The FH Mag presents what we believe to be India’s best boat experiences. These experiences constitute everything that defines a good holiday in that they’re relaxing, healing, active enough and incredibly immersive. All aboard!
EXPLORING THE WATERWAYS OF KERALA
Unique to Kerala are the famous backwaters, a maze of water bodies stretching over 900 km. Made up of canals both man-made and natural, lagoons, lakes, and its many rivers, these backwaters are an integral part of life in this beautiful state often referred to as God’s own country.
The backwaters of Kerala offer travellers a unique and unhurried travel experience along lush green paddy fields and coconut groves. Traditionally used to transport rice and spices, today these backwaters are the backbone of tourism in Kerala and provide visitors an opportunity to catch a glimpse of rural life and economy. The ideal way to explore these backwaters is to hire a houseboat for a few days.
Made of eco-friendly materials like bamboo, coir, palm leaves, and wood these houseboats are made of planks tied together with coconut rope. Houseboats are usually equipped with 2 or 3 bedrooms complete with toilets, a kitchen, and a large sitting space. There’s also a cook onboard most houseboats who’s adept at cooking some of the traditional Kerala cuisine favourites. Fresh fish caught off the boat and cooked as a curry or lightly friend is often a highlight for most guests.
Kerala has three major backwater regions. The Ashtamudi lake in the Kollam district, the backwaters in the district of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kottayam and the third and lesser explored are the backwaters located at Kannur-Variyaparambu region. All of these offer amazing natural beauty which allows you to forget everything and immerse yourself in the serene vistas around you.
A vacation with a difference and an enjoyable and relaxed one at that, what more can one ask for? Leave behind your phones and laptops, let nature do the talking and give you the answers to all the questions that have been buzzing inside your head. There is no better way to unwind and do some soul searching.
Experience this journey with Far Horizon: http://www.farhorizonindia.com/itineraries/south-india-with-kerala-river-cruises-and-festivals/
GO BOATING ON THE DAL LAKE, SRINAGAR
Any mention of boat rides and experiences is incomplete without mentioning the houseboats and shikaras of Srinagar in Kashmir. Srinagar is famous for its mountains, lakes, and beautiful gardens. The Dal Lake is one of the most famous landmarks of Srinagar. Take a pick from the many houseboats moored on the banks of the Dal and experience a holiday like never before.
Beautifully made and aesthetically designed these houseboats are the ultimate in luxury and comfort. Tastefully furnished bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and all amenities to make your stay a memorable one. Most houseboats offer a complimentary Shikara ride. Shikaras are smaller boats, done up in vivid colours, which take you across the lake. Unique to the shikara rides are the floating markets that you come across as you make your way through the waters of the Dal. Selling everything from vegetables to fruits , flowers and handicrafts the floating markets make your boat ride even more fun.
Used by the locals for transport and fishing the shikara is an integral part of life around the lake. The shikaras also give tourists an opportunity to sightsee other gardens and sights located within the Dal Lake. Explore the Nishat Gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Hazratbal Mosque among others. Take a book with you or borrow one from the houseboat collection, enjoy the pleasant weather and sit back with a cup of Kashmiri Kahva and you’ll see what heaven might just feel like.
A RIVER CRUISE ON THE BRAHMAPUTRA, ASSAM
Known famously as the gateway to the Northeast India, Assam the land of tea, rhinos, national parks, and so much more has natural beauty in abundance. The best time to visit Assam is from the month of October to April. A cruise on the mighty Brahmaputra is a unique opportunity to explore the history and culture of this beautiful state. One of the most incredible river journeys is on the M.V Mahabaahu which takes you along the historic and holy Brahmaputra river. The fully supervised tour lets you disembark and explore the lush green countryside, the villages and to see the wildlife in the interiors of Assam.
On this journey you also get to visit a Tea Estate, walk around the lush surrounds and chat with the tea pluckers and see how tea is manufactured in the factory. The highlight of this cruise is a visit to the Kaziranga National Park, home to the one-horned Rhinoceros and other wild animals. Small boats take you to villages en route where you get to interact with the locals and get to see the weavers weave poetry in cotton and silk. The cruise then takes you to the famous Majuli island, known to be the hub of Assamese culture and tradition. In Majuli visit the famous Satras or the Neo – Vaishnavite monasteries like the Samagudi Satra and enjoy the masked dance unique to the island. Also part of the itinerary is a visit to Sibsagar, a town dotted with ruins of the ancient Ahom kingdom, chief among them being the palace of the powerful Ahom kings.
When not sightseeing, you have the option of simply relaxing on the cruiser and just going with the flow of things. Take your pick of books from the well-stocked library on board, pamper yourself with a massage at the Spa or take a dip in the pool on the deck. The 10 meter wide and 55-meter long liner has a choice of 23 rooms with attached bathrooms and balconies and guests can choose cabins to suit their requirements. From board games and yoga sessions to bird watching and spotting the occasional Gangetic Dolphin if you’re lucky – there’s plenty to do onboard the Mahabaahu.
An unforgettable experience, the cruise will leave you with memories that stay with you for a long time. This is definitely a novel way to explore Assam and discover for yourself the magic of Northeast India.
Experience this journey with Far Horizon: http://www.farhorizonindia.com/itineraries/kolkata-with-brahmaputra-river-upstream-cruise/