With the Western Ghats towering to the east and the Arabian Sea flowing out from the west, Kerala is one of India‘s most verdant and beautiful states. Crisscrossing this green lung are the backwaters that snake their way through towns and villages. Teeming with aquatic life and providing an invaluable resource to all who sit on their banks, these waterways have helped create an impossibly lush pocket of India.

The backwaters are a network of interconnecting canals, rivers, lakes and inlets that weave their way through sprawling plantations and paddy fields. With around 900km of accessible water, one of the best ways to explore the area is by boat, navigating your way through the emerald labyrinth past water lilies and coconut groves that lean over the banks as if to take in a long, refreshing drink.

The wider canals and lakes are used by local ferries and larger boats, but there are plenty of narrower tributaries to explore. Gliding along the watererways you’ll pass villages where life revolves around coir making and prawn farming as well as larger towns such as Alleppey, historically one of the most important trading ports along the Malabar Coast.

Kerala’s history is closely linked to trade and commerce with Greek, Roman and Arab merchants coming to deal in cardamon, pepper and ginger. An abundance of spices, fresh fish and coconut means Kerala produces some of the best food in India. There are few places more relaxing as you watch the sun rise and set over the tranquil waters, calm but for the occasional ripple as a boat edges its nose through the water.

When to go

The best time to visit is between October and March.


What to do

  • Enjoy a houseboat cruise along the backwaters
  • Learn how to make mouthwatering south Indian food