Kerala’s Lakes and Backwaters

Houseboats on one of Kerala’s verdant backwaters, India
Houseboats on one of Kerala’s verdant backwaters, India


LOCATION Alleppey, in the heart of Kerala’s backwaters, is about 40 miles (65 km) south of Cochin and 90 miles (145 km) north of Trivandrum


Five lakes and thousands of backwaters


Jan: 79°F (26°C); Apr: 84°F (29°C); Jul: 79°F (26°C); Oct: 81°F (27°C)

At the southwestern tip of India, the magnificent Keralan lakes and backwaters are a shimmering tropical labyrinth of five lakes and more than 621 miles (1,000 km) of rivers, canals, rivulets, and lagoons. Trips aboard houseboats – converted barges once used to transport rice – depart for the backwaters from lakeshore towns. Using long bamboo poles, oarsmen slowly steer you through a maze of silent channels dotted with isolated hamlets and fringed with coconut palms, dazzlingly green paddy fields, and plantations of banana and yam. Plan your trip around Alleppey, known as the “Venice of the East” for its myriad canals.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around International flights arrive at Bangalore, Delhi, or Mumbai, where connecting flights go to Cochin and Trivandrum. Take a train, car, or, best of all, boat on to Alleppey and the other lakeshore towns.

When to Go December to May is the best time to visit Kerala – this way you avoid the monsoon season and southern India’s unbearably hot summer.

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