Present day houseboats are huge, slow moving exotic barges used for leisure trips, and are in fact reworked version of kettuvallams of olden times. The original kettuvallams were used to carry tons of rice and spices. A standard kettuvallam can hold up to 30 tons from Kuttanad to the Kochi port.
The kettuvallam is held together with coir knots. Not even a single nail is used during the construction of the boat.. The boat is made of planks of jack-wood joined together with coir. This is then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. With careful maintenance, a kettuvallam can last for generations.
A portion of the kettuvallam was covered with bamboo and coir to serve as a restroom and kitchen for the crew. Meals would be cooked onboard and supplemented with freshly cooked fish from the backwaters.
When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport, some one found a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in the market. By constructing special rooms to accommodate travelers, these boats cruised forward from near-extinction to enjoy their present great popularity.
Now these are a familiar sight on the backwaters and in Alappuzha alone, there are as many as 1000 houseboats.
While converting kettuvallams into houseboats, care is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats, sticks and wood of the areca nut tree are used for roofing, coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood of coconut trees and coir for beds. For lighting though, solar panels are used.
Cruising along the backwaters of Kerala will be an unforgettable experience in your life time. Meandering streams, chirpy birds, murmuring forests, and the slender breeze of god's own country makes you feel the heaven is here. Above all, spending a night in the lap of nature inhaling the serene environment will calm your body and soul makes your journey worthwhile.
Like hotels, houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism of Kerala. Regardless of category, have highly personalized service. The cost per day of hiring a houseboat includes all meals and free rides from the
houseboat to the nearest shore and back.
If you have not experienced it, here is a golden opportunity to do it at a fraction of its original cost. You could get in any houseboat of your liking, saunter down the cool placid waters of our world-famous backwaters, have a merry time and get back home after spending a night as well out floating around that too with the masters of houseboat cruise in Kerala.