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5 Interesting Things to do in Kerala

Kerala, one of the well known tourist destinations in the world has time and again stayed true to its title of “God’s Own Country” with its plush green sceneries and rejuvenating aura. There is no dearth of exhilarating experiences when it comes to tourism in this green splendor of a state tucked away in the south western corner of India.

In addition to some of the widespread tourist pursuits of the place, Kerala has a seen a rise in some unique but less common things of tourism interest which are given below.

Stay in Tree Houses

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Tree Houses have recently reared its head among the popular pass times in Kerala. Although a little lesser known, it is an extremely fun way to spend time enjoying the grandeur of Kerala from the lavishly constructed tree houses atop the grand trees of Kerala.

The tree houses will not fail to surprises you with its airy expanse, not to mention the amenities at hand. So you can lounge in luxury even as you indulge the child in you. The tree houses are an exceptional example of the fusion of nature with modern architecture.

Relish the company of the Majestic elephants of Kerala, Kodanad

KodanadA rural riverside village located in the Ernakulam district of Kerala, Kodanad is not only famous for its picturesque location alongside the Periyar river but also because of the famous elephant training centre. Elephants are an integral part of Indian mythology and culture. In God’s Own Country, elephants are often referred to as the sons of the ‘Sahya’ (the Western Ghats).

Kodanad  is one of the largest elephant training centres in Kerala. Earlier elephants captured from the Malayatoor forests (the forests in the East and North of Kodanad) were trained here. Since the introduction of a ban on elephant capture Kodanad has been reduced to a training centre. The famous Malayatoor Church is near Kodanad. Various activities are open to wide eyed tourists here such as elephant safari, elephant bathing etc.

Revivify your Soul on a Houseboat Journey on the Backwaters of Alleppey

IMG_9331Sit back and take in the scenic beauty of the grandiose backwaters of Kerala flanked by plush flora on the traditional Houseboats tailored to the house the necessities and luxuries of the modern world.

Read More about Houseboats at: https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2014/11/24/kerala-houseboats/

Read about booking Houseboats with backwaterbreaks.com : https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2015/03/03/booking-houseboats-with-backwaterbreakscom/

Neelakurinji Blooming on the Hillside

If you have a weakness for beauty in the form of blooming flowers, then Eravikulam neelakurinjiNational Park is a must visit. Watching the blooming of the “ Neelakurinji” (Strobilanthes kunthiana) which happens once in 12 years is a fascinating experience in itself. Another treat that you get on your trek up to the peak of the hill is the Nigiri Thar, an endangered mountain goat. The park remains closed in February and March.

 

Watch Theyyam in Northern Kerala

IMG_2145Theyyam is a form of worship where man dons the guise of God and propitiates the Gods through possessed dancing; Theyyam is also known by the name Kaliyaattom. The performance of Theyyam is supposed to make life prosperous and remove all hazards. Theyyam has its etymological origin from Daivam,  i.e., god in vernacular. Theyyam is performed in mainly in the North Malabar districts of Kannur and Kasargod in Kerala State, India.  If you are a big lover of art forms, then this is one that should not be missed.

Temple Festivals of Kerala

Kerala is undoubtedly famous for its luxuriant greenery and incredible natural grandeur. Its rich cultural and traditional heritages leaves no stone unturned in attempting to surpass the verdant opulence. One among the plethora of cultural feasts for the eyes are the temple festivals of Kerala. Some of the major one’s are as follows:

 Arattu at Thiruvananthapuram

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Arattu festival is a festival that is celebrated in Trivandrum in the famous Padmanabhan Temple. In Kerala, arattu festival is celebrated as a closing ceremony of a 10-day festival in Kerala. The Arattu festival in Kerala is celebrated twice a year, once in the months of October-November and one more time in the months of March-April. The festival actually refers to the procession that takes place as a closing ceremony of the 10-day festival at the temple. Read on further to know more about Arattu festival of Kerala, India.

On this occasion, the ex-Maharaja visits the temple at Trivandrum and performs certain rituals. After the rituals, a grand procession is taken out of the temple. The procession comprises of beautifully ornamented elephants with the idol of Lord mounted on the front elephant. Drummers and musicians playing musical instruments accompany these elephants. While the procession leaves the perimeter of the temple, a salute of 21 guns is given as an honor. The procession progresses slowly towards the Sanghumugham beach.

The Maharaja also accompanies the procession amidst tight security. On reaching the beach, a ceremonial dip is taken in the sea. Slowly the procession heads back to the temple thus marking the end of the 10-day festival.

Ambalapuzha Arattu

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The Sree Krishnaswamy temple at Ambalapuzha dedicated to Parthasarathy was established by the Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran in the year 790 M.E. He offered his state to Sree Krishna and ruled the country as his regent after assuming the name of Deva Narayana.

The Arattu festival of this temple commences with the flag hoisting ceremony on the Atham day in Meenam (March-April). The important Arattu Utsavam, however, takes place on the Thiruvonam day in Meenam.

‘Velakali’ is an important feature of this festival. The famous Ambalapuzha Palpayasam (a milk pudding of exceptional sweetness) is the important offering of this temple.

 Aranmula Uthrattathi

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The Aranmula Uthrittathi is celebrated with a ritual boat race held during the Onam festival. Legend has it that a boat carrying offerings to the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple was under attacked by enemies. People from the neighboring areas sent their snake boats to protect it. This has now evolved into a snake boat race, presented as an offering to Lord Parthasarathy.

 

Attukal Pongala

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Attukal Pongala (also known as the Sabrimala of women) is considered the largest congregation of women in the world. Women all over the city cook their offerings and bring it to the Attukal temple. ‘Payasam’ – a sweet dish made with rice, jaggery and banana is an integral part of this offering.

 

Adoor Gajamela

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An annual 10 day long celebration is held at the Parthasarathy Temple in Adoor, and the Adoor Gajamela is the highlight of it. Nine elephants in their ceremonial attire are paraded, as hundreds of visitors throng the temple gates to witness the regal spectacle.

