Backwaters of Kerala
The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range. The backwaters have a unique ecosystem - freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. In certain areas, such as the Vembanad Kayal, where a barrage has been built near Kumarakom, salt water from the sea is prevented from entering the deep inside, keeping the fresh water intact. Such fresh water is extensively used for irrigation purposes.

Many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, kingfishers, darters and cormorants, and animals such as otters and turtles live in and alongside the backwaters. Palm trees, pandanus shrubs, various leafy plants and bushes grow alongside the backwaters, providing a green hue to the surrounding landscape. Vembanad Kayal is the largest of the lakes, covering an area of 200 km², and bordered by Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts. The port of Kochi (Cochin) is located at the lake's outlet to the Arabian Sea. Alleppey, "Venice of the East", has a large network of canals that meander through the town. Vembanad is India's longest lake.

The Kerala Backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. In the midst of this landscape there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram, covers a distance of 205 km and runs almost parallel to the coast line of southern Kerala facilitating both cargo movement and backwater tourism.

Kuttanadu

It is the major rice granary of Kerala, where vast stretches of verdant paddy fields are interlaced with enchanting backwaters create some of the unforgettable sights. The Kuttanad 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.

For those interested in trying out few local dishes may do so by dropping at the small traditionally built wayside eateries, which are quite famous for backwater fish delicacies and tapioca. A popular naturally extracted beverage is the toddy, which is available in plenty and enjoyed by many for its speciality.

Kumarakom

The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom Sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands.The blue backwaters of Vembanad Kayal and the amazing shades of green of the vegetation, combines with the quietness of the place to make it an idyllic holiday destination.

Canals In Aleppey

Get set for a memorable cruise through the canals of Alappuzha. Because this could be just the beginning of your many cruises on the canals and backwaters of Kerala. During the cruise, one would also be able to drop in at some villages to check out the techniques and procedure involved in coir making. The criss-crossing canals in the area evoke comparisons with Venice, but the differences are also substantial.

Houseboats

The House Boat in Kerala (Kettuvallam) is a large floating structure with high loading carrying capacity was a part of Kerala's culture and heritage over the past years.The kettuvallam or 'boat with knots' was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only. On a backwater cruise on a country boat, you not only get to face the backwater life of Kerala, but you can also enjoy invigorating massages provided to you in the boat house to make you feel really rejuvenated and relaxed after a round in the country boat. In addition to backwaters, while on your Kerala trip you get to see glistening brooks cascading down to the coastal plains of Kerala to laze through stretches of paddy fields, coconut trees and thus feed the famous backwaters and lakes of Kerala.

There are houseboats with fully furnished single room, double room and triple rooms. All of them have sundeck, private balcony with comfortable chairs, kitchen and toilet with w.c. In addition there is a separate rest room for the crew. Traditional lanterns are used as lights. The crew includes a chef, and two oarsmen. The cuisine is of traditional Kerala flavour. Alongwith the local specialties; delicious fish and prawns. There are single bedroom houseboats for two people and two bedroom houseboats for four people.