Alleppey’s houseboats, known locally as ‘Kettuvallams’, are not just a tourist attraction but a testament to Kerala’s rich cultural heritage and historical significance. These traditional boats, now repurposed into luxurious floating accommodations, offer an immersive experience into the heart of Kerala’s backwaters and a unique perspective on local life. Read more about the history of houseboats in Kerala.

Kettuvallam Houseboats of Alappuzha

Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is a fleet of over 120 traditional houseboats, known as ‘Kettuvallams’. These iconic vessels are not just a means of exploring the enchanting beauty of Alleppey but also a deep dive into the rich tapestry of Kerala’s culture.

The Origin and Evolution of Kettuvallam Houseboat : History of Houseboats in Kerala

history of houseboats in Kerala


The story of Kettuvallams dates back to 3000 BC, when these wooden vessels were the lifelines of transportation in the region. The term ‘Kettuvallam’ comes from ‘Kettu’ (meaning ‘to tie’) and ‘Vallam’ (boat), indicative of the boat’s construction. Initially used for ferrying goods and people, these boats were vital in connecting Alappuzha to other parts of Kerala. They could carry more than 25 tons, equivalent to three trucks, and were indispensable in transporting commodities like rice, spices, and coconuts.

Traditionally made of wood with roofs thatched from coconut or palm leaves, these vessels underwent a transformative journey. With the advent of road transportation, the Kettuvallams evolved into more than just cargo carriers. Today, they are synonymous with luxury, comfort, and culture, offering bedrooms, bathrooms, dining, and kitchen facilities.

History of Houseboats in Kerala : A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

history of houseboats in Kerala


By the 1990s, these intricately crafted houseboats became a hallmark of Alappuzha, contributing significantly to Kerala’s tourism industry. Despite the sweep of modernization, the allure of these houseboats has not diminished. Their architecture is a marvel – built without nails, bolts, or nuts, yet incredibly sturdy and spacious.

These floating palaces, typically stretching 80 feet, blend traditional craftsmanship with modern amenities. Offering unparalleled facilities and privacy, they surpass even star-rated hotels in providing an exclusive and intimate experience.

Preserving the Heritage

history of houseboats in Kerala

In Kerala, specialized communities have been the custodians of the art of houseboat construction, passing down their skills through generations. The houseboats of today stand as a testament to this living heritage, preserving the traditional beauty while adapting to the changing times.

From Transportation to Tourist Delight: The history of houseboats in Kerala

Originally, Kettuvallams were built using locally sourced materials. The hull was crafted from elongated wooden planks, held together with coir ropes, and coated with resin made from boiled cashew nut shells. This construction technique ensured that the boats were sturdy and waterproof, essential for long journeys across the backwaters.

Interestingly, the transformation of these cargo boats into the houseboats we see today was inspired by a British man. He suggested adding a bamboo roof overhead, leading to the creation of these floating houses. These boats became more than just a mode of transportation – they became a symbol of Kerala’s commitment to preserving its traditions while adapting to modern needs.

Houseboats in Contemporary Times

history of houseboats in Kerala


Today, these houseboats are a blend of tradition and modern luxury. Ranging from one-bedroom to multiple-bedroom setups, they are equipped with modern amenities, yet their architecture and interiors echo the traditional essence of Kerala’s culture. The once humble mode of transport has now become a means of luxury, relaxation, and a major tourist attraction.

They are available in luxury, premium and Deluxe Houseboats in Alleppey category. 

The Eco-Friendly Aspect

Recently, there’s been a conscious effort to make houseboats eco-friendly. These boats are seen as a sustainable, non-polluting, and economical travel option, aligning with modern environmental concerns. The focus is on preserving the natural beauty of the backwaters while providing tourists with an unforgettable experience.

The Experience of a Lifetime

A journey on these houseboats is akin to stepping into a different world. As you glide through the backwaters, the bustling life along the banks, the lush greenery, and the serene waters offer a tranquil escape from the hustle of everyday life. Whether it’s enjoying freshly prepared local cuisine on board or simply lounging and soaking in the picturesque landscapes, a houseboat experience in Alleppey promises relaxation and a deep connection with nature.

Alleppey: The Citadel of Houseboats

history of houseboats in Kerala

Alleppey, often called the ‘Venice of the East‘, is the heart of these houseboat experiences. With over 120 houseboats, it presents an array of choices for tourists, from luxurious to budget-friendly options. Each houseboat in Alleppey is a floating testament to the region’s commitment to preserving its cultural legacy while offering a slice of paradise to its visitors.

In Conclusion

The houseboats of Alleppey are not just tourist attractions but a rich cultural tapestry woven into the very fabric of Kerala’s history. They offer a unique style of tradition and luxury, an opportunity to reconnect with nature, and a window to the soul of ‘God’s Own Country’. As you embark aboard these floating marvels, you are not just a traveller but a part of Kerala’s living history.