We glided down narrow waterways in a wicker-wood boat with a thatched roof, ducking and dodging overhanging palm leaves, while coasting past village huts.
If there’s any way to soak in the natural jungle beauty of India, this is it. The Kerala backwaters – also referred to as the “Venice of India” – are made up of hundreds of leafy, windy waterways that tear through the jungle region. These jungles have been mercifully preserved and maintained over the years, and a boat ride is a great way to kick back and relax. There are two different ways to explore the backwaters: quiet hand-paddled row boats (usually a half-day trip), and larger scale overnight houseboats (1-5 days). I had a chance to do the backwaters both ways. Really, you can’t go wrong either way…because the backwaters are just AMAZING. In this post I document the half-day slow-boating experience. Click here for my 2-day houseboat experience.
Apart from the leafy green-ness of the trip, the one quality of the slow-boat experience that I will never forget is of what wasn’t there: the silence (a rarity sometimes in this beautiful country). We glided down narrow waterways in a wicker-wood boat with a thatched roof, ducking and dodging overhanging palm leaves, while coasting past village huts. The silence was constantly broken by the sounds of tree leaves bending and crunching as we passed through very tight quarters. Many of these houses we passed are on tiny islands, isolated from roads and having the waterways as their front yard (as well as their laundry and showering facilities). At some point it rained. But that just added to the serenity of the trip…watching and listening with perfection as the rain pounded the tree leaves and water. It really provided a natural cover for meditation…
Half-way through the boat ride (a total of about 5 hours), we disembarked for an authentic Kerala lunch on an island. Vegetables marinated in curries, snapper fish, and rice served on massive palm-tree leaves. It was like unlike any other lunch I’ve had before (even within India). A very authentic experience. I also met some cool bunch of Israelis on the small boat that I hung out with during the trip…so, luckily I had great company (which can make or break your experience of course).
I booked the slow-boat day trip through my hostel in Kochi, (an hour north of Allepey, the starting point of the backwaters. 1-hour drive down to Allepy). The day-trip from my hostel was Rs 1000 (US$18), and this this included a 1.5 hour-ride car to the backwaters and back, a 6-hour boat ride, and lunch. Yes, all for less than $20. Are you kidding me? Anyways, I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Feel free to comment and thanks for reading!