Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn

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Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn 1/1 by TravelerInMe

Experiencing the Kerala Backwaters was always on my bucket list and finally I have ticked it off! Alappuzha or Alleppey, also known as the 'Venice of the East', is the main hub for houseboats.

After Ernakulam (an close by excursion) we headed to Alleppey.

We reached the boarding point on time and were quickly escorted to our houseboat. The sight at the dock is pretty interesting with many houseboats nestled close, side by side as well as one behind the other. Since our houseboat was harbored behind another one, we had to go through it to reach ours. We were asked to remove our footwear while crossing the other houseboat and same rule was extended on our houseboat as well which after sometime was relaxed. Once on board we got busy exploring our Kettuvallam (local name for it) and our journey had begun.

Photo of Alleppey Boathouse, Alappuzha, Kerala, India by TravelerInMe

Now a little about the houseboat, locally called kettuvalam, meaning ‘boat with knots’. They are still built on the basis of ancient principles and techniques. The materials used are Anjili or Jackwood (endemic to the Western Ghats), coir ropes to tie and tighten, thatched roof , wooden hulls, bamboo poles, coconut fibre and very importantly, no nails! At one time it was an important mode of transportation in coastal Kerala because it eased the accessibility of even the most remote areas. In general, a houseboat is about 65 – 100 feet in length and has a width of around 13 – 18 feet in the middle.

Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe

For me whats important is the fact that I am travelling, experiencing a new place and getting to fulfill my passion for photography. So most of the trip I was glued on the upper deck soaking in the water jam (so many houseboats plying together), the beautiful nature around (landscape, birds), laid back life along the backwater, waving back to the passers by and breathing in the fresh air. On and off we came across snack sellers on their small boat. Sharing below some typical backwater views:

Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe

An interesting to-do is watching the simple village life as you pass them. Small boats parked outside houses, net enclosures, fishing nets, village folks ferrying on water on boats, people fishing and carrying out their day to day activities etc Some village scenes, as seen from the boat, are shared below:

Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe

The boat gets harbored at a regular spot for lunch and then finally for the day, at a village. During winters it tends to get dark early so you should request the steersman to call it a day when there’s still light so that you can spend some time exploring the village and in some cases visit the Alleppey beach (like in the Alleppey-Alleppey route)!

You will get to witness some beautiful sunset as well as sunrise on this ride. We were unlucky with the sunrise as the skies were cloudy and the sun just a haze but managed to capture some pink hued sunset

Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe
Photo of Alleppey Backwaters: The Kettuvallam Sojourn by TravelerInMe

You can opt for the route as per your itinerary and budget. The route comprises of narrow & wide canals and also intersection of multiple canals. We had opted for Alleppey-to-Alleppey overnight stay, though, my individual preference and suggestion is to opt for Alleppey to Kumarakom or vice versa!

Basis trip type there are houseboats with decks only (used for day trips) and with rooms (overnight stay). The latter is further segregated basis construction type, number of rooms, AC facility (centralized, only rooms – full day, only room – at night only) and category with star rating (deluxe, premium, luxury).

In the overnight stay, the package includes lunch, evening tea with snacks, dinner and breakfast (both vegetarian and non vegetarian options are available). The food is freshly cooked in traditional Kuttanadu or Kerala style. The cuisine is a delight for seafood lovers and many houseboats let you catch some fresh fish for cooking ???? For those who are not experimental with cuisine, do not like coconut based cooking or would like their own menu, please do inform the houseboat provider much before time so that the staff / cook are prepared accordingly.

At the cost of being repetitive, please insist on a detailed itinerary/route and ask for other viable options; check the menu and suggest changes if you want; check their look & feel through their website, reviews, photos and also be prepared to shell out more in some instances.

Now lets go on a small virtual experience of the backwaters!

For my other posts of Kerala or my travels follow me & keep discovering India through my travels!

HAPPY TRAVELLING!

Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe

This post was first published on my blog travelerinme

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