Traditional thatch-roofed houseboats in Kerala, India

This item appears on page 98 of the April 2008 issue.
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In the state of Kerala in India, traditional thatch-roofed houseboats called kettuvallams are made of materials tied together. Not a single nail is used in the construction. The materials all are local and ecofriendly: jackwood planks joined together with coir (coconut fiber) rope and coated with black resin made from cashew nut shells. The poles are bamboo, the mats are made of bamboo and the carpets, coir.

The boats, once used to transport cargo and grain, now are used for luxury journeys in Kerala’s backwaters. Each kettuvallam has from one to eight bedrooms. My husband and I stayed on a one-bedroom houseboat for 22 hours in January ’08. The arrangements were included in our 3-week customized tour of southern India planned by Indian Panorama (No. 5 Annai Avenue, Srirangam, Trichy, Tamil Nadu 620006, India; phone +91 431 243 3372, fax 243 2874, www.indianpanorama.in).

The cost for such a stay runs $125-$150, including three delicious meals plus air-conditioning from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was a most memorable experience cruising the lake and narrow canals and seeing an ever-changing view of homes, temples, green paddy fields and the daily lives of people along the river cooking, bathing, washing clothes, etc.

LORNA TJADEN

New Hope

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In the state of Kerala in India, traditional thatch-roofed houseboats called kettuvallams are made of materials tied together. Not a single nail is used in the construction. The materials all are local and ecofriendly: jackwood planks joined together with coir (coconut fiber) rope and coated with black resin made from cashew nut shells. The poles are bamboo, the mats are made of bamboo and the carpets, coir.

The boats, once used to transport cargo and grain, now are used for luxury journeys in Kerala’s backwaters. Each kettuvallam has from one to eight bedrooms. My husband and I stayed on a one-bedroom houseboat for 22 hours in January ’08. The arrangements were included in our 3-week customized tour of southern India planned by Indian Panorama (No. 5 Annai Avenue, Srirangam, Trichy, Tamil Nadu 620006, India; phone +91 431 243 3372, fax 243 2874, www.indianpanorama.in).

The cost for such a stay runs $125-$150, including three delicious meals plus air-conditioning from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was a most memorable experience cruising the lake and narrow canals and seeing an ever-changing view of homes, temples, green paddy fields and the daily lives of people along the river cooking, bathing, washing clothes, etc.

LORNA TJADEN

New Hope