One of the major reasons that make Kerala a great holiday destination is its backwater stretch made up of a network of more than 900 kms of brackish lagoons fed by 44 rivers, covering about half the state of Kerala. Man-made canals and waterways connect villages and towns and the backwaters are used as a means of communication.
A backwater cruise is surely the most exciting way to explore Kerala. One can choose a boat according to one?s interest and budget. One can even hire a wooden canoe for a single day which will work out cheaper but by far the best way is to hire a kettuvallom (the traditional rice boat) and barge through the gentle river along the palm-fringed backwaters and watch village life as you weave in and out of rustic villages.
One can go on a packaged cruise or charter one?s own course. Since most towns and villages are connected through this watery maze, it is possible to start a cruise almost anywhere, but Alappuzha, the gateway to the waterways, may be the best start to a cruise.
Cruising by Kuttanad, known as the rice bowl of Kerala, can be an amazing experience as the cultivated land is below sea level and one often finds oneself drifting higher than the paddy fields.
Kochi, a cluster of little islands makes an interesting backwater destination. Catch a glimpse of people carry out their daily routine of fishing or farming, the aquatic life and birds as you glide idly by the villages or simply enjoy your space and privacy.
Kasargod, the northern-most part of Kerala is one of the most picturesque backwater destinations. The most beautiful backwater stretch is Valiyaparamba in Kasargod district.
Alamkadavu, a beautiful little village 25kms north of Kollam in the kettuvallam building centre and a popular destination as well.
Throw in a halt or two at an ayurvedic resort in between cruises, for an unforgettable experience. Stay at one of the many exotic backwater resorts and take a two or three hour sunset cruise, for a truly romantic evening. Drift down the serene waters and watch the soft orange light of the sky fade to black as the sun sleeps for the day and you savour the multi-course dinner planned out for you.