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Overview of The Backwaters

When to go

November - March


July - August

What not to miss in The Backwaters

• A journey of one or two nights aboard a Kettuvallam, a 1-3 bedroomed boat, rather than a large group trip. The essence of the travel is quiet to absorb the sights and sounds of the countryside.

• A visit to one of the coir “factories” where locals have established one of the major exports from Kerala. No part of the coconut palm is wasted and here you can marvel at the products from small domestic bags to gigantic ship’s ropes.

• The Nehru Trophy Snakeboat Race held annually in August since 1952 and competed for by rival villages. If you can brave the monsoon this is an event to rival the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, and far more fun. Decorated longboats, whose raised stern resembles a hooded cobra, carry 25 singers and 100 – 130 enthusiastic oarsmen, rowing to a rhythmic song. Thousands of cheering spectators line the riverbanks and a festive atmosphere pervades the day.

• Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary between November and March for the serious ‘birdies’. At this time it is the winter home for many migrating birds, some from as far away as Siberia. Snake birds, night herons, golden-baked woodpeckers, pheasants and tree pies are awaiting your quiet discovery at dawn when the first few rays of sun filter through the tropical canopy. Travel by boat, or taxi, over the many bridges.


Regions within The Backwaters


The sleepy backwaters are a tranquil haven where everything seems to stand still except the fisherman.  Kumarakom and Alleppey are  reknowned for  quiet  villas, family resorts, ayurveda retreats and house boat, each offereing spectacular views and a peaceful environment.

Many distinguised Keralans have opened their homes to tourists - homestays are the buzz word of the moment.  However they vary in quality so be careful.  We have selected some of the finest:  Philipkutty's Farm, a backwater island farm and Casa Del Fauno are two of our favourites. You will experience local culinary delights and age-old recipe books, prawn frams, birdlife and many fruits and spices.

Allepey has the reputation as a backwater hub for the alighting of house boats but infact it has had a makeover and has a character all of its own. Alleppey beach and the town’s canals have been given a makeover.  The beach has a walkway, a garden, lighting and significantly it is cleaned twice a day by a ladies’ co-operative movement. This year few Lifeguard has been appointed.  The canals have illuminated pathways have been built and paddle boats & swings have been installed.
There’s an unmissable new Museum of Romanesque proportions built by a famous Alleppey family and housing a priceless private collection of artefacts – crystal, porcelaine, ivory (all documented) – even a 1946 American Buick car! 

Kumarakom boasts many luxury resorts and secret villa hideaways overlooking the lakes. The thatched riceboats and fisherman on kayaks slowly pass by.  The best way to experience the lakes and canals is on  a houseboat.  They are extremely comfortable and have all the home comforts you could need in a peaceful surrounding.  En route you can stop at the home of the dragon boats factory, cathedrals, fish markets, but our favourite time of day was 7am and 3pm, whe the local families who live on the canal sides, come alive.  The school children wave as they go to school and the pretty girls smile furtively as they wash their clothes beside the lake.  It is a photographer's dream and a far cry from being voyeuristic.

The Backwaters Images