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Backwaters of Kerala
A clear network of canals, lakes, lagoons, and rivers, sprawled over an area of 1500 km; Kerala Backwaters is emerging as a sought after tourist spot. With almost, 38 rivers and around 5 big lakes flowing from one end of Kerala to the other, there surely is a reason why water activities are so popular in this South Indian State. The scenic palm-fringed mountains and streets, rich wildlife, houses, villages and small islands scattered on the edges of Kerala backwaters transport you to a different world altogether.
Alappuzha Backwaters also known as Alleppey backwaters is one of the most unusual backwater sites of Kerala. Undoubtedly, most of the visitors coming to Kerala prefer Alleppey as their backwater cruise destination for it is the most lively and popular one among others. Splashed by the Arabian Sea, linked with a wide number of canals and bridges, this not-so-huge marketplace is also popular for Nehru Trophy boat race which is held every year.
Kottayam district features the major backwaters expanse. Here, a web of rivers and canals empty themselves into the great stretch of water called the Vembanad Lake. Situated at Kumarakom, 16 km off Kottayam downtown, the Vembanad Lake is an interesting picnic that makes way for a brilliant backwater tourism spot that offers boating, fishing and sightseeing.
Dubbed the "Queen of the Arabian Sea" Kochi Backwaters is known to be the finest natural harbour in the world over. Indulge in ferry rides or simple cruise around the man-made islands fringed with green lawns; it’s all worth it! To start your backwater experience In Kochi, you will be required to take a houseboat cruise to Thanneermukkom.
This significant coastline area known for its aquatic and cashew industries was one of the oldest ports located on the MalabarCoast and is a prominent international trading point. Nearly thirty per cent of this town is enclosed by the popular Ashtamudi Lake, making it the doorway to the superb backwaters of Kerala. The backwaters around Kollam, extend from the Ashthamudi Lake up till Alappuzha paving way for the longest backwater cruise (8 hours) in Kerala.
Crammed between the vast sea and the hills. Kuttanad is an astonishing maze of shining waterways made of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets. Lined with thick tropical greens, it gives you a peak into rural life-styles of Kerala. The views in Kuttanad change from quaint canals and bushy vegetation to clear vistas and stunning green paddy fields. Cane houses, vast fields, churches, mosques and temples are easily visible on the banks of the waters.
What To Expect
Hire a house boat or simply hop into a group boat for a couple of hours and explore the sparkling backwaters and small islands around, at their marvellous best. Usually, the backwaters are used by natives for fishing and agriculture. In Alleppey, you will find boats as the common means of transport for travelling from one place to another. Annual snake boat races make way for an amazing source of entertainment for the travellers and locals alike.
How To Go About Boat Hire
The best and the most economically viable option for taking a tour of Alleppey Backwaters is to bank upon the Alleppey Tourism Development Corporation ferry. It takes you through Alleppey, Kumarakom and Kollam which is an eight hour long stretch. The boats depart at 10:30 a.m. and costs around $5. Some travel agents and hotels also organize boat tours for individuals, groups and honeymooners and packages generally differ from season to season. You can also indulge in day trips that operate from Cochin. More information about the cruises can also be obtained from the Kerala Torusim Help Desk at the Cochin International Airport. Normal thatched boats can be hired for durations of 6-8 hours while houseboats operate at fixed time intervals and are available for overnight hire. You can hire a houseboat for as little as a day, or as long as a week, so it’s completely on your specific travel requirements.
Best Time to Hire a Houseboat
Right from December up till the end of January when the weather is slightly cooler and dry, it would be the best time to enjoy the backwaters on a Houseboat. Though Alleppey welcomes travelers throughout the year, monsoon visitors club their houseboat tours with Spa/ Ayurvedic treatments. From March till May, the weather gets a little humid and you will be required to hire an air-conditioned boat during that period.
How To Get There
If you happen to come by Air, Cochin International Airport (COK)is the best option and is central to all the locations in Kerala. You can hire prepaid taxis from here to Alaphuza (Alleppey) and Kottayam located at a distance of 90 kms from Kochi.
Trains bound to South Kerala make a stop at Alapuzha Town, Kottayam, Kollam Junctions. Once you reach the particular railway station, you can hire taxis or board buses that will connect you the main town area/backwaters.
Most of the Kerala backwater regions are connected with National highways and State highways. So it would not be difficult to reach Alleppey on a car but it will certainly be a tiresome journey since it’s a long route. Much of Kollam regions can be easily reached through different State highways and 2 national highways- NH 47 and NH 208. Northern Kerala can be reached via NH 17.
Best Time to Visit Kerala Backwaters
From mid- February to mid-May the tropical sun oozes a lot of heat and the temperature can easily go up to 35°C during the afternoons. Rest of the year, the temperature ranges from 20°C to 28°C during daytime and 18°C to 25°C at night
From mid-May until early September, the North-Eastern monsoon wind brings heavy showers with it
Winter in Kerala lasts from mid-October to early February, and is the best time to visit this South Indian State. It doesn’t snow in Kerala, though it gets quite cold and foggy in the mountains