Alappuzha is the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala and is often compared to Venice due to its abundance of canals. The Kerala backwaters is a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man-made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.
The comparison between Alappuzha and Venice did not seem very fair after having spent three days in Venice. All I can say is that Alappuzzha is probably far better than Venice and quite different too. It is much more peaceful and less commercialized. If one really wants to compare, then it could be closely compared with Miami (Florida, U.S.A.) where the weather as well as view of boat parked dream houses is quite similar.
If anyone is going for a short or long holiday to Kerala, you must go to Allepey (75 minutes from Cochin) and book a houseboat trip for having a lifetime experience. No doubt why Kerala was ranked as one of the “50 destinations of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveller in a special collectors’ issue released just before the turn of the millennium, with houseboat and backwater resort tourism in Alappuzha seen as leading factors.
A day floating on the backwaters is surely one of the best attractions for any traveler going to Kerala. The environment is very serene and meditative. There’s nothing like a day spent on a houseboat with your loved ones in the Kerala backwaters to let you unwind. You feel blessed as you glide along an intricate web of lagoons, lakes and rivers on a fully-staffed houseboat.
In August, the snake-boat race is a remarkable festival; each traditional boat has a crew of over 100 local sailors. In addition, there is nearby tourist village of Kumarakom that is relaxed and refined, featuring lush flowery landscapes and a multi-colored plethora of bird species, best enjoyed at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
We went there during the month of June for our maiden Kerala trip covering the amazing beauty of South India. We booked a houseboat, hardly expecting that it will turn out to be one of the most amazingly unique experiences of our life. The houseboat stay was nothing less than a stay in any resort. The check-in time was at 12am and the lunch was served at around 1:00 pm.
The houseboat cruise began soon after and the massive boat-cum-house slowly started to drift towards the open and wider expanse of water. On both the sides there were residential and commercial houses where you can easily site people bustling around. Moments later, we moved out into the space where all we could see was water on all sides. The water and sky were seamlessly meeting into the horizon as far as eyes could see. It was so majestic view that I almost shrieked with joy.
Just that sight was worth the visit to this place. In the hours to come, the views from houseboat kept changing. We saw beautiful dream houses built on the sides with private boats parked. It was the time when our mind went back to Miami (U.S.A.) trip where we for the first time thought what a dream house should be actually like. The houses with glass paneled backyard on the Lake side with a private boat parked. The Jacuzzi and swimming pool in a temperature controlled Duplex house that gives lake view.
This could definitely be a house you can die for. There were many such in Miami and similar ones in Alappuzha, although there may be difference in the infrastructural facilities. These plush and enchanting houses/resorts probably belonged to movie stars, politicians and rich businessmen. In some of them, movies were also being shot. We also saw huge net that were set for catching fish between 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening.
The snacks were accompanied with tea in the evening, while the houseboat was cruising back though the backwaters. The cruise came to halt at around 6:00 p.m. after which it was anchored by the lake side. This was due to fishing timings as well as safety reasons as it gets dark soon after. Once the houseboat was anchored, we went for a walk in the village where it got anchored.
The AC and TV cable facility was available only after the houseboat got anchored but we were so thrilled by the experience that we didn’t actually feel the need of any of these. We were glued to the lounge area throughout and ventured towards the Bedrooms only when were very sleepy. The dinner was finally served around 8:00 pm comprising mouth watering local cuisine including Idli, Sambhar, Medu Vada and much more.
Our stay was amazingly comfortable, with 2 well laid out AC bedrooms, each with their attached bathroom. A comfortable big lounge area to relax and have a complete view of Kerala backwaters as the Houseboat glides on the surface of the water. The Staff was very friendly however one can see that they were very cautious while serving the meals. Later they disclosed that our family being Vegetarian it was a big challenge for them to cater the variety for meals.
The tour was enthralling and one cannot forget the vision of that beautiful backwater lake ever after. One can also see houseboats of all varieties and sizes around the lake. Among so many beautiful sights there was one instance when a flock of Sea gulls flew just above the water, very close to our houseboat. It was a magical experience to witness this event with little drizzle around.
The stay on the houseboat at Kerala is a must if you happen to visit this place.
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