Kerala Backwaters : Kerala Backwaters are unique in the entire world for their natural beauty and economically viability featuring 41 West-flowing rivers of Kerala as splendid gifts of nature. Kerala is said to be a land of canals, lagoons, lakes and rivers that have considerably influenced the lifestyle of its people. In earlier times the water highways were said to have covered whole of Southern Kerala, which was partly closed down later. However, now to the delight of its tourists, the old waterways are being re-opened as they provide them superb glimpses of the true rural and traditional lifestyle of the region, which is much simpler yet is tough, slow and highly labor intensive. It seems that many of these villages still use the techniques that have long been obsolete in the other parts of the world. The chief occupations of the people here are boat building, prawn cultivation, sand mining, coir manufacture, limestone collection (by the specialist divers), rice farming and duck rearing.
The villages of Kerala, surprisingly, seem to be immuned to the huge influx of tourists here. Alapuzha is an ideal starting-point of the journey because of its large network of canals. Kuttanad was once known as the rice bowl of Kerala because of its paddy fields that used dykes and bunds. This is one of the few places where farming is done are below sea level. Kumarakom has blossomed into a beautiful backwater holiday destination with a splendid lagoon bordered by swaying palm groves and a 14-acre bird sanctuary. Coconut Lagoon and Englishman Henry Baker’s bungalow are the prime attractions of the place. Cruising through backwaters in the local houseboats called ‘Kettuvallam’ are unique to this region. Kollam offers a maze of rivers, lakes and lagoons along with splendid views of the Kayamkulam Lake and the Ashtamudi Lake.
The southernmost district of the State, Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram is situated on the seashores of the Arabian Sea and has a long secluded world-famous shoreline and beaches. It has a rich historical and cultural heritage and backwater stretches, the prime ones being Thiruvallam and Veli. 6 km from Trivandrum, Thiruvallam is a serene and peaceful backwater stretch enroute to Kovalam. The canoe rides of the place are famous and it is a confluence point of two rivers, Killi and Karamana. The highlights of Thiruvallam are a temple dedicated to Parasurama, who is said to be the founder of Kerala, according to Hindu mythology.
71 km from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam has a rich history and was once one of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast and a major international trade and commercial centre. Known for its marine and cashew industries, there are number of architectural remnants and traditional ornate temples built in Dravidian architectural style around the region. The renowned Ashtamudi Lake is the chief highlight of Kollam and is also a magnificent gateway to Backwaters of Kerala.
Alleppey or Alappuzha, often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, id one of the major centers for Kerala backwater boat trips. A well-known base for the boat cruises on Kerala backwaters; it is served by ferries to Quilon and Kottayam in particular. It is one of the best known ports along the coast of Malabar. The peculiar geographical feature of Alleppey is the fact that here water in just in level with the land, which provides a closer look of the villages and the traditional lifestyles of its villagers while cruising on the backwaters. The ‘kettuvallams’ or the houseboats of Kerala sail through the enchanting backwaters of Alappuzha winding its way through the palm-fringed narrow canals, paddy fields and neat tiny hamlets along side the canals that offers some of the most enchanting views of rural Kerala.
Kottayam features panoramic backwater stretches, vast expanses of paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations. The literacy rate here is 100% and thus, it is so named that it means the land of letters. It is also known as the land of latex and lakes. Situated close to the Chandragiri cruises starting from Chandragiri Bridge and featuring a mosque and the ancient Kizhur Sartha Temple, the cultivation of the cash crops makes Kottayam a economically sound place. The Venbanad Lake, the paddy fields of Kuttanad and Western Ghats all surround Kottayam making it one of the most exotic destinations of Backwaters of Kerala.
15 km from Kottayam, Kumarakom on Vembanad Lake is a picturesque clean village of Kerala and an enchanting backwater destination too. It is in fact a cluster of little islands with a 14-acre bird sanctuary said to be any birdwatcher’s paradise. It offers many options adventure sport and activities including a walk through its wildlife sanctuary, cruising through the backwaters and fishing. Perhaps the beat way to watch the birds here is a boat trip round the islands fringed by swaying verdant coconut palms, fragrant flowers, multicolored birds and clear blue waters. One of the most preferred tourist destinations, boat races, houseboat cruises and canoeing are some of the prime attractions of the place.
Ernakulam or Kochi is known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, consisting of a group of islands on Lake Vembanad. People move through one part of Kochi to another on the local ferries, which are great fun. The point where the lake opens out into the Arabian Sea is one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Thus, Kochi or Cochin presents a unique fusion of diverse cultures and influences of the explorers and traders who visit this land since ages such as Chinese, Arabs, Dutch, British and Portuguese. The architectural monuments that stand in testimony to these visitors are the Jewish synagogue, the Dutch palace, the Chinese fishing nets along with other specimens of European and Asian architecture.
Kassarkod is surrounded by Western Ghats on its east and north stretching to Kodagu and Mangalore districts of Karnataka. Situated in northern Kerala on the seashore, backwater trips on the Chandragiri River and Valiyaparamba are enthralling. The prime sources of livelihood of the region are fishing and coir and handloom industries. Sporting a unique natural and cultural identity, Kasargod has a number of temples, forts, rivers, hills and beautiful beaches. However the Bekal fort sprawling across 35 acres of headland projecting into the Arabian Sea is the largest and the best-preserved fort of Kerala