As the boat cruises in the vast Vembanad Lake, I sit on the top deck of our houseboat with a book in one hand and a coffee in the other. I gaze at the vast expanse of paddy fields on both the sides. For company I have, swaying palm trees and lush green fields. The silence is punctuated by the chirping of birds and rippling of water. There is a peace that is hard to describe.
After staying on a houseboat in Kashmir, I so wanted to tick off a Houseboat stay in Kerala. So, in the month of February 2016, we planned a quick weekend getaway to Kumarakom in Kerala. Our houseboat stay was booked with the help of one of our friend’s. When we reached Cochin our chauffeur was already there to cruise us straight to Kumarakom from where we had to board the houseboat.
• • • House Boat Stay in Kerala • • •
The houseboat in Kochi, unlike the one in Kashmir, was was not that luxurious in terms of intricate wood carvings and facilities but was simple and the furnishing was mostly done with wooden furniture . The rooms were simple and clean with all basic amenities and attached bathroom. The furnishing in the room like chairs and table were of cane. We had booked a 2 bedroom houseboat which had 2 AC rooms, a lounge area and a separate kitchen at the back.
My favorite part in the houseboat was the upper deck which opened outwards and provided unblocked views of the vistas ahead. Most of our time during our stay we were busy lounging on the upper deck, sipping in coconut water, playing cards, listening to music and taking in the amazing view of the famous backwaters of Kerala.
Our houseboat started from the canal and merged into the main lake, the panoramic views of the vast Vembanad Lake were mesmerizing and enchanting. It was a super water highway adorned with swaying palm trees and greenery as far as eyes can see. The chirping of birds added to the magic that the place had to offer.
As the boat meandered through the backwaters, we went past people who were busy doing their household chores, children going to their schools, people busy in a marriage function in a church and a couple of resorts lined up along the banks of the lake. We even saw double-decker boats that are used by the locals for their daily commute.
The entire day we snaked around the lake, taking in the view, wolfing down delicious food and sipping coconut water. Literally doing NOTHING.
In the evening, the houseboat was docked at a quiet place to power the air conditioning. We were given a fishing rod to try our luck but fishes were smart enough to eat the bait and escape.
As the sun lowered to set, the sky burst into a riot of colors and the silhouette of palm trees scattered all around looked straight out of a postcard. No doubt, sunsets in this part of the world are stunning.
Mornings were equally pleasant and serene. We woke up to the chirping of birds and the morning mist around the lush green paddy fields.
• • • Food • • •
The highlight of our stay was the fresh, delicious food which was served to us. It was as if the chef had magic in his hands and he served us with some of his best creations. The fish grilled to perfection and sprinkled with red chili powder, spices, garnished with onions and a dash of lemon. Yum Yum 🙂 🙂
It was accompanied with rice, dal, curd, sambar and chicken curry. After having a heavy lunch we dragged ourselves to the upper deck to take in the scenic views.
Food was awesome.
In the evening, we stopped by a shop on the banks of the lake, midway while on our way towards Alleppey and bought some prawns. Though the price was little high as compared to the market standards but it was worth the price as we had fresh prawns for starters during dinner.
The dinner menu included peppered chicken, prawn fry, fried rice, roti, dal, and salad. After gorging on a hearty dinner , we retired for the day. 🙂
• • • Staff • • •
Three staff members accompanied us during our entire journey and catered to each request of ours. One of them was the Captain of the boat, one was the manager and the third one was the chef.
The manager showed us, how paddy crops are cultivated below sea level in this area by creating embankments. It was amazing to the see that the level of the fields was actually below the level of the lake and water from the lake was channeled into the fields at different places.
• • • Overall Experience • • •
Prior to taking this trip we had done some research around houseboat stay in Kerala and had got mixed reviews about it. But having experienced it first hand, we can tell you that the water is nowhere close to black and is not smelly.
We have now stayed in a houseboat in both Kashmir and Kerala. However, the stay at Kerala is a completely different experience. Special mention to the chef who made our stay much more memorable with the amazing food that he served.
The only low point was the mosquitoes and insects in the lounge area during the evening, so you can either slather yourself with mosquito repellent or go for a houseboat which is fully air-conditioned, including the lounge area.
Enjoy the company of your loved ones and spend the night chit-chatting with them or finish that book you have been planning to read all along.
Best Season to Stay :
The best time to stay is between October and April. With the advent of the monsoon the water in the backwaters becomes murky.
We paid 12K INR for five adults.
The rates were inclusive of all meals.
The houseboat prices starts from 6000 for a 1-bhk houseboat and goes up to 30, 000 for the ultra-luxurious ones.
If you are looking for a luxurious Stay , do check The Oberoi Motor Vessel Vrinda.
If you are hesitant to stay overnight or have time constraints then you can always opt for a day trip and be back by evening.
Fact File :
The backwaters of Kerala are a system of canals that stretches 900 km across the state and incorporates rivers, lakes and lagoons. Ages ago it served as the primary medium of transport, especially for trading activities. Today, it is one of the top most attractions that the state has on offer.
– Handy Tips –
Each and every houseboat is different, so make sure you ask for pictures of the houseboat before booking it via online.
Check the reviews on Trip advisor.
If you are in Allepey or Kumarakom, and are planning for an overnight stay, haggle well before you settle for one.
Book well in advance during the peak season i.e. Christmas to New Year time and long weekends.
Off season is the time where you can easily get a good deal.
Make sure the houseboat is in good condition.
Mention in advance, if you have any meal preferences.
Inquire about the check in and check out time and cancellation policy beforehand.
We had an amazing time and absolutely loved our stay. We would highly urge to experience it once in your lifetime.
Have you ever stayed or are planning to stay ?
Do share your experience in the below comment box.