Alappuzha - Canal Cruise

If you are cherishing the idea of spending some good time amidst the sights and sounds of the hydrosphere, then step into a country boat and wind through the labyrinth of canals in Alappuzha. While cruising through these canals, one would come across the many interesting aspects of day-to-day life on land and water.

A wide range of cruise options are available here - from small country boats to luxury houseboats and small speedboats to big passenger motorboats. Small boats are preferred for cruise through the canals.

The canal networks linked to the Vembanad Lake offer an inspiring and interesting experience. Enjoy the sights of vast stretches of paddy fields, coconut lagoons and pied King Fishers hurtling down to catch the fish. You would also come across small islands, locals engaged in fishing activities on country boats, children being ferried to schools and kettuvallams, the majestic rice barges, gliding over the canals. Another interesting sight is that of large flocks of ducks being shepherded to newly-harvested paddy fields.

You could also drop in at villages on the banks to check out the techniques and procedures of coir making. It's also a chance to try out the ethnic cuisine from local eateries. Tapioca and fish delicacies and coconut toddy, the natural beverage extracted from coconut trees, are the highlights of backwater cuisine.


Alappuzha - Kochi cruise

Are you a bit tired of walking to explore God's Own Country? How about a backwater cruise, enjoying the comfort of a luxurious houseboat? You can hire one from Alappuzha. Feel free and relaxed as your eyes, first lazily and then passionately enjoy the bewitching Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater stretch in Kerala.

Let us steer towards Kumarakom, one of the prime tourist attractions of Kerala. En route, Vembanad Lake offers you sights of backwater village life and a lot of backwater activities. The green shores throbbing with vigour and pure beauty will never tire you. The soft sunlight lends the calm water a new enchantment as the palms on both shores welcome you with a gentle whisper in the wind. Your mind will assure you that this scene will remain within you, to relieve you during all your busiest hours.

Once you enter Q S T and R Block Kayal, it is an added enchantment. It is situated at Kuttanad, popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala. Cruise leisurely through the canals, which are fringed by palm groves and paddy fields.

On reaching Kumarakom, you enter another world of wonders. This small backwater village, which is a cluster of islands, has a life of its own, with a slow, serene rhythm. The sights, sounds and fragrances will simply captivate you.

After staying back at Kumarakom for a bit and relaxing, you may proceed to Vaikom. It is time again to enjoy the placidity of the Vembanad Lake, in all its splendor. On the way, you will find a small island, Pathiramanal, seemingly afloat in the middle of the backwater. Have a brief stop and your guide can share with you many interesting myths surrounding this region.

On resuming your journey, the next halt point for you is Thanneermukkom, a village known for its Salt Water Barrier, popularly known as Thanneermukkom Bund. It is the largest mud regulator in India. Travelling through this region and savoring some delicious Kerala snacks is a simply marvelous experience.

Your next backwater destination - Vaikom offers you many interesting sights and lifestyles. You may find here the specimens of Kerala's grand tradition. A famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the prime attraction of this town. The refreshing greenery here is another add-on for you.

From Vaikom, after recharging with a delicious Kerala meal, you may proceed to Kumbalangi. We travel via Thykkattussery, a small village surrounded by coconut groves and paddy fields, enchanting constituents of backwater life. The first sight that welcomes you to Kumbalangi is that of majestic Chinese fishing nets lining the sides of the backwaters. Pokkali cultivation, a traditional indigenous method of cultivation in which the practice of taking a paddy crop is followed by prawn filtration, is a unique farming practice at Kumbalangi.

Once through the breezy backwaters of Kumbalangi, it is time for us to proceed to Fort Kochi, known for its share of Chinese fishing nets and many historic sites. The place is worth a walk, if you would like to. However, the sights from on board are also fascinating.

Bidding adieu to Fort Kochi, let us steer towards the Bolghatty Island, our final destination. En route to the Bolghatty Island, you would pass by the panoramic view of the mainland of Ernakulam city, its skyline and the shipyard on the eastern side. Once in Bolghatty, it is time for us to unwind. Loosen yourself to the soothing cool breeze and the reassuring touch of serene sunlight.

Sweet is the memory of the last few hours that is sure to haunt you fondly for all the years to come. Disagree? Try the trip and you certainly won't.


Alumkadavu, Kollam

Alumkadavu is where the first houseboats in India were built. Located north of Kollam district, the waft of coir and wood is always in the air of this village. And the reason: It is a major centre for the construction of kettuvalloms (traditional rice barges) which are later modified into houseboats for travellers.

The houseboats eventually take shape at the hands of skilled craftsmen of the village, who make sue of local and eco-friendly materials like wood, bamboo poles and coconut fibre.

Alumkadavu is also a coir manufacturing centre, making Kollam famous for its coir products.


