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Three men & I on a boat
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

by Sudha Mathew

Hailing from Kerala and having travelled this narrow strip of land from its length to its breadth, I stand by the claim of Kerala Tourism that this

From the Alleppey houseboat
Afloat on the backwaters

quintessentially south Indian state is ‘God’s own country’. Now, that is quite a statement to make, isn’t it? Friends, travel enthusiasts and skeptics, if you would like to question this claim,then I ask you to experience life in the backwaters for at least a day. Once there, you will know why this tagline is perfect for the land of plenty.

If you are wondering why I mention the backwaters specifically, allow me to explain. I have seen the jewel green hills of Munnar, experienced peace in Thekkady’s forests, walked through the little lanes of Fort Kochi but it is the breath taking backwaters that had appealed to me the most. Yes, that is my personal choice just like millions of tourists who come just to see this unique terrain of interlaced land and water. Without a doubt, amidst everything that is splendid, it is the Alleppey houseboat experience that I would recommend. Gazing at the seemingly endless Lake Vembanad from the deck of my Alleppey houseboat,a houseboat holiday is a day of luxury and complete privacy.

My holiday excitement started with the first sight of the traditional Alleppey houseboat. A simple yet delightfully furnished one bedroom abode on water.

Before starting I met my friends for the trip – the crew. Usually the crew of these Alleppey houseboats has a captain, a cook and a helper. Mine was no exception, apart from the fact that my captain was an extremely sweet man in his middle age, my cook served the best Karimeen I have ever had for lunch and the helper boy was everywhere yet absolutely non-interfering.

Open area of Alleppey houseboat
Open deck

It was during my conversation with the captain that he had explained in detail how the traditional kettuvallom had been restored carefully and passionately for use as a modern day houseboat. One remarkable thing about the houseboats is that no nails are used in the construction. The weathered timber is bound together using strong coir ropes. The upper structure is built using palm leaves and bamboo. Once in three years, the entire upper structure is rebuilt.

My very own Alleppey houseboat for the day took off sharp at 12.30 pm. As content as a cat, I sat peacefully on the semi-covered deck watching the kettuvallom meandering through the canals. Amazinghow much you can enjoy a whole day of doing nothing. All you have to do is to sit on the cushioned chair and look around. Sunglasses, a hat, a book of your choice and your day will be made.

Alleppey houseboat by the shore
Alleppey houseboat moored

I absorbed the tranquil beauty of the Kerala backwaters bounded by green on two sides.  I listened to the chirping of the birds, touched the deep blue of the Vembanad Lake and waved at the enthusiastic children from the waterside villages. For lunch, I had a delicious and huge karimeen fish fried with a variety of vegetable side dishes and rice. Let me confess that I had to have a nap after all that gluttony.

Reading my book and often gazing at the emerald green of the Kerala backwaters, I didn’t realize when the day passed by. By government orders all the Alleppey houseboats have to moor at the shore by 6 pm latest. My heart sank a little with that last turn Captain took for the day.  The colors of the setting sun brought on the smiles again. A bottle of wine and another well cooked meal was the highlight of the evening. I snuggled in my cozy bed and dreamt of karimeen at night. What can I say? I do love fish.

Awake at dawn, I watched the sunrise over the lake with a hot cup of ginger tea. After an early breakfast, the captain took the boat through a village. We saw women washing clothes in the lake, children skipping to school on narrow pathways as sure as goats and a snake bird diving for its lunch. I learnt that life in the backwaters revolves around the water, which provides almost everything its people need. And then it was time to return to the mainland and get back to living on solid ground.

Years have passed by. But even today when I sat down to share my experience of the Kerala backwaters, the green tinged memories of Kerala from the open deck of an Alleppey houseboat are as fresh as ever. And if all this has still not convinced you, take a look at this gorgeous aerial photo courtesy Kerala Tourism and then tell me that you are not a believer now.

Kerala backwaters Kerala tourism


I think I will plan a return trip to my Alleppey houseboat soon. What about you? Send me an enquiry if you need help.




Picture Courtesy

Afloat on backwater, Aviva

Open Deck, Jerry

Alleppey Houseboat moored, Jerry

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Posted by Sudha at 5:59 pm
    Comments ( 1 1)
  • Vishnu

    December 11, 2013


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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell


My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.


While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

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