Houseboat / Backwater Cruise along the palm fringed waterways of Kerala in a luxury houseboat is the most exciting holiday experience in India today. What is truly magical about a houseboat ride is the breathtaking view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural Kerala. In this world of simple pleasures, one can skim past ancient Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, coir villages, rustic homes, temples, churches and coconut groves. Innumerable lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries, and the deltas of forty-four rivers make up the 900 km backwater network.
Kettuvallams or the house-boats dot the serene palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala. These house boats are available in all sizes and shapes, the most popular accommodation type being a suite, having one or two bath attached bedrooms, one living room, kitchenette, an open lounge, deck and a crew comprising oarsmen, a cook and guide. Meals would be cooked on board and supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters. The Kettuvallams or ‘boat with knots’ was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only, not even a single nail is used during its construction. Kettuvallams were large barges used to carry goods. While converting kettuvallams into houseboats, care is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats, sticks and wood are used for roofing, coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood of coconut trees and coir for beds. For lighting though, solar panels are used and are generally powered by a small outboard engine, allowing one to cruise along the backwaters. Fish oil and cashew nut oil is applied on these boats and left to cure for days. Oil is simultaneously applied at least three times before the boat is set on water. The lullaby of the waves and the dazzling delights of the moonlit night can be a breath taking experience on aboard the Kettuvallam. These traditional houseboats undoubtedly form one of the most abiding images of the backwaters in Kerala.