Houseboats were a strict no-no for us. We planned on hiring a canoe to ply through the channels but we discovered that to have a feel of the backwaters one doesn't need to have a private ride. The government boat jetty was just 100 metres from Thadavadu and we boarded the passenger ferry to Muhamma. The ride was INR 10/person and it took us on a 40 minute long ride through the small canals and then through the widest length of the Vembanad lake to the Muhamma jetty. A feeling like this can only be experienced; the wide glassless windows, the wooden seats, the flavour of travelling with the locals in a rusty boat with the sight of fisherman on the lake casting their nets while the sun set over the tree-line on the edge of the lake. We strolled for a bit in Muhamma and caught the last ferry back to Kumarakom and we experienced the waters again, but this time, in complete darkness.
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You have to get a bus from allapey to Muhamma and then a jetty....