Are you feeling the extreme stress of your job and fast lifestyle? Do you want to experience a few days of peace and relaxation? Are you a nature lover who loves the peace and quiet that it offers? Then look no further because what you need is a visit to the Alleppey boat house in “God’s Own Country”.
Traveling through the backwaters of Kerala is one of the most unique experiences one can have. It is something that every individual must have a chance to see once in their life. And the best way to do so is by taking a journey on the famous houseboats the state has to offer.
Backwaters of Kerala
The backwaters are a web of lagoons lakes canals and rivers, lying side by side to the Arabian Sea coast in the southern state of Kerala. They are a system of over 900 kilometres of waterways formed by 5 large lakes that have both natural and man-made canals, 38 rivers and cover almost half the length of the state of Kerala.
These backwaters are a home to a large number of unique crabs, frogs, kingfishers, turtles and other wildlife. There exist a large number of palm trees, coconut trees, shrubs, paddy fields and bushes that give the backwaters the greenery that they are famous for across the globe.
The most famous tourist attractions in the state of Kerala are the boat houses. These boat houses have been classified as platinum, gold and silver by the government. There are over 2000 boat houses that ply across the backwaters. The most sought after tourist place in Kerala backwaters is the boat houses in Alleppey. Let’s learn more about them below.
History of Boat Houses in Alleppey Kerala
Locally known as ‘Kettuvallam‘, the Alleppey boat house and other boat houses were traditionally used for transportation to carry rice grains harvested along the backwaters, spices and other goods. In some cases they could carry weights up to 30 tons.
‘Kettuvallams’ were also used to ferry people across the rivers as it was the best mode of transportation to remote areas in the absence of roads and railways. They were also used by royal families as comfortable living quarters.
How To Get To Alleppey Boat House
The closest airport to Alleppey is the Cochin International Airport. Direct flights are available to Cochin from almost all major cities across India. Once you have arrived, you can take a taxi and travel to Allepey which is about 75 kilometres from the Airport. Another option is to first travel to Trivandrum International Airport and then take a taxi to Alleppey, which is about 150 kilometres from the airport.
Always try to book a pre-paid taxi so that you can avoid being scammed by local guides and drivers.
Choosing a Boat House In Alleppey
There are over 120 well maintained boat houses in Alleppey. You can chose from vast options of budget liners that will not burn a hole in your pocket to extremely luxurious liners that will make you feel like royalty.
Today a boat house provides the same comfort and experience of a good hotel. They have good furnishings and all basic amenities like kitchen, beds, AC, fridge, Wi-Fi, hygienic bathrooms, cosy living area, and even balconies. The crew usually consists of 2 oarsmen and a cook. Some of the popular house boats in Alleppey that you can choose from are as follows-
High End Houseboats
- Angel Queen Houseboats (Starting 7,800 INR per night)
- Lake Park Cruises (6,000 INR per night)
- Rainbow Cruises (9,800 INR per night)
- SUN ‘N’ MIST (6,500-18,000 INR per night)
- Grandeur Houseboats (8,200 INR per night)
- Spice Routes Luxury Cruises (21,000 INR per night)
Budget Friendly and Economical Houseboats
- Coco Houseboat (3,000 INR per night)
- The Dream Boats (5,500 INR per night)
- Harmony Houseboats (4,800 INR per night)
- Southern Panorama Houseboats (4,800-7,500 INR per night)
- Tharangini Houseboats (5,800 INR per night)
- Kera Houseboats (6,000 INR per night)
Things To Do On A Boat House
Try Local Food
The best way to enjoy local experience of a place is by trying out its food. Kerala has one of the most mouth-watering foods that one can enjoy. The top choice for people on boat houses is the delicious seafood. You can enjoy fish curry, prawns, crab and other array of delicacies. ‘Chicken Chettinad’ and other chicken dishes cooked in coconut milk are not to be missed.
For vegetarians, you can try ‘Sadhya’ food. ‘Sadhya’ literally means banquet in Malayalam. It is an elaborate feast consisting of several vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf.
Watch The Sunset
Watching the sunset can be one of the most soothing and satisfying experience one can have. You can sit back and relax with some tea, coffee or a beverage of your choice and enjoy the setting sun from the balcony of the boat house.
Another activity that you can enjoy from the comfort of your boat house is bird watching. The backwaters are home to many migratory birds throughout the year like the coloured pelicans, Stork Billed Kingfisher and the Asian Palm Swift. Make sure to keep your cameras ready to capture some rare shots.
