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November 2014
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Kettuvallam © Clara Le Fort

If Lake Vembanad were the home of a spirit, it would be the kettuvallam: small boats that take on the appearance of large caterpillars, they soundless survey the region. Unchanging, they sail between lily pads and lagoons, with their inflated sides, woven from palm leaves, coconut fibres and bamboo and, to enhance the comfort of their occupants, with holes in the awnings, further illustrating the ingeniousness of their vernacular architecture. It must be said these house-boats have a vast playground: away from the coast of Malabar, the Backwaters reach and stretch across an enigmatic labyrinth of canals, lagoons and close to 1500km of waterways. Carefully tended to by CGH Earth, these kettuvallam vessels used for the Spice Coast Cruises double up as elegant cabins, so you can float on water both day and night.

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