Kerala Houseboating from Alleppey

As we continued cruising, I noticed many places where the infrastructure has grown around the houseboating industry. There are many customary places for them to stop for meals, and bridges over the usual routes are built to accommodate the traffic.

 

High bridges.
Even the biggest boat squeezed through.

It’s also very easy to see how everyday life is tied to the waterways in the backwater villages. Most houses have a canoe or outboard tied up out front, and you can see all ages out on the water.

Everybody paddles.
This little old lady was going as fast as the houseboat.

Houseboats are obligated to moor for the night at around 5:30 PM, apparently to give way to local fishermen. We were offered the chance (I think everyone is) to go for a tour in the smaller canals around the village. It was an extra INR 1000 (approx $20 CAD) which is a little steep for our tastes. We almost went for a walk instead, but decided to splurge at the last second. Good choice.

Life in a Backwater Village

Getting into the small canals gives a glimpse of life in the village. People wash, swim and play in the canal, even do their dishes.

The canal for everything!
This young lady was one of many we saw washing up after dinner.

What really struck me about the village was that the whole thing is below water level. Significantly below, like a meter. One guy with a shovel could flood the whole place!

A flood waiting to happen.
Houses and whole rice paddy fields below water level.

In many places the canal walls are built up higher with stone, and even mud. As we motored along I wondered how this could be; did the lake rise? Nope. They wall off blocks of water and then pump it out. Amazing!

Pump it out!
We saw this place near the end of our tour.

It’s amazing, but where does it end? Twenty years from now will it all be paddy fields with custom made houseboating canals? What about the lake?

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Not far after the pumping station, Vero took my favorite picture of the whole trip:

Little fella in a boat
Note the safety feature keeping him in the boat.

Back on the Houseboat

On our way back to the houseboat for dinner, we saw the local bus bringing people back home from the city.

Boat bus.
We saw many of these throughout the trip.

After another feast on the boat, we retired to our rooms for a night under the A/C. The next morning, after a big breakfast with lots and lots of fresh fruit, we slowly cruised back to Finishing Point. We arrived to find that the boat’s parking spot had been scooped.

Where do we park?
Apparently we were 3 minutes late getting back.

We ended up having to hop from boat to boat, crossing three before we got to solid ground. It’s like a gigantic raft made of houseboats.

Definitely one of the highlights of our travels so far, I love being forced to sit and do nothing for a while.

Ian

I am a world-travelling, long distance runner previously disguised as a high-voltage engineer and now masquerading as a travel blogger.

5 thoughts to “Kerala Houseboating from Alleppey”

  1. I am totally enjoying your blog — great description and photos, lovely glimpses of your
    delightful family, and your barely contained sense of humour all come together to make me wish there was another page to read. Thanks for taking me along.
    Gillian

    1. Thanks so much Gillian. In fact there is another page to this one, by clicking the 2 at the bottom. I am working on making this more visible.
      Thanks again for the nice comment!

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