A portion of the kettuvallom was covered with bamboo and coir to serve as a restroom and kitchen for the crew. Meals would be cooked on board and supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters. Today, the tradition is still continued and the food from the local cuisine is served by the Kuttanad localites, on board.
When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport, some one found a new way that would keep these boats, almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in the market. By constructing special rooms to accommodate travelers, these boats cruised forward from near- extinction to enjoy their present great popularity.
Now these are a familiar sight on the backwaters and in Alleppey alone, there are as many as 120 houseboats. While converting kettuvallams into houseboats, care is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats, sticks and wood of the aracanut tree are used for roofing, coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood of coconut trees and coir for beds. For lighting though, solar panels are used.
Today, the houseboats have all the creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Parts of the curved roof of wood or plaited palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted views. While most boats are poled by local oarsmen, some are powered by a 40 HP engine. Boat-trains - formed by joining two or more houseboats together - are also used by large groups of sight-seers.
SRINAGAR "DAL LAKE" and "NAGIN LAKE" Floating on a postcard lake in one of Kashmir's famous houseboats is the way to seehow this place earned the name, "The Venice of the East". Water - powered peddlers sell everything from saffron to paper mache deer to the houseboat door. Ride a Shikara - a Kashmiri gondola - to the watery vegetable markets and see the mountains mirrored in the lakes. The houseboats are grand with hand - carved furniture and rich Kashmiri carpet.
Floating on a postcard lake in one of Kashmir's famous houseboats is the way to see how this place earned the name, "The Venice of the East". Water - powered peddlers sell everything from saffron to paper mache deer to the houseboat door.
Ride a Shikara - a Kashmiri gondola - to the watery vegetable markets and see the mountains mirrored in the lakes.
Most houseboats on the Nagin and the Jhelum are situated on the banks of the lake, and can be accessed directly from land without the help of a shikara, while all those on the Dal require a shikara to get to and from them. Most houseboats on the Dal are situated in long straggling rows; some face the Boulevard, Srinagar's most exciting address, while others are situated singly or in groups of two and three.
For the honeymooners the houseboats deep in the lake are ideal. The romantic setting of the lake in Kashmir together with the royal setting of the houseboats create magic. The best activity while on the houseboat in Kashmir would be to sit in the balcony and enjoy the multi hues of natural and human life pass by. The view from the houseboat keeps changing with the season too. There are the awe aspiring mountains of the Pir Panjal (also spelt as Panchal) and the majestic mountains of Himalayas. In winter the fun doubles when the snow covered surrounding take over. The waters of the lake are mesmerizing as it is.