Backwaters of Kerala
The backwaters refer to the large inland lakes, lagoons, rivers & canals water network of Kerala. Kerala’s life is largely influenced along with these backwaters. Backwaters are the accumulation of Sea water at the sea beach during the to-fro motion of sea-waves in the form of lagoons, estuaries etc. They stretch over the state physique, bestowing paddy fields with good harvests, and provide the whole village with drinking water and other facilities such as fishing and a mode of transportation. Once, these backwaters were acted as a major mode of transportation for rice, coconut & other produce from highlands to nearest ports. In this world of simple pleasures, you will skim past ancient Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, coir villages, rustic homes, temples and coconut groves. Endless lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and the deltas of forty four rivers make up the 900km backwater network of Kerala.
A houseboat cruises through the serene backwaters of Kerala and enjoy a cruise through the natural vistas of God's Own Country. Kerala is having a tangle of lazily winding backwaters. Sprinkled with traditional houseboats, country crafts, rural lifestyles and Tranquility. It's an intricate network of innumerable lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and the deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea. More than 900 km of this obscure water world is fully navigable. The “Vembanad Kayal” is considered as the largest of the lakes, covering an area of 200 km, and bordered by Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts. The port of Kochi (Cochin) is located at the lake’s outlet to the Arabian Sea. Alleppey, “Venice of the East”, has a large network of canals that meander through the town. Vembanad is India’s longest lake.The Ashtamudi Lake, the second largest in the state, which covers a major portion of Kollam district in the south, and considered as the gateway to the backwaters. In the bangs of this beautiful landscape there are a numerous small towns and cities, which are the starting and end points of backwater cruises. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram, covers a distance of 205 km and runs almost parallel to the coast line of southern Kerala helping both cargo movement and backwater tourism.
The backwaters have an exceptional ecosystem; freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. In certain areas, such as the Vembanad Kayal, where a barrage has been built in Thaneermukkam, salt water from the sea is prevented from entering the deep inside, keeping the fresh water intact. Such fresh water is largely used for irrigation purposes. There are many unique variety of aquatic life like; crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, kingfishers, darters and cormorants, and animals such as otters and turtles live in and alongside the backwaters. Palm trees, pandanus shrubs, various leafy plants and bushes grow alongside the backwaters, providing a green hue to the surrounding landscape.