A Kettuvallam, also known as a houseboat, is a traditional boat found in the Indian state of Kerala, particularly in the backwaters of Alappuzha, Kumarakom, and Kollam. These houseboats are an iconic symbol of Kerala and are widely used for tourism and leisure cruises along the scenic waterways.
The term “Kettuvallam” translates to “tied boat” in the Malayalam language, referring to the traditional construction technique used to build these vessels. Kettuvallams are made by tying together wooden planks using coir ropes, which are then coated with a black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells. The materials used in their construction, such as jackfruit tree wood and bamboo, make them sturdy and eco-friendly.
Kettuvallams were originally used as cargo vessels to transport goods like rice, spices, and other commodities across the intricate network of backwaters in Kerala. Over time, these traditional cargo boats were transformed into comfortable and luxurious houseboats for tourists, allowing them to explore the picturesque backwaters at a leisurely pace.
A typical Kettuvallam is a large, spacious boat with one or more bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen, and a dining space. The bedrooms are well-appointed with modern amenities like comfortable beds, attached bathrooms, and panoramic windows that provide stunning views of the surroundings. Some houseboats also have open decks where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the backwaters.
A crew consisting of a captain, a cook, and an assistant usually accompanies the Kettuvallam to ensure a pleasant and hassle-free experience for the guests. The crew members take care of navigation, cooking delicious Kerala cuisine on board, and attending to the needs of the guests.
Cruising on a Kettuvallam offers a unique way to experience the serene backwaters of Kerala. Visitors can witness the traditional way of life along the waterways, observe fishing activities, and enjoy the beauty of the lush green landscapes, coconut groves, and paddy fields that line the shores. The tranquility of the backwaters, along with the warm hospitality and delicious local cuisine served on board, make the Kettuvallam experience truly memorable.
Kettuvallam cruises are available for different durations, ranging from a few hours to overnight stays or multi-day trips. The longer trips allow travelers to explore more remote and lesser-known areas of the backwaters, providing an immersive experience of Kerala’s unique ecosystem and culture.
The popularity of Kettuvallam tourism has grown over the years, attracting both domestic and international tourists who wish to experience the charm of Kerala’s backwaters in a comfortable and authentic setting. It has become an integral part of the tourism industry in Kerala and continues to be a sought-after activity for visitors looking to enjoy the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region.