Elegant wooden barges with palm-leaf and coir canopies traditionally transported rice and other produce from the paddy fields of Kerala’s Kuttanand backwaters to the region’s markets.
Nowadays, however, the boats more often carry passengers wishing to explore this fascinating, watery world, where roads are still far outnumbered by canals and rivers, and canoes are more common than cars.
Known as kettu vallam, modern cruise barges are equipped with air-conditioned bedrooms, galleys and observation decks where you can recline on bo lster cushions while your captain steers you through an endless parade of palm groves and lagoons. Meals, snacks and tea are served on board. At night, you’ll berth at a quiet stretch of riverbank, and fall asleep to a cacophony of singing frogs and temple music crackling out of the darkness.
Trips may cross the glassy expanse of Vembanad Lake, just north of Alappuzha, or involve transfers to smaller canoes for forays into the narrower channels dividing villages. Whichever route you follow, an unforgettable experience is guaranteed.
An overnight on the backwaters is a must do for those wanting a languid experience in this picturesque part of Kerala which also promises an unforgettable night under the stars.