Etymologically, kettuvallam is a compound word in Malayalam, namely, ‘kettu’ means ‘tied with’ and vallam means ‘boat’. Thus kettuvallam literally means two or more vallams tied up together. The present Kerala houseboats are in different sizes according to the rooms and salons (salone / large hall) it covers. Mostly, they are 95 feet to 107 feet in length and 13 to 19 feet width at the middle. All the raw materials needed for the construction of the houseboats are Eco-friendly. The hull is made of wooden planks tied together by ropes of coconut fiber. The common wood used in the making of it is locally called ‘Anjili’. The roof is made up of bamboo poles and thatched with palm leaves. To prevent the wood from deterioration, cashew nut oil which works as an Eco friendly protective varnish, is used to pain the exterior of the boat.
Each house boat is manned by minimum three (3) crews-boat Driver, Chef and cabin assistant. The menus served in houseboats are mainly traditional Kerala items. Traditional food cooked according to the taste of tourists whether it be vegetarian or non vegetarian.
These house boats are categorized into single bedroom, double bedrooms, and 3 and 5 bedrooms. Single bedroom means it can accommodate a couple or two persons. Double is meant for 4 persons and 3-bed can be shared by 6 persons. Besides big house boats with sundeck, private gallery with comfortable chairs, kitchen and toilet, there are also more luxurious houseboats with A/c facilities also available. Most of the houseboats have separate rest rooms.
A cruise in a houseboat is unique experience in itself. It will give you an opportunity to enjoy and contain a leisurely and pace of life. Here, you are balancing along the cool relaxing water experience and the remarkable demonstration of Kerala life. This cruise is an environmental friendly transport system which is best suited for clean trip. Houseboats in Kerala are not only economical but also non-polluting and environment friendly. It thus became essential, that this mode of transportation be developed further and encouraged.
Today, the luxury houseboats are the most enchanting holiday experience in India. In this world of simple pleasures, you will glide past the earliest Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, coir villages, rustic homes, temples and coconut groves as you cruise through the backwaters of Kerala. A guided tour along the backwaters would offer you with a complete and most captivating experience and will also expose to you some interesting data about the life of local villagers.
The new generation-Houseboats are renovated forms of original Kettuvalloms. The modern type Houseboats have all the imaginative comforts like a Hotel, well-furnished bedrooms, modern hygienic toilets, precious living rooms, dining area, attractive kitchen and in some cases even a balcony for angling. Most of the houseboats are powered by inconspicuous inboard diesel engines and use solar energy for power requirements.