The backwaters of Kerala - meandering inland lakes networked by canals - stretch to over 900 km. Boat trips across these tranquil stretches are an experience unique to Kerala. Large kettuvalloms (traditional country crafts over 60 ft. in length) have been converted into luxury houseboats for these cruises.
(53 km from Thiruvananthapuram) A confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth the visit. The Priyadarshini Boat Club here offers boating facilities. Ph: 0470-2662323
(71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram) One of the oldest ports in the State, Kollam is where the magnificent network of waterways begins. From the famed Ashtamudi Lake, known as the gateway to the backwaters, a 130 km long system of interlinked canals and lakes winds all the way to the north. The eight- hour trip from here to Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. An important stop during the cruise is the picturesque little village of Alumkadavu, home of the skilled artisans who craft the enormous kettuvalloms.
Referred to as the Venice of the East, this backwater country with its vast network of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers is immensely beautiful. Venue for the worldrenowned snake boat races, Alappuzha is also famous for its marine products and coir industry. Kuttanad in Alappuzha, known as the Rice Bowl of Keralo, is the very heart of the backwaters and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sonds of midnight) on the backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world.
(10 km from Kottayam) Nestled among lush paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations is Kumarakom, one of the most popular and most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala. An exotic picnic spot, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. An exclusve attraction here is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary,which is an ornithologist's paradise.
A cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake, Kochi, one of the finest natural harbours in the world, is more popular as the Queen of the Arabian Seo. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is going about in the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots including the picturesque islands of Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
Unexplored and unspoilt, the backwaters of Kozhikode offer delightful holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favourite places for boating. Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary and Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzho Jalotsavam (water fiesta) are popular tourist destinations.
(30 km from Bekol Fort in Kosoragod) This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, you can explore the backwaters in a houseboat along the Tejaswini River· from Kottappuram in Nileswaram to Kannur through the Valiyaparamba Backwaters.