We shall always treasure our memories of the stunning backwaters of Kerala and Kumarakom Lake. This area has been described by National Geographic Traveler as “one of the fifty paradises on earth” and, in our opinion too, it should rank very high on the list fifty.
After two amazing nights on board a luxury houseboat, we were scheduled to spend three days on one of Kerala’s beaches but rejected it in favour of another three nights, overlooking Kumarakom Lake, in a secluded, relaxing and charming hotel.
Here are hundreds of stunning photos (just open the link).
Anyway, to bring you up to date, we left Thekkady with our regular driver and traveled through some beautiful and lush countryside, passing many small villages and wonderful views, until nearly five hours later, we met our houseboat in Alleppey. Our houseboat was in excellent condition, with two double cabins but we had the boat to ourselves, plus our crew of three.
This type of houseboat is called a Kettuvallam, a stitched boat, that provides the best way to experience the colorful backwaters of Kerala. The wood commonly used to make Kettuvallams is ‘Anhili’, which is found in abundance in central Travancore area. Large planks are tied together using handmade coir ropes and beaten coconut fibres. This gives the Kettuvallams enough strength to withstand heavy waves in the sea. Kettuvallams are built entirely without the use of nails. It requires great skill and adroitness to construct these giant boats. The boats are applied with fish oil and cashew nut oil and left to cure for days. With careful maintenance, they apparently last for generations. The boat that we traveled on had two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a large dinning area, an open sun-deck, with shade and a crew consisting of the captain, cook and guide, who doubled as housekeeper and second in command!
We arrived and settled in on the houseboat, and thirty minutes into the start of our trip, we were served with a delicious lunch that had been pre-ordered. However, it was a bit over catered, as there was enough food for the troops, (curry of course!). The cook was a bit disappointed and asked if maybe we didn’t like it, or was it too spicy and we tried to explain that we don’t eat those sorts of quantities and he got the message and dinner was for two not eight!
We anchored at around five thirty, as boats are not allowed to travel after this time, the waterways are then taken over by the fishermen.
The scenery was magical, passing paddy field as far as the eye can see and further, some beautiful tiny old churches and, of course, many Hindu temples, pretty tiled roof houses, with canoes moored outside and we watched the women doing their washing on a stone and hanging it on tree branches to dry. They were also washing their beautiful long black hair in the waters. Graceful palm trees are to be seen all along the way and many types of fruit trees, beautiful water hyacinth and water lilies, duck farms and water buffalo having a cooling off period in the water, but the funniest sight was a dog swimming from one side of the very wide river to the other, maybe it was tea time!
Our two nights on the backwaters of Kerala were absolutely wonderful and a true India experience! However, we were sorry that it had ended.
For the next three days, we enjoyed just sheer relaxation by the lake shore, reading, writing this blog, having a massage, eating, drinking and sleeping. It doesn’t get better than that!
Next, we must spend an evening close to Kochi Airport, before catching flights to the Andaman Islands (still part of India but very close to Burma & Indonesia!). But that’s another blog!