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A Village in the Backwaters of Kerala, South India

Kerala Travel Blog

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Locals posing for my camera.

I just spent one week living with a family in a remote village deep in the backwaters of south India.  This was a highlight of my journey so far. And,  I can NOT imagine a better way to end my time here in India. 

If you add a 2 hour bus ride, a 1.5 hour ferry ride and a 2 minute canoe trip from Cochin, you arrive at Chennamkary Village, Kerala in south India.  It is located in a vast maze of island-like fields and backwaters.  Each "village" is like its own island.  They call this area the "rice-bowl of Kerala" because it produces 80% of all the rice in the entire state.  The backwaters are large, small, wide and narrow waterways that connect AND separate the land and villages.

The front yard of our house.
  To go anywhere, one must take a canoe or ferry. 

This experience is my TOP recommendation for anyone of any age coming to India.  I lived with a family who had an extra house for guests.  Besides being rice farmers, they run a guest house for extra income AND enjoyment (please ask me for their contact info).  They were famous in the village because they brought people from the outside world.  Locals were fascinated when we passed by - because we were white.  They have not seen very many white people and to them it is like seeing a rare bird.

The family cooked three AMAZING local meals every day - chicken from the yard, bananas from the trees and water buffalo from the neighbors.  Thomas, our sweet and humble host took us out twice a day - morning and evening - to experience the village.

Local fishing for mussels.
  And we sure "experienced" it. 

We took our bikes across on canoes to go for a ride.  We walked on narrow mud jetties through rice-patties.  We strolled through the paths along the water passing hundreds of houses.  We rowed canoes through the backwaters.

The people here live off the water and the land.  Each house or "shack" has waterfront property with three steps leading into the water.  They bathed in the water, did their dishes in the water and even did their laundry here, slapping the clothes against rocks.  Everywhere we went, the people looked, smiled and followed us (check out my photos)!  They were so incredibly happy to have foreign visitors.  Sometimes they asked if they could "walk with me".

Jason and me on December 19th.
  They just wanted to talk and socialize.  Life in the backwaters is slow, relaxed and simple (accept during the monsoons).  Noone was in a rush - nothing had to be done - life was simple when you live in nature here in Kerala.  And they did. 

They loved seeing the photos that we took.  And, the children were amazing.

Children.  The kids ran over every time they saw me.  "One pen?" they would ask. "One Cho-co-late?" "One Coin?".  I always replied with "No pen. One photo?" - and that was good enough.  I took photos and videos.  And the kids would crowd around to watch and laugh.  They climbed all over me and would play for as long as I would play.  But the second I said, "Ta-ta!" (goodbye), they would skip off into the distance laughing and screaming - yelling "Ta-ta" into the distance.

My cute little friend, Mahima.
  The children are so happy here.

The people here have very little "posessions" but they are happier than can be and they have everything else.  They have an incredible community - where everyone literally works together and relies on one another.  They have a deep sense of family.  Family is a focus of what they have.   Religion, tradition and customs are a huge part of their lives.  Because of the Portuguese influence, Hindus and Christians live together.  Christmas time in Kerala is quite something special!

I have taken over 5,000 photos since I left the USA on September 26th.  Most of them are of people.  I am fascinated by the eyes, facial expressions and body positions of the local Indian people.

Local rice farmer in our back yard.
   And living in a remote village was a highlight for me.  Check out my photos.

So, my time is India has come to a close.  My last night in India was magical.  At midnight, Jason and Melanie and I took a canoe out for a float under the stars.  We brought our iPods and rowed through the narrow backwaters for hours - listening to powerful music and meaningful lyrics.  I have never listened to music like that before.  It entered my soul and warmed my heart.  The three of us never spoke.  We all knew that this was the end of something big.  Melanie and I were leaving the next day - leaving forever.  And so the three of us - together - shared a solo experience - rowing the canoe in silence and darkness into the night.  We often stopped to lay back under the stars and absorb our surroundings - the earth, the world, the universe and our short little lives as we know them.

