Staying in a houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala was like going on a long voyage without ever having to leave the sight of land. It was like a childhood dream come true for me where I’d imagine myself to be a merchant sailing from one land to another. The backwaters are perfectly still in nature, roughly about ten fifteen feet deep and spread up to an expanse of almost 900 kms! Welcome aboard to this charming houseboat that has cost me a decent 7000 INR for a 24 hour stay in an off season. This is the Venice of the east known as ‘Alleppey’, now also called ‘Alappuzha’. There are many small establishments with fronts of ‘Tourism Office’ over here offering you cruise packages on a houseboat. As advised, we visited such 3-4 centers to get the right idea about the charges.
The crew on a luxury houseboat typically consists of 4 people. Two oarsmen, one cook and an attendant. Our houseboat was the traditional “kettuvallom” arranged by ‘Shoreline Houseboats’ that sailed on a diesel engine. As soon as we stepped on to the boat, we were offered freshly cut tender coconut that helped us cool ourselves down in the sweltering heat that we came from. Our houseboat was a spacious craft with an upper and lower deck. The upper deck was a big banquet type space stretching almost the whole length of the boat. The crew appeared to be friendly yet tacit and initial enthusiasm seemed to wean away with passage of time.
Waste of time-that’s what we did. Travelling from Munnar to Alleppy by road turned out to be a big mistake. It took a staggering 4 hours to reach Alleppy. I sincerely hope that the reader will not commit the same blunder. However, en-route to Alleppey we passed a small mud house by roadside that displayed items made from bamboo such as blinds and other artifacts, all at an affordable price. The journey so far had been a smooth ride and we were looking forward to an equally delightful stay in the houseboat. But mind you, too many expectations may sometimes lead to distress.
As time passed by we realized that the crew was not cordial enough, though they performed their duties well but ensured that our journey was scarred by some unpleasant memories. This was evident in their behavior towards us. Our afternoon meals were too much of oil for our systems.
Alappuzha or Alleppey is also home to Kuttanad, The rice bowl of Kerala, one of the very few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.
This is the reminence of the port bridge which was built by the British, no restoration work has been done and hence is almost about to fall off into the sea. But currently is a significant reminder of Alleppey's glory in sea trade.
The Alappuzha Lighthouse is situated in the coastal town of Alappuzha, Kerala. It was built in the year 1862 and is a major tourist attraction. Visitors are allowed between 1500 hours and 1630 hours on every weekday at an admission fee of ten rupees