Anyone heard about the Great Barrier Reef of Australia ? Most of us would ask – who has not. Just like the Australia is known by the Great Barrier Reef, so is Kerala known by its backwaters. The Kettuvalloms – the Kayas (canals) – Kerala – Backwaters all are synonymous to each other. There is no other better identity of Kerala.
Small canals – kayas drawing into the sea make the backwater. The water turns salty with the water of the sea and this makes place for both – the fish and the rice. Both, the raw forms of food add beauty to the surrounding lands and thus the swampy marsh waters convert into the famous and beautiful Backwaters of Kerala. Having heard a lot, I moved on to the lands of Kettuvalloms – Alappuza.
Alappuza District is the USP of Kerala – selling like hot cakes. The backwaters and the owner of the Kettuvalloms – both being flexible make it more popular. Its the thine and the dine which works here. Flexible days, appropriate timings, good food from the Chefs dine and the air of the backwater makes a ride in the Keralas Kettuvalloms the best way spending a holiday. And so here I was for a Keralan Holiday in a Keralite way.
Fiddling through the pages of the various houseboats, I ticked on particular Houseboat – Cocoon as it was called, made a good way for the one traveller – that was me. Packing a 12 hr ride for Rs 1200/-, I sat my foot on Cocoon. With a crew of a Chef, a bearer and the Boat Driver we sat afoot on our ride on waters. The comfortable amiable Kettuvalloms with one kitchen, one room and a drawing room en – suite bathrooms was the best thing I had. And was there anything better I was asking for.
Setting off in the morning hour of 11 o clock, we sat towards Trikkunapuzha. Around 31 kms from Alappuza, it takes 4 hours by boat. Waving to other tourists moving in other directions, shouting in reply to the boys running on the shores and watching the chef trying to catch the freshwater fish, I went on the water. Lying down watching the clear blue sky and sipping some real coffee straight from the plantations got me the catch of the four hours. After reaching Trikkunapuzha and resting there for half an hour, we sat towards Krishnapuram. Here I was dropped down by the Boat Driver for sometime. My bearer took me to the most beautiful Palace of the town – Krishnapuram Palace. Around 30 minutes drive from the shore, the Palace is the reminder of Local king. Museum having the old swords and the kings dress, scriptures, artifacts from the Harrappan Civilization. There in the Palace is also the Mural – Gajendramoksham – the largest single Mural in Kerala. With the eyes on the wall paintings, we stepped back towards the boat. Another 30 minutes......
Back on the boat I found much relief from the sun. With the cool waves and the light atmosphere, there was no signs of light summer heat. Sitting in the Garden Chair,sipping the somewhat cool coconut water added to the comfort. As the Boat driver told me, we were on the Kayamkulam Lake and it would take another half an hour to reach the shores. The shores led to the small town called Kanjipadam. Kanjipadam is the place where i would be spending my night in the warmth of the Green Palace Health Resort. The Dinner was served here.
Next morning after the breakfast was served, I was back on Kettuvallom. Before being back on the boat – I took a package of the Ayurveda – something for which Kerala is so known. The tea on Board ( I prepared it ) and the Kerala Chips were refreshing. Again I could see the Boat moving slowly, through the waters. After three hours of cool swaying on the backwaters, we reached Champakulam. Here I was to see the Champakulams St. Mary Church. About 500 years old, this building is a charm in itself.
As afternoon was drawing in, the Chef laid down some of the exquisite delicacies of South India. With a spread of four chutneys ( Indian Sauces) and the dishes like Sambar Chawal, Idli Dosa, I had my fill. The lunch ended with a nicely brewed Filter Coffee.
It was time to lay down. Sitting near the edge of the houseboat, trying to touch the water, I was there watching the waters flow by, the sun slowly going down and the children running by the shore. I knew it was time to go.....