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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Spice Coast Cruises: A glimpse into Lake Vembanad’s life on the water

Our traditional houseboats offer a taste of this idyllic backwater life…

By Joby Joseph
Manager of Spice Coast Cruises

In the early days, Keralans used kettuvallam boats to transport rice, passengers and spices between different villages, hence why they were often referred to as rice barges. They weren’t motorised so the crew would punt them slowly along the canals, stopping at all the markets. After the 1980s, Kerala saw more roads being built and slowly the dominant transport changed from water to land. Responding to the change, the locals transformed their barges into houseboats for visitors who wanted a taste of Lake Vembanad’s idyllic backwater life.

The design of our two kettuvallams are in keeping with the traditional style – slender in order to slip through the canals and scrupulously woven with bamboo and coir. They both have one bedroom for exclusive use only, so you don’t have to share the views as you sit on the open deck and watch the water world go by. The talented boatmen, whose families have navigated the lake over generations, double up as private chefs and cook these amazing feasts. Enjoy fish caught from the lake that same morning and cooked in a banana leaf with chilli, ginger and lime. Or the prawns picked from the ponds accompanied by red rice and locally grown vegetables. It’s always fun to buy the fresh catch of the day from a local market and ask the chef to cook it up for supper.

Stay for one night and you’ll experience a slice of Lake Vembanad’s unique lifestyle. You could go for a stroll around a village known for its coir rope making, see fishermen casting their nets and end the day admiring those melting sunsets from the deck. Stay for two nights and we can explore those smaller canals and get even closer to village life where life unfolds along the banks; farmers working paddy fields and plantain, people washing their clothes in canals and children racing along the banks after school without a care in the world. I’m from the area, this is my home and I really enjoy opening up this peaceful part of India to anyone who visits. There’s really nothing quite like it.

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Alfred & Joby Joseph

Joby first started working for CGH Earth  in 1994 when he joined the Casino Hotel, Kerala as a cashier at the restaurant. He was soon promoted and worked his way up within the brand. The experience has been a very rewarding and fulfilling one which he owes to his family; his wife, a health worker and rock of support as well as his two children. When he’s not working, he loves spending his time with them watching movies and going on long, adventurous drives.