The Kerala backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons and lakes existing parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known because the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern part of India, also interconnected rivers canals, inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by quite 900 kilometers (560 mi) of waterways, mostly compared to American bayous. The network comprises five large lakes linked by canals, both man-made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and increasing half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were set up by the action of waves with shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the various rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats. In the midst of this landscape there are variety of towns and cities, which function the starting and end points of backwater cruises

Kerala ranked together of the “50 destinations of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler, when a special collectors’ issue released before the turn of the millennium, with houseboat and backwater resort tourism in Alappuzha.

The kettuvallams (Kerala houseboats) in the backwaters are one amidst the imminent tourist attractions in Kerala. Over 2000 kettuvallams ply the backwaters. The Kerala government has divided the tourist houseboats as platinum, gold and silver.

The kettuvallams were traditionally used as grain barges, to move the rice harvested within the fertile fields alongside the backwaters. Thatched roof covers over wooden hulls, 100 feet (30 m) long, providing shielded from the weather. At some point in time, the boats were used as quarters by the royalty. Converted to house the tourists, the houseboats became floating cottages having a sleeping area, a sit out on the deck, with western-style toilets. Most of the tourists love to spend the night on a houseboat. Food is also cooked on board by the local staff – having a flavor of Kerala. The houseboats are of varied patterns and may be hired as per the dimensions of the family or visiting group. The living-dining room is typically open on a minimum of three sides providing a grand view of the environment, including other boats, throughout the day when it’s on the move. It is delivered to a standstill sometimes of taking food and in the dark. After sunset, the boat crew provide burning coils to chase away mosquitoes. Ketuvallams are motorised but generally proceed at a slow speed for smooth travel. All ketuvallams have a generator and most bedrooms are air-conditioned. At times, as per the demand of consumers, electricity is transitioned and lanterns are provided to make a rural setting

Beypore, located 10 km south of Kozhikode at the mouth of the Chaliyar River, may be a famous fishing harbour, port and boatbuilding centre. Beypore has a 1,500-year tradition of boatbuilding. The skills of the local shipwrights and boat-builders have widely wanted.

Snake boats or Chundan vallams are narrowboats over 100 feet (30 m) long, with a raised prow that stands 10 feet (3.0 m) above water and looks like the hood of a snake. Traditionally these were employed by local rulers to move soldiers during waterfront wars. In times, it’s spawned a replacement sport – the Vallam Kali (boat race). Each Chandan vallam accommodates a few hundred muscular oarsmen.