Kuthiyottam and Kettukazhcha

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The Chettikulangara Temple near Kayamkulam celebrates the Bharani Utsavam in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March). The highlight of this temple festival is Kuthiyottam and Kettukazhcha. As part of the Kuthiyottam ceremony, young boys are required to fast, and are taken in a ceremonial procession to the temple to the tune of music, the beating of drums and ornamental umbrellas. For Kettukazhcha, local residents worship decorated effigies of chariots, horses and dieties and take part in a ceremonial procession.

Chittoor Konganpada

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Konganpada is celebrated in the Bhagavathy temple at Chittur in the month of Kumbhom (February-March). It is meant to commemorate the victory of the Nairs of Chittur over the militia of Konganadu (Coimbatore) which the Goddess Bhagavathy is believed to have orchestrated.

 

 

Chottanikkara Makam

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Chottanikkara Makam is an auspicious day observed at the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple. The Murti of Goddess Bhagavathy is given a ritual bath, after which it is accompanied by Lord Shastha and eleven elephants to an open ground until noon. The deity is clothed in regal attire and adorned with jewels. It is also believed that prayers offered during this time will be answered.

Ettumanoor Festival

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The Ettumanoor festival is celebrated in an ancient Siva temple about 12 Km North-East of Kottayam. The arattu festival of this temple is celebrated annually in a grand fashion on the Thiruvathira day in Kumbham. Multitudes flock to the temple on the 8th and 10th day of the festival when seven and a half elephants made of gold are displayed for public view.

Guruvayoor Festival

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The Guruvayur festival begins on the day of Pushya in the month of Kumbham (February-March), and culminates with the Aarattu on the 10th day. The rituals are served to purify and energize the deity’s powers. The cultural festivities include a variety of processions, bright lights, decorative arches and non-explosive fireworks. Homes are freshly painted and buildings are decorated with lights, plantain trunks, coconut bunches and arecanuts.

Haripad Temple Festival

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The Thaipooyam Festival is a one-day affair held at the Sree Subrahmanya Swamy Temple. Devotee carry kavadis (decorated wooden arches) on their shoulders and perform a ritualistic dance called Kavadiyattom as they proceed to the temple. Some devotees also pierce their cheeks with long arrows and perform a tantric dance as an offering to the gods.

Kanathurkava Uthsavam

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The Kanathurkavu Temple in the heart of Kannur celebrates its annual festival in April each year. Thousands throng the premises to witness the Theyyattom – a dance ritual of the Goddess Mahadevi.

 

 

 

Kappally Kumbham Thira

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The Kappally temple conducts its annual Thira festival between the 3rd and 13th days of Kumbham (February-March) every year. The 12th day is considered the most important day of the festival.

 

 

Kodiyettu Uthsavam

The Kodiyettu Utsavam is a festival dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy, celebrated in memory of the temple’s consecration. It commences on the Makayiram day in Vrischikam (November-December) and ends on the Uthram day.

Kodungallur Bharani Utsavam

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The Bharani festival is well known for it’s spectacular event called kaavu theendal. For this ritual, oracles from various parts of the state arrive at Kodungalloor Bhagavathy temple. The men and women run around the temple in a trance, smiting their crowns with swords and proclaiming their communion with the Mother Goddess. The devotees strike the temple rafters with sticks and throw their offerings over the roof in to the inner quadrangle of the temple.

Koodalmanikyam Utsavam

The historic Koodalmanickam temple situated in the Manavalassery village is an architectural masterpiece. The deity, Sree Bharatha is worshiped here and the annual festival is conducted during the month of Medom (April-May).

Kumaranalloor Thrikarthika Uthsavam

Thrikkarthika is celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (November–December). On the Karthika day, devotees visit the Udayanapuram and Thrissur Vadakkunnatha temples and present their offerings. Legend has it that the gods of these two temples where enamored with the beauty of Devi as she returned from her bath. They hopped over the compound walls to look at here, and were finally met at the walls by temple priests. So, during Karthika, puja is performed over the walls of these temples. There is also a magnificent display of lights in the evening, called Karthika Vilakku, which is the highlight of the celebrations.

Kalapathy Ratholsavam (Chariot Festival)

The Sree Viswanathaswamy Temple at Kalpathy holds an annual 7 day chariot festival, and the last three days are called the Kalpathy Ratholsavam. The 700 year old temple celebrates this festival with Vedic recitals and a massive procession of decorated temple chariots drawn through the streets by thousands of devotees.

Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam

During the Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam festival, the major theyyam forms of Kerala are performed amid thousands of visitors. The festival itself is a riot of colours and pageantry, making it very attractive to onlookers.

Lokanarkavu Uthsavam

The Lokanarkavu Bhagavathy temple is situated at Memunda in North Kerala. It celebrates two festivals annually in the months of Vrischikam (November-December) and Meenam (March-April). The festival in Vrischikam is called Mandalavilakku and is the more important of the two.

Mannarsala Utsavam

Mannarsala, situated near the Sri. Subramanyaswamy temple in Haripad, is the seat of the famous temple of Nagaraja (God of Serpents). The temple itself is build in a grove and is known to have 30,000 images of snake gods. On the day of Ayilliam in the months of Kanni and Thulam (September and October), all the serpent deities in the grove and temple are taken in a procession and are offered Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), Kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice.

Nellikulangara Vela

The temple of Nellikulangara Bhagavathi attracts many visitors who seek to invoke the blessings of the Goddess. Their annual festival is conducted in the 20th Meenam (March-April) every year. During the festival, an image of the deity is placed on a richly attired elephant and taken on a procession. To accompany the procession, there is a live band, fireworks and a lot of pageantry.

Sharkara Bharani and Kaliyootu

The Sarkara Bhagavathy temple is situated in the Sarkara village, close to the Chirayinkeezhu railway station. This temple celebrates the Kaliyoottu festival in Kumbham and the Bharani festival in Meenam (February-March). Kaliyootu is actually a commemoration of the fight between Darika and Bhadrakali.

Sundareshwara Temple Festival

The Shri Sundareshwara Temple was founded by Shri Narayana Guru in 1916 and it’s dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple conducts an 8-day long festival in the months of March- April every year.

