December 31, 2007

Day 2: 20th December '07 – Alleppey (or Alappuzha)

Alleppey is called the Venice of the East for its vast network for canals or backwaters. This region had been drawing a lot of tourist attention with houseboats - a slow-moving rice barge - reworked models of Kettuvallams (kettu means ‘tied with ropes’ and vallam means ‘boat’). The next 24 hours was special – we get to spend it in a houseboat! Wow!

Our houseboat by M/s River Homes ( was well constructed and maintained. The owner Mr.Narayana Swamy was there personally to welcome us onboard. There was a 3 member crew to accompany us through the trip – a captain, a helper and a cook. Our boat had a pair of 2-bedroom suites with attached baths, a sit-out, a well-equipped kitchen (squeaky clean!), TV with DVD player for entertainment – and the Vembanad Lake for placidity. The plan was to take a 35 km cruise at a gentle pace of 6 km/h along the backwaters (there is approx 900 kms of navigable shoreline). We planned to anchor at the middle of the vast Vembanad Lake overnight!

The stay in the houseboat and the cruise through these backwaters turned out to be an unforgettable experience for us – but at a cost. A trip can put you back by Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000 per day depending on the houseboat and its facilities. There are cheaper options available – such as day cruises by the hour, small motorboats, etc. Our crew was very courteous and hospitable. We had a spread of local cuisine – all freshly made – very tasty indeed.

There are many resorts along these backwaters, and if one can dig deep into the pocket, the experience can be heavenly. Most of these resorts have their own houseboats and will toss in an ayurvedic spa experience as well in the package. I felt that some of these packages might have been overpriced. This was peak season and the resorts were not occupied to full capacity. Not all houseboats had tenants. Reason to lower the tariff?!

No comments: