Kerala India Travel‘s Introduction to the Kerala Backwaters

In our first two posts here at Kerala India Travel we gave our Top 10 Reasons why we think Kerala in India is a fantastic, unique place to visit. One of these reasons was the Backwaters – a highlight for most visitors to the state.

The Keralan Backwaters are a vast interconnecting system of rivers, canals, lagoons and lakes, lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast, and forming more than 900km of navigable waterways. They connect tiny villages and farms on islands with the mainland, and are used by the locals as aquatic highways.

They are a wonderful way for visitors to travel too – it’s an incredibly relaxing experience to float along the rivers lined with swaying palm and coconut trees, watching village life go by. This lush green world is instantly enchanting, and a great respite from the dust and hassle of other parts of India- we didn’t want to leave.

The Kerala backwaters have a unique ecosystem, as freshwater from the rivers meets seawater from the Arabian Sea, and there is a vast array of aquatic and birdlife. On our houseboat trip we were amazed at the number of eagles and kingfishers we spotted along the way – they were commonplace. On canoe trips we even witnessed water snakes gliding by, and got to see the beautiful water lillies and lotuses up close.

One of the best aspects of travel through the backwaters is being able to witness Keralan village life without feeling intrusive. Whether you take a local ferry, hire a canoe or rent a houseboat, you’ll discover a colourful lifestyle hidden from the roads. Life is focused around the rivers and you’ll see women in bright saris washing clothes; grinning children waving hello; fishermen in lunghis raising Chinese fishing nets; canoes overflowing with freshly picked coconuts; and toddy-tappers implausibly high in the coconut palms collecting sap for the local brew.

Another highlight of the backwaters (and a reason to visit India during the monsoon) is Alleppey’s Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race which takes place each year on the second Saturday in August. Thousands of locals and tourists line the river banks to see the huge chundan vallams or snake boats race through the waters powered by up to 100 oarsmen, shaded by colourful silk umbrellas.

The backwaters are commonly reached from the towns of Alappuzha (also known as Alleppey), Kollam (Quilon), or Kottayam. Much less explored are the backwaters reached from Kozhikode (Calicut) in Northern Kerala – we’ll be talking more about discovering this little-visited part of Kerala in a later blog post.

So, you’re convinced – the Kerala backwaters sound amazing, but how do you go about exploring them? In the next Kerala India Travel blog post we reveal our recommended ways to experience the backwaters. Don’t miss out on future posts by signing up to the Kerala India Travel RSS Feed to receive new articles direct to your reader.

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3 Responses to “Kerala India Travel‘s Introduction to the Kerala Backwaters”

  1. […] for ayurveda and yoga. Varkala is only 30 minutes south of Kollam, so is easily combined with a backwater […]

  2. Deepaa says:

    would lyk to stay a day at alleppy.

  3. […] Introduction to The Kerala Backwaters – What to expect from this beautiful part of Kerala. […]