One of the highlights of staying in Kerala is to take a tour of the backwaters on a Kettuvallam or houseboat.
The boats leave from Alappuzha or Alleppey as it was formerly known, and take you through the maze of canals, rivers and lakes that make up the backwaters.
The original kettuvallams were used to carry rice and spices to Kochi. They were simply constructed from planks of jack wood joined together with coir. The hull of each was then painted with a black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. Bamboo mats would be used for roofing and coir mats for the floor. Today most have simply decorated bedrooms and showers, basins and flushing toilets to make an overnight stay recommended. A beautiful big deck lets you sit out and enjoy the passing view whilst your chef prepares a delicious southern Indian curry for you to enjoy.
The canals were dug over one hundred years ago to help transport coir, a coconut husk fibre used in floor mats and rope. It is still the only means of transport in some of these areas.
Coconut trees and lush undergrowth line the banks as you glide by. Sometimes the weeds in the canals make it seem like a continuous sea of green.
Everyday life is played out along the banks. Men fish, women wash their clothes and the children play in the water as the delivery boats pass.
Apart from being a very relaxing way to see the area, it is an interesting window into the way of life of those living in the backwaters of Kerala.
Have you been to Kerala?