The world-famous Backwaters are in the state of Kerala in the South of India, the nearest airport Nedumbassery is 25 km North of Cochin city.
The backwaters of Kerala – meandering inland lakes networked by canals the network includes five large lakes – stretch to over 900 kms. man made and natural fed by 38 rivers covering almost half the length of Kerala state there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises, freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea, at Vembanad lake (Kayal) which is the longest lake in India , a barrage has been built which prevents salt water from the sea entering the deep inside, keeping the fresh water intact.
Low surface than water level, Paddy fields around Kerala Back Waters
This fresh water is extensively used for irrigation purposes, there is rich unique aquatic life as well the leafy plants and shrubs, Palm trees grows alongside the shores, there are places where the paddy fields are below the water level (Kuttanad) and are surrounded by earthen embankments. The crops are grown on the low-lying ground and irrigated with fresh water from canal and waterways connected to Vembanad lake Boat trips across these tranquil stretches are an experience unique to Kerala.
Large Kettuvalloms (Houseboats) which were used as grain barges to transport the rice from the fertile fields along the back waters were converted to accommodate tourists ,these boats are made of Jackfruit wood using the local available raw materials without using any metal nail, these are floating cottages with bedroom,dining area and private facilities, food is cooked on board mostly having Kerala flavor. Ketuvallams are motorized but cruise at a slow speed for smooth travel. All Ketuvallams have a generator and most bedrooms are air-conditioned, at night electricity is switched off and lanterns are provided to create a rural setting.
There are several cities along the banks of around 200 km Back Waters from where excursions can be taken best locations are Alleppy and Kumarakom the nearest airport is Cochin or Kochi which is 54 km to Alleppy and 76 Km. to Kumarakom, best place is Alleppy because quite and away from the mad crowds is the Marari beach white sand , neat clean and safe for swimming , the distance between the Vembnad lake and beach is hardly 5 km. all these small towns are now busy tourist destinations with all pocket budget guest houses, hotels and resorts.
In 1952 first prime minister of India Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru when visited Kerala was received by the Chundan Valloms the (snake boats) a boat race Vallam Kali was organised in the back waters, a Sliver Trophy which was sent by the Prime Minister since then became the annual function which is held during the Onam festival in the month of August in Alappuzha , other races are Champakulam Moolam Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali , Kallada boat race, Payipad Jalotsavam and Indira Gandhi boat race .
Backwaters of Kerala are also called the Venice of East its soothing shoreline, beautiful beaches make it terrific. One may plan backwater tour anytime of the year, the best time for cruising is from October to March. Casual clothes in cotton are best suited for the backwater trip to Kerala journey through the lagoons is interesting, passing through sleepy villages, busy boat jetties and vibrant celebrations makes the trip a memorable one.
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