Traditional Kettuvallams

Alappuzha House Boats

Traditional Kettuvallams, also known as Kerala houseboats, are traditional wooden boats found in the backwaters of the Indian state of Kerala. These traditional boats have a unique design and were historically used for the transportation of goods and people across the network of interconnected canals, lakes, and rivers in Kerala.

The term “Kettuvallam” is derived from the Malayalam language, where “kettu” means “to tie” and “vallam” means “boat.” The boats are called Kettuvallams because they were traditionally constructed by tying together planks of wood with coir ropes and then coated with a black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells, which acted as a waterproofing agent.

The construction of a Kettuvallam is an intricate and skilled process, typically carried out by local artisans. The boats are usually made from locally sourced materials, including Anjili (Artocarpus hirsutus) wood for the hull, bamboo poles for the roof, and coir ropes for binding. The roof is thatched with coconut palm leaves, providing shade and protection from the elements.

Kettuvallams come in various sizes, ranging from small boats to large and luxurious ones, depending on their intended use. In the past, these boats were mainly used for the transportation of goods like rice, spices, and other commodities between different towns and villages. However, with the advent of modern transportation, their traditional role has diminished.

Today, Kettuvallams have been transformed into popular tourist attractions. Tourists from around the world visit Kerala to experience a serene and enchanting houseboat cruise along the backwaters. The houseboats now serve as floating hotels with well-appointed rooms, comfortable living spaces, and on-board staff to cater to the needs of the guests.

A typical Kettuvallam cruise allows tourists to witness the beautiful landscape of Kerala’s backwaters, observe the traditional village life, and savor local delicacies. The tranquil and picturesque journey on these traditional boats provides a unique and memorable experience for travelers seeking an escape from bustling city life.

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