Stop 2: Alleppey
When we think of houseboats, the first name that comes to mind after Kashmir is Alleppey. It boasts the largest backwaters in the country with abundance of flora and fauna that soothes tired city souls like me.
You can choose to stay in hotels in the city and explore the backwaters in day trips. But if you really want an experience worth cherishing, book a houseboat, at least for one night.
You can book you own houseboat or can share it with others. One night stay costs between 8000 and 14000.
We travelled to Alleppey from Kovalam in a hired car. It took us about 4 hours. We went directly to the houseboat as it was already 2 pm and we were hungry. Our houseboat was beautiful with a fully furnished living room cum dining area, one air conditioned bedroom and attached bath. We had two attendants, one was the cook and server and the other was the driver. We were greeted with cool mango drinks which was blessing after a long tiring journey.
By the time we freshened up, food was already served, all cooked on the boat. Our fare inclusive lunch comprised crispy fried Kari Meen fish, which looks and tastes like pomfret. Other items included roti, rice, dal, vegetables. Every dish was delicious and in the moving boat amidst the sea like lake, the experience was divine.
Post lunch we settled ourselves comfortably to watch the magic of nature called the backwaters. The attendant told us that Vembanad Lake was more than 60 feet deep and has a network of canals and lakes which is almost 900kms in length. The lake has an abundant marine life and all the seafood available in the houseboat and the markets are from the lake. The town of Alleppey flanks the lake almost Venice ( it is known as Venice of the East) with scattered houses and stretches of rice fields visible from the boats. Many locals who reside next to the lake have their private boats for transportation.
During the boat, ride which lasted till sunset, we were able to spot a number of colourful birds we had never seen or heard of before. We could almost peek into the marine life every time the boat slowed down. It was an unforgettable experience.
As the sun began to set and spread hues of colours across the February sky, our boat docked for the night. In order to avoid accidents, all the overnight houseboats are anchored from the evening to morning. For the night we stopped adjacent to a tiny village with scattered houses.
A Alleppey houseboat at night is the gateway to another universe. The pitch black lake with weak lights from nearby settlements amid faint noises from insects, transported us to some other realm. I am never felt more in peace with myself than I did then.
( The only downside to the experience is mosquitoes, so don’t forget to carry some Odomos).
Dinner was another sumptuous affair with loads of dishes like finger licking crab masala, chicken, prawns, etc.
We retired early that night, as we had another journey planned for the next day. A perfect end to a perfect day.