Backwaters

Kerala is a land of copious rainfall. Once the earth is saturated, the overflow runs into canals and streams, the rolling water surging ceaselessly through hills and mountains passes to flow into the forty old rivers in Kerala. This labyrinthine network of rivers, canals, streams and lagoons constitute the famous backwaters of Kerala.Backwaters are the major destinations in Kerala tourism.

Innumerable water bodies from minor tanks to large lakes such as the Vembanad give life to this unique eco system. Two permanent outlets to the sea – and many breaches in the narrow sand banks in between – provide drainage to the seven large lakes in Kerala.

Cultivation, fishing, coir and toddy making sustain the local populance, who live on silvers of land just large enough to accommodate a thatched house and a boat shed. Everything from bathing and washing cloths to cleaning fish is done on the banks. Small bridges span the canals intermittently, but since larger once are few, paddle boats and dugout canoes constitute the chief mode of transportation. In many cases, they provide the only link between remote ,isolated villages and crowded towns.

National Waterway No.3,from Kollam to Kottapuram,cover a distance of 205 km an runs almost parallel to the coastline of southern Kerala, thus facilitating both cargo movement and backwater tourism. Regular ferry services connect most locations on either bank. Further north, ferries run b the government criss – cross the length of Vembanad Lake, connecting Kochi with neighboring tongues of land.

Paddy Fields below sea level

To prevent the ingress of sea water,a barrage has been built across the Vembanad Lake near Alappuzha.During the dry season, water level may actually drop a few feet below sea level in the backwaters. Paddy is grown extensively in backwater reclaimed loamy soil, secured by the endlessly long dikes bordering acres of land.Paddy cultivation below the sea level is perhaps a unique phenomenon.
Backwaters Destinations in Kerala

Alappuzha: Intertwined by a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers Alappuzha, known as Venice of the East, is a place of immense natural beauty. This backwater abode with lush paddy fields and glorious greeneries is also home for diverse animals and birds. A singularity of this district is the region called Kuttanad,a land of lush paddy  fields referred to as the rice bowl of Kerala and one of the few places in the world where farming is done below the sea level. A houseboat cruise through the backwaters of Kuttanad is a heavenly experience. The Kuttanand area is also rich in avian population, and one can easily find flocks of parrots hovering in the paddy fields, especially those fields with rice stalks in bloom. Cruises in the traditional houseboats and kayaking give great experience.

Kappil: (53 km from Thiruvananthapuram and 8 km north of Varkala) This picturesque spot is ideal to experience backwaters in the background of the Sea. The conflux of the Sea and River proffer an exotic experience.

Kochi: Kochi, the Queen of the Arabian Sea is famous for a clump of islands like Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu, Vallarpadam etc. Cruises through the winding waterways of Kochi to these islands offer a heavenly experience. A few interesting sites in Kochiare the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Crux Basilica,St.Francis Church,VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc.Apart from the many historic and cultural landmarks,Kochi also has an array of restaurants serving fresh seafood that are popular among tourists.

Kollam: (71 Km from Thiruvananthapuram) The enchanting Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the gorgeous backwaters of Kerala, covers over 30% of this lovely district. From the Ashtamudi Lake, a 130 km long system of interconnected canals and lakes curves all the way to the north. The eight hours boat trip from Kollam to Alappuzha is the longest and the most enchanting experience through the backwaters of Kerala.

Kozhikode: Unexplored, unspoiled, the backwaters of Kozhikode hold great promises of enchanting holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favorite destinations for boating.Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary is a charming site.Kora-puzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalolsavam is fast beoming a popular water sports destination in Kerala.

Kumarakom: This tiny unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves intertwined with picturesque water ways and canals is renowned backwater destination. Lying calmly on the lap of Vembanad Lake one will come across in this small water world a lot of traditional country crafts, houseboats and canoes. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise.Egrets,darters,herons,teals,waterfowls,cuckoo,wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stock visit here in flocks and are a fascinating the visitors.

Kumbalangi:  At Kumbalangi Tourism Village one can fully savour a variety of natural splendors, and ecological balance of the location. The model village, the first of its kind in the country is located near the port city of Kochi in Ernakulam District.

Thiruvallam: (10 Km from Thiruvananthapuram) Thiruvallam is also a serene, sapphire-like backwater stretched on the way to Kovalam and famous for its canoe rides.

ValapattanamL7 km from Kannur) The Valapattanam River extends an enchanting backwater experience through its beautiful winding ways. Houseboats cruises are available from Valapattanam Jetty in Payyambalam.

ValiyaparambaL30 Km from Bekal) This is one of the most scenic backwater stretches in Kerala. Fed by Four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, this much favored destination offers enchanting boat cruises. One can explore the backwaters along Thejaswini River from Kottappuram in Nileswaram to Kannur.A boat cruise through the backwaters of Valiyaparamba is a heavenly experience.

Backwater Tourism

A leisurely boat ride along these unique waterways remains one of the most memorable experiences of a traveller.Offering charming picture – postcard scenes of the interplay between earth and water, a trip to the backwaters of Kerala is a must. Traditional punted boats, or the more elaborate kettuvalloms, are the recommended means of travel. The reflection of lines of slender coconut trees in the water, tropical greenery, and the vignettes of life along the banks, are all classic Kerala. Coir making is an important vocation in the region, as it is in many villages throughout Kerala.

Kerala is a land of rivers and long stretches of serpentine backwaters. Forty one west flowing and 3 east flowing rivers along with its tributaries are the lifeline of evergreen Kerala. Stunning delightful, the calm backwaters of Kerala are a soothing effect on ones senses. Essentially inland lakes connected by a net work of canals this enclosure of watercourses in renowned the world over for its mind blowing reenery.Annually,multitude of tourists are rejuvenated on their travel to this land of interconnected waterways,inlets,lakes and riverine estuaries. The serenity and natural beauty on the brackish backwaters of Kerala have established it among the leading tourist jaunts in India. Cruising on the kettuvallams or the houseboats is a heavenly pleasure, with the sound of water rippling alongside your houseboat as you drift past the swaying palms, green countryside and emerald paddy field. A stay onboard a houseboat at night grasping the shinning beauty of the moonlit backwaters is a joy of infinite splendor.Similary, observing the scenic landscape while sitting on houseboat deck during the day is blissfully divine.

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