Thrissur Pooram

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The Thrissur Pooram is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May). The 200 year old festival displays a spectacular procession of elephants and drummers for a whole 36 hours. Unlike other temple festivals, the Thrissur Pooram is celebrated by all residents, irrespective of religion, caste or community.

Thirunakkara Uthsavam

The Mahadeva Temple at Kottayam is located on the Thiruvakkara Hill. It is a famous Siva temple, known for its historical significance, antique heritage and sanctity. The temple conducts a 10-day long Arattu Utsavam in the 1st Meenam (March-April) which attracts hundreds and thousands of devotees.

Thrichambaram Uthsavam

The Thrichambaram temple is dedicated to Sree Krishna and is located in the Taliparamba village. The temple’s annual festival lasts for 14 days from 22nd Kumbaham (February-March).

Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple Arattu

This temple’s annual 10-day long Arattu festival is celebrated in the month of Meenam (March-April). It commences with a Kodiyettu (Flag hoisting) on Karthika day and ends with the Arattu on Uthram day.

Vaikathashtami Festival

The Vaikathashtami Festival is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is held during November or December at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple.  This annual celebration held at the temple is a 12 day long affair, held during the dark lunar fortnight in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam.

The Ashtami falls on the last day, and at dusk, deities from neighbouring temples are brought in a ceremonial procession. All the deities are worshipped and offered presents, and then an Arattu is performed in a pond close to the temple. The festival also features various classical dances and cultural celebrations.

Uthralikavu Pooram

Uthralikkavu Pooram is a festival held at the Shri Rudhiramahakalikav temple, situated at Wadackanchery in Thrissur district. The temple’s annual Poornam festival is held during February / March every year.

As you can see, there is no dearth of festivities in Kerala. Do plan your next Kerala trip around the festival season, and join us in the celebration.

When you plan your Kerala tour package, do consult with your  tour operator. He will be able to guide you  and make arrangements to visit the right festival according to the season.

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

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Food on Houseboats, Kerala

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A cruise on the lush green Kerala backwaters is nothing short of a spiritual and rejuvenating sensation, not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. The alluring backwaters coupled with the picturesque flora flanking the either sides is a marked feast for the eyes and food for the soul. Add it up all up with the exquisite Kerala Cuisine, and the vacation would give you a hint of the ultimate nirvana that all aspire for.

A houseboat cruise on the Kerala backwaters, opens door to a cuisine enriched with exotic tropical fruits, vegetables, cereals, fish and chicken garnished with the distinctive aroma of pepper, cardamom, chillies, and cloves-spices. In short, a cuisine that’s simply divine!

The cuisine offers a blend of home style cooking with creative selections of savoury spices and robust ingredients in dishes that explode with flavour.

What makes it different?

In addition to the assortment of spices used to pep up the dishes, in Kerala, the utensil used for cooking determines the taste and nutrition of the dish as well. Terracotta, bamboo, brass, bronze, copper or leaves etc are used to bring the rich flavours onto your tastebuds.

What kind of cuisine does the Houseboats follow?

kappachakkakandhariKerala and Kerala houseboats in particular are famous for its reputation for good sea food. Of course, sea food anywhere is expensive but because of the proximity of the state to the seas and oceans, sea food tends to be cheaper in Kerala. But depending on your budget and liking, food served in Kerala houseboats can vary. However, most often the houseboat foods includes fish and vegetarian food because that is what is most often demanded by the customers. Houseboats also pride themselves on having a large tourist clientele from outside of the country, places such as the United States of America, and European countries such as Italy, Spain and France.

imagesOne of the most traditional drinks of Kerala is the coconut water which is sweet and is most often served as a welcoming drink to the passengers on board. Coconut water is also given to the same passengers in between meals and as beverages as and when the passenger demands. Breakfast in houseboats in Kerala mostly comprise of the quintessential south Indian foods such as idly, dosa, sambar, with hot tea or coffee. During lunch most of the times, the menu will include foods such as different kinds of fish fry and they are also accompanied with different kinds of chutneys, papad and different kinds of sweets. During most evenings in the house boats, the passengers are given tea and other snacks which may or may not be south Indian. They could be from different parts of the country depending upon the kind of Kerala house boat package you have chosen.

Food in houseboats also includes dinner which comprises mostly of the varied Indian cuisine like rotis, chapattis, dal, chicken curry made in the authentic Kerala style, and other kinds of vegetables. Most of the cooking and storage in the Kerala houseboats are dealt with utmost care and cleanliness. They take great care to ensure that the food is of high quality and the passengers have the best tastes of their lives.

An Approximate Sample Menu Onboard Houseboats

Deluxe Non Veg Menu

Welcome drink

LUNCH

Rice
Sambar
Mixed Vegetables Thoran (Carrot, Cabbage, Beans)
Mezhukupurathy (Long Beans)
Fish Fry (Pearl Spot / Seer Fish)
Banana Kalan
Pappadam
Salad
Pickle
Tropical seasonal fruit

EVENING

Coffee or Tea, Banana Fritters

DINNER

Chappati
Dal Curry
Chicken Roast
Vendakka Mezhukupurathy
White Rice and Raitha
Salad

BREAKFAST

Tea /Coffee
Bread, Jam, Butter, Omlette.  OR
Iddly, Sambar. (By default) OR
Dosa, Sambar. OR
Poori Masala. OR
Idiyappam and Kadala Curry / Egg Roast. OR
Appam and Vegetable Curry / Egg Roast. OR
Puttu and Kadala Curry

Deluxe Pure Veg Menu

Welcome drink

LUNCH

Rice
Sambar
Mixed Vegetables Thoran (Carrot, Cabbage, Beans)
Mezhukupurathy (Long Beans)
Banana Kalan
Pappadam
Salad
Pickle
Payasam-Vermicelli
Tropical seasonal fruit

EVENING

Coffee or Tea, Banana Fritters

DINNER

Chappati,
Dal Curry
Aloo Gobi
Cabbage White Thoran
Vegetable Salad
White Rice and Raitha
Vendakka Mezhukupurathy

BREAKFAST

Tea /Coffee
Bread, Jam, Butter.  OR
Iddly, Sambar. (By default) OR
Dosa, Sambar. OR
Poori Masala. OR
Idiyappam and Kadala Curry OR
Appam and Vegetable Curry  OR
Puttu and Kadala Curry

The menu usually varies according to customer preferences and the cruise owners often go out of the way to make sure that the travellers’ taste preferences are catered to, to a great extent.