Things To Do Around Allepey Boat House
Ayurvedic Massages and Spas
A massage from a professional will not only make you feel relaxed but will also help ease the pain in parts of your body. In Ayurveda, an oil massage helps to improve blood circulation, relax muscles, provide relief from stress among other health benefits. The Ayurvedic massages in Kerala use herbal medicinal oil for the massages and you can either chose a massage based on your ‘dosha’ system or simply enjoy a full body massage.
There is no shortage of beaches around the backwaters that you can visit. Alleppey beach, Marari beach, Thumpoly beach are some of the frequently visited beaches. Simply enjoy a walk, watch the sunset or engage in some water activities like parasailing and windsurfing.
Experience Village Lifestyle
Kuttanad is one of the best places to visit in Alleppey. Known as the rice bowl of the country, the Paddy fields here are almost 4 to 10 feet below sea level. Apart from paddy fields, one can also find duck farms, coconut tree plantations along with spice cultivation. It is a paradise for nature lovers and people who enjoy scenic photography. You can interact with locals, take in their simple lifestyle and even learn to plant some paddy.
Snake Boat Race Festival
The well-known Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race is an event that takes place in the month of August. It provides a thrill for the audience. So, if you are planning to visit the Alleppey boat houses during that month, then this activity is one that should be on the top of your to do list. Even though it can be difficult to witness the actual event, you can always see the practice events that start months in advance.
Elephant Training Camps/Parade
Elephants hold a special meaning in the culture of Kerala. They are known as the “Sons of Sahya” and have religious importance throughout the state. All local festivals include at least one elephant completely decked in gold and carrying the deity.
If you are visiting in the month of January you can have a chance to see the renowned ‘Adoor Gajamela’ festival in which hundreds of elephants take part in a 10 day festival.
At the training centres you can take a tour of the site, watch the elephants bathe, play and maybe even get a chance to touch and feed one.
Visit Religious Sites Around Alleppey Boat House
Kerala has a peaceful co-existence of multiple religions. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are the most prominent forms of religion present. There are hundreds of temples, churches and mosques across the state. You can visit some of the close to the backwaters of Alleppey and have an amazing insight into the rich history and tradition. St. Mary’s Church, Arthunkal Church, Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple are some the religious places that you can visit.
Shopping in Alleppey
No trip is complete without a little bit of local shopping for yourself and some souvenirs for loved ones at home. One thing to definitely carry back home from Kerala are spices. Canal Bazaar in Alappuzha City is the most famous market for buying spices. You can also get banana chips, jack fruit and tapioca chips which are a local delicacy.
One can also shop for handicrafts at Mullackal Street and pick up the famous ‘Kathakali’ masks. Other handicrafts that you can pick up are cane and coir products like shoes and bags, items made of sandalwood and ivory and idols made of brass and metal.
Home Stays Around Alleppey
If you do not want to spend enormous amounts of money but still want to have an experience of Alleppey boat houses, you can stay for a few nights at one of the lodges or home stays along the backwaters. Just watch them go by as you sit relaxing in your gardens or balconies. Home-stays are a more reasonable option as they are available for a fraction of the price of hiring a house boat.
Experience Culture of Kerala
Kathakali: When you do a simple search about Kerala, one of the pictures that come up is of a man with a painted green face, a huge white umbrella skirt and dramatic makeup. This image is of a man performing a traditional folk dance of Kerala known as ‘Kathakali‘. It is a form of visual art dance-drama, through which a story is told. Many theatres, resorts and temples have regular performances of Kathakali that you can enjoy.
Kalaripayattu; Kalaripayattu is a form of martial arts that is traditional to Kerala. It consists of techniques that were taught to young warriors in the ancients ages for war on the battlefield. There are quite a few academies in and around the Alleppey house boat area that you can visit.
Best Time To Visit Alleppey
June to September: Since Kerala is a tropical state; monsoon season brings in dark clouds with heavy rainfall carrying on for days at a time. Even though the rain brings in cool weather, it can turn out to be unbearably humid. It can get very difficult to move around during this season because of the water logging and congestion across the state. Unless you want to experience this particular type of weather on purpose, it is advisable to avoid a travel to Kerala during these months.
October to March: Ah the beauty of Mother Nature at its best! The end of the monsoon season brings in the onset of winters. The temperatures vary between 20 to 30 degrees, providing the best weather for travel. It is not too hot or too cold with a hint of chilly weather at night. It is also the perfect time to see the boat races and even witness the Onam festival across the state. Even though it can get a bit crowded at some places, it is nothing compared to the awful weather conditions of other months.
Kerala offers the most tranquil and spectacular views of nature you cannot find anywhere in the country. It is a dream vacation for many and there are hundreds, if not thousands of activities one can enjoy while visiting the Alleppey boat house. The backwaters of Kerala are a unique and one of a kind environment in which you will never get bored, all you have to do is wake up and explore.