The waterways of Kerala revisited. India

We had business meetings in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu. Being so close to Kerala we decided to spend some time back there. I've written about our love for the area in the previous blog. It was the Christmas/ New year period so the rest of India was on holidays and we had left our arrangements until the last moment.

We were to stay at the Taj Garden Resort in Kochin and then decided to go on a house boat. The last time we had done this it was for only one night, this time we decided to stay on the water for two nights. Because of the holiday period nearly all the house boats were taken. The hotel found us about the last available one. It was still available because it was so expensive. $Aus600+ per night. Gulp. Sight unseen we agreed to it as a Christmas present to ourselves. We drove down from Munnar to board the house boat.


Some house boat.It had a second story lounge-room, a computer room, a spa bath and two bathrooms all with floor to ceiling windows. In the bathroom you had to be aware of small boats pulling along side and peering in.





Because it was unusual to be out for so long the boat master wasn't sure what to do with us for two days. We just wanted to be lazy and not do too much at all. So once again we set off across the Vembanad Lake to join up with the canals and backwaters. Then we hit a houseboat traffic jam. If your timing is flexible try to avoid the peak periods. It is still very beautiful but a bit crowded.



The locals totally ignore all the activity on their doorstep as they go about living.


Large areas of the backwaters are too narrow for cars so the canals are used for transport and water taxis zip along. Most of the local boats are low row boats and you see children going off to school, women going shopping and livestock being transported in them.



There was a never ending supply of banana fritters, fresh scones with jam and tea or coffee. Up on the extra level the views were wonderful and we got a better perspective of life on the river


Because there were so many boats there was quite a scramble for a night mooring The house boats must be moored by dusk as they are too dangerous for the local traffic at night.



It doesn't get much better than a scotch and a sunset.


After a great nights sleep we woke to the smell of coffee being brewed, the aroma of breakfast being prepared and the the sound of waves gently splashing against the sides of the boat.


We had breakfast watching the river come to life as people set off to work.




We traveled down to Palai to visit the 16th century St Thomas Church. As we got closer we were surprised at the amount of Christian imagery on the banks. Small churches and Catholic schools were everywhere. It is said that following the death of Jesus, St Thomas came to Southern India in AD52. He spent the next 12 years spreading the gospel along the Malabar Coast and converting the local population. He is said to have been murdered in AD72 and entombed in the Basilica of San Thome in Chennai. He was decreed the Apostle of India in 1972. The legacy that he left behind has created an enviable education system that has given this region a 100% literacy rate and a reasonable equality of the sexes.








Back on the water we passed a duck farm. The noisiest thing on the water.






There is plenty of wild life on the river. This hawk gave a fabulous display of fishing



Puttering around can be such hard work. The boat master told us that he knew of a hut that had just brought in a large catch of prawns so we motored over and bought all the supplies for a delicious meal. Boats were pulling up all day selling fresh vegetables and fruit so the food on board is always the freshest you could get.


Once again, as dusk came, the house boats congregated for the night.


And we settled in for the evening beside a rice field.



Another delightful evening.



We woke to a magical mist as we started on our trip back to Alleppy. The mist dampened all sound and there was a quiet gentleness to the morning. A glorious way to finish.



The locals may ignore the house boats but they have found a good use for them by tying themselves to the back of the boats and being towed along. The boat crew are all locals so they are just helping their friends out.




Back at Alleppy we settled into the Taj and watched another lucky couple heading out for the night. If you're planning a trip to India go to Kerala and experience the unexpected. 


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