The backwaters of Kerala
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
98Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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The little town of Kollam is the easiest way to access the backwaters of Kerala. One of the oldest ports in the Arabian sea, it was once a major commerical hub that saw Roman, Arab, Chinese and later Portuguese, Dutch and British traders jostle into port - eager to get their hands on spices and the region's valuable cashew crops.
A short train ride from Varkala landed us in Kollam. We headed, via rickshaw, to the DTPC to organise a boat trip through the canals of Munroe Island and across Ashtamudi lake.
Kollam is a small, hot and dry town. A slow, what seemed long walk into town, found us rejected by a few guesthouses but eventually finding a comfortable one above a restaurant.
We headed back to the tour company and boarded a bus for an hour ride to the backwaters. A short walk through back gardens of houses that line the canals, we arrived at our small canoe shaped boat and we all boarded nervously, one by one. On the tour was a couple from Australia and a lady from Switzerland.
The backwaters are just stunning. Miles and miles of quaint canals, motionless with the odd duck rippling the water. Our guide paddled away and navigated us through the canals, under low bridges and we stopped regularly to observe plants, structures and local life. For most people living in the area, the easiest way to travel around the area is by boat.
It was fascinating watching local people of Kerala fish, grow crops and generally live their life in such a peaceful and happy habitat. The only thing that may spoil your experience, was the deafening call to prayer playing over loud speakers that are wired throughout the canals. But in some way, it did add to the experience, you somehow knew, you were in Incredible India.
One of our last stops we saw three people dealing with coconut shells. They are dried, once dried are collected into bags, weighed then sold to produce oil. An old man with a really bad cough, was lifting such large dead weights, his arms were extremely huge and you wonder how many bags has he lifted in his lifetime?
Back in Kollam, I enjoyed some tasty chicken kebabs for my dinner and by the next morning, we were enjoying a local Indian breakfast before our journey to Kochi by train.
Next stop, Kochi.