That journey had your imagination run loose. Wondering the hows and whats of the life of the girl/boy who had returned your wave with a smile.
Kerala backwaters, a throwback to simple times
Suddenly, a shrill sound, very unbecoming of the prevailing quiet calmness cuts through your thoughts. You realise it is a signal for the boat driver to make a stop and announce your arrival to those waiting. “Those waiting” are lungi clad men, and children dressed for school.
The boat is now buzzing with activity. The kids scurry to seat themselves right next to their friends. The conductor squeezes through the crowd, handing out thermally printed tickets to each one of them. The boat makes a few more stops, picking up more lungi clad men and students from different schools – all along the Alleppey (Alappuzha) backwaters you are traveling through.
The schools here in the Alleppey backwaters, though, resemble the schools of a bygone era – your school years! No fancy air-conditioned classrooms or canteens with international cuisines. These are simple whitewashed buildings, with walls full of paintings of the “father of the nation”, “India’s national bird”, “the national animal” (to those wondering – Gandhi, peacock, tiger!).
Exploring the chraming Kerala backwaters
The sun is now up. The golden carpets behind the coconut tree barriers catch your attention. The swaying rice fields mesmerise you. Farmers are rowing their canoes to get to the fields. The backwaters, coconut trees and rice fields – the views match the image of Kerala you have in your mind.
Experiencing life on Kerala backwaters
A couple is rowing in the direction of the post office – maybe sending a loan application for their latest tourism venture to the state capital at Trivandrum? Along the way, did they make a pitstop at the local Alleppey (Alappuzha) market for some fresh fish? Or at the BSNL office for availing high-speed internet? On the way back, will they surprise their kid with a visit to the school? Will they all row to the church in their family canoe for the Sunday morning mass?
Kerala backwaters tourism – Alleppey houseboat tours, Ayurvedic massages
The “therapeutic effect” is sure had by the rest of the world, making the Kerala backwaters a tourism hub. The locals have grabbed the opportunities that the Kerala backwaters have made possible.
Sit in the front yard on a clear night, enjoying the star-studded sky. Devour the sumptuous Kerala cuisine cooked to perfection by the “local chef”. Rejuvenate with the famous Kerala Ayurvedic massages or the panchakarma treatments (yes, use a canoe to get there!). Read a book. Even better, write one!
For us, on the state transport boat, the romance of the gentle squiggles, the steady symmetry of the coconut trees merging into the backwaters over the horizon was gratifying. The landscapes were a personification of a serene, stunning wonder.
But what we had experienced in those few hours, was something beyond the almost-in-your-face picture perfect beauty of the Kerala backwaters. Our companions on this ride – the locals – who lived not only “on” the Kerala backwaters but also “off” it, had made the Kerala backwaters come to life.
On this ride, all the hows and the whats that had sparked our childhood imaginations were finally answered!
How did we ride through the Kerala backwaters for cheap, like a local?
Do we need to stay on a houseboat in Alleppey?
- You can, but there are several on-the-gound options for stay in Alleppey as well. Alleppey is teeming with accommodations, that fit all budgets.
- We had stayed at a nice little place called The Wind n Waves, a minute away from the Alleppey beach.
Top tips for experiencing Kerala backwaters on a budget
- Because the Kerala backwaters play a vital role in the daily lives of the locals from Kochi, Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kollam, to Trivandrum, the state transport has a well-connected network of boats.
- Since they are state run, the charges are official. This is real Kerala backwater experience, not the popular Kerala backwater houseboat tours.
- How to get to Alleppey (Alappuzha) for a Kerala backwaters experience? Some Konkan Railway trains halt at Alappuzha (Alleppey), some at nearby Kottayam. Alappuzha is a 2 hr train ride from Trivandrum, in the south. Regular shuttles run between Alappuzha and Kochi (Ernakulam) to the north.
- If you have the time, there is a longer route from Alappuzha (Alleppey) to Kollam. This is an eight-hour journey which means a stayover at the destination is a must.
- Kerala backwaters do not have to be an expensive affair. These state transport rides are not only cheaper making Kerala backwaters on a budget possible, but also the experience is more immersive and real.
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