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Kerala is one of the beautiful tourist destinations in India. The state is famous for its backwaters and houseboats. These huge and slow-moving house boats make your trip wonderful. Houseboats are the reworked models of ‘boats that are tied with ropes’. In earlier days, these boats were used to carry spices from one place to the other. Kerala has its own culture which is very diverse. The charm and unique tradition of the state makes your trip joyful. The stunning beaches, serene backwaters, gorgeous rivers and houseboats attract tourists from all parts of the country. This beautiful destination is blessed by the beauty of nature. The houseboats of Kerala are one of the convenient modes of transportation.

The houseboats of Kerala are about 60 to 70 feet high and 15 feet wide. These houseboats are famous due to their availability and uniqueness. Houseboats are one of the prime tourist attractions and were conventionally used to transfer rice harvested in the fields along the side of the backwaters. In olden days, these boats were used by the royalty. Now, these are being used to facilitate the tourists. The houseboats are converted into floating cottages with convenient sleeping area, sitting area, toilets in western style, dining room etc. One can find these houseboats in different styles, designs and patterns to fulfill the preferences of different kinds of tourists. One can hire houseboats based on the size of the family.

Though houseboats are motorized, they move with a slow speed to provide the tourists with the joy of smooth travel. Usually, the bedrooms in the houseboats are air conditioned with generator facility. The tourists who like to enjoy rural setting can ask to replace lights with lanterns and candles. The decoration inside the houseboats is beautiful and outstanding. The exterior of the houseboat is painted with protective paints that are mixed with cashew nut oil. The roofs of the houseboat are made of palm leaves and bamboo.

The houseboats are considered as the supreme attraction of the state. A houseboat trip can be truly said as the perfect choice for newlywed couples and honeymooners. People from all parts of the world visit ‘god’s own country’ to experience the joy of Kerala houseboat tours. The houseboats are equipped with beautifully decorated bed and delicious food that let the tourists enjoy their tour with great comfort.

Transformation of Houseboats

Kerala is situated amidst the beautiful backwaters. The beauty of these backwaters attracts tourists and enhances their imagination. Kerala backwaters are lined with villages and one can find lush greenery around the backwaters. The beauty of the backwaters is highly appreciated by the houseboats of Kerala. The houseboats are traditionally called as ‘Kettuvallam’ which means the boat made by tying pieces of wood together. A unique factor about these boats is that, not a single nail is used. The planks of Jackwood are joined together with a rope and coated with black resin. The houseboats are made of eco-friendly products like – bamboo mats, poles, coconut fiber ropes and coir carpets. The ‘Kettuvallams’ were of nearly 80 feet long, which were transformed into beautifully furnished houses to attract the tourists. Fifty years before, there were nearly more than 5000 houseboats in Kerala, which were basically used to transport goods. The houseboats made the state a favorite tourist place. The number of tourists visiting Kerala is increasing every year. One can surely experience the unusual representation of the life in Kerala. The houseboats of Kerala are not only eco-friendly, but, also are very economical.

Till now we say how the Kettuvallam transformed into houseboats. In 1990, there were only a few houseboats. Slowly, the number increased to 200 by providing employment opportunities to more than 2,000 people. The size of the houseboat varies from 95 feet to 107 feet height, and 13 feet to 19 feet width. Presently, houseboats emerged as one of the biggest tourist attractions, as a result of which the Tourism Department of Kerala came up with an idea of elevating the standards of the houseboats by providing appropriate safety options. The houseboats are rated as Gold Star, Silver Star and Green Palm based on the services offered by them.

Features of Houseboats

The houseboats of Kerala reflect the traditional lifestyle of Kerala. The tourists can experience the joy of traditional lifestyle with modern comforts and luxuries. Most of the houseboats in Kerala comprise of living room, dining room, bedroom with attached bathroom, sitting area etc. One can enjoy watching the best sunsets from the sitting area. Tourists can also make private dining arrangements in the houseboats. The facilities and services of the houseboats vary from one another. Houseboats with ‘Golden Star rating’ are fully furnished with multiple bedrooms with A/C, kitchen, comfortable chairs, toilet etc. The kitchen is equipped with all the modern amenities and facilities. Moreover, the top rated houseboats are provided with separate rest rooms for the Captain, Chef and Life Guard. Most of the houseboats are featured with multiple bedrooms, where one can take the houseboat based on the size of their family or group. For two people, there are houseboats with single bedrooms; for four people, there are houseboats with double bedrooms; and for families with more than six people, there are houseboats with five bedrooms.

The Golden Star rated houseboats are considered as the premium one that is approved by the Tourism Department of Kerala. The houseboats of Kerala are the alluring attractions and one can find different types of houseboats that can be booked from any of the leading houseboat tour operators. The houseboats are available in different classes and categories and offer a wonderful holiday experience. The luxury AC houseboats and non AC houseboats differ in the services and facilities offered.

