Member Rating 4 out of 5 by seethesun on December 8, 2006

Honestly I had no idea what the Backwaters were and why was it called Backwaters. I only knew that this place seems to be revered by the locals and in all of Kerala’s tourism promotional materials, Backwaters is a must visit site.

Definition: The coastal regions of Kerala have a network of waterways, inlets from the sea, estuaries of over forty rivers, lakes and natural canals connecting coastal towns. This interlinked body of waterways is known as the backwaters in Kerala. (

We departed from Trivandrum early in the morning and drove through 1.5 hours of terror and cold sweat to Allepey, 150km from Trivandrum. The driver basically had no regards for the safety of his occupants or the other cars on the road. We just hung on to anything in the vehicle and my leg was constantly trying to push an invisible brake pedal in front of me.

We arrived at Allepey with weak knees but thankful to have made it through. The driver then led us to a huge houseboat. Measuring 80 feet in length, this Ketuvallom (houseboat) will take us through rice fields, swaying coconut trees into the world of paradise for the next 24 hours.

From the outside, it looks like a traditional houseboat. But once inside, it has all the trappings of a modern hotel. There is a common sitting area at the front of the boat with an adjoining dining area. 3 air-conditioned bedrooms, each comes attached with its own full fledge bathroom. The back of the boat is for cooking, washing and the workers’ quarters. Frankly, I was very impressed.

For the following 24 hours, we did basically nothing but chilled out with cold beer and lied lazily around. Occasionally, we’d pass by a group of children who’d wave to us from the river banks and we’ll give them a languid wave back in return. The afternoon heat made us even slower but that’s the whole idea of a holiday isn’t it? Just lie down on your back to experience the picturesque beauty around you.

By sunset, we stopped cruising and the boat was anchored to the riverbank and our boatmen busied themselves to prepare dinner. We walked around and to our delight discovered many new species of birds. The Backwaters is also a sanctuary blessed with rich eco-system.

Several boats usually huddle together for the night for safety reasons. There is basically nothing to do after dinner but to stare at the starry skies above. We retired to our rooms early and called it the night by 9pm.

There are many tour packages which you can negotiate. Some packages take you from destination A to destination B. We opted to depart and return back at the same point, Allepey. The overnight package we took included full board (1 dinner and 1 breakfast, 1 tea and unlimited coffee and tea), transfer from Trivandrum to Allepey in an air-conditioned vehicle for 6 people cost us Rs 24,000.
The Kerala Backwaters
Malabar Coast
Kerala, India

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