Boats lazily stretch out on long intertwining lanes much like in most of world’s ancient towns. Only these are silvery stretches of water, which force one into spell-bound silence. Flanked by lush greens of paddy and emerald of coconut palms, Kerala’s backwaters offer different flavours at different destinations across God’s own country. Here are TravelScapes’ preferred five.
The rice granary of Kerala, with paddy cultivated below the sea-level; Kuttanad also hosts some of the most charming backwaters of Kerala. Yam, cassava and banana plantations provide relief to the lush greenery of the paddy fields, which flank the waterways. Wedged between the hills and the sea, the idyllic setting is best explored via the sun-lit waterways comprising rivers, canals, lakes and rivulet.These rivulets are your secrets inroads flanked by abundant, frenzied greenery into Kerala’s rural life, telling stories that the highways and concrete roads know nothing about.
Do not be surprised if you witnessed a diver down-under, he may just be getting his share of lime shells as his comarades rhythmically go about casting nets. Little do they know, they have caught some enthralled spectators along with the fish.
One of the better-known backwater destinations, Kumarakom is a small village located in the Vembanadlake. The lush peninsula looks out to the calm of the lake, which is broken by the flurry of floating boats. The sky can spring up many a surprise as the village is home to the Kumarakom bird sanctuary. Spread across 14 acres -an ornithologist’s dream the sanctuary is home to birds like egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork.
While houseboats and traditional kettuvalloms (rice barges) offer great experiences, the village houses some truly luxurious resorts and exciting accommodations set amidst the lush greens.
Indulgently known as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha or Alleppey, is the heart of Kerala’s backwaters. The mesh of waterways is abounding with houseboats. The city centre is a tough front to the soft charm of the backwaters that are the veins of this green-fringed watery paradise. The boats, the villages, canoes and daily life are like a mesmerising movie shot amidst lush paddy fields starring the graceful rice barges. The experience lends your soul a serene tranquillity, something that shall stay with you for a long time to come.
In the lesser known Backwater territory, lies the Valiyaparamba fishing village an island with the Arabian Sea as one of the borders and separated from the mainland by backwaters. Arguably one of the most picteresque backwaters boroughs in Kerala, the island is renowned for its immense natural beauty.
As one cruises along the nest of coconut groves, he can catch many a sight of fishermen indulging in various stages of their quest. Be it the peace that can be found in routine farming chores like husking or the surprise at an exotic seabird perched not so far from you, Vallayaparamba is a treasure-house of unspoiled pleasures.
India’s first designated ecotourism village and the first rural tourism village of the state, Kumabalangi is, at heart, a fishing hamlet. Aimed at transforming this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters, the Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project is a unique initiative to develop it as a model fishing village and tourism spot. Soak in the simple pleasures of a rural life, revel in nature’s bounty, or float down to visit the famous Chinese fishing nets.
Kalagramam, an artist’s village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as is fish farming. Predicatbility, a favourite activity amongst tourists here is the therapeutically relaxing is bait fishing. Many houses in the village are homestays and visitors can book their stay directly with homestay operators or seek the assistance of the village council.