Any search for a luxury river cruise in India will give you numerous beautiful options, but one location you will find at the top of most lists is Kerala. The idyllic and resplendent beauty of the legendary backwaters of Kerala is almost unsurpassable. There is no better way to experiment the languorous vibe of the region than to slowly cruise past the riverbanks on the deck of one of the state’s iconic houseboats.
A modern barge made with traditional principles:
A prime example of this class of leisure vessel would be the RV Vaikundam. With two decks, the Vaikundam is a modified version of the traditional kettuvallam or rice barge. The entire vessel is made of wood, using a local variety called anjili, and bamboo. The bindings are all done with traditional construction methods which also involve the use of coir rope on the segments above the waterline. Keeping the wood shipshape, if you’ll pardon the pun, involves a coating of black resin made by boiling cashew kernels and fish oil, with periodic treatments of neem and fish oil.
The happily hospitable crew are professionals who will answer any questions you have about local methods of shipbuilding.
The Vaikundam has nine well-furnished cabins, all with attached bathrooms, on the lower deck. The cabins are all extremely comfortable, with three tiers of prices. There are eight superior cabins, which have two large windows to offer you spectacular vistas of the passing riverbanks. The last cabin which is also the largest is the deluxe cabin, which has three windows on three sides, offering its occupants a panoramic view of the beauty of the riverside.
All the cabins are air-conditioned with en-suite washrooms and toilet facilities, and offer electricity 24X7 and running hot and cold water. The cabins have twin beds, and double beds, so you can choose what option suits you best.
The upper deck is where the rest of the amenities on offer are located, such as the fully equipped kitchen staffed by experienced chefs and a trained service team, an exquisite air-conditioned dining hall that seats 22 guests, and the covered open lounge – which also leads to the open sun deck, which offers a 360 degree view of the sublime surroundings. With prior notice, you can taste authentic Indian wines and beers, sipping them in the comfort of your lounge chair, as you browse through the selection on offer from the small onboard library, before looking up to watch the cormorants dip into the water to catch their dinner.
Meals On Board:
When mealtimes come around, you can saunter over to the buffet tables, which offer a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options of traditional Indian cuisine, all freshly made using the best locally available products. There will also be a special chef’s meal that will be prepared by the team in the kitchen, which will see a spread of Kerala cuisines, offering freshly caught fish in traditional fashion, so you can tell your friends you’ve eaten off a banana leaf. If you’re interested in the local cuisine and want to explore more of it, the staff can arrange for live cooking demos which are curated by our onboard chef. You can experience the flavours of local street food, the infamous dishes you’ll find in local bars, and Ayurveda inspired food.
The onboard destination manager will work with the cruise director to ensure that you can immerse yourself in the local culture with trips and events on land. See the temples, experience the churches and mosques, and dance in the festivals, as you soak in the rich local traditions. When you’re back on board, if you haven’t gotten your fix of retail therapy yet, there is an onboard outlet where you can buy local crafts and purchase some spices for you to take back. If you haven’t had enough of the culture, live music and art shows can be arranged onboard, where artistes and artisans will perform for you at your convenience.
Recently, we’ve also launched a 7-day cruising itinerary that takes travellers through some of Kerala’s most iconic experiences and sights. This journey is the first of its kind of the backwaters. Find out more here.
If you want to experience the beauty of Kerala’s backwaters, there is no better, or more luxurious, way to accomplish this, then by cruising aboard the RV Vaikundam, one of Kerala’s best houseboats. Gift yourself the experience of a lifetime.