Backwaters in Kerala
Land and water share an extra ordinary kinship in Kerala. This land which is believed to have sprung forth from the sea, continues to bask in the tender life giving care of the waters that lap gently on its coast, cascade down its hills and valleys and rests calmly in exotic backwaters and lagoons. Kerala’s backwaters present a different way of life; and offer the visitors a relaxed and beautiful sight seeing experience that will never be matched elsewhere. The term ‘backwaters’ actually refers to the extensive network of rivers, lakes, canals and lagoons that lace the interior coastline southwards from Cochin almost down to Trivandrum.
attractive and economically valuable feature of
Kerala. The backwaters are a gateway for the visitor to see first hand the
unhurried village life of rural Kerala. To live through this beautiful
experience, we offer a unique opportunity to go around
cycling and canoeing. These include
lakes and ocean in
lets which stretch irregularly along the lengthy coastline of Kerala. From these
backwaters citizens learn to swim before they walk. Small canoes,
fishing boats, Chinese style junks and
thatch covered country crafts ply the waters constantly carrying goods, produce
and people. Elaborate and strange fishing nets, the legacy of early Chinese
traders, spread out over the l
akes. There are places where the superb fisher folk
dive into the water and bring up a
fish firmly captured in a bare hand. Kerala's centuries old, palm fringed and
picture perfect backwaters and mirror still lagoons stretch over 1900 kms.
Up north in
Kerala, the meandering backwaters of Calicut (Kozhikode) lie waiting to
be discovered. With a bewitching beauty of its own, Elathur offers an
ideal jump-off base into the Canoly Canal - a name taken after its British
builder and administrator. The canal links itself to the Kallai River, which
unhurriedly threads through the city and offers its shores to
timber trade. The produce of which is believed to have even adorned the courts
of King Solomon and Queen Sheba a few millennia ago. Further south lays
Kadalundi with its charming bird sanctuary - haven to an amazing assortment
of delightful water birds. Another river of the region - Korapuzha - is
fast gaining popularity as the venue of the water sports festival - the
Korapuzha Jalotsavam - staged every August.
which is hailed as the ‘Venice of the east’ is a major centre for backwaters
cruise .The boat cruise from Alleppey to Kollam (it takes about nine hours) is
highly enjoyable. The route winds up the Pampa River to Champakkulam, an island
hamlet, then into the Karumadi canal. The statue of Karumadikuttan is believed
to be of Buddha. Some see it as a remnant of a bygone era when Buddhist monks
came to Kerala with the message of love and non-
across Kayamkullam Lake and Astamudi Lake finally drawing into the ancient port
of Kollam. The area between Alleppey and Changanacherry is particularly lovely
as are the broad vistas of Vembanad Lake. The biggest among the Backwaters is
the Vembanad Lake, with an area of 200 sq km, which opens out
into the Arabian Sea at Cochin Port. The Periyar, Pamba, Manimala, Achenkovil,
Meenachil and Moovattupuzha rivers drain into this lake.
On the shores of the enchanting Vembanad Lake, 14 kilometres from Kottayam (travel time: 20 min), lies Kumarakom in its small-town hush, Redolent of restful ease. A boat ride into the countryside offers a close look into an engaging rustic life. Skiff-fishermen launching their cockleshell boats, large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks, Women, neck-deep in water, with their waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with their feet. At Kumarakom, you could sail the backwaters in rented houseboats, which are poled by local oarsmen and are simply furnished with a living room, a bedroom and bath, together with a raised central platform creating a private sit-out for the passengers. Sections of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. Boat trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together - make for a convenient mode of sightseeing when the company is large. You could even take a canoe out into the quiet lagoons and spend time angling. Make sure you sample Karimeen and fresh Toddy - the favourite fresh-water food and the local wine. This is an ideal place for backwater cruises. A beautiful backwater spot accessible from Kumarakom is Alleppey. A 14-acre bird sanctuary is situated on the eastern banks of the Vembanad Lake. The sanctuary adds to the natural beauty of Kumarakom. Birds (waterfowl, water ducks, cuckoos, wild ducks etc.) nest and spend happy summers here. Birds like Siberian Storks migrate here every year. The sanctuary is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
network of canals, honeycombing the town of Alleppey (Alappuzha) has earned for
the place its sobriquet - "The Venice of the East." Small, low-slung country
boats are the taxis of this water land. It is a heart-warming sight to see them
carry a motley assemblage of cycles, goats, fisherwomen with cane baskets,
school children, toddy-tappers with their knives and pots, duennas in white with
gold earrings, Syrian Christian priests and a bare-chested boatman apiece. A
ride into Kuttanad through shimmering, green paddy fields and
tail-wagging, head-bobbing groups of ducks will be a great sight. The coir-workers
too present an interesting sight as they soak coconut fibre in pools, beat them
out and weaves the tough brown strands into long ropes on spindles stretched
between endless coconut trees. Alleppey becomes the cynosure of the eyes of the
world in August - September, every year, as it plays host to the celebrated
Snake Boat Races - a water regatta unique to Kerala.
