Nicknamed the ‘Spice Garden of India’, Kerala in South India is known for its rich cultural heritage, lush hill stations, and gorgeous beaches. One of the major draws for travellers are the backwaters of Kerala – the palm-lined scenic stretches of lagoons, lakes, deltas, and canals that flow into the Arabian Sea.
Originally used as a route for transporting goods like rubber, coconut, and spices, these backwaters have become one of the most important tourist attraction of Kerala today. Approximately 900km of these labyrinth of waterways is navigable, and locals still use backwaters for transportation and fishing purposes.
Best Time To Visit Kerala Backwaters
Truth be told, you can explore Kerala backwaters throughout the year as there is no particular season for backwater cruises which run all through the year. It completely depends upon you whether you want to enjoy the backwaters when it is hot and humid or when the climate is cool and pleasant.
The most popular way to explore the backwaters of Kerala is to hire the traditional kettuvallams (rice barges which have been converted into houseboats).
Numerous luxury hotels and resorts also offer you the opportunity to stay in their houseboats along the backwaters.
Most Popular Backwaters In Kerala
The backwaters in Kerala boasts a unique eco-system. The distinctive species of marine life such as frogs, terns, cormorants, mudskippers, and crabs found here are a testament to this fact. The greenery surrounding the backwaters is thanks to the pandanus shrubs, palm trees, and the other bushes growing here.
Taking a backwaters cruise will truly be an unforgettable experience because you will get some exhilarating views of paddy fields, sunset, and glistening moonlight. With so many backwaters to choose from, here are the most popular backwaters in Kerala.
Renowned for its houseboat tours and natural beauty, Alleppey is home to a huge network of inland canals. It is one of Kerala’s most important tourist centres – it is the start and end point of quite a few backwater cruises. As you are enjoying your ride through the Alleppey backwaters, you can see small well-maintained villages through the paddy fields and palm trees. The best time to visit the Alleppey backwaters is during the harvest season because this is the site of the famous Nehru Boat Race that takes place annually.
Kumarakom backwaters are truly a sight to behold and are quite different from the other backwater regions. While other regions mainly offer you palm trees and paddy fields, Kumarakom backwaters go a step further and give you breath-taking views of the Mangrove forests. What’s more, the canals here are filled with blooming white lilies. It is this lush greenery and peaceful surroundings that have made Kumarakom one of the favourite backwater destinations. Bird watchers will be in delight when they visit this region because it is home to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. You will find many migratory and exotic birds at this sanctuary.
Valiyaparamba is not only the largest backwaters in North Kerala, but it is also the third largest backwaters region all over the state. These backwaters are usually the preferred choice because less human intervention has ensured the tranquillity of this place is still undamaged. Hunt for some crabs when you are looking for some excitement at the Valiyaparamba backwaters. History buffs must definitely have a look at the traditional equipment that is still used by the locals here.
Located in the heart of the backwaters in the Alappuzha District of Kerala, Kuttanad is also known as ‘Rice Bowl of Kerala’. It has acquired this nickname because it is the only place in India where farming is done below sea level (1.5 to 2m). Kuttanad backwaters also crosses the four main rivers of Kerala, namely, Manimala, Pampa, Achankovil, and Meenachil. On your journey through these backwaters, you are sure to enjoy mesmerising views of lush greenery, vibrant paddy fields, rural homes in Kerala, churches, farms, and temples. If you are lucky and attentive, you may also see a glimpse of the green hues of a parakeet and the blue tint of a kingfisher.
Composed of a group of islands on the Vembanad Lake, Kochi is also referred to as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Apart from the verdant greenery of the surroundings, you will also see numerous Chinese fishing nets when you are exploring the Kochi backwaters. If you are interested in spotting some wild flowers and water birds, head to one of the islands like Gundu, Bolgatty, and Vyppin in Kochi. When you are planning to visit Kochi in December, ensure that your dates coincide with the Indira Gandhi Boat Race. This famous boat race on the backwaters of Kochi attracts both tourists and locals alike.
Location: In southern India, on the Malabar coast
How to Reach: Connected to the important cities in India and the world via the three international airports (Trivandrum, Calicut, and Cochin). It is also well-connected by roadways and railways.
Official Language: Malayalam
Currency: INR (Indian Rupees)
Time Zone: IST (UTC+05:30)
Climate: Maritime Tropical Climate
Food & Drink: Some of the most popular dishes in Kerala are Appam with Stew, Chemmeen Curry (Kerala Prawn Curry), Thalassery Biryani, Palada Payasam (dessert), and Fish Moilee.
Interested in holidaying in Kerala?