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Photographer's Note

Now we move from Kerala's Highlands to Lowlands.
Photo of cruising houseboat’s on Kerala’s backwaters.

One of the most tranquil and relaxing things you can do in Kerala is hire a Kerala houseboat (called kettuvallam) to explore the backwaters.

Freshly cooked Indian food and chilled beer make the experience even more enjoyable.

The lush green palm-fringed landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line the backwaters make a journey along these waterways seem like a journey through another world.

Present day houseboats are huge, slow moving exotic barges used for leisure trips, and are in fact reworked version of kettuvallams of olden times. The original kettuvallams were used to carry tons of rice and spices.

The kettuvallam is held together with coir knots. Not even a single nail is used during the construction of the boat. The boat is made of planks of jack-wood joined together with coir. This is then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. With careful maintenance, a kettuvallam can last for generations.

A portion of the kettuvallam 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 freshly cooked fish from the backwaters.

When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport, someone 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 travellers, these boats cruised forward from near-extinction to enjoy their present great popularity.

Today, the houseboats have all the creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished, 3 to 5, bedrooms, modern toilets, cosy 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. Crew of three man, the Captain, the Cook and the Serviceman.

Boat-trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together are also used by large groups of sightseers.
More about Kerala’s backwaters please refer to notes attached to my previous photographs.

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Additional Photos by Miro Susta (mirosu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1205 W: 0 N: 2628] (12518)
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