Travelling in Alleppey- The Venice of the East

 

Alappuzha or better known as Alleppey, is the heart of Kerala’s backwaters, and home to a vast network of waterways and more than a thousand houseboats. It is a small but chaotic city, with a modest grid of canals that would compel you to agree to its illustrious title ‘Venice of the East’ . The moment you take a step towards the west to the beach or in practically any other direction towards the backwaters, you would undoubtedly be blown away by its grandiose and picturesque greenery and the watery world of villages, punted canoes, toddy shops and, of course, houseboats. The best experience would prove to be floating along and gazing over paddy fields of succulent green, curvaceous rice barges and village life along the banks. This is one of Kerala’s most spiritually rejuvenating and mesmerizingly beautiful relaxing experiences.

It’s easy to get around Alleppey on foot and one can come across many interesting old trading houses along the canals while taking a relaxed stroll down the quiet little streets, enjoying the relaxed pace of village life.

Among the several highlights of Alleppey, the most noteworthy one to point out would be the leisurely houseboat cruise through the enchanting backwaters engulfed in the entrancing landscape of palm-fringed banks, quiet water-bound villages, Chinese fishing nets, prawn farming and coir manufacture. Alleppey bowls one over with its labyrinth of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers crisscrossing it.

 

How to Reach Alleppey

Kerala is well connected by a network of roadways and waterways. Alleppey is one such city with well planned out transport systems, making it easily accessible to all those looking to uncover and enjoy its beauty and serenity.

By Air

Reaching Alappuzha by Air is the easiest and fastest means to reach the Venice of the East in Kerala. The nearest airports are the Thiruvananthapuram, 150 kilometers away; Kochi, 85 kilometers away; and Nedumbassery, which is equally close to Alleppey.

Traveling to Alappuzha by Air is hassle free and the tourists can also make a last minute booking in the online sites of the airlines. The tourists can fly down to Thiruvananthapuram Airport, which schedules regular domestic flights to this place. There are facilities of hiring cars near the airport terminals. Alleppey by Airways is also possible through the Nedumbassery Airport, which is only 85 km away from Alappuzha.

The visitors can also board flight to Kochi International Airport and reach by rail Allepey Station or take the roadways to Alapuzzha on NH47, which also connects Salem to
Kanyakumari. Alleppey by Air is the shortest and fastest route to the divine land of Kerela. Alappuzha is one of the most popular destinations for the tourists in south India.

By Train

Reaching Alleppey by train is easy from any part of India. Specially South India is very well connected to Alappuzha by regular trains. Any major city of South India or central India is connected by rail to Alleppey.

The visitors can board a train from the metropolitan cities and reach Alappuzha. The time required Traveling to Alleppey by train depends on the route of the train and the distance required to cover. Alappuzha railway station is a major station, which link every important city in India. This railway station is easily accessible throughout India. There are direct trains to Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam and also to further North from this station.

Alleppey by railways is very easy specially from cities like Kochi or Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, New Delhi, Chennai, Bengalooru or Bangalore, Coimbatore, Mumbai or Bombay and Kolkata. Alappuzha by train is a journey accompanied by serene landscape in the backdrop.

By Road

Reaching Alleppey by Road is a memorable journey surrounded by the greenery of Kerela. Alappuzha is well connected to all the major roads and highways not only in its own state but also to the rest of South India. The national highways connect Alleppey to the entire India.

Alappuzha is well-connected to almost all the major cities by road. Traveling to Alleppey by road is a pleasurable experience because of the surrounding atmosphere. The visitors can drive down to Alappuzha along the well connected road network transportation to all the major cities and towns of Kerala and the neighboring states.

Alleppey Changanacherry Road is one of the major roadway of the city, that starts in NH 47. This road directly connects Changanacherry from Alappuzha. It also connects Pallathuruthi Bridge and then leads towards other main places of Kerela. A number of interconnecting roadways to different parts of South India makes traveling to Alleppey by roadways very easy. National Highway 47 crosses Alappuzha. The visitors can reach Alleppey by road conveniently because the road conditions are good.

Alleppey Travel Tips

Journey to Alappuzha is exciting and involves being prepared to be swept off by the glistening backwaters and an absolutely fantastic green backdrop.

Alappuzha is a clean paradise and a storehouse of colorful marine life. The best time to visit Alleppey is during the months of August to December. Alappuzha is well connected to all the places of India by air, rail, road, and waterways. There are several tourist destinations in Alleppey like Pathiramanal, R-Block, Karumadikuttan, Kumarakodi, Krishnapuram Palace, Saradha Mandiram, Mavelikkara, Alappuzha Beach and Sea View park and many more.

Stay in house boats are lifetime experience in Alleppey. This is one of the most popular activities , that relax the visitors completely and erase all the stress of daily life. Some houseboats work in tandem with the ayurvedic centers of Kerala as well. Fishing, learning cooking in traditional methods, a walk through the villages in evening, shopping, strolling leisurely along the beaches etc are  some of the activities that can be taken up during the stay there.

The travelers should preferably  wear loose and comfortable clothes and carry torch, mosquito repellent, mobile chargers, and compulsorily sun tan creams. Carrying some necessary medicines is also a must keep in mind thing, not just for the backwaters trip but just about anywhere

Places to visit in Alleppey

http://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2014/09/27/places-to-visit-in-alleppey/

Shopping in Alleppey

Shopping in Alleppey for coir products is a fascinating and feasible experience. Alleppey is famous for its coir products and carpets. Alleppey offers glimpses of the coir manufacturing process-from the coconut husk tot the final rope/coir yarn stage. There are also several shops selling coir matting and carpets. The fine quality, variety and reasonable price tag make these products stay high in the demand list of tourists. Alleppey is also famous for its pepper, coconut oil, areca nut, cardamom, and sugar.

 Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

https://backwaterbreaks.com/

Best ways to celebrate 2016 New Year’s Eve in Kerala

 

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Kerala is all prepped up for celebrating the 2016 New Year’s Eve in style. Whether it be a calm, serene New Year’s eve or a crazy New Year party; beaches backwaters, clubs; Kerala has it all.

We are here to serve you on a platter top 10 things that can make your New Year’s eve, the most exciting one.

New Year Count Down at Le Meridien : Celebrate this New Year in Kerala with great music and excitement at Le Meridien, Ernakulam. Great good and drinks perks that come along with the crackling energy and fun they provide.583384-retro-2016-new-years-eve-party

 

Celebrate New Year at the Recca ClubRECCA-Feature

New Year with New Menu at Cafe Papaya

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Varkala, Kovalam or Fort Kochi will be among the best places  to spend the New Years Eve 2016 in Kerala. However if you ask us to pick one place we would surely pick Fort Kochi, simply because of the carnival celebrations on the day of new year 2016 which falls on a Friday, January 1.

In Kochi, burning of Pappanji or a giant statue of Santa that marks the start of a new year.Burning of Pappanji, is a 500 year old tradition to mark the end of Xmas and New Year festivities which was started when Portuguese established its first base in India at Kochi as part of Portuguese New Year celebrations.This is usually celebrated in Fort Kochi beach and nearly a hundred thousand people attend the celebrations in the beach every year.

Cochin Carnival is hosted every year in the last week of December and it runs with the New year and ends with a massive procession on New Year’s Day through Fort Kochi. The highlight of the carnival is the massive procession on the New Year’s Day. Led by an embellished elephant and accompanied by drums and music, the carnival is a moment to behold and stays with you….well….until the next year! There is also staging of different South and North Indian folk dances during the festivity.

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Preparations begin months in advance for hosting the carnival games, fairs and partying. Dressed up in fancy costumes, everyone including the children are seen bursting with enthusiasm and unbridled energy. The available space on the streets host impromptu competitions and multifaceted celebrations. Kalam Vara (floor drawing), tug-of-war, bicycle race, swimming in the sea, beach volleyball are some of the programs that take place during the Carnival.

Munnar

Visiting Munnar is like going back in time. The rolling green hills that surround the town are sites of tea plantation, and their slopes have been cut, sculpted, and contoured to give them a distinguishable ornamental look. The peaks of these hills remain engulfed in an ethereal mist, and a walk through the many roads cut into slopes will provide you with a sense of peace and oneness with yourself. The Western Ghats, the ranges of which form the topography of Munnar, are home to not only a wide variety of wildlife like the Nilgiri Tahr and the Sambar, but also the Neelakurinji, that flowers every 12 years. So whether you’re a nature lover, bird watcher, or are simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Munnar is your place. And with its cool climate, New Year’s Eve will be complete.

Crowne Plaza(XI/641A, Kundanoor Junction, NH-47 Bypass, Maradu, Ernakulam , Cochin)

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Kochi-Muziris Biennale Art lovers from around the country and abroad visit Fort Kochi for Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The Vasco Da Gama square and the streets are dotted with makeshift shops selling Kerala souvenirs , artificial jewellery and traditional garments in New Year and if you are planning to go for New year Parties in Kochi in 2016, you need to book much in advance.

Kerala Houseboats: Whether you are in search for a peaceful and soulful new year or a fun filled new year, houseboats would never cease to amaze you. You and your friends can book a house boat and start your count down in the middle of the scintillating Kerala backwaters.

Vivanta by Taj, Trivandrum

Vivanta by Taj is offering a night to remember through their three variety of DJ night. DJ Night at Twist will cost you Rs 3,000, DJ and dance at ball room where u also can have a buffet spread will cost you Rs9,000 while DJ Night by the poolside will be available at Rs2500. That’s not all, Vivanta by Taj is also offering special gala dinner on December 31st at a rate of Rs 2950 and a brunch and dinner for Rs1950/ person on January 1 at the Fifth Element. There will also be special menu at Chinapolis on December 31. Contact: 6612345

Hilton Garden Inn,Trivandrum

Hilton Garden Inn has planned a great ‘UV Mayhem’, an Ultra Violet (UV) party and dinner at ball room and Garden Grille on New Year’s Eve. The guests, preferably dressed in white, can get glow painting done on their faces. Apart from the main event, there will be Party props, photo booth, elaborate buffet, kid’s zone and a two-piece band at Garden Grille, and a DJ in the ballroom.

Uday Samudra, Kovalam

On New Year’s Eve, Uday Samudra Beach resort at Kovalam is hosting a gala event featuring Indian traditional dances, magic trapeze acts, rope dance, an elaborate buffet with 36 counters, and fireworks.

  • Time: 7:00PM onwards
  • Rate: Rs 6,000 per couple
  • Contact: 2485767

 

The above are just a glimpse of the few destinations for celebrating this New Year with a bang. When it comes to enjoying life, God’s own Country is like a bottomless pit. Wish you a fantastic 2016 and an awesome jump start with the New Year Celebrations!

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

https://backwaterbreaks.com/

 

Tourism Seasons In Kerala

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where serenity meets excitement

 

Kerala is a land of evergreen tourism, with various things to do and places to visit all around the year. It is a land bountiful in natural and cultural beauty. Its allure is stretched across its scintillating backwaters, vast serene beaches, colorful wildlife sanctuaries, picturesque hill stations, indigenous ayurvedic treatments and so on.  

Kerala entertains visitors throughout the year owing to its pleasing weather conditions and multiple events and festivities filling its calendar over an entire year.

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On a general note, Kerala has mainly three tourist seasons. The Peak Season which usually ranges from September to March, the Off Season in Kerala which is from April to May and Monsoon Seasons from June to August. Each of these season offer a variety of experience for travellers travelling for varied reasons. Each season holds its own attraction and experience.