Backwater stretches of Ashtamudi

So called because of its 8 arms or channels, Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. This 16 km long lake is the second largest in Kerala, finding its way into the sea through the Neendakara estuary. The trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is one of the most popular and longest backwater cruises in Kerala. The eight-hour journey will give you an intimate experience of the famed waterways. Catch a glimpse of one of the many splendours of Ashtamudi backwaters. As the boatman gently dips his paddle, without disturbing the prevailing calm, the ripples spread out gently in the shimmering golden hue of the sun.


Chandragiri Fort & River

Situated near the confluence of the Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea, the Chandragiri Village is known for its large 17th century fort built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. The Chandragiri Fort, one among a chain of forts built by the same ruler, perched atop a hill is in ruins now. But the location offers a breathtaking view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to watch the sunset from the ancient Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam. Chandragiri is situated 4 km from Bekal.


Chithari - a small tropical island

Green and beautiful, a little effaced by the historic Bekal Fort and beach, Chithari is still a virgin destination. The island is accessible only by boat, often wooden canoes that belong to the locals. A part of the Bekal Tourism Project, this backwater area has all it takes to become a mega tourist destination. Chithari is located 7 km from Kanhangad.


Kavvayi Backwater at Payyanur

In Kannur, an inspiring stretch of water body Kavvayi Kayal could perhaps be your next, most fascinating destination among the backwaters in Kerala. The backwaters down the south of Kerala; like those in and around Kollam and Alappuzha have their own unique attractions, surroundings and ways of life. Kavvayi Kayal too has its own unique elements that could easily make you fall in love with it.

You can simply unwind by taking a walk along the land that fringes the Kavvayi Kayal or else may step into one of the country boats and relax in the cool breeze while enjoying the abundance of surrounding greenery. This backwater stretch is full of interesting sights and experiences that would keep preventing your interest level from hitting a low. Locally called as Kavvayi Kayal or the backwater of Kavvayi, this lesser known backwater of northern Kerala is the result of the five rivers viz. River Kavvayi and its tributary streams Kankol, Vannathichal, Kuppithodu, and Kuniyan.

From an ecological point of view the backwater of Kavvayi and its surrounding region is considered to be of significance. The backwater and the wetlands are home to a variety of fauna and flora.

Another interesting sight that one could encounter while on the backwaters of Kavvayi are the nearly half a dozen of small and big islands. The backwater setting at Kavvayi is the biggest wetland in north Kerala with an area of roughly 37 sq km.

A boat ride ideally from Kotti-Kottappuram would enable a visitor to see and enjoy the many inspiring sights of Kavvayi Kayal.


Kumarakom

The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors.

An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors many other leisure options. Boating and fishing facilities are available at the Taj Garden Retreat, a sprawling old bungalow-turned-resort.

Waterscapes, the backwater resort of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has independent cottages built on stilts, set amidst coconut groves and panoramic view of the backwaters. Holiday packages involving houseboats, traditional Kettuvalloms (rice barges) offer great experiences.


Kumbalangi - Model fishing village near Kochi

Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is India’s first designated ecotourism village and the first rural tourism village of the state. Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project is a unique initiative to transform the tiny island as a model fishing village and tourism spot. Here at the Kumbalangi Tourism Village one can fully savour a variety of natural splendours, and ecological balance of the location. The model village, the first of its kind in the country is located near the port city of Kochi in Ernakulam District. It is a veritable treat to its visitors with the famous Chinese fishing nets and many other sights to savour.

As art of the model village project at Kumbalangi, a nearby island near Palluruthy would also have plenty of interesting vistas and activities in the near future. This coastal hamlet without doubt provides a fascinating glimpse of the simple and prosperous livelihood of the villagers, and also unravels the age-old culture and heritage of the place.

Kalagramam, an artist’s village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as well as fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here. Many houses in the village are homestays and visitors can book their stay directly with homestay operators or seek the assistance of the village council.


Kuttanad - the rice bowl of Kerala

It is the major rice granary of Kerala, where vast stretches of verdant paddy fields are interlaced with enchanting backwaters create some of the unforgettable sights.

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala is all about an agrarian community, striking a chord of harmony with its physical setting. Noted for its farming below sea level (about 4 to 10 feet) the land of Kuttanad possesses a socio-cultural fabric of its own. Four major rivers in Kerala viz. Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region.

The most popular route taken to get close and explore Kuttanad is the Alappuzha-Changanasserry road. This road goes through the heart of Kuttanad and gives visitors plenty of options to watch the day-to-day life at Kuttanad. The best thing for a visitor to Kuttanad is that, one can take deviations from either side of the Alappuzha-Chanaganasserry road to reach villages, predominantly consisting of farmers. During the harvest season the vast expanse of paddy fields, at some places dotted with islets of coconut trees, will be busy with farmers engrossed in different farming activities;done in the traditional manner. Quite early in the morning itself one can sight the women folk heading towards the paddy fields carrying their lunch box and sickle, and on the other hand men could be seen already on the fields till the land, sowing the seeds, getting rid of weeds, diverting water channels etc.

