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The Backwaters of Kerala

We arrived in the small city of Allapuza, Kerala, India on the 14th of February about two weeks after arriving in India. We had no idea what to expect in the backwaters of Kerala and the mystery had grown from all the stories we had been hearing from travelers along the way. We were told of a land of rivers, canals and lakes. Thousands of kilometers of waterways stretching along the inside of the coast. A safe haven for thousands of kinds of birds and other endangered species. A rich traditional culture existing unchanged along side a progressive education system and political structure. The effects of which were clearly visible when we arrived in the small town of Allapuzha, which is the starting point for the Backwaters of Kerala.

Kerala is located is the most south western state in India, its coast line on the Arabian ocean has been a major trade route for thousands of years, even the ancient western civilizations had active trading routes in these parts. The Indians traded away their spices for precious gold to be used as jewelry.

The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state.

When we arrived in Kerala we had heard alot about the ancient house boats that most people stay on when they go there. We decided that we would rather just see the place and the culture rather than stay on a house boat like most people do. So we used the local ferry system and travelled as the people do through the backwaters. The ferry cost about 15 cents and lasted about three hours through one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. On the first day we checked into a small guest house(for free because we found it through couch surfing) and met up with some friends of ours that we had met a week earlier in Karnataka. After we dropped our heavy bag we set out early in the morning to take the ferry about three hours to another town. The route would take us straight into the backwaters and out onto one of the biggest lakes in the river system. The ride was amazing! Just so many birds, so many different species. Such a lush and beautiful landscape of water. And the beautiful house boats everywhere were just awesome. They were sort of like thatched roofed huts only floating and huge! When we arried at the next town we had about three hours until the last return ferry so we decided to go for a walk away from the town and back into the Backwaters to explore some of the smaller canals that branch of the main canals. It was here that we found the thriving community of the backwaters. People were extremely friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be living in such a pure and ancient place. We met many people and even played some board games with some of the local children. It was an incredible experience. After that we headed back to the ferry and back towards Allapuzha. The ride back was even more fantastic with an unbelievably beautiful sunset lighting the sky on fire. This place really made me feel like I was back on the road and I became so excited to be in India knowing that I would be travelling through it for the next 6 months before heading to Nepal. I also made a video of our time spent in the Backwaters, check it out.

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