If you are fascinated by a kettuvallam cruise on the backwaters, then you must pay a visit to Alumkadavu. The little place in the town of Karunagapally -- just 23 km from Kollam - is where it all begins. Hub of the Kettuvallam building industry, Karunagapally has hundreds of artisans who can be seen busy at work putting together a traditional houseboat like it has been done for hundreds of years.
In the olden days, these monstrous flat-bottomed barges were used to move goods across the towns. A part of the boat was covered with bamboo and coir for the kitchen and crew. Such boats are still in use as goods carriers but over the last few years many of them have been transformed into pleasure palaces for tourists.
These boats, incidentally, do not have any nails or screws joining the planks together but with careful maintenance last for many, many years. Wooden planks from the jackfruit tree are tied securely with the locally-made and easily available coir rope which is coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. The modern-day versions of the kettuvallam is appropriately referred to as the houseboats and have all the qualities of a good home with furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, a living room, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. While many still continue to use oars, others are powered by a 40 HP engine. At Alumkadavu, you might get a chance to see a floating conference hall, perhaps the only one of its kind in the world. Designed for 35 persons, it has a dais and a sophisticated public address system.
The nearest airport is the Thiruvananthapuram International and Domestic Airport 76 km away from the city. Kollam is connected to most Indian cities and is on the railway routes. The city's main station is Kollam Junction.
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