A visit to Alleppey is never complete without a houseboat experience. Alappuzha was an important trading destination for the erstwhile Travancore kingdom with good being ferried across the rivers in Kettuvallams. These vallams or boats were made of wood and durable enough to carry goods weighing several tons.
Today, these boats serve a very different purpose. They serve as floating hotels to guests who come to admire the beautiful backwaters of Alappuzha. You can either choose from single, double, or triple air-conditioned bedrooms. Tour operators offer a complete home stay experience with a living room, an open air dining room, and a ready to use kitchen. Whilst electricity isn’t a problem, some houseboats make use of the traditional vilakku or lamp to brighten the place.
An average houseboat is about 100 feet long with a maximum width (middle) of 18 feet. The crew includes the captain, life guard, and a chef serving scrumptious Nadan (traditional) cuisine that includes the ‘kuttanad’ special boiled rice, aviyal, and karimeen pozhlichadhu (pearl sport fish friend within a plantain leaf with a medley of spices. Vegetarians don’t have to be disappointed; there are plenty of options for them as well.
You can also choose to opt for a short journey without a night stay. A typical houseboat tour takes you through the many villages and hamlets where workers are busy making coir products. You can also witness locals going about with their daily life along the lagoon or watch the beautiful paddy fields and temples that cross your path. Guests can choose to board from different points. The main boarding points include Allepey, Kumarakom, Thottappally and Alumkadave. The boat is usually docked at a quiet place during nights to allow you to enjoy the beautiful moon reflecting in the calm waters.
Houseboats are a never-miss charm for both national and international tourists. You can opt for an economic package or decide to go for the full blown experience. This is certainly a once in a lifetime experience that’s not only unique, but also combines the best of both worlds- contemporary and old.