India, Travel Photography
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Life In The Backwaters Of Alleppey, Kerala

Tourists in their fancy houseboats seemed high in spirit, with their impressive camera doing most of the work. But in the local ferry, the atmosphere was rather regular. Here, no one appeared to be in hurry or amazed by the arresting beauty of the backwaters in Alleppey – one of the prime highlights of tourism in Kerala.

backwaters ferry

I heard a lot about the backwaters of Kerala.

I heard that tourists here hire a floating houseboat and wander through its maze of interconnected lagoons, canals, lakes and inlets – home to a dazzling assortment of flora and fauna, and local villages.

I heard that they spend days sitting on the deck, experiencing the tranquility of this place, with a book in their hand, while swiftly sailing through one village to the other.

backwaters houseboat

kearla backwaters

I wanted to explore this place too, but my own way.

And here I was, in a government ferry, surrounded by a bunch of locals who were heading back from the mainland of Alleppey, with all the ration they needed, and a newspaper that they’d just purchased.

The entire scene was rather usual and uninterrupted. No one seemed excited about the beauty of Kerala backwaters.

allepey ferry

I happened to take the early afternoon ferry – exactly when the 17-year old Sajin was coming back from his school. A happy smile on his face was a clear invitation to understand that he had a good day. A quick conversation with him and I found out that he was going back home after writing a successful year-end  exam in his college.

For the next few hours he became my host and my eyes to how I saw the backwaters of Allepey – in his very own ‘fibre-made’ (as he often claimed) canoe.

conoe alleppey

canoe driver

The day to day life in the backwaters of Alleppey seemed fairly slow – with most of the townfolk seemingly busy in the tradition craft of boat making, or harvesting rice in the fields.

A small minority was also busy making money off of tourists, by either selling tourists – in a houseboat or a medium sized Shikara – some refreshments, or by giving them quick and timely tours, around the place.

alleppey backwaters village

alleppey canoe

But the floating engines, stretching through the boundaries of backwaters, never appeared to withdraw from their continuous movement – at least not under the daylight. They moved about places for hours and hours and days on end.

The experience that this place gives you, as a tourist, is indeed very different, if you experience it with the eyes of a local. Every now and then you float through a sleepy village and come across people who were busy going about their daily activities.

alleppey life

people alleppey

Amid the group of big size houseboats, that make the majority of the traffic in the backwaters, what you sometimes stumble upon is a small canoe, with a fisherman delivering goods, and sometimes, local people.

canoe

 

fisherman

backwaters canoe

The backwater in Kerala had its own charm. Here people seemed to have adopted a good lifestyle while living in a complete harmony with nature.

As you drift through the small canals – which, however, is only possible in a small canoe – and run through its colony of small villages, you come across housewives washing clothes or doing other household chores, while men were busy driving boats or work in the paddy fields.

By the end of the day, most of them could be found having a good time in one of the local pubs, drinking locally-brewed coconut beer.

coconut beer

drinking place kerala

ABOUT KERALA BACKWATERS

The backwaters run along the entire length of the state of Kerala, covering several districts, each with its own unique charm and appeal. And dwarfing the beauty of all the other backwaters are the backwaters of Alleppey.

Backwaters of Alleppey is big, and in fact so massive in its length, that according to Sajin, last year a German couple wandered in one of his friend’s houseboat – almost studying the place – for about 21 days and still went home, almost unsatisfied, and without being able to see it all.

Flanked by the Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other – the backwaters of Alleppey are not just mesmerizingly beautiful but are one of the rare places in the entire world that’re situated below the sea level.

It’s like a green lush paradise sliced apart from the world, with its very own blue veins of water. And the pleasure you get while gliding through its green waterways is simply unparalleled!

houseboat

 

IMPORTANT

If you’re planning a visit to the backwaters in Alleppey, the best way to do it, undoubtedly, is by cruising in a houseboat. You can rent one from the government office located near the main bus station. A houseboat costs between 6 thousand to sky-is-the-limit, depending upon how many bedrooms and other facilities you’re looking for. 

Other than a houseboat experience, I’d particularly recommend you to see the local community life, which can be done by renting a small canoe, which allows you to pass through smaller canals. A canoe can be rented between 300 to 500 Rupees (depending upon the number of people) for a one hour ride.

There are also many local ferries (the one I took) that do regular trips to the backwaters. They take you for 1-2 hour ride, for as much as 12 Rupees. Yes, that’s correct. 12 RUPEES! You can imagine them as the local city buses!

[Also Read: Kerala, Truly a god’s own country]

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26 Comments

  1. Madhav says

    Hi Dev,
    I am an architecture student studying in Bangalore. I will be visiting Alleppey next weekend during the boat race. I am studying this place for a project and would really love to see more of your amazing pictures and know more about the place and the people from you since I have a very few days to know the place.

  2. Amazing pictures! The house boats look so cool and interesting. So nice to be able to capture pictures of the locals and thanks for sharing these. Great post 🙂

  3. Oh I’d absolutely love to take a ride down those rivers with either the big or small boats! I always see them in films and dream about travelling!

    • Gliding in a conoe while watching local people doing their daily chores on either side. It sure was a great experience Laura. You must try it sometimes if you visit the place.

  4. This is a beautiful place and your photographs are so nice. What kind of camera do you use?

  5. This is so beautiful. And your photos are amazing. What kind of camera do you use?

    • Thanks Ty, I use Nikkon D5200 , 35mm . Most of the credit goes to the lens. totally love it.

  6. This is incredible! I have never been to Alleppey but it looks so tranquil that I bet it would be a welcome detox from everyday life!

  7. I wonder what I was waiting for my whole life. I live in India but have never been to Kerala, besides hearing much praise about its beauty and the happy-go-lucky people there. This article, specifically the images tempted me so much to plan a visit to Kerala ASAP. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

    • Kerala is great Pranshu. And the people there are also very friendly and helpful, making this place even more beautiful.

  8. I wonder what I was waiting for this whole life. I live in India but have never been to Kerala, besides hearing much praise about its beauty and the happy-go-lucky people there. This article, specifically the images tempted me so much to plan a visit to Kerala ASAP. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

  9. Awesome place and stunning pics! I love the wild nature… people there live surrounded by it and they embrace it instead of destroying it like we do.

  10. such serene place it is. Kerala is next on my list. thank you for sharing such amazing things about the place. I’ll save it for my reference when i visit the state. 🙂 you are definitely an impeccable artiste with a camera.

  11. such serene place it is. Kerala is next on my list. thank you for sharing such amazing things about the place. I’ll save it for my reference when i visit the state. 🙂

  12. Unnat Pandya says

    Photographs are awesome, and you described it well too. !! (thumbs up) (y)

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