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Backwaters in Kerala

The placid 57 backwaters of Kerala comprised an area of around 46,128 square kilometers and ranked ahead over the Taj Mahal by a National Geographic survey.

Words fall short to describe the beauty of swaying coconut palm trees, green paddy fields, cobalt blue sky above your head. While you cruise the middle of the waterways, get welcomed with hidden islands and villages in the middle of the banks of the tranquil backwaters. You have to see it to believe why backwaters of Kerala in India are crowned with the title ‘Venice of East.

Kerala backwaters are defined as the palm-fringed network of lagoons, rivers, canals, and lakes that runs inland from the Kochi coast to Kollam (Quilon) on the Malabar Coastline. Its main entry point is cocooned in Alleppey in Alappuzha district, which falls on the midway between Kochi and Kollam and is ideally positioned at the heart of prismatic Vembanad Lake.

Kerala backwaters are a network of 900 to 1,500 km (approx.), which are part of rivers, a stretch of lakes, brackish lagoons, and palm-fringed long canal, both man-made and natural. The 27 best Kerala backwaters are located either close to the Arabian Sea Coastline or parallel. While a few of them are inland navigation routes.

More than 2,000 houseboats ply on the languid backwaters of Kerala, and that is enough to show the hype of Kerala backwaters. Locals who do farming along the backwaters have decorated their lush paddy fields for picturesque opportunities. Welcome the rarest of rare migratory birds to pose for your camera shutters like Stork Billed and White-Throated Kingfishers, White Breasted Waterhen, Black Drongo, Asian Palm Swift, and Jungle Myna.

In the bygone era, the backwaters were used for agriculture and fishing transportation. Now the major pull of backwater tourism in Kerala is the annual Snake Boat Race, a great entertainment source for international and local like-minded tourists.

Most Popular Kerala Backwater Tours

Kerala Backwater Tour Packages No. of Nights / Days Price (INR)
Alleppey Houseboat Tour 4N / 5D Enquire Now
Backwater Tour of Kerala 3N / 4D Enquire Now
Stunning Kerala Backwater Tour 7N / 8D Enquire Now
Poovar Tour From Trivandrum 2N / 3D Enquire Now


Talking of backwater cruising, there are many houseboat routes in Kerala that begins from Alleppey itself. Information regarding the same is given below.

Alappuzha to Kumarakom

This route takes you past the glistening canals and waterways where water-birds (resident as well as migratory) are found in abundance. The houseboat cruises past tiny hamlets of fishermen and groves of palm and coconut.

Alappuzha to Vembanad Lake

The route includes sailing on the Punnamada Lake/ Vembanad Lake (Longest Lake of India, largest Lake of Kerala and one of the largest lakes in India) and Vattakayal Lake. Nights are to be spent aboard the traditional houseboats, Kettuvalam.

Alappuzha to Thottappally

The route features many historical sites such as Champakkulam Church and Ambalpuzha Temple.

Alappuzha to Kottayam

This is the kind of route that gets etched in your memories forever. You can see farmers at work, performing farming below sea level. You can inhale subtle breeze flowing through and hear the babbles of canals.   

Alappuzha to Mankotta

This route takes you through the splendid Punnamada Lake/ Vembanad Lake (Longest Lake of India, largest Lake of Kerala and one of the largest lakes in India) and lets you visit coir-making villages along with many historical sights.

Alappuzha to Kidangara

Prime attractions of the same is the pleasing Vembanad Lake (Longest Lake of India, largest Lake of Kerala and one of the largest lakes in India) and Pathiramanal Island.

Alappuzha to Alumkadavu

This is your choice to either take a one-night cruise or a two-night one. This lets you get in acquaintance with the history of Kettuvalams, the traditional houseboats of Kerala. One of the main attractions of the route- Alumkadavu- where the entire clans were indulged in the making of traditional houseboats.

Best Backwaters Destinations in Kerala

Alleppey Backwater

The pride of backwaters and the most famous canal network is crowned with the title of ‘Venice of East’ for all the right reasons. Alleppey has an abundance of palm trees lined on the canals along with picturesque paddy fields. Cruise the backwaters by local ferry on budget or go bespoke with the overnight package with 1,2,3 modern houseboats in the backwaters equipped with a sundeck, private balcony, kitchen, washroom.

Cost of Alleppey Houseboats: ₹ 4,000 onwards for two persons
Best Time to Visit: March to May, November to February
Backwaters Activity Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM (approx.)

Kumarakom Backwater

The perfect alternative to Alleppey if you want to float on the modern houseboats in peak tourism season, Kumarakom Village in Kottayam is situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake and is a honeymooners nirvana because of the luxury resorts on the banks of the lake. There is Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on the lake where you can put on your binoculars to spot waterfowl, egret, Brahminy kite, heron, duck, cormorant, darter.

Cost of Kumarakom Houseboats: ₹ 6,000 onwards for two persons
Best Time to Visit: March to May, November to February
Backwaters Activity Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM (approx.)

Kochi Backwater

The Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi, is the finest harbor in the world known for its ancient spice trade route. Now it is one of the famous destinations for backwater tourism in Kerala because Vembanad Lake also flows through the Ernakulam district. Cruising the houseboats for a few hours while passing through the canals interlinked to Alleppey and Kovalam backwaters.

Cost of Kochi Houseboats: ₹ 6,500 onwards for two persons
Best Time to Visit: March to May, November to February
Backwaters Activity Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM (approx.)

Kollam Backwater

This backwater destination of Kerala was once the prominent route for sandalwood spice trade between the Chinese and Greece. Kollam is a lesser-explored backwater of Kerala located on the right banks of Ashtamudi Lake. The verdant tropical vegetation around the backwaters of Kollam will rejuvenate your sail when you sail them either on a ferry or houseboats.

Cost of Kollam Houseboats: ₹ 6,500 onwards for two persons
Best Time to Visit: March to May, November to February
Backwaters Activity Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM (approx.)

Kozhikode (Calicut) Backwater

How about enjoying the backwaters ride in Kerala, where the Portuguese first landed? The Kallai and River Cannoli backwaters are appealing to the eyes. The canal routes of Kozhikode backwaters are less explored, and thus, a positive soul connection with the greenery is guaranteed on the palm fringed canals and waterways!

Cost of Kozhikode Houseboats: ₹ 6,500 onwards for two persons
Best Time to Visit: March to May, November to February
Backwaters Activity Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM (approx.)
 

Important Tips for Visiting Backwaters in Kerala

  • Alleppey has cheaper houseboats, and homestays options are also available.
  • Kumarakom houseboats are expensive because there are luxury resorts flanked on the lake banks.
  • You can access Kerala backwaters via Government Cruise, local ferry, houseboat tour, canoe tour, shikara ride.
  • Avoid the houseboats between the Southwest monsoon (June to September).
  • July to September should be visited only for the Snake Boat Race in backwaters while the rides are still unavailable for the tourists.
  • Fishing trips in the backwaters are conducted. Make sure you have this experience also.
  • Colorful churches are flanked on the backwaters banks, which you should visit on a halt.