The Off Season (March – May)

The off season which falls in the Summer season in Kerala begins in the month of March and continues till May. This season sees some occasional rainfall as well as some amount of hot and humid weather. Yet the cool winds from the Arabian Sea manages to tone down to climate in a large way. This season proves the best time for visiting the beaches of Alleppey and Thiruvananthapuram as well as enjoying the hills of Wayanad.

The Monsoon Season (June – August)

The heavy showers of the Kerala Monsoon season start pouring in ,in the month of June and continues till the end of August. The rains literally do a makeover of the land making it glisten and shine all over amongst the waving greens. Earlier, the monsoon season was not considered a very important tourism season,but in the recent times, its alluring and enthralling nature has been captivating everyone around the world. This season also marks the perfect time to let yourself experience the benefits of the Ayurvedic treatments. ( 5 reasons to go to Kerala during the monsoon by Abigail Hole (Lonely Planet Author) July 13 2013 )

The Peak Season (September – March)

The peak season kicks off with the advent of the Winter season in the month of September and ends before the summer in the month of March. The weather during this season is cool and ideal for spending the perfect holiday. It is a great time to explore the breathtaking beauty of the state. It is the right time to visit viewpoints at hill stations, take a stroll on the beaches or lay back and enjoy at the backwaters of Kerala.

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

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PARVATHY-A woman’s take on bringing  you perfect houseboat Cruise

cruise op of the month.jpg“I really feel that people must, they just, must take a whiff of this amazingly fresh air. It is nothing short of magical! In a world that is fast paced; with vacations that can end up leaving you more tired than you were before, this fresh air rejuvenates. It really is not just about the scenic beauty, it truly brings tranquility to the soul!” Parvathy , the backbone of the Pournami Houseboats of the Alleppey backwaters, says with her eyes gleaming with childlike excitement.

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Parvathy is an exemplary image of the modern woman entrepreneur in an area that is largely driven by men. Having completed her Masters in Computer Applications and worked in the corporate IT world, she is one among the very few men and women who have sought to discover their individuality and create success from scratch.unnamed.jpg

Pournami Houseboats which now branches out under the Spring Bay Holidays Pvt. Ltd. is located at the Finishing Point Road, OPP KSRTC Bus Stand in Alappuzha, Kerala. What began as a new venture in the year 2007, has, after many ups and downs, become one of the sought after cruise operators (with amazing reviews in tripadvisor) in the backwaters of Alleppey with several Houseboats under them.

How did it all begin, the houseboats, Pournami…cruises…?

I believe that it all sort of started unraveling in front of us from the point in time that we came into a bit of ancestral inheritance. There was a lot of talk about building a house and the usual stereotyped things. Having come across Dr.Spencer’s “Who Moved My Cheese”, the idea of taking risks and putting money for further growth sprouted in our heads.

We got a two bedroom houseboat back then and initially it was actually given out for rental use by cruise operators already in the market.

What made you go from rentals into a full-fledged cruise operator?

Owning a houseboat might sound cool but trust me when it comes to maintaining it, it’s not all that a colourful picture. It’s simply a regular life situation, nobody is going to take care of your stuff as well as you might. At the end of the day, we were stuck in a real fine mess of repairs and the fact is maintaining a house boat consumes a fair amount of money. Soon we were losing more than what we were investing. That’s when we figured out that we were going about it the wrong way and it’s time to step up and do things differently.

Did you face difficulty when you started renting out the houseboat yourself, or was it an easy ride?

Oh definitely! Some major hurdles did come our way. One of them stemming from the fact that we were utterly new in the business. There were already a lot of people in the market and it was really a mammoth effort to figure out how to reel in the customers. At the particular time, word of mouth was the definitive approach for promoting the business. It was in fact a major low point in our lives too.  We have our manager Vinod who is the pillar of Pournami right from the beginning, he gave the momentum to Pournami as he was experienced in hospitality. The best thing is we still have all the employees that we started out with.

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Things have undeniably transformed over the past years.But those were years of sleeplessness

Is house boat tourism an easy business once you cross the initial hiccups?

“I wish I could tell you that it was all hunky-dory” says Parvathy laughing out loud. Till the previous

year I used to sleep with the phone constantly next to my pillow. Running a houseboat is nothing short of taking care of a baby. It’s really important to make sure the customers are satisfied and there is a lot of background work that goes into it. The AC might not work suddenly due to power hitches, or there may be several similar minor issues that might require getting a technician to the spot to fix it, be it in the middle of the night. One thing everyone has to remember is that ultimately this is a structure that stays on water at all times; problems are bound to occur but the effort is in making sure that the customers are provided perfection.

What kind of concerns do travellers usually have regarding booking of a houseboat and how does it affect you?

Most of the times the problem arises if the photograph that the travellers have seen do not match the houseboat actually provided to them, so we usually put in a lot of effort to maintain the standard and appearance of the boat and also to provide an exact match. Being unpredictable as it is with inanimate things there are times when there may be issues with a provided houseboat and we may have to replace them with another. Not everyone is ready to adjust even if the quality is exceptional. Other issues involve high expectations like enquiries about a Jacuzzi since the rate is high.

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Nowadays there are many agents offering the same things in the package like a menu for much lesser rates but lesser quality as well which the customer is not aware of; so it’s always a matter of concern for the customers as to why the prices are more here.

What are the high points and low points that Pournami Houseboats has faced in its journey?

The low point would probably be during the last June-July period. The heavy monsoon rains caused a lot of customers to turn away from this region. Monsoon time being an off season is usually a pretty tough time since the expenses keep popping up along with the salaries whether sailing or not.

The high point was a recent trip that was booked by a factory owner in Coimbatore for his family and employees with around 125 people. The success of this trip was that it came with no complaints and no issues.

How has the houseboat tourism transformed over the years?

As I mentioned earlier, the business usually came locally especially through walk in enquiries when we started off but the present scenario has changed drastically. Online enquiries and booking have become the trend. People’s’ expectation in terms of comfort and requirements have changed.

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Everyone has a website and booking system irrespective of whether they are houseboat owners or not. The competition in the market is high and everyone is in their best of forms.

