by Raj Niranjan Das
As we are transported from the world of traffic snarls, chaos, hectic work and continuous meetings to the world of lagoons and greenery, we stood awestruck. We were on one of the numerous houseboats parked on the very famous Vembanad Lake in Alappuzha. There are various types of boats: two-bedroom boats, three- bedroom boats, boats with an upper deck, boats with air conditioned rooms. Every day large numbers of such boats go on a lovely backwater ride with tourists who gape blissfully at the mesmerising scenery. Vembanad Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in Kerala has been the tourist hub of the state for many years. Travelers from all over the world have a fascination for the renowned houseboat rides on this lake.
As we embarked on this quaint form of transportation, all we could see in the vicinity were the numerous floating rice boats (kettuvelloms), the swaying palms on the banks, and the different varieties of birds that nest around the placid lake. The boat propelled forward with no specific route over the massive body of water. Photo clicks, video shoots, passengers blowing kisses at the gorgeous firangi women on other boats, and those trying a hand at steering the boat were some of the activities that we enjoyed during the initial two hours of our sojourn.
The well crafted boat sailed tranquilly on the gleaming lake and went past the little villages, the tiny canals, the alluring toddy shops and the green paddy fields. Due to the openness of the landscape, we were treated to a wonderful cooling breeze which made us sway like the coconut trees on the banks. After a round of games that included cards and charades, it was time for some bacardi blasts and a sumptuous lunch prepared by the in-house cooks. The fragrant whiff in the air said it all. The mouth watering seafood delicacies were spread out and within a flash it was time to lick the fingers.
As the blazing sun set, our kettuvellom was anchored to the shore. Many other boats were also anchored there and it seemed the right spot to take a village walk. We trod through narrow lanes and went past the small houses besides the lake down into the paddy fields. The green blades of the paddy turned yellow as the sun set in the background bathing everything in a golden glow. The rustic charm of the country side was clearly evident. A visual treat indeed!!
A trip to the villages of Kerala must include a visit to the toddy shops. Toddy tastes best and fresh when you drink it in the morning as it turns sour as the day progresses. Nevertheless, we happily gulped it down. Nestled back inside the comforts of the kettuvellom, we watched at a few lanterns glowing in the distance from the many anchored boats and the houses besides the lake. It was a romantic sight.
A dance and a tasty dinner ended our day’s itinerary. The next day began with a typical Kerala cuisine for breakfast after which we were on our way back to the shore. It was one of the most laid back holidays with absolutely nothing to do other than to stare at the shimmering lake, the swaying palms and enjoy the fresh air amidst the lush green surroundings.
If you want a holiday that is all about immersing yourself in natural surroundings while cruising around on a rice boat and eating delicious sea food, Kerala style, a kettuvellom trip on Vembanad Lake is an ideal destination.
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About the author:
Niranjan is passionate about travel, be it long bike rides or treacherous trekking or leisure holidaying or backpacking through the countryside or an engrossing train journey, He dreams of setting foot on every single country on planet earth and meeting adorable strangers, learning new tongue twister languages, tasting mouth watering food, studying vibrant cultures and exploring exotic places. Visit www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com.
All photographs are by Niranjan Das.