The backwater state at the southern tip of India, the land of secluded beaches and shiny emerald backwaters and native cultural heritage to boast of, Kerala is fast gaining momentum as a hotspot tourist spot and looks like is all set to dislodge the general tourist haunts. Kuttanad, commonly known as the rice bowl of Kerala falls under the Alappuzha District. Honeycombed by many waterways, lakes, rivers and rivulets, Kuttanad is pretty much the face of the Kerala Backwaters. Also notably, Kuttanad is one of the few places all over the world and the only place in India where rice farming takes place below sea level, fairly like in Holland.

A journey to Kuttanad explains before you the lush bounty and beauty of the Kerala Backwaters like never before. With 500 sq. km of the region below sea level, Kuttanad is the lowest area of India. Its elevation ranges from 0.6 m above to 2.2 meters below sea level. The main occupation of the locals for centuries has been paddy cultivation. It is carried out in the lake lands that are the lands domestic from the great Vembanad Lake gradually over time. In the early times, till the beginning of 20th century, water was bailed manually from shallow parts of the lake and the river Pamba. There were specific regulations by the King of Travancore on how to do that. The only restriction was that the fields would get flooded during the monsoon as waterways brought in water. To stop the flood, a Spillway was built to divert river water to the sea. During summer, sea water entered the land and made it salty. A bund (dam) was built with the help of locals crossways the lake to keep the sea water out. The shutters would be opened only during the monsoon. The farmers were happy that they could produce two crops annually. One man’s meat is another’s poison. The fishermen lost their abundant catch of fish which teemed in the slightly saline water.

Places in Kuttanad

 Champakulam

Champakulam is a village in the Kuttanad area. The holy river Pampa flows through the village splitting it into two. On either side are luscious green fields of paddy, and coconut palms. Big groups of ducks can be seen touching graciously, often driven by their tender.

Kavalam

Kavalam is another such village through which the river flows. The scenic beauty is amazing! Film makers haunt the region for shooting. Even a little years back, Kavalam could be touched only by boat which gave it a laidback atmosphere.  Now there is road access from Alleppey and Kottayam to this serene place. Still the water junction of five canals remains as a rare sight to behold…! Kuttanad is about 65 km south of Kochi. It is actually a bunch of small villages interrelated by winding waterways. Taking a country boat ride along these waterways is a sure way to enjoy the village life of Kerala.

Taking a “kettuvallam” or a house boat cruise would be perfect, if you wish to spend to a couple of days enjoying beauty of Kerala Lake.  There are so many channels to sail through in Kuttanad; the sights everywhere offer eye candy. The greenery, the swaying palms, gliding birds….these views are combined with cameos of village life, workers in the fields, the coconut puckers, simple shops where men sip tea and read newspaper, toddy shops…. Kerala is different indeed!

How to Reach

By Boat: There are regular boat services in the Alappuzha – Edathua – Ambalappuzha route cover Kuttanad.

By Air: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km to the north; Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 150 km to the south.

Best Time to Visit

The best time therefore to visit Kuttanad is between March and October.

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