What makes Pournami different from others?

I really believe that the quality that we provide comes in a big way from our staff. Our staff is the

biggest asset we have. We make it a point to provide the most cordial service to the travellers. It’s a mood killer if the facilities are good and the staff are bad. We consider customer satisfaction to be our prime objective. The reviews that they give matter to us a lot, we try to improve upon every aspect with every suggestion and opinion.

What are the things you feel, needs to be addressed for the smoother movement of houseboat tourism?

I genuinely feel that there should be a clear discrimination between houseboat owners and brokers. Usually the owners have licenses registered that can be verified.

The second major trying issue at hand is the liquor ban in Kerala. It is adversely affecting the backwater tourism especially in terms of domestic market.

There should also be measures to check the bird flu scares that put off a lot of travellers from visiting here.

I also think that a few sloppy houseboat owners or operators who do not pay attention to maintenance apart from employing inexperienced staff affect accidents on the backwaters resulting in a lot of negative impression in tourists’ eyes. Stringent rules should be taken against such people.


How do you think the houseboat tourism is affecting the environment and how effective is ecotourism?

Having grown up in Alleppey, I can proudly say that the presence of houseboats here has definitely not polluted the waters of Alleppey. Waste management is of the utmost priority when anyone sets adrift here.

With the influx of huge number of tourists into the regions, how do the native people perceive and feel about it?

Oh the change has been truly overwhelming. The financial state of the people in and around the region has shot up. Most of the homes here have transformed into homestays, parking and so on.

People are looking ways and means to profit from the boom.Another notable transformation is the presence of Tourism police in every nook and corner. People can walk around anywhere, any time with their eyes shut.

How safe do you think Kerala is in comparison with the rest of India in terms of tourism?

In the initial days, tourism was something new for the natives here. They were seeing different cultures, different sense of dressing and kinds of people from all over the world. It did create quite a raucous amongst the localities. The curiosity and the problems lasted only while the whole concept was new. Now everyone has understood the importance of tourism for personal progress and have started acting accordingly.

A pleasing personality accompanied by an ever ready smile, Parvathy is filled with passion for the backwaters and wants the world to see the beauty and the overwhelming serenity she perceives. At the same time, she manages to create a realistic angle when it comes to the hard work and effort that goes into putting out each of these majestic beauties out on the water.

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

https://backwaterbreaks.com/

What Sets Kerala Apart from Other States in India?

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India, the land that brings you a trillion reasons to fall in love with it again and again, is the place that paints a bright picture in anyone’s memory ranging from the festivities to the natural beauty, to the spirituality and chaos; all amalgamated under a single name.Kathakali_dance-kerala.jpg

Every state in India surpasses one another, in terms of  scenic beauty, traditions, festivities, cuisine and so on. Yet Kerala has stood out as one of the hot favourites for tourism amongst all the other places in India.

IN-Kerala-People-Women-KTB_940_529_80_s_c1.jpgVibrant customs, traditions, lush greenery, seasoned with a highly educated, and  warm and friendly population, stands out as some of the major reasons that made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. National Geographic’s Traveller magazine has named Kerala as one of the “ten paradises of the world” and “50 must see destinations of a lifetime”. “Travel and Leisure” named Kerala as “One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century”. In 2012, it overtook Taj Mahal to be the number one travel destination in Google’s search trends for India. Kerala’s beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries are the major attraction for both the domestic and international tourists. Kerala is known as one of the ‘12 paradises in the world’ for its greenery and beauty which also comes with a tag of being the cleanest in India.

The state of Kerala with a population of over 33 million people boasts a literacy rate of little under 100 percent, the highest in India for any state. It also has the lowest population growth rate; 3.44% with also the highest human development index in India

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It’s the state with the Highest life expectancy, Highest gender ratio, Highest Literacy, Highest media exposure, Highest home ownership, Lowest Infant mortality,100% institutional delivery, Least Corrupt state in India, Least poverty among big states (7.05%), Least Economic inequality between urban and rural population, Highest Financial Inclusion (highest value of IFI-Index of Financial Inclusion).images.jpg

In terms of safety, it is the state where the highest number of crimes are reported especially against women; showcasing the effectiveness of the crime reporting and the actions taken by the vigilant police of Kerala. A survey conducted by the Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in India. It is in fact, the safest state in India with an incredible unity among all the communities of different faith. Kerala consists of 56.2 percent Hindus, 24.7 percent Muslims, 19 percent Christians and others 0.1 percent with all living together in harmony like one family, celebrating each other’s festivals as one would their own.

Kerala is also the home to one of the most ancient forms of natural medicine, the Ayurveda. It goes without saying that the climate of Kerala (Warm and pleasant weather throughout the year with sufficient rainfall) also plays a major role in attracting a large number of people to this haven of perfection. Probably justifying its well deserved title of “God’s Own Country” .

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

https://backwaterbreaks.com/

Through the Eyes of a Man who Conjures up Your Dream Cruise- Devdas

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The picturesque backwaters of Kerala is a destination that every tourist would vie for to obtain the ambience of utmost serenity and natural splendour.

The houseboats of Kerala bring true dreams of many to catch a glimpse of heaven right here down on earth. Here is a little glimpse into the life of one of the cruise operators who strive to perfect the traveller’s  little moments of joy on the Kerala backwaters.

The man, whose most important events always happened to fall on a first of a month was born on December first in Ambalappuzha, a small town in the district of Alappuzha, Kerala, India.

Devdas, founder of the Kerala Cruise and Holidays with about fifteen houseboats under his wing and seventeen years of experience in the houseboat tourism business, is as humble and down to earth as they come.

“As a boy”, Devdas fondly remembers, “we used run along the bunds  along which the houseboats carrying the foreign tourists were rowed. The tourists  during those days would come with gifts like pen, pencil, chocolates and so on which we eagerly sought after, running along the embankments alongside the houseboats.  ”

“Sayyipe one pen please ! is what we would say” mentions the seasoned cruise operator with a nostalgic smile spreading across his face.

The smile reflected the seed of affection that was sown then in his heart for these travellers from beyond the boundaries of the nation.

