Houseboats or Kettuvallom
The main cargo transportation in Kerala was through backwaters by 'Kettuvalloms' before trucks replaced the system of transport. Kettuvallom or the houseboat implies, ‘boat with knots’. They are 70 foot long, 32 tons capacity, made with wooden planks joined and stitched together with coconut ropes and painted with cashew nut oil inside and fish oil outside.
The houseboat is a rugged traditional boat converted today into some kind of a luxury float with 2 rooms enough for 4 people to stay inside. Most of the houseboats are run with an outboard engine. These houseboat has a sun deck and in some boats they have upper deck too, where you can gaze away the day and evening while you digest. You will wrap your eyes around the fringes of the waterway as your foot touches the swirling water.
You can decide to stay for a night or two on your trip in the houseboat. A twenty one hour stay is accompanied by 3 meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and tea. Fresh fruit juices are also offered during daytime not to forget those coconut juices.
It has a compact kitchen where a cook prepares a very savory and delicious local cuisine like fish curry, and some vegetable dishes, each prepared in its own special way. The cook here also acts as a guide to the tourist. There are two oarsmen who push the boat with long poles. The bedrooms, enough for two people have also an attached bath, which is western style. The tiny room lights are run on batteries. Some houseboats also generate electricity through solar panels too.
We would usually provide you with a houseboat, which is not run on engines but poled by oarsmen. Although it would cover as far as engine run houseboat, you have an advantage of mooring at various points just to get an experience of the life on the fringes of backwater. Riding through the backwater in a houseboat is a great experience. You will encounter narrow canals drooping coconut trees, almost touching the boat. At times you would be out in the wide lake all alone, except for some small boats or canoes passing by you.
When the houseboat is moored to the canal side you will meet the people, usually the curious children who gather to watch when the boat anchors by the canal side. Your guide might also take you watch coir making in the village. You also get an opportunity to go to some local markets or temples.
In some points in the village you will see people still using small canoes to cross the canal.
But for many a houseboat cruise gives them a good chance to see life in smaller towns and villages in Kerala and also a pleasant occasion to meditate, unwind and a great opportunity to be as passive as you like to be on your journey through villages and narrow canals.
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