Houseboats in the backwaters in Alappuzha, Kerala, India
© Martin Harvey/The Image Bank/Getty Image
Cruising along the backwaters of Kerala
Present-day houseboats are huge, slow-moving, exotic barges used for leisure trips, and are in fact a reworked version of the Kettuvallams of older times. Kettu refers to ‘dwelling structures’ and Vallam means ‘boat’. The original Kettuvallams were used to carry tons of rice and spices from Kuttanad to the Kochi port. When modern trucks replaced this system of transport, people came up with a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in the market. By constructing special rooms to accommodate travellers, these boats cruised forward from near extinction to enjoy their present popularity.
The houseboats boast the same comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cosy living rooms, a kitchen, and even a balcony for angling. What is truly magical about a houseboat ride is the breathtaking view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural Kerala that it offers, while you float in a relaxed way right through it.