The backwaters of Kerala, running parallel to the Arabian Sea, are one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Alleppey, or Alappuzha, is especially popular for its houseboat cruises. The tranquil backwater cruises in Kerala are a unique experience, be it short ones in small canoes or boats, which meander through narrow canals, or longer stays on luxurious houseboats, which let you float along the emerald waters fringed with palm and coconut trees, as the serene countryside glides by.

The houseboats that ply here are modified kettuvallams or large traditional trading vessels used for transportation of rice and spices to nearby towns. As road transport gained importance, these graceful sailing behemoths faded away, only to re-emerge as floating hotels offering tourists all the luxuries of modern life. While the scenic beauty around the waterways is mesmerising, these spacious and well-decorated houseboats add to the charm of the experience.

Traditionally, a kettuvallam would be around 60 ft long and about 15 ft wide at the beam. Some of the new houseboats have a length of more than 80 ft! Constructed from locally sourced natural materials such as jackfruit tree wood, palm wood, coconut fibre, bamboo poles, ropes, bamboo mats etc, these boats offer guilt-free tripping. They are constructed by tying together (rather than nailing) wooden planks with coconut coir. The planks are coated with resin extracted from cashew nut shells. Bamboo poles and palm leaves are used for constructing the roof. Some of these boats also have solar panels for generating electricity. If carefully maintained, these boats can last for decades. Cruises around Alappuzha happen in the waters in and around the Vembanad Lake, which is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in Kerala. Surrounded by mangrove forests and coconut trees, the lake has a mirror-like sheen, and cruising along its surface fills one with contentment and peace. These cruises let tourists explore the interiors of the region, taking one to tiny hamlets and lagoon islands. Taste traditional cuisine, enjoy Ayurvedic massages and let the spirit of Kerala rejuvenate you.

Other Attractions in Alappuzha