Kerala Backwaters:Backwater Destinations in Kerala

The backwaters of Kerala are one of the most visited sightseeing attraction by tourists. The state of Kerala has backwaters in northern, southern and central regions. Read more to know all the backwater destinations in Kerala. The article also mentions all the hotels available in the areas nearby the backwaters.

Kerala backwaters are one of the most attractive locations in Kerala. It is the most visited tourist location in Kerala, often referred to as 'God's own country'. The backwaters are a chain of brackish(water that is more saline than fresh water but not as saline as sea water) lagoons and lakes. These lagoons lie parallel to the Arabian Sea coast of the state of Kerala in India. This coast is called as the Malabar coast. The chain of backwaters includes five vast lakes which are connected by canals. There are both manmade as well as natural canals. Backwaters form mostly when the sea water mixes with fresh water to form an estuary. Kerala has numerous backwaters situated in various parts of the state.

South Kerala Backwaters

Backwaters in Kuttanad
1. Kuttanad - Kuttanad is situated in the district of Alappuzha in Kerala. The place is popularly known for its paddy fields. For this reason, Kuttanad is also known as the 'Rice Bowl of Kerala'. The lowest altitude in India is found in this region. A unique aspect of Kuttanad is that farming here takes place below the sea level. This type of farming is seen in very few places around the world. The green landscapes and beautiful backwaters of this place are a must-see when you visit Kerala. The path of the backwaters are irregular and crisscrossed. The waterways wade along paddy fields. Other crops such as cassava, banana and yam can also be found. These crops are grown on the low-lying areas of the region. One can hire a houseboat or a motorboat and enjoy the scenic charm of the rustic countryside as the boats run on the numerous channels, waterways, streams and lakes. On the way, you can spot trails of ducks, wildlife coir workers making coir, parrots and water birds. You can also see vendors on small boats selling their vegetables and fish to the houses on the banks of the canals. There are traditional rice boats called Kettuvallams on which items like coconut husks, rice grains etc are sold in bulk to the markets on the banks. Another common sight in this area is that of fishermen fishing with their nets and traditional cane baskets called Ottal. The canals are lined with tall swaying coconut trees which mostly bend towards the backwaters giving a lot of shade. There could not be anything more relaxing than to lie in the houseboat and admire the stunning views along with the soft sound of rippling water. The local dishes such as fish delicacies and tapioca can be eaten from the small eateries found on the shore. Toddy, which is naturally extracted, is a beverage found in plentiful here. Four major rivers of Kerala namely Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into Kuttanad. The Alappuzha-Changanassery road goes through the centre of Kuttanad and is the best route to enjoy the views of the backwaters. On this route, one can watch the farmers carrying on with their daily farming activities. The QST and R Block Kayal (backwaters) is located in Kuttanad and offers an added enchantment to your cruise.

Hotels in Kuttanad

1. Marari Beach Resort
2. Lake Palace
3. Marari Beach Homes
4. Raheem Residency
5. Punnamada Serena Spa Resort
6. Kayaloram Heritage Lake Resort
7. Alleppey Beach Resorts
8. Kuttanadu River Resort
9. Alleppey Prince Hotel
10. Pagoda Resorts
11. Green Palace Kerala Resort
12. Arcadia Regency
13. Tharavad Heritage Resort
14. Granary River Side Inn
15. Emerald Isle The Heritage Villa
16. Hotel Royale Park

Backwaters in Kumarakom
2. Kumarakom - Kumarakom is situated near the city of Kottayam in Kerala and is another favourite destination for backwater tourism. The Vembanad Lake, which is the longest freshwater lake in Kerala, is set in Kumarakom. A vast network of rivers and canals empty into this great expanse of water known as Vembanad Lake. Kumarakom is basically a village with clusters of small islands located on the Vembanad Lake. Apart from the captivating sights, sounds and sweet smells, the place also has a large variety of birds and plants. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a famous sanctuary which is flocked by migratory birds throughout the year. Rare migratory birds such as egrets, herons, wild duck and the Siberian Stock visit this area during specific times in the year. Activities such as boating and fishing are available at the various resorts found in Kumarakom. Numerous species of fish including karimeen (pearl spot), shrimps, kanambu (mullet) and prawns can be found in abundance in this region. A houseboat experience in Kumarakom will be unforgettable and a memorable time to cherish lifelong. During the Onam festival, snake boat races known as the Kumarakom boat race, takes place in these canals using various kinds of boats.

