Canals, 26 lakes and 44 rivers crisis-cross, the sea board areas ofSouthern Keralaand form its backwater. The total length of the backwater is about 1500kms. Not long ago, backwater of Kerala was widely used for the transport of cargo and especially to and from Cochi harbour by Kettivallam, a type of catamaran.
After the advent of lorries as the carrier of goods, ‘Kettlvallams’ have been converted to ‘boat houses’ and are being used for tourism. They are made out of wood and coir. In the days of yore, ‘Kettlvallams’ brought tiles to Kayts (Sri Lanka) and took tabacco back to Kerala. Many in Kerala still recall with nostalgia, the pungent taste of Jaffna tobacco.
Although Kerala is one of the smallest states in India, it’s one that abounds in lakes, lagoons, rivers, and plenty of sunshine. It is a land that could provide an ideal getaway for people who lead a busy western way of life where hustle and bustle is the order of the day
My cherished dream of visiting Kerala came in fruition when I arrived there on December 23, last year also my birth day. My immediate reaction was, it was a land to be. The scene of coconut trees swaying to and from to the gentle blow of wind was absolutely breath taking.
“We should have come here for our honeymoon’ I told my wife. “We have to come here for your birthday,” she said.
Anita Pratap, a writer of repute, in her book ‘Island of blood’ has beautifully described the scenic beauty one could see when he takes a ride on a boat along Kerala’s backwater.
We started out ride on a boathouse, which I had booked in advance at Alleppey with two boatmen and a cook. River water was still and covered with water plants that resembled a green carpet. There were houses on either side of the river with access to the river using stepping-stones. One could see wide and varied activities of people that are usual to any village.
There was an abundant growth of banana, jack, coconut and mango trees. Shoe flower shrubs with flowers enhanced the scenic beauty. I listened to the music of Jesudas that was being played through loud speakers hung atop coconut trees.
At sunset, the boat was anchored at a village. We were served with dinner consisting of rice, fish and vegetable curries for which Kerala is renowned. Fireworks streaking towards the sky indicated the arrival of Christmas season.
A long boat ride coupled with the cold breeze from the river made us to retire to the bed early and take us to the land of nod in next to no time.
Getting up in the morning to the crow of cock birds, we saw a brisk trading on boats with boatmen selling fish, utensils and vegetables. We again reached Alleppey at noon. The scenic beauty of Kerala made an everlasting impression on me, that I took a pledge that I would come back to Kerala on another day.
Written by Nadesan and translated by Ganesh