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Have you ever gone houseboat cruising on the backwaters of Kerala? If you haven’t, make sure you do. This one’s really an absolutely wonderful, unforgettable experience!

The houseboats of today - huge, slow moving, exotic barge used for leisure trips - are the reworked Kettuvalloms of olden times. While converting Kettuvalloms into houseboats, care is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats, sticks and wood of the aracanut tree are used for roofing, coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood of coconut trees and coir for beds. Traditional kerosene lamps are used to give a romantic touch for the trip. Today, the houseboats have all the creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Parts of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. While most boats are poled by local oarsmen, some are powered by a 40 HP engine. The crew includes a chef and two oarsmen. The cuisines consist of local specialties such as delicious fish and prawns of traditional Keralean flavour. What is truly magical about a houseboat ride in the breathtaking view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural Kerala that it offers - while you float! Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Living on a houseboat and navigating through the backwaters of Kerala is a lifetime experience. The traditional boat (Kettuvallom) is oared by two men. You also have a cook on board. A houseboat cruise can be for 24 hours or for as long as a week. The New York Times (Nov. 22 '98) described this as an enchanting adventure.

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Kettuvalloms - converted rice boats- are country boats that were used in the early days for the transport of goods like rice and spices from the isolated interior villages to the towns. A standard kettuvallom can hold up to 30 tonnes. With the advent of roads, bridges and ferry services, gradually the Kettuvalloms went out of use. The kettuvallom or ‘boat with knots’- was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only - not even a single nail is used during the construction.  The boat is made of planks of jack-wood "Anjili", joined together with coir. This is then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. With careful maintenance, a kettuvallom can last for generations. A portion of the kettuvallom was covered with bamboo and coir to serve as a restroom and kitchen for the crew. Meals would be cooked on board and supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters. Today, the tradition is still continued and the food from the local cuisine is served by the Kuttanad localities, on board. When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport, some one found a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in the market. By constructing special rooms to accommodate travelers, these boats cruised forward from near- extinction to enjoy their present great popularity.