Importance: As a Transport medium, Irrigational Source
Commercial Significance: An Important Tourist Attraction
Main Districts : Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kollam
The enchanting land of Kerala offers an amazing array of the tranquil backwaters in Kerala. The exotic backwater destinations are the true storehouses of the nature at its best. The splendid sunsets, the waxing moonlights, the pulsating palms and the wonderful waves make the backwater destinations the most sought after in kaleidoscopic Kerala.
KERALA BACKWATER DESTINATIONS
The southernmost district of the State, Thiruvananthapuram is bounded by the wooded highlands of the Western Ghats on the east and northeast, and the Arabian Sea on the west.
A long shoreline, with secluded, internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage give this district some of the most enchanting picnic spots. The main backwater areas of Thiruvananthapuram are Thiruvallam and Veli.
Thiruvallam Backwaters (6 km from Thiruvananthapuram city):
This serene backwater stretch, en-route to Kovalam, is famous for its canoe rides. Thiruvallam is the meeting point of two rivers - Killi and Karamana. A temple dedicated to Parashurama, the legendary founder of Kerala, is located here.
Veli Tourist Village (8 km from Thiruvananthapuram city):
The Veli Tourist Village is sandwiched between the Veli Lagoon and the Arabian Sea. The lagoon here is separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar. Facilities at the village include water sports in the lagoon and an 18-acre waterfront park with a floating bridge that connects the village to the beach.
Akkulam Boat Club (8 km from Thiruvananthapuram city):
This is a very popular picnic spot with boating facilities on the lake and a children's park with a Swimming pool.
Located 71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram, this historic coastline district known for its marine and cashew industries was one of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast and a major international trading point in days gone by.
The district also has some interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional ornate architectural style. Around 30% of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent Backwaters of Kerala.
The eight hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. The District Tourism Promotion Council here offers a wide range of backwater tours and cruises.
Alumkadavu (23 km from Kollam town):
Along the vast expanse of the Kayamkulam Lake is the picturesque little village of Alumkadavu. This village is the home of the skilled artisans who crafted the enormous Kettuvallams in yester years.
With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travellers from across the world, this backwater country is also home to diverse animal and bird life.
By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, Alappuzha has grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, attracting several thousands of foreign tourists each year.
Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad.
The 75 kilometre long sparkling network of rivers, canals, lakes, lagoons and tiny streamlets between Quilon and Cochin and beyond to Thiruvananthapuram, of which the Kuttanad (Backwaters) comprises of, are akin to a tropical land of canals.
This bewildering labyrinth of shimmering waterways composed of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets is lined with dense tropical greenery and preserves Kerala lifestyles that are completely hidden by road.
According to mythology, a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight).
This little island on the Backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. It takes 1½ hours by motorboat/30 min, by speedboat from Alappuzha.
Bordered by the lofty Western Chats on the east, the Vembanad Lake and the paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics.
Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the title: the land of letters, latex and lakes.
A voyage north of Alappuzha takes you to the rich green, sleepy little village of Kumarakom on the Vembanad Lake. An enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating.
Erankulam Backwaters :
More popular as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi is a cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake. Some of these picturesque islands are Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
The lake opens out into the Arabian Sea here to form one of the finest natural harbours in the world. It is this natural advantage that has made Kochi a fascinating blend of the cultures and influences of the explorers and traders who visited this wealthy land.
The Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have all left their mark here. The Jewish synagogue, the Dutch palace, the Chinese fishing nets, and other remnants of European and Asian architecture merge smoothly into the traditional fabric of the seaport city.
Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around on the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots.
Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins, a prominent trade and commerce centre and the land of the Malabar Mahotsavam, Kozhikode was the most important region of Malabar in days past.
Today, ancient monuments, lush green countryside, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, hills, a unique culture and a warm, friendly ambience make this district a much sought after destination.
Unexplored, unspoiled, the backwaters of Kozhikode hold great promises of enchanting holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favourite places for boating.
Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary is a charming site. Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam (water fiesta) is fast becoming a popular water sport destination.
The northernmost district of Kerala, Kasaragod is situated on the sea coast with the Western Chats on its east and northern borders. Backwater trips on the Chandragiri River and at Valiyaparamba are fascinating experiences.
Chandragiri (4 km from Kasaragod town):
Situated on the Chandragiri River, southeast of Kasaragod town, this town is known for the large 17th century Chandragiri Fort, one of a chain of forts.
It offers a breathtaking view of the river and the Arabian Sea. It is a vantage point to watch the sunset.
Boat trips to nearby islands and palm groves are available.
Valiyaparamba (30 km from Bekal Fort):
This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favoured backwater resort.