The Kerala Backwaters and How to Best Visit Them

One of the most distinctive and attractive features of Kerala is its backwaters. The scenic backwaters of Kerala are a chain of brackish lagoons, canals, and lakes which run parallel to the coast of Arabian Sea. These backwaters attract a lot of tourists who wish to enjoy these scenic landscapes. Kerala backwater tour is a great way to get a taste of these peaceful lined palm trees along the water bodies and have the most rejuvenating experience.

Kerala backwaters are a network of 1500 km of manmade and natural canals, 38 rivers and 5 big lakes which extend from one end of the state to the other. Today, these backwaters are a major tourist attraction of Kerala but traditionally they were used as one of the main transportation alley, fishing, and agriculture.

The backwaters run inland from the coast of Kerala, from Kochi to Kollam. Alleppey is the main entry point situated between these two.

The annual snake boat race which is held along the backwaters is an important entertainment source for the tourists and the locals.

Reaching Alleppey from Kochi Airport

Alleppey is 2 hours’ drive from Kochi Airport and can be reached by prepaid taxi. Cheaper options include taking a bus to Alleppey from Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. Alternatively, Indian railway trains also halt at Alleppey. Aluva is the nearest railway station to Kochi Airport.

Experiencing Backwaters

Kerala style houseboats called as ‘kettuvalam’ are the most preferred option for the travelers who wish to experience the tranquility. Houseboats can be hired for a day trip or for an overnight stay. Freshly cooked Indian food is served on these houseboats.

Luxury hotels, resorts and home stays and other accommodation options are available along the along the banks of Vembanad Lake near Kumarakom in the Kottayam district, and near Alleppey.

Budget travelers can enjoy the backwaters on the various half or full day backwater tourist cruises which are on offer. Backwaters can also be accessed cheaply by using public boat services operated by the State Water Transport Department. The boat services pass through the many small canals and villages and take about two and a half hours with regular departures. However, it is important to note that there aren’t any toilets on these boats.

The most affordable option to experience backwaters is on the Alleppey District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) tour between Alleppey and  Kollam. It is an eight-hour boat journey and takes you through the main waterways instead of the villages. The boat departs daily at 10.30 a.m. from the DTPC boat jetty and Kollam. The ticket for these costs Rs. 300.

Backwater tours through villages

To experience the fascinating village life, many people these days opt for ‘country boat’ tours or canoe trips to villages along the narrower backwaters. One can choose from the following recommendations:

1. Kerala Kayaking: These kayaking tours depart from Alleppey and were the first to begin the service. One can also cycle around the villages.

2. Salmon Tours: These tours departs from Kochi and specializes in village backwater day tours in country boats, houseboats, and speedboats.

3. Sreekrishna’s Shikara Cruise: These motorized Shikara boats depart from Alleppey and are much affordable than the houseboats. One can access narrower canals on these.

4. Monroe Island Canoe Tours: These tours offer guided trip to Monroe Islands where narrow canals are splendid. Monroe Island Backwaters Homestay provides inexpensive accommodations there.

Embark on the journey to Kerala and enjoy the beauteous backwaters.