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Kuttanad Guide

The Rice Basket of India

Information about the rice growing area of the backwaters called Kuttanad

The Kuttanad (Kuttanadu) lies in Alappuzha district in Kerala, India. It is an expanse of water-logged land lying below sea level that bears a strong resemblance to Holland in terms of geographical features. The region of Kuttanad is one of great scenic beauty. Sandwiched between the sea and the hills, the bewildering labyrinth of shimmering waterways, composed of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets laced with lush green tropical greenery, dazzling paddy fields and rustic villages.

The best way to explore these idyllic spots would be to charter a house boat or a punted canoe. The traditional rice barges of Kettuvallams also allow you to enjoy a relaxing cruise at a leisurely pace where you can spot the wild life and explore the rustic charm of the village life. (see our Houseboat information)

Most of the area is inundated with water throughout the year. It is one of the few regions in the world where farming is carried out below sea level.

Kuttanadu is also known as "The Rice Bowl of Kerala". Since the area is ideal for paddy or rice cultivation, rice farming is done on an extensive scale here. Most people rely on boatmen to ferry them across the water to connect with roads and bus services, which results in a constant crisscrossing of the waters from dawn until dusk.

Despite water logging Kuttanad faces severe water shortage in summer. This is because sea water flows into the low lying area in the summer season and the salt water content in the water reaches very high levels making it unfit for human consumption.

The Thanneermukkam bund ( Dam) was built to prevent the entry of seawater into the lowlying farm land during summer, and thus prevent damage to the crops. But the bundh has caused severe environmental problems. It has affected the natural fish breeding activities in the area. Another result is the high concentration of chemical fertilizer residue in the water, which was otherwise flushed into the sea by the monsoon waters. A drive down the bundh is an exhilarating experience, for the road is cutting through a vast expanse of water. 

Parthiramanal Island (literally sands of midnight) is also situated in Kuttanad. It is a favourite destination for bird watchers. The island can be accessed only by boat. This 10-acre island on the backwaters is home to many rare varieties of migratory birds. According to legend, a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and a small island emerged from the water.


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