• Post category:Houseboats In kerala
  • Post last modified:May 9, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Traditional Craft of Kettuvallom

The story of Kerala houseboats begins with the traditional Kettuvallom. These were initially crafted to transport rice harvested from the fertile fields along the backwaters. Built by tying jackwood planks with coir (coconut fiber) and then coating them with a resin made from boiled cashew kernels, these boats were a testament to the ingenuity of traditional Kerala craftsmanship. This method allowed the wood to breathe yet remain watertight, essential for the durability of vessels in the humid tropical climate.

One bedroom Premium houseboat

Transition to Modern Houseboats

With the advent of roads and bridges, the traditional role of Kettuvalloms diminished, giving rise to a new opportunity — transforming these barges into tourist houseboats. This transition wasn’t just about repurposing; it involved extensive redesign to cater to comfort and luxury while sailing the backwaters. Modern houseboats now feature fully furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, kitchenettes, and even balconies for angling.

Architectural Evolution and Designs

The architecture of Kerala houseboats has seen significant evolution from their utilitarian origins. Today, they blend traditional techniques with modern design principles to create comfortable living spaces. Roofing is typically made of bamboo poles and palm leaves, reflecting traditional Kerala architectural styles, which provide natural cooling even under the scorching sun. The layout of luxury houseboats often includes upper decks with lounging areas, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.


Family Houseboats: Feature two to three bedrooms, often with a crew, including a chef, to cater to family vacations.

Honeymoon Houseboats: Designed for privacy and romance, these often include luxurious amenities such as Jacuzzi tubs.

Conference Houseboats: Equipped with audio-visual equipment for corporate meetings, blending business with the tranquility of nature.

Colonial Influence on Kerala Houseboats

The colonial period introduced several architectural and design influences to Kerala, some of which can be seen in the modern houseboats. The use of large windows and glass panels, for instance, was inspired by British design, maximizing views and natural light. The overall structure, however, remains deeply rooted in native traditions, showcasing a fusion of influences that have seamlessly blended into local culture.

Sustainable Practices in Houseboat Construction

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the construction of Kerala houseboats. Materials like bamboo, coir, and other locally sourced, eco-friendly materials are preferred. These practices not only preserve traditional craftsmanship but also cater to an eco-conscious traveler demographic looking for sustainable tourism options.


The Kerala houseboat is a symbol of cultural resilience and architectural ingenuity. Originally a practical solution for transportation, these houseboats have transformed into luxurious, floating accommodations that offer a unique glimpse into Kerala’s heritage and natural beauty. The blend of traditional designs with modern comforts and subtle colonial touches creates a captivating experience that continues to draw visitors from around the globe.

Kerala’s houseboats remain a proud reflection of the past, smoothly sailing into the future, making them an unforgettable part of any visit to our picturesque state.

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