Environment
Here is a unique environment and eco-system you will find no-where-else in the world. Your eyes will never tire looking at the vast expanses of placid waters with tiny boats that one or two persons move with oars, motorized boats with more passengers, boats laden with coconut husks, boats selling things, fishing boats, house boats for tourists, passenger boats, etc. Your body will feel refreshed with the perennial cool breeze that wafts from the lake all around.
The lush green of the mangrove forests and coconut orchards and the various types of endemic and migrating birds and butterflies will be interesting to the nature lovers. As you cruise along the shores in a boat or walk along the rural pathways, you will be able to see the daily life of the common folk who live on all sides of the backwaters, their farming and fishing methods, their crafts and artifacts and how they produce them, their festivities and past-times and the cultural and archeological remnants of their history. The people are very civil and friendly in their behavior and dealings.

Back Water Eco-system

Backwaters of Kerala form a unique and enchanting area and experience that make lasting and unforgettable impressions on the visitors to the coastal regions of Kerala, the Malabar Coast. Rivers running down from the Western Ghats, 38 rivers in total, meet with the waves and shore currents when they enter the Arabian Sea and the interaction of their downward flow with these upward forces create low barrier islands across the river mouths resulting in the formation of vast expanses of placid water known as backwaters.

Five large lakes and several other small water bodies forming a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast constitute the main part of the Kerala Backwaters. Together with canals, rivers and inlets, the Backwaters of coastal Kerala is a labyrinthine aqua-system of 900 km of waterways. Running parallel to the coast line, National Waterway No. 3, covering a distance of 205 km from Kollam to Kottappuram, facilitates travel, transportation of cargo and backwater tourism.

Except in a few places like Vembanad Kayal, where sea water is prevented from coming onto land by a barrage, the fresh water from the rivers meet the salt water from the sea giving rise to a unique eco-system. Water birds like darters, kingfishers, cormorants, terns and several other species including migrating birds thrive with sea water and fresh water life including frogs, crabs, turtles, otters, mudskippers, etc. There is lush vegetation on the shores with all sorts of shrubs, leafy plants and bushes overshadowed by palm trees.

It was the Backwaters that played a major role in making National Geographic Traveler place Kerala among the '50 destinations of a life time' in their Special Collector's Issue published at the turn of the Millennium.

The largest of these lakes is the Vembanad Kayal which covers an area of over 200 sq. km. It is part of 'Vembanad-Kol Wetland' with an area of 1512.5 sq. km. which has been designated as a 'Wetland site of International Importance' under the Ramsar Convention on 19-08-2002 . The convention which initially met on February 2, 1971 at Ramsar in Iran has now 168 contracting parties, including India. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Wetlands International and Birdlife International are supporters of the convention for the conservation of wetlands.

Paravur Lake in which Aquasserenne is situated is part of the area designated as a 'Wetland site of International Importance' under the Ramsar Convention and is an integral part of the water transport system of inland-water boat service routes that connect all the backwater areas of Kerala.

The placidity of the vast expanses of water, the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset from the houseboats, the glimpses of unedited rural life along the shores, the sightings of rare birds and vegetation all around, the mouth-watering delicacies prepared with fresh fish and vegetables that are abundantly available along the shore, the rejuvenating cool breeze and salubrious climate, all add up to make the backwater visit an ever-cherished part of travel memories.

Backwater Tourism

When National Geographic Traveler brought out a special Collector's Issue on global travel and tourism, just before the turn of the Millennium, they included Kerala among the must see '50 destinations of a life time'. One of the unique ecosystems in Kerala that influenced the judges in favour of Kerala was the Backwaters of Kerala.

There is no experience as deeply refreshing for the soul and the body as an overnight stay in a slowly floating houseboat with the enchanting sunrises and sunsets to fill the eyes, the lullaby of the waves to soothe the soul, the unhindered view of the rural life along the shores, the cool breezes to rejuvenate the whole system and the mouthwatering delicacies made of fresh fishes and vegetables. It is indeed a quite other-worldly experience that will be cherished as one of the sweetest moments ever in your life.

The backwaters of coastal Kerala is a labyrinthine aqua-system of 900 km of waterways with five large lakes and several other small water bodies forming a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast. National Waterway No. 3, covering a distance of 205 km from Kollam to Kottappuram, facilitates travel, transportation of cargo and backwater tourism. More than 2000 Kettuvallams (Malayalam term for the houseboats of Kerala) are plying the backwaters, mainly for tourists, both from inside India and abroad.

Traditionally, the kettuvallams were barges for transporting grain from the fertile paddy fields and orchards along the shores of the backwaters. The thatched roofing was of plaited coconut leaves and the sides were also covered usually with bamboo matting. Sometimes, some royal or aristocratic family would make use of these as living quarters or as a vehicle of transport. It was recently that these kettuvallams began to be converted to accommodate tourists.

Now the kettuvallams are floating cottages with all type of facilities and amenities, like cooking area, sleeping area, western-style toilets and sit-outs on the deck. Accompanying staff cook food on board in, generally in Kerala style, to let the tourists experience the flavor of Kerala. The living and dining spaces are usually left open so that the tourists can have a good view of the backwaters, other boats, shores and the fauna. There are houseboats of all patterns and sizes to suit the size and taste of each family or group of tourists.

