Travel Guide

10 Best Backwater Stretches in Kerala

Backwater
Written by Jane Sophia

The Most Scenic Backwater Routes in Kerala, India

About 15 minutes after my previous blog post titled, “5 Luxurious Houseboats in Kerala”, I received a call from one of my friends in Australia. He said he had been contemplating a trip to Kerala in India and he liked the idea of spending 3 to 4 nights in a luxury houseboat. He asked me whether there are only two backwater grounds in Kerala since I wrote about just three of them namely the Alleppey, Vembanad Lake and Kumarakom backwater stretches.

Alleppey Backwater

His question piqued my interest. Yes, I too wanted to know if there are more places in Kerala for a backwaters cruise in houseboats. What I found out two hours later was surprising. There are about 10 different stretches of backwater in Kerala.

Here is a brief story of the 10 backwater routes in Kerala where one can enjoy the most memorable holiday in a houseboat.

  1. 1. Alleppey Backwater

Alleppey Backwater

Alleppey’s original name is Alapuzha. It’s a small town in Kerala state but is the biggest tourist attraction in Kerala, if not in India. It’s a town that seems to be floating in backwaters that meets one or more rivers. The town is a crisscross of canals and rivers and thus earning the name, Venice of the East. In addition to the backwater attractions, there are some beaches too that are not crowded. The native Keralites’ life revolves around fishing on the backwaters, worshipping in numerous temples, and weaving coir mats because of the availability of abundant raw material (coir) from the coconut trees that seem to fill up every nook and corner of Kerala.

  1. 2. Kumarakom Backwater stretch

Kumarakom Backwater stretch

Ah, very scenic backwater stretch-isn’t it? Kumarakom is the next best backwater ground after Alleppey backwaters. In addition to the houseboat holidaying in Kumarakom region, India’s best ayurvedic retreats make Kumarakom, the most sought-after health-tourism center in India. Some of the world’s top celebrities to have visited Kumarakom health retreats include Britney Spears and the former Prime Minister of India, Mr.Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Houseboat cruising packages may include a visit to one of these Ayurvedic spas and the bird sanctuary in Kumarakom.

Houseboat cruise in Kumarakom backwaters would also include a small stretch in Vembanad Lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in India.

  1. 3. Kuttanad Backwater

Kuttanad Backwater

Oh, what a stunning beauty! The backwaters at this place in Kerala is wide, the bordering green paddy fields enhance the color of the blue backwaters intensely. Kuttanad is one of the big rice producing places in Kerala. The most unique aspect of the geography of Kuttanad region is its elevation (rather no elevation). It lies up to 10 feet below the sea level. Incredible!

The Punnamada Backwaters as it is called, hosts boat races on festival days. The famous Nehru Trophy boat race is held in the Punnamada lake. The four rivers either run along or mingle with the Kuttanad backwaters are, namely:

  • Pamba
  • Manimala
  • Meenachil
  • Achankovil

The best time to see the lush green Kuttanad Backwaters is from August to March.

  1. 4. Kasaragod Backwater

Kasaragod Backwater

Kasaragod means the land of Gods. It is also known as the land of seven languages. However, I don’t know what are the languages are spoken in the last district of Kerala on the Karnataka border.

The name of the backwater stretch in Kasaragod is “Padanna Backwaters”. Kasaragod is located between the Arabian sea on the west and the Westen Ghats on the east. In between lies the Padanna Backwaters.

Like the Alleppey backwater ground, the Kasaragod backwater stretch too is full of zigzagging canals with coconut groves on its fringes. Four rivers feed the backwaters in Kasaragod. Other notable Kasaragod backwater routes are:

  • Chandragiri backwaters
  • Valiyaparamba backwaters
  • Kavvayi backwaters

On your Kasaragod backwater stretch, you can see a few forts and castles, the famous being the Bekal Fort.

Try to plan your trip to Kasaragod backwaters from September to March.

  1. 5. Cochin Backwater

Cochin can be called the second capital of Kerala State. In fact, more number of tourists visit Cochin than Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. The backwaters of Cochin can be seen as soon as you enter the humid city. The sprawling bungalows lining the backwaters in Cochin are a treat to watch with envy. Here, the houseboats are certainly less than the Kumarakom backwaters. Tourists take a short ride only in the Cochin backwaters.

  1. 6. Cherai Island Backwater

In the backwaters of Kerala, there are small islands that are very beautiful tiny land-mass. Cherai is one such island.

The Cherai island is blessed with the true tropical beauty comprising of lovely beaches and green cover and canals of backwater.

  1. 7. Kottayam Backwater

Kottayam Backwater

The Kottayam is known for large rubber plantations that seem to co-exist cordially with coconut trees.

Kottayam Backwaters is more beautiful than the Cochin backwaters because of numerous naturally formed lagoons that are ideal for safe swimming, lakes, rivers, and canals.

At some of the stretches of Kottayam backwaters, there are thick water lily plants giving an exotic green cover to the backwaters.

The number 8 to 10 of the Kerala backwaters are:

  1. 8. Kollam Backwaters where some of Kerala’s ultra-luxury resorts and retreats are located.
  2. 9. Kozhikode Backwaters-less spoiled environs here.
  3. 10. Alleppey to Alumkadavu Backwaters

It is a long cruise on the Kerala backwaters. Though the distance is only about 80 km, the houseboat takes nearly 8 hours to reach Alumkadavu which is located about 20 km from Kollam.

There is one more are shorter backwaters stretch in Kerala. It runs from Alleppey to Thottappalley.

I hope my Aussie friend and you will find the information contained in this blog post regarding backwater stretches and routes in Kerala, useful.

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Jane Sophia

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