India is an intriguing yet overwhelming place. It is a melting pot of several religions, several hundred languages, and several million people. Due to its staggering size, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip there. Luckily a helping hand isn’t far away. We’ve stripped India back to basics, compiling a list of India’s highlights and more importantly, how, where and when to see them. Exploring the nooks and crannies of its cities, discovering its ancient charm, experiencing its age old rituals, and falling under the spell of India’s irrepressible charm makes for an adventure you will never forget.
Life on the backwaters
There is nothing more tranquil than an exploration of Kerala’s Backwaters, made up of winding canals, rivers and huge lakes. The best way to travel this region and to be truly immersed in its way of life is by spending time on a kettuvallam (houseboat). From the moment you get on board you are transported to India’s very own Venice, where the atmosphere is serene and the landscape enchanting.
Houseboats offer a comfortable dwelling from which to unobtrusively observe rural Keralan life. Kettuvallam, meaning a sewn or stitched canoe, is an iconic image of this region. They were typically constructed from locally sourced materials such as bamboo, palm leaves and wood. Many traditional kettuvallam have since been converted into houseboats and adapted to accommodate passengers on a more luxurious scale, with the addition of western style toilets, living rooms, kitchenettes and private bedrooms. Despite this modernisation most houseboats still retain their historical style and character.
On private houseboats you will be accompanied by a captain and crew who will ensure you have a pleasant and enjoyable journey. This includes a chef who will prepare delicious and authentic Keralan cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It varies day to day, but a typical day on board will be spent gliding through the canals at a leisurely pace and simply watching life go by. The best views are from the deck of your houseboat, where you can see children playing in the water, fishermen hard at work and women hand-washing clothes by the water’s edge. You may want to take the time to relax, snooze in the sunshine or enjoy a good book as you cruise along. The captain will stop at points of interest where you can disembark to explore further, or hop on a rickshaw ride to visit snake temples and small country mosques. Good detour options include the picturesque Alleppy, the ‘Venice of the East’ (tours usually begin here), and Pathiramanal Island for a beautiful sunrise. Enjoy drinks on board and a delicious traditional Keralan meal before retiring to your luxurious room.
During your time on the houseboat you can choose to embark on a separate tour, in a smaller canoe, in order to travel through some of the backwater’s narrower and more secluded waterways. This is a good opportunity to spot some of the wildlife that can be found here, including elephants, Sambar deer, wild boars and mongoose. Bird watching is also rewarding, with cormorants resting on posts in the water, graceful white egrets, woodpeckers, and the occasional kingfisher sighting.
Call our specialists on 020 3141 2850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to begin putting together your very own tailor-made itinerary.