Kerala, located between the clear waters of Arabian Sea in the West and the mighty Western Ghats Mountains in the East, is also known as God’s own country, and rightly so. It is bestowed with exotic wildlife, a beautiful scenic landscape, and pristine beaches. Kerala is also famous for its rich cultural heritage and ancient dance forms. What actually makes Kerala stand out among other places in the world is its tranquil backwaters. It is the backwaters and the houseboats that operate across them that put Kerala on every traveler’s checklist.
The backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes interconnected by canals and fed by rivers flowing down the Arabian Sea. These waters flow along various districts and form their own unique charm.
Life in these backwaters is relaxed and unhurried.
Day to Day Activities
The typical day along a backwater is fairly slow. The townfolk go about their traditional business of boat making or harvesting paddy in the fields. Some ferry people in their motorboats, others show tourists around or sell eatables in houseboats and shikaras. One can also find local fishermen delivering goods in canoes. The laid-back pace of life here provides a break to the otherwise hustled life of the metros.
Experiencing the Local Life
While on the boat rides one can appreciate the pure and clean waters. They can see the sights of colonies of villages, women washing clothes on the shores, performing their household chores. By the end of the day, most people head to the local pub to enjoy a gala time over freshly brewed, local coconut beer, also called toddy.
Tourists often ask their houseboats to be stopped along the way and enjoy the cool breeze over a glass of fresh coconut water.
Houses along the Waters
The homes here are very simple in their architecture. They have sloping roofs, to drain away the excessive rains. Some houses have docks for the boats where they keep them tied. Although the villagers these days do use motor run vehicles and two-wheelers, yet their primary mode of transportation remains the boat.
Some houses even have steps that lead into the backwaters, enabling people to enjoy an occasional dip.
The Lifestyle of the Villagers
The villagers lead an easy life. From temples to mosques, to churches, one can often find a blend of these institutions in the villages. People stay in harmony with each other. Kerala boasts of 100% literacy rate, which has only been possible due to schools present even in villages. Children ride to schools which are not much far from the main villages, in water buses.
Backwaters that every globetrotter wants to see are in Kollam, Kozhikode, and Kochi. The backwaters of Alleppey, famous for its Nehru Trophy Boat Race, particularly eclipses the others.
The houseboat tours in the waters, offering a glimpse into the life of the locals, form the center of attraction. They include 2 to 3 bedrooms, attached bathrooms, and a pantry. They also present a delicious assortment of traditional Southern cuisine, consisting of dishes like Karimeen Fry that is fish fried in coconut oil and Tharavu Roast or the duck curry.
Houseboat tours have completely changed the face of holidaying. No visit to Kerala is complete without basking in the houseboat lounges and experiencing the backwaters. Watching the sunset over the water warms the soul and provides a magical experience altogether. The backwaters of Kerala are indeed divine.
Sayani Rakshit is a student of Kamala Nehru College studying Journalism. She started reading at an early age and weaving stories in her mind. She realized she wanted to narrate stories, and writing was the best way to do so. Through her words, she wishes to motivate and inspire people and provide them a sense of belonging.