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Backwater Biking and Canoeing

Backwater biking and canoeing, Kerala

Ringside views of rural Kerala

Kerala's backwaters are not only meant for lazy cruises but also for the adventurous. The canals, lagoons, lakes and rivers - the backwaters - with their unique geographical features leave an indelible impression on the minds of those who view it from close. The best way to relive this experience take a backwater bike or canoe your way down from Alapuzha or Alleppey along the paddy fields and villages of central Kerala.

Begin your journey at Alappuzha with its maze of backwaters, canals and bridges. As you make your way out of Alappuzha through the rice bowl of Kuttanad, you will often find your canoe moving on water, the level of which is often higher than that of the green fields on either side. You could go on up to Kochi via the backwaters and you will get an opportunity to see many beautiful sights along the way, such as the Chinese fishing nets, which are believed to have been introduced into Kerala by the traders from Kublai Khan's court.

A beautiful backwater spot accessible from Alappuzha is Kumarakom. Breathtakingly green, the little village seems to be sleeping peacefully by the Vembanad Lake. The lush green of the countryside gently mixes with the swaying coconut palms and blends into the waters. Kumarakom is so enchanting that in the last century an Englishman, Henry Baker, fell in love with the place and built his bungalow there. Today, the elegant and stylish mansion is a tourist complex. Next door to Kumarakom is the well-known 14-acre Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. A haven for water ducks, Siberian birds and many more species from half way across the world, the sanctuary is a pleasure to visit in any season. But the best time is winter for it is then that birds come in droves. A golden yellow island, Pathiramanal, is also in Vembanad Lake and must not be missed. From there to Kochi is a short ride but one that will take you to a world of peace and quiet.

You could take another route from Alappuzha to Kollam. Your journey will take you up the Pampa river to the island hamlet of Champpakkulam, and then on to the Karumadi Canal. Take a moment to see the statue of Karumadikuttan, believed to be the Buddha. Locals believe it is a legacy of the time when Buddhist monks came to Kerala to preach their message of peace. Then your waterbike will go past Trikunnapuzha across the Kayamkulam and Ashtamudi Lake to end the journey at the ancient port of Kollam or Quilon.

Reaching Allapuzha/Alleppey: The nearest airport is the Kochi International Airport, 66 away. Alleppey is also well-connected to Kochi by rail and road.