Houseboat Holidays

Kerala is a state replete with surprises. They don’t call it God’s Own Country for nothing. Ask any travel-hardy explorer and he’s sure to fill you travel journals with tales and visions of beautiful and tempting beaches, all of which boast white sandy shores and gentle waves that lap at your feet as you wade through the crystal water. Then there are the fog-shrouded mystical hills that smell faintly sweet with hints of spice. Which leaves you with the exemplary backwaters of Kerala that are renowned for their time travel powers especially if you find yourself cruising along the chain of interconnected lagoons and lakes linked by canals and fed by 38 rivers, on a rice boat. These boats, once a relic of the regions past, were once used to transport rice. Today, they serve as a super-luxe, over-night option for couples looking for a romantic escape. Perfect for a couple, or couples that travel together, these houseboats display a side of Kerala that you’ve never seen before. The dreamy sunsets from the deck, starry skies at night and a clear crisp dawn slowly illuminating the vast expanse before you makes for a hypnotic sight all while you glide through the ever-changing landscape.

Taj Garden Retreat, Kumarakom The Taj Garden Retreat, Kumarakom is a 119-year old colonial retreat on the banks of the Lake Vembanad. This hotel offers day-long journeys in a kettuvallam or traditional houseboat. Completely fitted with modern amenities, this two bedroom air-conditioned houseboat meets the Green Palm/Gold Star certification and features a living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchenette and sun deck to soak in the beauty of the backwaters. Taj Garden Retreat, Kumarakom, 1/404 Kumarakom, Kottayam, Kerala (+ 91 481 252 5711-16; www.vivantabytaj.com)

Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort Somatheeram Ayurvedic BeachResort combines the aspects of a beach resort with the holistic healings of Ayurveda and Yoga. Located on a hilltop, the resort’s many villas are interspersed with lush greenery and dot the hillside as it gently cascades towards an immaculate beach. Their idyllic Soma Houseboats are mini-mobile cottages with two cabins, including a sit-out, sundeck, bedroom and private bath. The boats often make short stops and guests can even hop off to pick up a bottle of fresh sweet toddy or try and climb up a coconut tree. Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort, Chowara PO, South of Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (+ 91 471 2268101; www.somatheeram.in)

The Park on Vembanad Lake and Apsara Backwaters Cruiser Situated on the shores of the Vembanad Lake, The Park is an exquisite port-esque boutique hotel which manages to perfectly harmonise the relationship between the modernity of the boutique hotel and the serenity of the environment. Here, you can either choose to spend a day drifting on The Park’s luxury Apsara Backwaters Cruiser or wake up to the gentle sounds of water lapping the docking station. The Apsara—built on two levels—comprises of eight rooms, a crew cabin, a galley, saloon and dining area, a sundeck and a picturesque forward seating area. Whereas The Park property offers travellers a total of ten sophisticated rooms and a deluxe room lake view room to choose from. The Park on Vembanad Lake and Apsara Backwaters Cruiser, Puthenangadi, Muhamma Panchayat, Cheratala Taluk, Alleppey, Kerala (+ 91 478 2584430; www.theparkhotels.com)

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Neville Bhandara

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