Hotels at Kumarakom

1. Whispering Palms
2. Waterscapes (KTDC)
3. Paradise Resorts
4. Lakshmi Hotel and Resorts
5. Illikkalam Lake Resort
6. Backwater Ripples
7. Tharavadu Heritage Home
8. Vivanta by Taj-Kumarakom
9. The Zuri Kumarakom
10. Golden Waters
11. Abad Whispering Palms
12. The Backwater Resort
13. Cocobay Resort
14. Paddy Fields Resorts
15. Kodianthara Resorts

Backwaters in Picnic Village
3. Picnic Village in Kollam - This tourist village is situated in Ashramam about 3 kms from the town of Kollam in Kerala. Picnic village is located on the backwater-front and offers a variety of recreational activities for tourists. A 200 year old Guest House campus, where once Lord Munroe used to stay, is situated in this village. Activities include a boat club, an adventure park, a children's traffic park and a Yatri Nivas for accommodation. One can cruise through the backwaters in a houseboat, luxury boat or a speed boat.

Hotel at Picnic Village

1. Aadithya Resort Lakeside
2. Aquasserenne
3. Club Mahindra Backwater Retreat
4. The Vijaya Castle
5. Nila Palace Luxury Hotel
6. Hotel Sudarsan
7. Hotel Sea Bee
8. Tamarind KTDC Easy Hotel
9. Lake Sagar Xavier's Estuary Resorts

4. Thiruvallam - Thiruvallam is located about 10 km from Thiruvananthapuram, on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kovalam road. These backwaters are popular for the activities offered such as canoe rides, kayaking and houseboat cruises. There is a Boat Club which organises tours to nearby islands of Edayar and Pozhikara. The tour also includes a visit to the coir manufacturing stations. Another attraction in Thiruvallam is an ancient temple found on the banks of Karamana River. Inside this temple, one can find a shrine of Parashurama which is entirely built of granite.

Backwaters in Thiruvallam

Hotels at Thiruvallam

1. The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach
2. Surya Samudra Private Retreats
3. Vivanta by Taj-Kovalam
4. Karikkathi Beach House
5. Poovar Island Resorts
6. Samudra (KTDC)
7. Nikki's Nest
8. Isola Di Cocco Ayurvedic Heritage Beach Resort
9. Estuary Island Resort
10. Beach and Lake Ayurvedic Resort

Backwaters in Ashtamudi
5. Ashtamudi - Ashtamudi Lake is found in Kollam district of Kerala. The lake is called the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. After the Vembanad Lake, Ashtamudi is the second largest and deepest wetland region. This vast body of water is in the shape of the palms. The name Ashtamudi means 'eight-coned' in Malayalam (the local language of Kerala) and it indicates that the lake has clusters of eight tiny islands. This lake is serene and calm throughout the year. Houseboats are provided for tourists to cruise through the backwater lakes. Good quality accommodation is also available which will make your trip much more comfortable. There are many islands around this lake which includes Munroe island, Chavara South and Thekkumbhagom island. The Kallada river flows into the Ashtamudi lake. Thousands of fish species are found in this area which is the main source of livelihood for the fishermen living at the banks of the lake. It is the second largest fish centre after the Vembanad lake.

Backwaters in Ponnumthuruthu island
6. Ponnumthuruthu Island - This island is situated 20 km from Varkala coastal town in Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala. Ponnumthuruthu island is surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters. The uninhabited island can be accessed by a cruise boat which can be hired from the nearby Nedunganda village. There is a 100 year old Shiva-Parvathi temple in this island which has been rebuilt few years back. The temple spans through the entire island.

Central Kerala Backwaters

1. Fort Kochi - Fort Kochi is part of the city of Kochi in Kerala. The region consists of a vast water body. This body of water (estuary) was formed when a major flood filled the region in AD 1341. Before this period, it was a region dominated with land and had no access at all to the sea. Currently, it is one of the best natural harbours in the world. Some of the attractions of Fort Kochi are Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St Francis Church, VOC Gate and Bastion Bungalow. St Francis Church is one of India's oldest churches where Vasco Da Gama was buried in 1524.

