunities to do a memorable cruising.
The Chandragiri River, on whose banks Kasargod town is located, is the main waterway here.
Valiyaparamba , fed by four rivers and dotted with tiny islands , considered as one of the most scenic stretches of backwaters anywhere in Kerala.
The Valiyapramba lagoon allows visitors a chance to see daily activity in Kerala villages
Kasargod - Chandragiri
Kasargod - Valiyaparamba
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