The houseboats usually have generators and most have air-conditioned bed-rooms. But some tourists demand that the electric lights should be switched off and lanterns be provided instead to have a feeling of the rural setting. Though they are motorized, houseboats proceed at a slow pace for smooth travel and to let the tourists drink in the scenic surroundings. The sunsets and sunrises are especially enchanting experiences from the kettuvallams with the colourful sky, glitter of the sun on the water surface, home-coming flocks of birds, vast expanses of water all around, cool breeze and the lush vegetation along the shores in the distance.

Besides kettuvallams, tourists can also make use of the regular ferry services that connect most locations on both banks of the backwaters. It is the cheapest way to travel through the backwaters. Ferries for local passengers and tourists are operated by The Kerala State Water Transport Department, at very reasonable rates, and these are used by locals as well as tourists on a shoestring budget.

The Mangrove Eco-system

Mangrove Ecosystems are specific places or regions where mangroves, which are salt-tolerant plants, are growing abundantly. These ecosystems are very productive, but also very sensitive and extremely fragile. They harbor other plant and animal species besides the mangrove plants. Confluence points of backwaters, rivers and sea are where these unique plant communities grow.

Breathing roots

Aerial and underground rhizomorphs (root forms), called prop roots or breathing roots, growing in prolific abundance, do the work of a soil-binding geo-textile and anchorage, enabling the plants to withstand the force of the waves. Actually they trap the sediments and build land. These roots have many minute breathing pores called lenticels that close in high tide, and open in low tide.

The protective sea-fence

During the 2004 tsunami, it was the mangrove forests and coastal vegetation that helped in reducing the death toll in the coastal areas of Indonesia and Sumatra which were near the epicenter of the tsunami. Wherever the mangrove forests had been removed for developmental works, like tourism facilities, the tsunami killed everyone near the shore.

Mangrove trees

The number of different species of mangrove trees is around eighty. The soil where these grow is low in oxygen where fine sediments accumulate as a result of slow moving waters. As these trees cannot withstand freezing temperatures, they are found only in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes. The tangle of roots help in accumulation of sediments and handle the rise and fall of tides without letting the trees lose balance. They also reduce erosion from storm surges, waves, tides and currents and improve water quality by filtering run off and polluted waters.

Bio-diverse nursery

Fish and shellfish use the mangrove protection for reproduction and the first phase of the lives of their young ones. Mangroves provide safe refuge from the raging sea to the juvenile fish, crabs, shrimps, mollusks and many other invertebrates. So they may be called aquatic nursery. Egrets, herons, spoonbills, pelicans and other coastal birds also use mangroves as nesting areas and migratory birds use these as temporary refuge getting food from mangrove forest floor.

Mangrove conservation

These mangrove forests contain rich bio-diversity, help in sustainability of several sea-food species, add strength to shoreline stability, have great economic value and help in the survival of selected shoreline communities. In the current scenario of rising sea level, global warming and climatic aberrations, it is of vital importance to involve ourselves in the protection of existing mangrove ecosystems and further mangrove afforestation of peripheral areas of the present clusters and areas where these had grown in abundance in the near past.

Mangrove forests of Kerala

Mangrove forests had once occupied about 700 square kilometers of the coastal area and are now limited to around 17 square kilometers. Mangrove ecosystems now have a 'threatened' status. 89% of what remains is now under private possession. Though these ecosystems provide firewood, fish, shellfish, etc and have indirect functional environmental benefits like watershed benefits, people are fast destroying these systems for aquaculture, housing and land reclamation for agricultural purposes and developmental commercial activities. High-tech aquaculture, mostly shrimp-farming, with high returns, is transforming mangrove areas into artificial water bodies without such vegetation.

The richness of biodiversity in the mangrove areas were proved by several studies conducted in such areas. For example, a study conducted in Kannur, in 2006, recorded 106 trees, 87 fishes, 58 insects and 44 birds. Out of the birds recorded then, one third was long distance migrants. Many of the birds belong to rare species. Butterflies formed a large part of the insects. There are few other areas in this world with such endemic biodiversity.

Need of awareness

The economic, ecological, cultural and scientific benefits to the present and future generations that are generated by the mangrove ecosystems must be publicized widely to make the public aware of the gravity of the situation and to turn them into protectors of these unique and endangered assets of nature.

Mangrove Tourism

Tourists can enjoy the beauty and biodiversity of mangrove forests as the resort has some lush mangrove forest growth in its proximity. Boating close to these luxuriant clusters of greenery will be a welcome change to the bare expanses of the backwaters. The migratory birds and other coastal birds inhabiting the mangrove trees and the butterflies that flutter in this unique ecosystem will be interesting sights for all nature lovers. Mangrove trees also provide some foreground natural framing for pictures of the dawn and dusk above the backwaters.

 

Aquasserenne

South Paravoor P.O.,
Kollam (Dt) - 691 301,
Kerala State, India.
Tel : +91-474-2512410 to 16, 3260516
Fax. +91-474-2512104
E-mail: info@aquasserenne.com

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South Paravoor P.O.,Kollam District - 691 301,
Kerala State, India.
Tel : +91-474-2512410 to 16, 3260516
Fax. +91-474-2512104
E-mail: info@aquasserenne.com

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