The Kettuvallam or 'boat with knots' is called so because coir ropes tied in knots hold the entire structure of the boat together. During the entire assembling work of the boat, not a single nail is used. The boat is made of huge planks of Jack wood (Artocarpus hirsuta) or 'Aanjili' and joined with coir. This is then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels.
The kettuvallam or the Kerala houseboat is a large floating structure with a high load-carrying capacity and it has been a part of Kerala' s culture and heritage over the past many years. The advent of road transport and motorisation in waterways saw the steep decline in the significance of the kettuvallam as an effective carrier of bulk cargo.
Around six years ago, an entrepreneur, on the request of tourists, remodelled the traditional kettuvallam to suite the role of a tourist cruise boat. This gave an impetus to the resurgence of the kettuvallam and with further modifications,these vessels were transformed into full-fledged houseboats. The kettuvallam was once an integral member of the fraternity of Kerala as an efficient cargo carrier.
Over the years, these boats have imbibed a redefining of their structure as well as function.They offer great scope and promise for the future of Kerala tourism in their capacity as tourist house boats. Each a masterpiece of intricate craftsmanship, the kettuvallam lasts, not just for years, but for generations.
Formerly, house boats were used to ship rice and spices and other goods between Kuttanad and the Cochin port. It was a three-day affair those days. A standard house boat, which could be about 100 feet long, can hold up to 30 tons, and that is as much as three big lorries can.In the olden times,the crew cooked on board, and most often, their meals included delicious fish caught straight from the water. A portion of the house boat had bamboo roofing, and that was where the crew would rest.
The tradition continues....
The unforgettable kettuvallam ride
Cruising along the backwaters of Kerala is an unforgettable experience.You could get in any house boat of your liking, saunter down the cool placidness of the world-famous Kerala backwaters, have a merry time and get back home either the same day or after spending a night out floating around.
You can enjoy the lovely homely food served on board, appreciate the fine level of hospitality and go back home, a new rejuvenated person altogether. That's what a cruise along the backwaters in a house boat can do to you and your family or to you and your close friends or corporate colleagues.Your trip could be for business or pleasure,or you could mix both.
You will be enjoying the finest Kuttanadan delicacies when you saunter down the backwaters. You will be lounging in the best-furnished cabins with a view you cannot find anywhere else in the world, and the entire milieu is ecological. Fresh food, cooked in inimitable Kuttanadan style, is the rage of the international tourists.
Alleppey is the citadel of house boats. There are some 120 of them, well maintained and perfected as luxury liners here. The house boats have all the creature comforts of a good hotel but none of those hassles - well-furnished bedrooms, modern hygienic toilets, cosy living rooms,a beautiful kitchen and in some cases even a balcony for angling.Most house boats are powered by remarkably unobtrusive outboard engines; some others are poled by experienced oarsmen.
A ride in a Kerala house boat is the most relaxing experience you could ever get into – by just lying back and letting the natural beauty and serenity enfold you - ! And, nothing like it if it rains, while you are cozy inside the luxury of the house boat. It will be the most magical moment of your life. You could watch millions of drops of water splashing all around and also hear the pounding rhythm of the rain falling on the rooftop.
Surrounded by its all-natural decor, the houseboat provides the ideal observation platform, not only for underwater life, flora and fauna, but also for the charming rural lifestyle slipping by in slow motion. Lulled by the waves into a state of delightful euphoria, you can return to your daily routine, refreshed and rejuvenated.
Full fledged Tourist cruise boats
The houseboats of Kerala have become one of the most exciting tourism products in . Modern house boats are huge, slow moving, exotic barges designed for sheer leisure trips. While these huge barges, measuring up to 80 - 90 ft in length, were traditionally used to carry cargo goods and are called Kettuvallams, the modern houseboats have furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, living rooms, kitchenettes and balconies.
Sections of the curved roof made of wood or plaited palm leaves open out to provide shade and allow an uninterrupted view of the backwater country.Modern house boats have been designed to meet the Green Palm/ Gold Star Certifications by the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, which has recently enacted regulations, stipulating the standards of Kerala houseboats.
The kettuvallams provide the tourists an opportunity to glide along the calm and serene backwaters watching rural Kerala and to experience God's Own Country in all its glory….