Originally uploaded by bratboy76
In Malayalam, the word “Vellam” or “Vallam” refers to water and so even a boat indirectly. “Kettu” refers to tying and therefore to the rope indirectly. The word Kettuvellam (or Kettu Vallam) jointly means this houseboat that is made of rope made out of Coconut bark.
The word Kerala comes from Kera Alam which means the big forest grove of Coconut trees. It is also called as Kairali in Malayalam. And so naturally we do see a lot of Coconut Grove in Kerala.
These houseboats were originally created to ferry the paddy produce to the land. In Allepey and nearby area, the local farmers use the backwater as a main source for irrigation. These paddy fields are kept filled with water for quite a lot of months before being irrigated and worked on. Slowly these boats have been used to transport people and mostly travelers on a overnight journey.
The modern day Kettuvellam has gone through a lot of changes in terms of the size and the mechanics of how they operate. Modern motors and Air conditionings are quite normal these days and the interior design is done by various boat architects from around the world. There are boats with 2 bedrooms and an open dining area which are typically used for tourist couples who prefer to travel alone. And for tourists who travel in groups of 6-10 people with 3 or 4 couples or families, there are better alternatives by means of boats with 2 floor levels from 3 -6 bedroom plus a balcony and a lounge and a big kitchen to accommodate around 6 cooks at a time. Each of these boats come with a captain, a helper and a cook in the normal time and has added crews depending on their sizes.
During summer time the insides of these boats can get really warmer and the air conditioning is the only easiest alternative. Though the season time varies, the ideal time to visit this part of the world and travel in these boats is during Jun – Nov and again between January end till mid March.
There are many websites available these days for travelers to conveniently book these in advance, though a good travel agent would make this a part of the travel itinerary for tourists who visit this part of the Kerala. It is quite a relaxing thing to travel in a Kettuvellam, usually because of the silence in the area ( except the motor running through the water making occassional noise) and the flow of the green water with lot many birds and natural scenes to make any photographer like me go crazy with the camera.I have no doubts in saying that a trip to Kerala or India without a ride in Kettuvellam is incomplete and it is a great experience.
And finally, i do not have any tie ups with the Tourist Dept of Kerala for writing these many details. I just went here twice already and each time i was amazed at the freshness of the experience.
So go ahead and pack your bags to Allepey and Kumarakom to have a great ride in a Kettuvellam. It is an out of the world experience.