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The Backwaters of Kerala are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (Malabar Coast) of the state. This water-net includes five large lakes linked by canals, fed by 38 rivers. The network thus formed extending virtually half the length of Kerala state.

The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the hills of Western Ghats.

The backwaters of Kerala are made up of over 900 km of interconnected waterways, rivers, lakes and inlets. The backwaters of Kerala are marked by a unique ecosystem wherein lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and deltas of several rivers meet the Arabian Sea.

In the midst of this landscape there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram covers a distance of 205 km and runs almost parallel to the coast line of southern Kerala facilitating both cargo movement and backwater tourism.

Traditionally used as one of the main transportation alleys, today backwaters offer a rejuvenating experience for tourists visiting Kerala. The backwaters can be explored by hiring a boat for one or several days.


Kerala has 3 backwater regions-

The most beautiful and accessible part of the back waters is the Vembanad backwater stretch located in districts of Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kottayam area.

The second most visited backwater region is Astamudi Lake located in district in Kollam.

The third backwater region is located at Kannur-Valiyaparambu Backwaters located in districts of Kannur and Kasargod, which is least exploited, though it offers amazing natural beauty and presence of numerous small uninhabited islands.


The kettuvallams (Kerala houseboats) in the backwaters are one of the prominent tourist attractions in Kerala. More than 2000 kettuvallams ply the backwaters120 of them in Alappuzha. Kerala government has classified the tourist houseboats as Platinum, Gold and silver. The high-end houseboats (mainly Platinum) provide amenities like ayurveda massage, beauty treatments, and dining extravaganza.


This is the greatest event on the backwaters of kerala, is held on the second saturday of august every year. Magnificent snakeboats compete for the prized trophy which was instituted by jawaharlal nehru, the first prime minister of india.

Highlights - Ceremonial water procession Spectacular water floats Decorated boats Vanchipattu Races of smaller country crafts Chundanvellom race. Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race: Highlights - Colourful water procession Water floats Boat races


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