The Kuttanad area is also rich in avian population, and one can easily find flocks of parrots hovering in the paddy fields, especially those fields with rice stalks in bloom. You may also come across a black blanket sweeping across the sky, which on close look will reveal as yet another flock of birds. And this time its is the darter birds, which haunt the backwaters in and aroundKuttanad and the adjoining Vembanad Lake.

As you explore the villages, don't forget to take a walk by the numerous canals that crisscrossKuttanad, which are lined by tall coconut trees swaying in the breeze. During most part of the day, these canal stretches would be abuzz with different activities. There will be vendors on boat selling vegetables, grocery and fish to households on the banks of these canals. You would also come across big country boats called Kettu Vallams on which goods like coconut husk, rice grains etc. are transported to nearby markets in bulk. Among the sights on the backwaters here at Kuttanad, the most fascinating obviously is that of the ducks, quacking together in high decibels and moving across the backwaters in large numbers;shepherded by men on small boats. One can also catch men playing on the backwater;some diving down to collect lime shells from the depths and others fishing with their nets and traditional cane basket called Ottal.

For those interested in trying out few local dishes may do so by dropping at the small traditionally built wayside eateries, which are quite famous for backwater fish delicacies and tapioca. A popular naturally extracted beverage is the toddy, which is available in plenty and enjoyed by many for its speciality.


Mannanam in Kottayam

Besides being associated with the Blessed Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mannanam is the seat of the first seminary of the Malabar Church (1833), the first Catholic Sanskrit School in Kerala (1846), the first private printing press, CMS Press started by Rev. Benjamin Bailey (1846), and the first daily newspaper in Malayalam, the Deepika (1887).

The Chavara Art Museum at Mannnam preserves a brilliant repertory of church history.


Marine Drive - A popular hangout in Kochi

Marine Drive in Kochi, is a popular hangout and this scenic stretch offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the Kochi Harbour.

Shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, cafés and supermarkets line the drive. The Rainbow Bridge and the International Tourism Boat Jetty Complex are other attractions here.


Munroe Island

Located 27 km from Kollam, is Munroe Island. Formed by the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River, this island is named after Colonel Munroe, the British Resident of erstwhile Travancore State. He is credited with having integrated several backwater regions by digging canals. The discovery of stone age tools and megaliths stand testimony to the antiquity of this islet which shelters a quaint little village.


Padanna Backwaters, Kasaragod

Much of the popular backwater attractions of Kerala are located in the southern and central parts of the State. Contrary to this belief, here is a serene backwater network in the northern most district of Kerala - Kasaragod. Here adjoining the backwaters of Valiyaparampu lies a beautiful backwater village of Thekkekadu, which has an inspiring story to share with its visitors. It is all about Padanna's crusader in self-employment, Mr. Gul Mohammed and his backwater retreat - Oyster Opera at Padanna.

Set amidst avenues of coconut tress and crisscrossed by canals and fanned by backwaters the retreat has everything natural at its core of existence and functioning. It is located at Padanna, near Cheruvathur in the District of Kasaragod.

One man's passion to enhance the livelihood of his fellow villagers has now culminated in the form of a retreat, and the first theme village of Kerala. That is Oyster Opera at Padanna with oyster farming as its theme. It is now a source of income to thousands and a destination for those who would love to be part of the very best of available natural settings.

Facilities out here at Oyster Opera reflect the cultural and traditional traits of the local people. Here, the villagers play host during your stay at the retreat. The whole ambience does not have the sophistication of modern day resorts and the visitors are bound to appreciate this aspect the moment they land at Padanna and till they bid goodbye. But saying goodbye to Padanna is never easy. Because such is the kind of satisfaction and pleasure that you get here, it makes you yearn for more.

The resort has, as mentioned earlier, natural interventions in almost all of the facilities offered to its guests. Be it the restaurants, where you get to relish many of the local mouthwatering delicacies, including green mussels and clams or your place of dwelling, toilets and bathrooms. Currently at Oyster Opera, guests have option to go for three Cottages on land, one Float House, one Elevated House with well equipped kitchen, occupancy for two, veranda, toilet and bathroom.

Once at Padanna, one can literally explore every inch of the village on your own. The brackish water of Padanna and its surrounding villages are endowed with great natural beauty. Nearby the retreat one could visit a number of tiny palm-fringed islands and also coconut lagoons and mangroves. Or else, one may engage in small talks with the villagers as they go by their routine activities of oyster and seaweed farming or else may take a close look at their fresh catch of clams and edible oyster. The nearby vast beach and the estuary here are worth visiting and one could also spot wild beavers in a couple of nearby islands. The backwaters at Padanna are nourished by five rivers, which later join the Arabian Sea.

