The southern state of Kerala, a relatively new addition to the tourist map, has a network of serene backwater canals that extend more than 550 miles (900 km) and offer a glimpse of an India that’s more relaxed than the India you’ll see in big cities. Here’s what you need to know about cruising Kerala’s backwaters.Day Cruises
The most popular way to experience the serene beauty of the Kerala backwaters is on a day cruise aboard a kettuvallam
, or traditional houseboat. These vessels have been plying the labyrinthine waters for centuries. Visitors typically board near Alleppey before floating past the coconut- and palm-lined shores and rural fishing villages. The cruise usually includes a traditional South Indian lunch, and you can choose between a private or small-group tour. Overnight Cruises
If you want to experience the backwaters of Kerala like a local, plan to spend at least a night on a houseboat. Overnight cruises allow visitors to travel deeper into the waterways that give the region the nickname “Venice of the East.” Most excursions include lunch and dinner, sometimes by candlelight—a romantic experience perfect for couples. Four- to six-day tours of Kerala often include a night on a houseboat.
Things to Know
- Day cruises on the Kerala backwaters typically last seven or eight hours.
- Most tours include roundtrip transportation from hotels in Kochi.
- Enjoy the intimacy of a private houseboat cruise or the value of a small-group tour.
- Most cruises depart from Alleppey, about two hours outside Kochi.