A graduate in Commerce, Devdas hailed from a family of humble background with an ailing mother who was a heart patient and a sister.  His only aim from a tender age was to amass just enough wealth to support his family. The only ambition being, as was the norm during those days, to travel to a gulf country and make money.

After graduation he registered for CA with the hope of reigning in the situation of his family and had also completed a course on computers.

“What turned you in the direction of houseboats and Kerala backwater tourism?”

He laughed out loud and said “To tell you the truth, it all started because of my watching a movie!”.

“I had registered for the CA course and used to go for classes which would get over by five in the evening. I would reach home around six to seven in the evening.”

“It so happened that on that fateful day, a friend of mine came down from Ahmedabad and we went for a movie called ‘Azhagiyaravanan’ . It had gotten really late by the time I returned home”.

“When I reached back home, the entire family was up and fussing about and that’s when my cousin (mother’s sister’s son) said enough of CA and got me a job in Ernakulam.”

“The salary was 750 rupees out of which I was left with 60 rupees after all the expenses and the PF was 62 rupees hence i had to pay 2 rupees out of my pocket which I now had to separately earn”.

“After two more odd jobs, I finally joined the ATDC houseboat operators  on first August 1996 as an accountant which also required me to do different odd jobs like receive guests, take them to their cruise and other services. That was the real turning point in my life that has put me where I am right now”.

How has the journey from an employee in ATDC to setting up your own business been?

“ATDC proved to be a vast exploring playground ground for me. It opened up to me a whole new world of opportunities to establish new business relations and knowledge. In fact the 17 years of my life spend there has amassed me a wealth of knowledge and experience”

“Following ATDC I joined another agency to whose terms and moral policies I could not bring myself to agree. I believed in a personal touch and friendly service. Satisfaction of the people we were providing a service to, I firmly believed lay the root to establishing stronger ties with the travelling masses”.

“Eventually, with the help of three friends, I bought my first  own houseboat. ”

Who are the people who have influenced you the most in your life?

“The person who influenced my life the most was my mother. She is a heart patient but has inspite of that struggled to make ends meet and keep our family moving forward.”

How has the houseboat tourism in Kerala progressed over the years?

“Backwater houseboat tourism in Kerala has faced colossal growth over the years. What started from a  non mechanised houseboat with one cook, kerosene stove and native food has turned into a luxurious affair.”

“During the earlier days, there were many smaller canals connecting different places and the local people traveled by those until the advent of roads and bridges pushed down the preference of canals right to the last. Reclaiming land from canal and building bridges caused the canals to gradually close up leaving only bigger channels behind.”

“Another major change is that , earlier the boats were smaller nearly around 13 feet, 60-70 ft length whereas now they are nearly 17-18 of  width and of 85 ft in. Hence the boats also bigger since height has to be constructed accordingly. Neither are the boats made in accordance with the climate or the environment.”

“Initially there were two authoritative bodies namely, the Canal authority which was responsible for the hull and the chief inspector of boats in which was in charge of looking after the running condition. This system was prevalent since the rule of the rajas.”

“Currently the rules are laid as per the seaport rules and the people who have brought about these rules have no idea about the backwaters. It is not right to compare the lagoons and the sea and make rules for both as if they were the same.”

What are the things you feel, needs to be addressed for the smoother movement of houseboat tourism?

“The first and foremost thing, I believe is to have a board specifically designed for the backwaters of Kerala that would form rules and regulations pertaining to the situation here rather than the open seas or port”.

“Recently there has been a new regulation passed by which new houseboats will not be provided with licenses. I strongly object to this because this could lead to a monopoly by the bigger businesses in the houseboat tourism .i.e. help the rich get richer.”

“Instead, new boats’ construction limits should be maintained and the length and width should be controlled. There should be control in the corruption at the higher level of authority”

How do you think the houseboat tourism is affecting the environment and how effective is ecotourism ?

“Houseboats have been on the Kerala backwaters since the early times. The only change is the motorization of the houseboats. Every possible measures are taken to ensure that we do not disturb the ecology of the place.”

“Proper waste management systems are followed in terms of human waste on house boats. Currently, the wastes are chemically processed and released in an environment friendly form. There are also suction points at different locations.”

“We all strive to maintain a clean environment and pay due importance to it. With the influx of massive numbers of tourists into the area, implementation of ecotourism has greatly helped maintain the sanctity of the place. Alleppey is close to becoming a non-plastic region with the replacement of plastics used for daily purposes by degradable substitutes”

With the influx of huge number of tourists into the regions, how do the inhabitants perceive and feel about it?

“In the earlier days, people were averse to the idea of tourism and were not quite supportive of having their land overrun by strangers. But in the recent years , the realisation has strongly sunk in as to the importance of tourism in the market and the benefits it pose. The acceptance and interest has risen sharply.”

Where do you see the future of the houseboat tourism in Kerala?

“I truly see the future of Kerala’s houseboat tourism to be a bright and prosperous one. This is a service industry ; while only about 40% behave courteously , the rest have unbecoming behaviour due to the existing Trade unions. The trade unions were helpful when the rich used to suppress  the poor in the older days, but the times has changed and they should pay attention to the service quality and look to introduce reforms to make the industry more prosperous.”

How safe do you think Kerala is in comparison with the rest of India in terms of tourism?

“From personal experiences and feedback from the visitors, there has been a considerable satisfaction in the safety in Kerala as compared to the rest of the country.”

“Most international travellers first land in Delhi and travel own throughout the country, finally making their way down to Kerala. They have all commented on the secure and relaxed feeling they experience when  in Kerala. Our police and the general public go a long way to make the visitors comfortable in their stay except for the  occasional eve teasing which is strictly dealt with by the policing bodies”

The plethora of knowledge that Devdas shared throws a lot of light on the more unrealized stories, aspirations and realities that exist behind the scenes in bringing out to the greater public the perfect journey in the quest for peace.

Book Your Kerala Houseboat cruise with Backwaterbreaks.com and set adrift on the scintillating backwaters!

https://backwaterbreaks.com/

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