Unique, unforgettable, mesmerizing, or perhaps, subliminal are adjectives that seem inadequate to describe the houseboat cruise experience. It is a humbling experience to watch local villagers get on with their daily routine without much fuss and with as little as possible. It is equally overwhelming to observe the breathtaking beauty of the backwaters and the rich marine biodiversity.
These houseboats were once used to transport grains and other produce from Kuttanad through the backwaters an were called kettuvalloms. These boats are made from the wood of the jackfruit tree, joined together by coir and painted with cashew nut oil. A single kettuvallom can carry around 30 tons of goods and yet last for several generations. Today, they’re used to ferry passengers across the beautiful lagoons, estuaries and lakes. Although the backwaters stretch across three districts of Alapuzha, Ernakulam and Kottayam, houseboat tourism is most prominent in Alleppey.
Houseboats today are grand and luxurious; some are multi storey and air conditioned m while some are equipped with a plunge pool. Sadly, these are taking their toll on the environment. Engines and toilet waste are major pollutants that destroy the marine life in the swamps.
Rather than a large boat, it makes sense to book a small boat that is either solar operated or has a smaller engine and makes use of a chemical toilet. A smaller boat also offers an advantage in the sense that it can travel to narrower and less visited lagoons.
At Kerala Hop On and Hop Off, we do our bit to the environment by hiring only eco friendly houseboats that use smaller engines and dispose of toilet waste responsibly.
Planning a Kerala tour and wondering on the best time to visit Alleppey? Here’s our rough guide to help you.
Summer lasts from March to May with April and May being intensely hot and humid. Temperatures can soar up to 37 degree Celsius. This is the time for budget holidays as hotels offer as much as 50% discount on accommodation. Tour packages are also cheaper. You can also book a houseboat stay at almost half the cost charged during peak season.
Monsoon starts from June and lasts until September when the southwest monsoon hits the state. Normal life is often disrupted thanks to the heavy rains that hit during this season. September and October are relatively better with less rains and cooler climate. Beach activities are almost impossible, but Alleppey is still worth a visit during the monsoon if you are a nature lover. Besides, houseboat stays are heavily discounted.
Winters: This is the best time to visit Alleppey. Except for the few traces of rain, the weather is pleasant and temperatures range from 17 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius. This is also the time for the famous Nehru Trophy or the snake boat race that was inaugurated in 1952.
Irrespective of the season that you book a houseboat stay, make sure that you stay environmentally responsible by booking on boats that cause least damage to the fragile ecology of the place. The larger and more luxurious boats often contribute to the pollution levels.
The best tour packages to Kerala are incomplete without a visit to Thekkady. Although the place is worth a visit anytime of the year, there are a few months considered peak season and are ideally worth a visit, while some months are considered slack season thanks to the weather.
October to February is the winter season and considered the best time to visit. Temperature averages at around 15-20 degree Celsius and an ideal time if you have booked a Kerala honeymoon tour package. This is also the height of the Sabarimala season where thousands of pilgrims visit the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala through Kumily.
Summer season starts from March to May. Thekkady remains pleasant in the summers with average temperatures at around 26 degree Celsius. Although days may seem too warm, evenings are definitely pleasant. Summers is also the best season for animal watching as herds of wild animals including elephants, lions and leopards come to the Periyar Lake to drink water. This season is also an ideal time to witness a few local festivals like the Mangaladevi festival that takes place on Chitra Pournami day or the full moon day in the Chitra month of the Dravidian calendar.
Monsoons aren’t always pleasant in Thekkady. It experiences heavy rainfall and the place can get sludgy before you know. It is also the season for leeches and other insects that make hiking an impossible activity. But if you are a nature enthusiast and looking for discounted accommodation; consider visiting the place between June and September.
Planning a visit to Munnar? Before you decide on the things to see in Munnar it makes a lot of sense to know about the best time to visit Munnar. Situated at a height of about 1600 meters above sea level, Munnar enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. But there are certain months where the place is best avoided.
