Kerala is called ‘God’s own country’. You can look at pictures on the internet and get a peek of paradise. But if you want a slice of heaven, you have to cruise through the back waters of Alleppy. So, what does this ‘slice of heaven’ look like? Close your eyes and imagine cruising over the calm backwaters, lush greenery all around, tall coconut trees laden with fruit and vast open blue skies – thats what Alleppy looks like!
We had planned a long weekend in Kochi and were short on time to explore the state of Kerala in its entirety. Anyone and everyone who has ever been to Kerala has raved about the backwaters at Kumarkom and Alleppy. We were certain that we wanted to visit at least one these two locations. We had heard that it is easier to get a house boat in Alleppey as compared to Kumarkom – some choices are easy in life!
House Boat Cheat Sheet
The ‘house boat’ is true to its’ name – it has a bedroom, a kitchen, dining area, little sit out – what would we not do to stay in a the quaint little set up and cruise on forever! Here are some details that will help you if you intend to go on a house boat cruise:
- There are one, two and three bedroom house boats available. You can pick depending on your group size.
- You can rent the house boat for the entire day or for the entire day as well as the night. It is best to be at the pier by 10:30 am.
- All meals are included in the tariff. In case of any meal preferences, let the cook know in advance.
- The boat is docked for lunch and during the night.
- If the houseboat has an air conditioner, it will be operative only at night when the boat is docked close to an electric point. We were here in July and did not feel the need for any air conditioning even in the afternoon.
- The house boats are available in three categories – standard, deluxe and super-deluxe. For a day trip, depending on the boat category, be prepared to spend anything between INR 4,000 to INR 10,000 for a day trip. The tariff is higher for an overnight stay, obviously.
- If visiting in off season, there is no need to make any advance booking. Just walk to the port/pier in Alleppy and negotiate with the owners. See the boat prior to closing the deal. However, in peak season, it would be best to make an advance booking.
- The house boat does not go through narrow canals of the backwaters. If that is on your cards, we would recommend a shikara of kayak tour.
Don’t be under the impression that yours will be only houseboat. You will be surprised to look at the number of house boats the flock at the pier. However, once you set sail, within a few minutes, your houseboat will have it’s own little space – the backwaters are truly vast!
Food… Vegetarian Food
We were two couples on the two bedroom house boat that we had rented – one couple being vegetarian and the other wanting to experiment with the fresh sea food. The chef did a good job with our vegetarian portion – rice, curd, vegetable and the delectable sambar (lentil curry). By the look on our friends’ faces, they looked satiated with the ‘fish fare’ as well. Thumbs up from our tummies!
Want to have coconut water from a tender coconut? No worries – ask one of the ‘professionals’ who climb the trees to get you a fresh fruit. The dexterity with which they climb the tree with make your jaw drop!
Want some fresh catch? Ask the local fisherman as you cruise along. You will pay a premium, but freshness comes at a cost, doesn’t it?
Recommend picking up snacks, water bottles, cold drinks and/or wine from the local market before you embark on you journey. While you can pick it up along the backwaters, you will pinch yourself for paying thrice the price!
Cruise along… leave your worries behind… breathe easy and enjoy life – you live only once!
As always… send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!