It’s oddly surprising that a landscape as gorgeous and brimming with opportunities as the backwaters spread across central and southern Kerala is poorly serviced by the government with a tourist perspective. There are the decades-old, wooden boats which connect islands and hamlets across Alappuzha and used by locals, but it’s very clear they don’t fit the traveller’s bill. And so, for the last several decades, that gap has been shrewdly filled by private players using houseboats — by now, a fleet so big that they are impossible to miss, lounging on long stretches of the backwaters.
It is in this context that the introduction of a boat service by the state government targeting domestic and foreign tourists in Alappuzha is a promising move. Vega-2, a 120-seater diesel-powered Catamaran with both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned seating, began operations on the eve of Christmas last year. Tickets per head are priced at Rs 400 in non-AC ones and Rs 600 in AC.
Vega-2, a 120-seater diesel-powered Catamaran with both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned seating, began operations on the eve of Christmas last year. (Source: Vishnu Varma)
Every day, the boat departs from the busy Alappuzha boat jetty around 11:30 am, taking tourists on a fascinating five-hour journey through the backwaters with the accompaniment of a traditional Kerala lunch on board. And from the initial response, it’s clear that the service has hit its target audience with people, especially families, travelling to Alappuzha in large numbers from districts far and near to secure a seat on the boat.…