The sun sets in the backwater are really magical and the houseboat is anchored to the best part of the lake. People who dream about spending time amidst the moving lakes can make their dream come true here. Other than this, the tourists are free to decide the boarding point, number of halts and routes which depends on their time and budget. Some of the popular boarding points include – Alleppey, Kumarakom, Thottappally, Quilon etc. If we have a look at the dining facilities, tourists are provided with various options of vegetable curries and sea food like – fish, prawns etc. The houseboats offer a traditional menu along with sophisticated menus to attract the tourists. Each houseboat has a personal cook, where the tourists can order for ethnic meals and other non-veg delicacies like – pearl spotted fish, white prawns, mussels, crabs etc. These sea items are the local specialties of the region.

During your holiday trip in Kerala, you cannot miss the chance of overnight stay in the houseboats. The houseboats are country made boats and are a great opportunity to know a number of things about houseboats. Today, houseboats have become the major tourist appeals and are drawing attention of a number of tourists from across different countries of the world.  Especially, honeymoon couples love the experience of spending time together amidst of a luxurious stay.

All these features of the houseboats attract hundreds of honeymooners and couples from different parts of the country every day. Newly wed couples can find various honeymoon packages that include beautifully decorated rooms with comfortable beds, tasty food, etc. Couples will surely enjoy the lush green surroundings, tweets of singing birds, paddy fields, palm and coconut groves, water birds, beautiful landscapes, fishermen on boats, amazing view of sunset and many other things. The houseboat will be taken on the side of wildlife sanctuary which enhances the voyage experience of the couple.

Where is it Possible to Hire a Kerala Houseboat?

Alleppey is said to be the best place in Kerala from where one can hire a traditional houseboat. Tourists can find dozens of tour agencies from whom you can hire a houseboat of your choice and preferences. Some other places from where you can hire a houseboat include – Kovalam, Cochin, Kottayam and Kumarakom. These houseboats travel for a distance of around 50 km every day. Hence, tourists will get a chance to watch amazing sceneries. The backwaters are known for picturesque scenes with distinct features. During the backwater cruise in Alleppey and other places, tourists will get a chance to experience the traditional lifestyle and culture of Kerala.

What Durations are Houseboats Hired for?

Houseboats can be hired for a little time like – for a day to a week. It depends on the choice of the tourists that how long they wish to spend their time in houseboats. Most of the travel agencies offer night trips that start at 12 noon and ends at 9 am on the next day. A majority of operators hires for overnight stay that include a sleep out amidst of the water or lake.  One of the popular packages is the two night stay. Generally, they stay for more than 48 hours can be boring. Hence, the recommended duration for which the houseboats can be hired is 2 days.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Houseboat?

The price depends on the services and luxuries you are looking for. The rate of an ideal package starts from $80. If you are looking for a deluxe houseboat for two people, then you can just get it for a price of $150. The rates of the houseboats can go higher in some seasons, but most of the time they are very reasonable. The prices of luxury houseboats can go up to $250 which is suitable for big families. The costs include on-board chef, fresh food, drinks and many other things. The prices of the houseboats are not fixed and regularly fluctuate.

When is the Best Time to Hire a Houseboat?

One can hire a houseboat throughout the year. The best time to enjoy the houseboat trip is the months of December and January, when the weather is cool and pleasant. Most of the people find the monsoon to be very special, where they combine their trip with different kinds of natural and Ayurvedic treatments. Some people feel comfortable to hire houseboats in summer season, as they feel like enjoying the cool sea breeze in hot summers. If you feel like hiring a houseboat in summer season, then it is better to go with an air conditioned houseboat.

What Are Some Reputable Kerala Houseboat Operators?

If you are looking for reputed houseboat operators, you can select from some of the best operators like – Country Cruises, Coco Houseboats, Morning Mist Cruises, Lakes and Lagoons, Spice Coast Cruises etc. Other than the above said apertures, Kumarakom houseboat operator is one of the best houseboat operators in Kerala. Beware of the unscrupulous houseboat operators with different packages and deals. You get the opportunity to make your trip sweet and memorable. You will enjoy the lavish accommodation in the form of luxurious houseboats with eye-catching interior decoration. One can find a number of houseboat operators in all the backwater destinations like –Cochin, Alleppey, Kollam, Kochi, etc.

Booking of Houseboats

DTPC House boat Prepaid Counter

Tourists can make use of the prepaid counters to book the houseboats being managed by Kerala District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC).

Contact Details

Alappuzha - House boat pre-paid counter

Mobile: 09400051796, 09447483308, +91-477-2251796, +91-477-2253308
Tourists can make advance bookings by transferring INR 2500/- to the account of the DTPC and send email to [email protected].

The account number of DTPC is A/c 10150100253203, Federal Bank, Mullackal Branch, and Alappuzha. Bank code is FDRL 0001015.

Extract the List of Houseboats in Kerala from this link

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