A Small Waterway Which Flows Into A Main River Backwaters in Kerala

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Backwaters in Kerala

Lining the coast of Kerala and winding its way into the distance is an intricate network of numerous lakes, ponds, canals, estuaries and deltas of forty rivers draining into the Arabian Sea.

Over 900 kilometers of this labyrinthine water world is navigable. Kerala is characterized by its 600 km long sparkling coastline and the state’s dense, verdant backwaters.

And while hill stations are all over the country and palm-fringed beaches too, backwaters are unique to Kerala. These backwaters are the basis of a different lifestyle and fascinating route. A boat trip along the backwaters is one of the highlights of Kerala.

Boats cross shallow, palm-covered lakes filled with Chinese fishing nets and travel through narrow shady canals, where coir, copra and cashew nuts are loaded into the boats. The largest backwater stretch in Kerala is the Vembanad lake, which flows through three districts and opens into the sea at the port of Kochi.

Ashtamudi Lake (literally, eight-armed), which covers a large part of the southern Kollam district, is the second largest and is considered the gateway to the backwaters. Every district of Kerala is marked by the presence of inviting backwaters, which form a major part of Kerala’s scenic landscape.

Veli Tourist Village

The tourist village of Weli is sandwiched between the Weli Lagoon and the Arabian Sea. The lake here is separated from the sea by a narrow sandbar.

Village amenities include lake water sports and an 18-acre waterfront park with a floating bridge connecting the village to the beach.

Thiruvananthapuram District – Kerala Backwater Travel

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The southernmost district of the state, Thiruvananthapuram is bounded on the east and northeast by the wooded highlands of the Western Ghats and on the west by the Arabian Sea.

A long coastline with secluded, internationally renowned beaches, historical monuments, backwater stretches and rich cultural heritage offers the district some of the most enticing picnic spots. The main backwater areas of Thiruvananthapuram are Thiruvallam and Veli.

Thiruvallam Backwaters

This peaceful backwater stretch towards Kovalam is famous for its canoe rides. Thiruvallam is the confluence of two rivers, Killi and Karamana. There is a temple dedicated to Parasurama, the great founder of Kerala.

Akulam Boat Club

It is a very popular picnic spot with boating facilities on the lake and a children’s park with swimming pool.

Kollam District – Kerala Backwater Travel

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Located 71 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, this historic coastal district known for its maritime and cashew nut industries was one of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast and a major international trading point in bygone days.

The district has some interesting historical ruins and many temples built in traditional ornate architectural style. About 30% of this historic city is covered by the famous Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala.

The eight-hour journey between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. The District Tourism Promotion Council here offers a wide range of backwater tours and cruises.


Alumkadavu is a picturesque little village on the wide expanse of Kayamkulam lake. The village is home to the skilled artisans who created enormous Kettuvallams in earlier times.

Alappuzha (Alleppey) District – Kerala Backwater Travel

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Backwater travel

With the Arabian Sea to the west and a vast network of lakes, ponds and freshwater rivers, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travelers worldwide, this backwater country is home to a diverse fauna and bird life.

Due to its proximity to the sea, the city has always enjoyed a unique place in Kerala’s maritime history. Today, Alappuzha has grown in importance as a backwater tourism hub, attracting thousands of foreign tourists every year.

Alappuzha is also famous for boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. One of the features of this land is the region called Kuttanad.

Pathiramanal Backwater:

According to legend, a young Brahmin took a dip in the Vembanad Lake for an evening dip and the water made its way down to the land, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (Midnight Sands).

This small island on the backwater is a favorite destination for hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thanermukkam and Kumarakom and is accessible only by boat. It takes 1½ hours/30 minutes by motorboat from Alappuzha by speedboat.

Kottayam District – Kerala Backwater Travel

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With the high Western Chaat to the east, Vembanad Lake and the paddy fields of Kuttanad to the west, Kottayam is a land of unique features.

The scenic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, vast rubber plantations and an entire literate population have earned this district the title of land of letters, latex and lakes.


Kumarakom lies on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad (‘Annaghar’ of Kerala). Vembanad Lake, weaves an intricate and enchantingly beautiful network of magnificent canals, rivulets and tributaries along its banks.

The beautiful green of fringed palms float in the blue water and mingle with the waves. Skilled-fishermen are leaving their hen boats.

Kuttanad Backwaters, Kerala Backwater Travel, Backwater Tours in Kerala, Kerala Backwater Rides

Great flotillas of ducks wade from the thatched houses along the shore to the water. Women, neck deep in water, waist-length hair tied in crowns, searching for fish with their feet.

And helpless cattle graze in green pastures, Where white lilies lie here and there In small, shallow pools.

Ernakulam (Kochi) District – Kerala Backwater Travel

More popularly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi is a group of islands spread across the vast Vembanad Lake. Some of these picturesque islands are Bolgatti, Vyapin, Gundu and Vallarpadam.

The lake here opens into the Arabian Sea to form one of the best natural harbors in the world. It is this natural advantage that has made Kochi a fascinating mix of cultures and influences from the explorers and traders who visited this rich land.

Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British have left their mark here. Jewish synagogues, Dutch palaces, Chinese fishing nets and other remnants of European and Asian architecture blend seamlessly into the traditional fabric of the port city.

Half the fun of visiting Kochi is getting around on local tours. A cruise through the winding waterways will take you to many fantastic locations.

Kozhikode District – Kerala Backwater Travel

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Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins, a major center of trade and commerce, and the land of the Malabar festival, Kozhikode was the most important region of Malabar in earlier times.

Today, ancient monuments, lush green countryside, pristine beaches, historical sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, hills, a unique culture and a warm, friendly atmosphere make this district a much-loved destination.

The backwaters of Kozhikode hold great promise of unexpected, obscure, enchanting holiday options. Favorite places for boating are Elathur, Kanoli Canal and Kallai River.

Kadalundi is an attractive place with a beautiful bird sanctuary. Korapuzha, the site of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam (Water Fiesta), is becoming a popular destination for water sports.

Kasaragod District – Kerala Backwater Travel

The northernmost district of Kerala, Kasaragod is situated on the coast with the Western Chaats on its eastern and northern borders. Backwater trips on the Chandragiri River and Valiaparamba are fascinating experiences.


Situated on the Chandragiri river southeast of Kasaragod city, the town is known for the 17th century Chandragiri Fort, one of a chain of forts.

It offers a breathtaking view of the river and the Arabian Sea. This is a vantage point to watch the sunset.

Chandragiri Cruise:

Boat trips are available to nearby islands and palm groves.

Boarding Point:

Chandragiri Bridge.


This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous small islands, Waliaparamba is fast becoming a much-loved backwater resort.

Kerala Backwater Cruise

The most popular backwater cruise is the eight-hour journey between Kollam and Alappuzha and vice versa. Regular public ferry services on this route have been suspended but tourist boats are as popular as ever.

Essentially identical daily cruises are operated on alternate days by the private Alleppey Tourist Development Co-operative and the state government’s District Tourism Promotion Council.

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