Cruising through the Alleppey backwaters like a boss!

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Happy me with a ridiculous grin and spazz hands, notice how the boatman is so poised?

When you think of Kerela you think of plush paddy fields, the gorgeous ocean and a picturesque rural landscape. The imagination wanders further… to the coconut tree fringed, soothing backwaters, beautiful, quaint houseboats and a maze of narrow canals of Alleppey. You can’t but nod in deafening agreement to its much deserved nickname – “Venice of the East”.

Alleppey backwaters cruise
See the super dramatic skies?

So there I was mildly awake in the wee hours of the morning fantasising about my much awaited trip to this town, when I realised we had entered Alleppey. As I looked out the window, I could already spot the glorious backwaters dotted with houseboats, lined with rice paddies- a stunning watery world.

After a sweet welcome at the resort, I was whisked away for my cruise.

There I was at the helm of the Spice Routes luxury boat – ‘Saffron’, where I was to spend the next day or so, cruising through the gentle backwaters.

Here’s a little peek into the exquisiteness I was ‘subjected’ to at the Alleppey backwaters…

The Dream Boat

Alleppey backwaters cruise
See mini-me perched up there??

Though I was still a bit sleepy the twinkle in my eye came smack back on, soon as I laid eyes on this beauty! It’s not everyday that you have the luxury of unwinding on a stunning houseboat with three gentlemen to pamper you – Tojo, John and Manish. Tojo and Manish were to man the cruise and John was the wonderful chef. After expressing their surprise at the fact that I was travelling by myself, they seemed quite intrigued by the idea.

The cruise began around 12 pm. I was so excited that by this time I had checked out all possible corners of the boat. My cozy four poster bed, the sunny deck and the jacuzzi with a view!

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Can you imagine the fanciness!!

Soon I had identified my favourite little spot- buried in a comfortable sofa with my feet stretched right out, with that delectable sight for company!

I was a tad concerned however, that my experience which was definitely turning out to be super luxurious might make me miss out on the local flavour, which is what really draws me to a place. But I was in for a little surprise…

Alleppey backwaters cruise
The easy life!

It was announced that post lunch I had to shift to a smaller boat- a cute punted canoe that would take me through the narrow canals on either sides of the backwaters. I tucked into some yummy Karimeen fry (pearl spot fish), prawn fry, this delicious beetroot pachadi and red rice made by John and was all set for my tryst with the canals.

Under nature’s canopy

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Nature’s canopy!

Tojo (one of the cruise boys), graciously accompanied me on this little ride, pointing out villages, toddy shops and churches throughout. As we got talking, he told me colourful stories about his life in Congo before he joined the cruise company. I was impressed by his openness in embracing and respecting the African culture. He spoke about it almost with the same fondness with which he spoke about the backwaters that had been his home growing up…

The Backwater Life

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Imagine looking at that from your window!!

A lot of the houses on the sides of the canals were apparently accessible only by boat. There were women washing clothes on the rocks, cheeky little rascals swimming away to glory and boats ferrying people around. Here’s a sneak peak into what village life in the backwaters looks like…

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Little rascals swimming away to glory!

I was completely bowled over by the sights, sounds and smells of the lovely backwaters. There was just something so other-worldly about the little houses, the rhythmic waters and the serene breeze.

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Even mundane chores look so cool on the backwaters

My canoe ride had now come to an end and I was escorted back to the houseboat.

What next? I wondered…

That’s when my eyes fell on the cruise wheel at the head of the boat. That’s it, I had to get my hands on it. I requested Manish to let me man the cruise for a bit. And he let me! It was really not as easy as he made it out to be. The sun was shining bright, the waters didn’t seem as calm all of a sudden but it was oh so much fun!

Alleppey backwaters cruise
They just let me man the boat! I didn’t even have to use my guns!!

As the sun set, when I could no longer take in the lovely views due the engulfing darkness around, I decided to kick back and relax in the jacuzzi. The boat swaying gently in the water, the water temperature just right, my senses were lulled beautifully…

As I thought about the day I realised there was no way I could have asked for a better way to experience the ethereal backwaters of Alleppey. Absolute comfort, delightful company and exceptional service.

After a wonderful siesta, I woke up the next morning to symphonic chants from the local temple and this gorgeous view.

Alleppey backwaters cruise
What is that view!!

The sun had mellowed down considerably from the previous day, cotton candy clouds loomed overhead and the breeze was pleasant. My second canoe ride (yes there was to be another one), was going to be bathed in the gentle morning sunlight…

This one was a bigger boat and took me to an entirely new part of the backwaters which actually looked as vast as the open sea. I remember sitting perched on the deck just soaking in the fresh air and feeling utter bliss.

Adios!

When I got back from the ride, John cooked me up the local favourite for breakfast – some hot Appams and vegetable stew. We got talking about his delightful life in the backwaters. It was so endearing to listen to him open up and talk excitedly about it. It is lovely how at home you feel when conversations move away from mere pleasantries to the real deal – life experiences…

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Soaking in every last bit!

I bid a heart broken goodbye to the three stooges. My time at the Alleppey backwaters cruise had been so lovely partly because of the immense beauty around me but mostly because of the endearing, ever smiling staff. That really does make a world of a difference.

I am already nostalgic about the feel good vibe of the house boat…

Alleppey backwaters – Trip Suggestions

Spice Routes Luxury Cruises have 7 houseboats that run through the Alleppey backwaters, all named after Indian spices. The idea is to take you back to the old era when large boats laden with spices plied through the winding Alleppey canals. ‘Saffron’ is the Presidential suite, priced at INR 35,000 a night. To truly soak in the experience I would advise a two night stay at the houseboat. This includes the houseboat, canoe rides through the vast backwaters and through narrow canals, great local food and a whiff of the village life along the way. The cruise starts at Chennamkary, a little town away from main Alleppey, where all the houseboats are docked at. It cruises through the backwaters and stops in the evening at Moonnattumugham. The next morning the cruise continues through Monkombu and drops you back to Chennamkary.

To book one of these  Alleppey backwaters cruises you can check out Spice Routes Luxury Cruises.

So there it is- my spectacular experience at the Alleppey backwaters. If ever you do get a chance to go, be sure to bag yourself a delightful houseboat and witness in the real sense, the marvel that is Alleppey…

Alleppey backwaters cruise
Sipping on some sugarcane juice after the super hectic cruise 😉

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