Alappuzha (formerly called as Alleppey) is widely know as the “Venice of the East” due to the  large network of inland canals. These canals form one of the key lifelines for the locals and also provide a perfect setting for tourism. The best way to explore these canals are by staying in a houseboat – which is a very unique experience in itself.

Kumarakom and Alappuzha are located on the east and the south banks of the Vembanad Lake. The backwaters of Alappuzha have been major tourist attraction in Kerala for sometime now, but Kumarakom is  also fast becoming a sought after destination to explore the backwaters. Both these places provide a wide range of houseboats that you can stay. Choosing between Kumarakom and Alappuzha is best left to your choice – if you want to explore the beaches and visit few monuments in the city, stay at Alappuzha and if you want to a quiet, relaxed vacation close to nature, stay at Kumarakom.

Alappuzha - Kumarakom.JPG

 

We looked online to book a houseboat during our visit to Kumarakom. The first thing that struck us was, the sheer amount of information that was available. There were so many sites offering help and assistance to book the houseboats that we were lost amongst the sea of information :). After lot of deliberation, we decided to reach out to the resort  (Kumarakom Lake Resort) where we had booked our stay to check if they had any recommendations.

To our surprise, they came back mentioning that they have their own houseboats and we did not think twice and went ahead and booked our stay in the houseboat for a day. Even though the prices quoted were a bit high (similar houseboats were available at a cheaper rate in Alappuzha), we did not want to take any chance. We were a single couple and it was our first experience in a houseboat and some bad reviews on few sites swayed our decision.

Houseboat Tariff: Alappuzha has loads of options and thus there is some scope to negotiate the prices. In Kumarakom, you will not find that many options and the rates are thus fixed.

After staying 3 days in the resort, (Read my blog about our stay in the resort) we moved to the houseboat on the 4th day for our day long sojourn in a houseboat. We were very excited this was the first time we were going to stay in a houseboat. A picture is worth thousand words – so I am going to share our experience as a slideshow below 🙂

Houseboats Docked
Kumarakom Lake resort had their own Houseboats. The houseboats were neatly docked at one end of the resort. We had hired an Air-conditioned houseboat with 2 bedrooms. Since we were the only couple, the other room was locked. They have a very good policy of not mixing families for the sake of economies of scale 🙂
Our room in the houseboat
The room – very clean and elegantly put together.
Art work inside the houseboat
The room was nicely laid out with paintings highlighting the local culture and tradition.
Art work inside the houseboat2
Portrait of a Kathakali dancer – classical Indian dance-drama performed in Kerala.
Television and entertainment system
The room also had a flat screen TV. We did not have satellite connection though. They allowed us to choose DVD’s of our choice as we boarded the boat. But honestly, who would be  watching TV when you are on a picturesque tour 🙂
Random houseboat
As we started the boat ride, we could see house boats of all shapes and sizes. This houseboat is designed for a group who would want to hang around on the deck.
An Airconditioned House boat
Another houseboat we found on the way. Note the AC unit neatly tucked over the roof. This looks like a houseboat designed for families.
The deck
The deck area where we spent most of our time. Perfect place to laze around with a drink and gaping around the scenery. Notice the glass room behind the chairs. If the deck gets too hot – get into this Air-conditioned room which provides uninterrupted view of the landscape
The glass room
The view from the glass room tucked neatly behind the deck area. Post noon the deck area gets pretty hot during summers and this room provides you that much needed comfort
View from the deck area
After around an hour we started wading through canals. These canals form the major lifeline for the locals. They use these canals as a mode of transportation. Infact we can call them as the water highways of Alappuzha
Another view of the canal
Another view of the canal. For the locals it just another normal day 🙂
The network of canals
Few more pictures that we took during our journey. All around us we could see houseboats neatly docked.
The narrow canals
More house boats – they are everywhere. The houseboat docked on the left is a 2 storey houseboat. You can always find a houseboat as per your requirement.
Busy waterways
This was the broadest waterway that we crossed during our journey. The canal was easily more than 5 Kms and was in a perfect straight line.
House boats
Another shot that I took while crossing that channel There were houseboats everywhere. It was like peak hour city traffic
Houseboats everywhere
Another shot to prove my peak hour traffic 🙂
House boats navigating through the canal
As the sun started setting we set back to our resort. House boats are advised to dock before nightfall. Our captain mentioned that they were not allowed to continue driving after 6:30PM
Houseboats wading through the backwaters
Another shot that I took during our journey back to the resort
Sunset over the lake.JPG
Took this snap as we were about to dock our houseboat by the resort. The resort had an open boat which would take you to into the lake to witness the sunset.

 

Note: You have the option to dock by a village overnight and return to the resort in the morning. Our captain recommended that it is a very unique experience to spend a night under the clear skies in one of the villages. Unfortunately, we had to early morning departure to Kovalam the next day and thus had to head back to the resort overnight

 

The houseboat took us through the backwaters of Kumarakom & Alleppey and took us into an entirely new world. We were taken aback by the serenity and tranquillity that this place had to offer and words alone cannot describe it – One has to experience it !

 

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