form an especially attractive and economically valuable feature of Kerala. The
deltas of the rivers interlink the backwaters and
provide excellent water transportation in the low lands of Kerala. A navigable
canal stretches from Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala to Tirur in the far
north. Some important backwaters are Veli, Kadhinamkulam, Anjengo (Anju
Thengu), Edava, Nadayara, Paravoor. Ashtamudi (Quilon).
distance of the capital city Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), is the Veli -
Akkulam lagoon with a delightful waterfront park growing increasingly
popular among the natives and tourists alike. Only a narrow sandbar separates
the lagoon from the
sea. You can opt for rides in motor-driven safari launches, powerboats, pedal
boats or rowboats. Kayaks and hovercraft attract the brave-hearted. A floating
bridge and a floating restaurant add to the overall excitement. The eastern end
of the lake is flanked by two scenic hillocks coming through as a perfect
hiking ground, 2 kms, from Trivandrum Airport.
There are pony rides, and an open-air theatre. This serves as a centre for cultural performances and, with the ocean as a backdrop, provides the setting for an annual arts festival. Check with the Government Tourist Office in Trivandrum for schedules of any special events. The park can be reached in a 15-minute taxi ride from Trivandrum. There are also special bus services to Veil from the city.
Akkulam is one of the first picnic spots in the suburbs of Trivandrum City. This place is only 10 kms away from the Central Railway Station. The spot is developed on the banks of Aakkulam Kayal (lake), which is an extension of the Veli Kayal (lake). The calm and serene atmosphere and its unique natural beauty is fascinating for the tourist. The village consists of the Boat Club, Swimming Pool, Children's Park, an Anthurium Project and a Snack Bar.
Come into Cochin (Kochi), Queen
of the Arabian Sea. Believed to be the finest natural harbour in the world.
With ferry rides commanding its breathtaking view. Cruise
around man-made islands with lush green lawns sloping down to the water's edge.
Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India. Recording a history of
visitors, who came, saw and stayed for hundreds of years. Layered impressions -
Chinese, Arab, Jewish, British, French and Portuguese, are contained within its
environment. Giant Chinese fishing nets that billow from massive teak and bamboo
poles dot the entrance to the harbour. Silhouetted against the setting sun, they
present a magnificent sight at the waterfront. A narrow, palm-fringed island,
easily accessible from the mainland is where the Bolghatty Palace is
situated. The Dutch built the palace in 1744. Later, it became the seat of the
British Resident of Cochin and today this has been converted into a hotel run by
the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation.The palace has a golf course on its
The charming old port city of Quilon (Kollam) on the banks of the picturesque Ashtamudi Lake is now known more as the centre of cashew industry. Traces of a once prosperous trade with China are still seen in the form of Chinese fishing nets, huge Chinese water pots, blue and white porcelain and sampan-like boats. Quilon is an inviting gateway to Kerala's backwaters. For an interesting backwater experience, take the regular ferry to Alleppey - a rigorous ride lasting more than 8 hours. As the old ferry putters from one village on the waterfront to another, you are treated to a full range of lives and activities and some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. For the less intrepid, shorter cruises can be made in the larger comforts of the houseboats with idyllic villages such as Alumkadavu as your launch base. The nearest airport, Trivandrum, is 71 kms away. It takes fractionally over an hour and a half to get to Quilon by road or rail from Trivandrum.
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