 

gypsylife says:
Great article. Can you please help me with the contact details of the guest house?
Posted on: Dec 13, 2012
munnarguide says:
Backwaters of kerala are really mesmerising.Back water villages are located in the admist beautifull areas.There was no scarcity of water and areas are well suited for agriculture.The only problem was transportation.
Posted on: Aug 23, 2010
TravelDestination says:
Kerala, one of the smallest states in India is one of the famous tourists attractions in South India. There are many fascinating elements that make Kerala a good tourist spot. Of them the thick forests with coconut trees allure many people all over the world. The hospitality shown by the keralites makes people to visit kerala often. The Literacy rate here is almost 100%, the only state to have all literates in India. Also Kerala has its own culture and traditions, the festivals that are celebrated here are note worthy. The festival of ships called Onam and the festival of elephants, all of them contribute to the True Beauty of India. It is a worth seeing tourist spot.
Travel Destinations
Posted on: Dec 28, 2009
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Locals posing for my camera.
Locals posing for my camera.
The front yard of our house.
The front yard of our house.
Local fishing for mussels.
Local fishing for mussels.
Jason and me on December 19th.
Jason and me on December 19th.
My cute little friend, Mahima.
My cute little friend, Mahima.
Local rice farmer in our back yard.
Local rice farmer in our back yard.
Even to go for a bike ride, we hav…
Even to go for a bike ride, we ha…
the cutest little girl in the vill…
the cutest little girl in the vil…
brushing and blushing!
brushing and blushing!
we are photo-freaks
we are photo-freaks
walking through the rice fields.
walking through the rice fields.
a local villager
a local villager
from our front yard!
from our front yard!
Rice patties in the back yard.
Rice patties in the back yard.
Village kids
Village kids
My serogate sisters during my stay.
My serogate sisters during my stay.
Rice farmers
Rice farmers
The Tody man.  Tody is coconut a…
The "Tody man". Tody is coconut …
The boat man fixing a 200 year o…
The "boat man" fixing a 200 year …
local children
local children
The Tody Man producing coconut a…
The "Tody Man" producing coconut …
Crossing the street....
Crossing the street....
This is our local chai shop - yumm…
This is our local chai shop - yum…
The Chai Man taking a break from…
The "Chai Man" taking a break fro…
Even goats cross the backwaters....
Even goats cross the backwaters....
Our house!
Our house!
Jason Hoffman
Jason Hoffman
Local school children
Local school children
Moving the rice pods
Moving the rice pods
Our backwater crew.
Our backwater crew.
Going to the mainland
Going to the mainland
Anne - my serogate sister.
Anne - my serogate sister.
me with Melanie.
me with Melanie.
Local Keralan dinner!
Local Keralan dinner!
Wonder-Twin-Powers
Wonder-Twin-Powers
our iPod night!!
our iPod night!!
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Walking through the rice patties
Walking through the rice patties
A local fisherman - a bow and arr…
A local fisherman - a "bow and ar…
Fishing for mussels!!
Fishing for mussels!!
Local children - my friends!
Local children - my friends!
My friends!
My friends!
Mahima and the new puppy.
Mahima and the new puppy.
Rice patties and farmers
Rice patties and farmers
Local going to the store.
Local going to the store.
a local backwater house
a local backwater house
Thomass map of our backwaters vil…
Thomas's map of our backwaters vi…
Jason, Melanie and me before a can…
Jason, Melanie and me before a ca…
Cruisin in the backwaters.
Cruisin' in the backwaters.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.  Makeup makes the…
Local villagers. Makeup makes th…
Why not?
Why not?
Cruisin the backwaters....
Cruisin' the backwaters....
working hard to get somewhere....
working hard to get somewhere....
Miss Melanie checking out here pho…
Miss Melanie checking out here ph…
Damn, shes hot!
Damn, she's hot!
Fresh bananas!
Fresh bananas!
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villager.
Local villager.
Local villager waving nicely.
Local villager waving nicely.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local villagers.
Local village kids.
Local village kids.
Local village kids.
Local village kids.
Thomas - our host.
Thomas - our host.
Crusin the backwaters
Crusin' the backwaters
Our Keralan Family!
Our Keralan Family!
Thomas and Melanie
Thomas and Melanie
Leaving Jason behind in India...
Leaving Jason behind in India...
A backwater houseboat.
A backwater houseboat.
Local kids.
Local kids.
Mahima!
Mahima!
Local little smiles.
Local little smiles.
Big smiles.
Big smiles.
Playing with the kids.
Playing with the kids.
Mahimas smile is amazing!
Mahima's smile is amazing!
Locals playing
Locals playing
Thomas and his wedding rice gift.
Thomas and his wedding rice gift.
These kids were my neighbors in C…
Chilling in the backwater rice fi…