Kerala is a state which has been bestowed upon with assorted beauty, whether it is the lush green tea gardens, the diverse wildlife, the majestic waterfalls or the historical monuments. But no trip to Kerala could be complete without a trip to Alleppy that gives you a flavour of real Kerala when you cruise in a houseboat through its backwater canals fringed with rice fields, coconut trees and villages. We visited Alleppy as part of our Kerala trip in December and the only reason of including Alleppy in the itinerary was to experience the stay in a houseboat. Our tour operator had booked us a single bedroom deluxe AC houseboat from Lakelands Cruise which is one of the many renowned houseboat operators in Kerala. After completing a few formalities at Lakeland’s office near the boat jetty, we checked in to the houseboat which was parked in a row with many other houseboats with different accommodation capacities. Some of the houseboats had 4 to 5 bedrooms specifically meant for large groups or families and some of them had upper decks and restaurants too depending on which luxury standard they fell into (Deluxe, Premium or Super luxury). The cruise started at around 12:30 pm and the sight of numerous houseboats moving on the backwater canals surrounded by lush greenery was a sight to savour. We were accompanied in the boat by 3 staff members, the cook, the boat driver and an assistant who were very courteous and friendly and they took care of our every need. Our boat anchored for an hour for lunch and we had a delicious south Indian lunch prepared by the cook surrounded by the backwaters and some old Bollywood songs playing in the DVD player added charm to the romantic setting. The boat driver was a very genial person who allowed my husband to have a hand on the wheel for some time and he even insisted that we should have a picture in titanic style. He kept providing us information about the place and its culture with his Malayalam accented Hindi and English as the boat moved on. We came to know from him that for some of the villages on the shore, these waterways are the only means of access with ferries shuttling between the places and transporting people.
After sometime, we entered in to Vembenad Lake which was prodigious and looked more like the sea with it's distant shores. Sailing on this magnificent lake was a unique experience with large number of houseboats floating all around that created an impression of a floating town. It was evening by then and watching the sunset from the deck of the houseboat floating in the middle of a vast beautiful lake was an experience to cherish. We sat in the deck enjoying the gentle breeze along with the colourful sky of the evening while having some delectable snacks and tea. In the evening our boat anchored in a nearby land area along with few other houseboats.The staff told us that the house boats do not sail after 5:30pm as the fishermen put their fishing nets in water and I was quite happy to see how people in this state were so cooperative with each other. There was nothing much to do after nightfall as it was absolutely dark outside and an army of mosquitoes had made it almost impossible to sit in the deck area. So we spent most of our time in the room and went to bed early after having a candle light dinner arranged by the boat staff.
We woke up the next morning to the chirping of birds and a lovely view of the backwaters. As we came out of the room the sight of sparrows circling in that area and small boats of the fishermen moving on the serene backwaters were a treat to the eyes. After having breakfast we sat in the deck area to enjoy the morning cruise. Even though the whole cruise was very exciting, evening and morning were the best part of it which you could enjoy only when you stay in a houseboat overnight. But if you do not wish to stay on the houseboat overnight, you can go for a 2 to 3 hour ride by renting a houseboat or you may go for a shikara boat or launch ride and stay in any of the resorts by the sides of the backwater canals. It was 9 am when we reached the point from where we had started the previous day and we checked out to proceed for Kochi in order to catch our flight back to Kolkata.