Thursday, January 14, 2010

Backwaters of Kerala, Alleppey – January 2010

The backwaters of Kerala are a web of rivers, lakes and canals which thread the state in a glittering, typically green, net. In some places, like the dyke lands of the Kuttanad, the water is held up by high rampart because it flows above the level of the emerald-green paddy fields on either side. If the pumps of the Kuttanad were to stop, the fields would become lakes starred with water lilies where white egrets fly silently over their own reflections.
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you can hire a traditional rice-boat revamped to include one or two bedrooms with suite showers, your own dining-lounge deck, and your own crew including a cook and guide. Your houseboat carries you slowly down palm-suspended waterways, past backwater settlements of thatched and tiled cottages, bright with crotons and hibiscus. Squadrons of ducks quack past; women immerse themselves to their necks, searching for the shy and delectable karameen fish with their toes because the karameen hides in the mud at the bottom. You set your own pace: stopping where you like, resting when you like, wallowing yourself with the freshest of foods bought from the farmers and fishermen on the banks of the backwaters. You're always within reach of other people and yet no one can intrude into your lives if you don't want them to. And when night falls, and the stars thrust silver spears into the dark waters, your houseboat ties up alongside. You don't need it when you're cruising in the cool, shaded, backwaters. You sleep reassured that your crew rests in the lounge outside your bedroom door.