Backwaters in Fort Kochi

Hotels in Kochi

1. Bolgatty Island Resort (KTDC)
2. Bolgatty Palace (KTDC)
3. The Renaissance Cochin
4. Abad Atrium
5. Hotel Arches
6. Royal Village
7. Hotel Presidency
8. Abad Plaza
9. The Wyte Fort
10. The Woods Manor

2. Kumbalangi - Kumbalangi is a suburb in the city of Kochi in Kerala. The place, surrounded by backwaters, has been declared as a model tourism village by the Government of India under a project called Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village. The model village is the first of its kind in India. The project undertook the transformation of the small village into a model fishing and tourism village. The modest livelihood of the villagers can be seen and understood here. With a serene and calm landscape, tourists can leisurely savour the scenic beauty of this place.

Backwaters in Kumbalangi

Some more hotels in Kochi

1. Mermaid Hotel
2. The Surya hotel
3. Riviera Suites
4. The Mercy
5. BTH Sarovaram
6. The Metropolitan
7. Abad Metro
8. The International Hotel Cochin
9. Hotel Sealord
10. Hotel Abad

North Kerala Backwaters

Backwaters in Valiyaparamba
1. Valiyaparamba - There are a few fascinating backwaters in North Kerala too quite contrary to the popular belief that most of the enchanting backwaters are located in south and central Kerala. Valiyaparamba is a tiny island found in the Arabian Sea in the Kasargod district of Kerala. The island is separated from the mainland by backwaters. The place is a main attraction in the region and is also a major fishing centre. It is situated 30 kms from Bekal Fort. Four rivers flow into these backwaters and a number of tiny islands can be seen in the area. The inhabitants main source of livelihood comes from fishing and agriculture. Improved facilities like boat cruises are being introduced in Valiyaparamba to turn it into a popular tourist destination. A beautiful backwater village called Thekkekadu is located near Valiyaparamba.

Hotels in Kasargod

1. K-Tees Residency
2. Oyster Opera Island Resort
3. Hotel City Tower
4. Apsara Regency
5. The Lalit Resort and Spa Bekal

Backwaters in Padanna
2. Padanna Backwaters - Padannu is located near Cheruvathur in Kasargod district of Kerala. The backwaters of this place are lined with coconut trees and have irregular canals. A major activity in this region is mussel cultivation. Due to the vast mussel farming that is done in Padanna, a theme village called 'Oyster Opera at Padanna' was opened in 2007 which exhibited the mussel farming activity. Though the whole ambience at Padanna is not very sophisticated with modern resorts, it will still leave you with a satisfied feeling which will make you wish to savour more of the fascinating backwaters. These backwaters are fed with water from five rivers which later join the Arabian Sea. Houseboats are provided for tourists to cruise through the backwaters.

Backwaters in Chithari
3. Chithari - Chithari is a village in Kasargod district of Kerala. It is located 5 kms away from Kanhangad in Kasargod. It is a small island with spectacular lagoons. The backwaters of Chithari are part of the Bekal Tourism Project. The place flourishes with lush green sceneries and white sandy beaches. The island is accessible only by wooden canoe boats. It is not yet very popular as a tourist destination and very few tourists come to visit the place. With a little more development, this place can surely turn out to be a major tourist attraction. The beach has a historic fort, known as the Bekal Fort, located on its borders.

4. Kavvavi Kayal - Kavvavi Kayal is situated in Kannur district of Kerala. It is a large fascinating stretch of water body which has its own unique features which will mesmerise anyone. Here too, houseboats can be hired to cruise through the backwaters of Kavvavi Kayal. Kavvavi's backwater setting is the biggest wetland in North Kerala. A number of exciting sights can be admired while enjoying the cruise. It is still a less known backwater destination of Kerala. Five rivers flow into these backwaters. A variety of wild life and plants can be seen on the backwater shores.

Kavvavi Kayal

Hotels in Kannur

1. Kairali Heritage - A River Side Resort
2. Royal Omars
3. Malabar Residency
4. Mascot Beach Resort
5. Hotel Sky Palace
6. Asian Heritage
7. Palmgrove Heritage Retreat
8. Tamarind KTDC Easy Hotel, Kannur
9. Hotel Meridian Palace
10. The Pearlview Regency

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