At Padanna, visitors to Oyster Opera can also go for delightful backwater cruises in houseboats, country boats, feel the sun and the sand on the Valiyaparamba Beach and estuary or opt for rejuvenation therapy by traditional practitioners of Ayurveda, a boat-ride through River Thejaswini passing by the woods and fields, learn fishing techniques by using strings, nets and bare hand, or go for a moonlit backwater cruise in a country boat. Some of the nearby attractions of Padanna include the historic Bekal Fort; the Parassinikkadavu Temple noted for its unique rituals; Karim Forest, a manmade forest owned by a nature enthusiast and during the season, one can also witness Theyyam, one of the popular and resplendent ritual art forms of the region.


Pathiramanal

Pathiramanal, a small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha, is a haven for hundreds of rare birds migrating from different parts of the world. You can reach there after 1 1/2 hours drive by motor boat or 30 minutes by speed boat from Alappuzha in south Kerala. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, stretching from Alappuzha to Kochi and the Kayamkulam lake, Pathiramanal is accessible only by boat.The green island thus forms an ideal place for a break in the journey while on a backwater cruise.The mainland Alappuzha has a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers criss crossing it and is a district of immense natural beauty.


Picnic Village in Kollam

Located in the sprawling 200-year-old Guest House campus where Lord Munroe once stayed, this tourist village at Ashramam along the backwater front, is the main centre for recreational activities in Kollam. The place has a boat club, a children's traffic park and Tamarind Hotel in addition to an adventure park. The Paaramparya Museum in the same premises has on display paintings from different parts of the country including Warli, Kalamkari and Madhubani as well as Kerala mural art. It is located 1 km from Kollam city.


Ponnumthuruthu Island near Varkala

A delightful getaway surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters, this uninhabited isle is accessible by boat from the makeshift jetty at the nearby Nedunganda Village. A 100-year-old Shiva-Parvathi Temple, rebuilt a decade ago, is also situated here. Ponnumthuruthu Island is just 10 km away from Varkala, the famous tourist destination in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.


Q S T and R Block Kayal, Alappuzha

Situated in Kuttanad popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala, QST & R Block Kayals (backwaters) remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland. A striking example of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how, here cultivation and habitation are made possible at four to ten feet below the sea level. For this purpose extensive land has been reclaimed from the backwaters and is protected by dikes built around it. A leisurely cruise along the canals here is a memorable experience.

Kuttanad is the most beautiful backwaters region of Kerala. It is here that most of the snake boat races are conducted and a majority of the rice boat & houseboat cruises are scheduled. Kerala's network of navigable backwaters stretches to over 900 km. These serene waterways are fringed by palm grove and paddy fields and offer a striking spectacle of the rustic life.


Sasthamkotta: Queen of Lakes, Kollam

Sasthamkotta, situated about 29 km from Kollam town, can be rightly called the 'Queen of Lakes'. This vast fresh water lake flanked by hills on three sides is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha Temple, which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. This temple dedicated to both Lord Ganesha and Lord Ayyappa is surrounded by hills and forests, and the monkeys inhabiting the premises are considered holy. The monkeys of Sasthamkotta are believed to be the faithful entourage of the ruling deity, the Dharmasastha and therefore they have a spiritual ambience about them. The monkeys are devotee-friendly, and the thousands of devotees visiting the temple take pleasure in feeding these monkeys with nuts and fruits.


Valapattanam, Kannur

Kannur is that part of the legendary Malabar Coast where King Solomon's ships anchored to collect timber to build the 'Temple of the Lord' and to secure most needed spices. Here in the little hamlet on the banks of the river Valapattanam, is a giant of the modern timber industry - Western India Plywood Ltd., the largest wood-based industry in South East Asia.
The timber industry of Valapattanam thrive on the rich forest resources of the district. Teak, Iruli,Elavu, Karimurukku, sandalwood (Sandalum album) etc. are found in plenty in the forests here. In addition are cash crops like tea, coffee, rubber, tobacco, cashewnuts etc. Kannur is the only place in Kerala where Pukayila (tobacco) cultivation is carried on successfully.
Valapattanam is also a famous fishing harbour as well as the main source of the irrigation project in the district. It is a fascinating experience to watch the traditional mode of timber transportation - by tying long pieces of timber together and allowing them to float down the stream.


Valiyaparamba backwaters, Kasaragod

Located 30 km from Bekal, Valiyaparamba in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in the state. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favoured backwater resort that offers enchanting boat cruises.


Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. The lake, an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom Tourist Village offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing.


Willingdon Island, Kochi

Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.

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