Alappuzha, A decade after an innovative entrepreneur at Alumkadavu in Kollam district converted a traditional boat used for transporting goods (‘kettu vallam’) to a houseboat with facilities for the stay of tourists, the industry has come of age.
The Kettuvallams (houseboats) of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length. It took great skill and meticulousness to construct these giants by tying huge planks of jack wood together, without the use of a single nail. Today, these goods carriers have been adapted to make the most exciting tourism product in India, the luxurious furnished houseboat. A Kettuvallam usually has one or two bath attached bedrooms, an open lounge, deck, kitchenette and a crew comprising oarsmen, a cook and guide.
From two boats in the early Nineties, the number of houseboats has now gone up to about 200. Meanwhile,the small single – room houseboat has been replaced by large houseboats with several rooms. Many of the present houseboats are air – conditioned . In no time, Alappuzha has emerged as a hub of the house boat industry with a majority of them operating from here.
The houseboats in Kerala, south India, are huge, slow-moving, exotic barges used for leisure trips. They are a reworked model of Kettuvallams (in theMalayalam language, Kettu means “tied with ropes”, and vallam means “boat”), which, in earlier times, were used to carry rice and spices fromKuttanad to the Kochi port. Kerala houseboats were considered a convenient means of transportation.
The popularity of Kettuvallams has returned in the function as major tourist attractions. Such a houseboat is about 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 m) long and about 15 feet (4.6 m) wide at the middle. The hull is made of wooden planks that are held together by ropes of coconut fiber; the usual wood is ‘Anjili’. The roof is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves. The exterior of the boat is painted with protective coats of cashew nut oil.
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. Boat-trains – formed by joining two or more houseboats together are also used by large groups of sightseers.
The Department of Tourism has evolved a scheme to classify the house boats in Kerala with the objective of evaluating the safety and service standards. With the aim of sustaining the unique tourism project of Kerala The Houseboat, the department has defined the guidelines for classification. The classification will be in three categories namely Gold Star, Silver Star and Green Palm certificate.
According to the scheme a house boat fulfilling all the essential conditions prescribed by the department and another five of the ten optional conditions will be awarded the status of Gold Star. Those fulfilling the essential conditions will be awarded Silver Star.
Houseboats which satisfy the essential conditions and adhering to eco-friendly measures prescribed by the department will be awarded the Green Palm certificate.
What Includes and Excludes:
The houseboat rate is inclusive of All meals
(Welcome drink, Kerala Traditional Lunch with Fish fry, Tea snacks, Dinner with Kerala Chicken Curry and breakfast)
Cruising times: 1200 hrs to 1700 hrs & 0800 hrs to 0900 hrs
Check in : 1200 hrs
Check out : 0900 hrs
Cruise routes : Alleppey Or Kumarakom backwaters
Note : Boat will be anchored by 1700 hrs. After that cruise is not available as per the notification of Govt. of Kerala (The main reason is village people will lay fishing nets in lake)
Types of Houseboats:
Conforming fully to the standards of houseboats stipulated for the Gold Star & Silver Star Certifications, addresses luxury, safety and environmental concerns in the design, decor, utility and maintenance of its houseboats.
Luxury Facility’s includes:
Full Time Air-condition
A/c Dining Room
A/c Upper Deck
Spacious and luxury boats
Deluxe houseboats are matching the standards of Deluxe and economy. The inclusions and timings are same as in Luxury. The only difference is class of boat will be deluxe.
Deluxe category houseboats A/c timings is from 2100 hrs to 0600 hrs only. The upper decks are subject to availability only.