The rainy season for instance lasts from June to August and not really considered a tourist season, especially if activities like trekking and camping are on your mind. Munnar receives heavy rainfall and roads can get slippery. But if you still prefer to visit Munnar during the monsoon, don’t miss out the chance to experience rain amidst dense green forests.
Summer lasts from March to May and is ideally the peak season. Hotel rooms are packed to full capacity and tour operators report a busy schedule. The average temperature during this season is around 20 degree Celsius which means the weather is pleasant. It is also the season when the flora around the place is in full bloom, thereby enhancing the experience.
Winters aren’t harsh but temperatures can drop up to 5 degree Celsius. The place looks fresh and green thanks to the rains. December to January/February is also considered honeymoon season. It is also considered an ideal season for trekking, rock climbing, and other adventure activities.
Irrespective of the season, there are a few things that don’t really change in Munnar. For instance, it rains throughout the year and temperatures can drop at any time. Hence carrying light to heavy woolen clothes and an umbrella is important. Every season has its own charm and is worthy of a visit.
There are so many places to visit in Kerala, but a trip to God’s own country is never complete without a visit to Kochi. This is probably the most cosmopolitan of all cities in the Kerala thanks to the huge influence of colonial rulers like the Dutch, the English, and the Portuguese.
Although Cochin is a great place to visit any time of the year, October to February are the best months. The heat is comparatively mild and the weather is pleasant. Cochin has a tropical climate; hence temperatures don’t fall below 17 degree Celsius even during the winter months. But the weather is pleasant enough to stroll on the streets in the afternoon sun.
Summer starts by the end of February and lasts until June. Temperatures soar up to 35-38 degree Celsius although it averages around 31 degree Celsius. If you are traveling on a budget and don’t mind the heat, this is the best time to visit Cochin. Not many tourists visit during the summer; hotels and tour operators are more than willing to offer you discount. Humidity is also a problem in summer, hence remember to stay hydrated and avoid long outdoor stays.
June to September is monsoon and not ideally considered a tourist season. But this is also the season for peak discounts. Some hotels slash as much as 50% of their normal rate. Such luck extends for houseboat rides as well. This is also the season when Onam takes place. This is a season to mark the harvest season and welcome Mahabali, the mythical and benevolent king of Kerala. Tourists not only get to take part in the festivities, but they also get to dig in to the special and elaborate Onam sadhya or the Onam lunch.
Kerala is indeed Mother Nature’s blessed child. Nowhere in India would you find such abundance of natural wealth and beauty. And Thekkady is undoubtedly the crown jewel with its beautiful and serene natural wonders. Here’s some information about Thekkady and some places to visit when in Thekkady.
Chellarkoil: This is a village situated about 15 kms from Kumily on the outskirts of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. If Kumily is well-known for spice plantations, Chellarkoil is known for its cascading waterfalls that slope down the coconut groves of Tamil Nadu. Treetop huts in Chellarkoil are reminiscent of the eco-friendly approach towards tourism. The place is also known for its wellness and Ayurveda treatment centers. Though there’s a lot to be explored, the hills around the village are a favorite among trekkers.
Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls: This is a small yet breathtakingly waterfall that casts a spell over visitors and tempts them for a short break. A mudded path from Kumarakom leads you near to the waterfalls. And a 2 km nature walk beside the scenic greenery lead to the gushing waterfalls from about 100 ft. is indeed refreshing. You will be easily guided by the signboards put up by the tourism authority. The best time to visit is soon after monsoon, from September. Rubber plantations form the backdrop with birds chirping their way to glory over the plantations and are a feast to your ears.
Kadathanadan Kalari Centre: An organization for the century old martial arts, Kalari, this is located at Kumily. With renewed interest in Kalari within and outside Kerala, the centre was opened to promote the art form and offer a center to learn and practice Kalari. Also known as Kalarippayattu, Kalari is a self defense art that demands extreme agility, physical flexibility and swift body movements. A viewing gallery at the centre provides visual treat to the visitors. The centre also helps visitors with more awareness on different self defense techniques.