Kerala Houseboats

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Kerala Houseboats

The Kerala Houseboats have become the driving force of tourism in the state. Backwater tourism has become the hallmark of 'God's Own Country'. The luxurious houseboats of today were the Riceboats or Kettuvallams of early days used for the transport of goods in the backwater areas. These typical country boats lost their significance as transportation facilities increased with roads and bridges. But years later, these boats are back on the backwaters, transformed into one of the most luxurious modes of enjoying the verdant greenery and azure backwaters of Kerala.

Kerala HouseboatsThe novel concept of houseboat tourism came into vogue in the early nineties. In the beginning, the old Kettuvallams were transformed into attractive houseboats but later entrepreneurs started building these boats incorporating the traditional structure and design, topped with all lavish facilities available in leading hotels.

The houseboats of Kerala vary in size from about 95 feet in length and a width of around 13 feet to in the middle for a small houseboat and big houseboats ranging to 107 feet long and up to 19 feet wide. The main wood used in the construction of the houseboat is Artocarpus Hirsutus, in Malayalam "Anjili". "Anjili" or Wild Jack is a tree endemic to the Western Ghats of India. Planks of wood of this tree are knotted together by coir rope. It is then coated with black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells.

Its interesting to note how these country boats came to be known as 'kettuvallams'. 'Kettu' in Malayalam means a knot and 'vallam' means boat. The unique feature of these boats is that nails are not used at all, the wooden planks are fastened with knots. Eco friendly materials like bamboo poles, coconut fibre ropes, bamboo mats, coir carpets etc are used in the making and furnishing of these boats. The house boats have fully furnished single, double, triple or five bedrooms with sundeck, private balcony with comfortable chairs, kitchen and toilet with WC. The boats are manned by professionals and experienced crew consisting of a chef, driver & cabin assistants. The cuisine is prepared in house in a well equipped kitchenette. It comprises of traditional Kerala meals with fresh seafood delicacies.

With the boom in houseboat tourism, the department of tourism has charted out specific guidelines to ensure safety and service standards. The houseboats are classified into three categories namely 'Silver Star', 'Gold Star' and 'Green Palm'. Those houseboats fulfilling all the essential conditions prescribed by the department are certified as 'Silver Star'. Those fulfilling all the essential conditions and another five of the ten optional conditions are certified as 'Gold Star'. Houseboats which satisfy the essential conditions and adhering to eco-friendly measures prescribed by the department are awarded the 'Green Palm' certificate.

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