Kerala Houseboats : The icons of Kerala tourism industry, cruising on the beautiful backwaters of Kerala are the traditional houseboats that takes one through a mersmerizing maze of numerous lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries, deltas and meandering ways of the rivers and rivulets that drain into the Arabian Sea. Swaying palm groves, an aura of tranquility and bliss bordering the shores, the rural lifestyles of the villagers on shore, all make part of the scenery that these houseborats have to offers while sailing through the backwaters of Kerala. Vambanad Lake is the largest backwater stretch in Kerala flowing through three districts of Kerala and opening out into the sea at the Kochi port. It is also home to the largest number of houseboats seducing the tourists with their opulent decorations and facilities along with offering the natural beauty of the backwaters. Previously known as ‘Kettuvallams’, these cargo barges of the past are huge and move slowly. Their times have changed from carrying tonnes of rice and spices to carrying tourists from the world over.
‘Kettuvallam’ means ‘boat with knots’ and is so known because the entire boat holds together with coir knots only without the use of even a single nail in its construction! Careful maintenance can elongated the life of these Kettuvalloms for generations. Now they are being successfully promoted as a chief tourist attraction of Kerala. Some of these boats are more than a century old. They have been redesigned to accommodate special, spacious rooms for the tourists. The lighting in these Kettuvallams is done through solar panels. Alleppey, one of the popular backwater destinations, alone has as many as 120 houseboats today. New luxury houseboats have gained popularity with the tourists and have acquired all the comforts of a good hotel such as the furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. One may also opt for Boat trains, formed by joining two or more houseboats together, for larger groups.