Lake Vembanad and its backwater canals are where houseboats are typically found in Ernakulam. At about 60 miles long, Lake Vembanad is the longest lake in India. Ernakulam is a district of the Indian state of Kerala that sits along the lake in the southwestern area of the country. The district is famous for its houseboats, called kettuvalams, that are popular tourist destinations for vacations, weddings and touring on the vast lake and its adjoining canal network.
Kettuvallams are typically large wooden-hulled barges up to 100 feet long that have ornately constructed housing built on them. Most kettuvallams are built by hand entirely from natural materials without using any nails. The boat hulls are constructed from wooden planks lashed together with colr rope and coconut fibers, then sealed with black resin made from boiling cashew nut shells. This style of houseboat has been used for cargo hauling, transportation and residential abodes in the region for more than 5,000 years. The advent of train and truck transportation for cargo shipments has left most of the fleet in the service of tourism.
Many tour companies operate houseboats in Ernakulam, including Grandeur Houseboats and Yamini Houseboats. Grandeur specializes in luxury accommodations for special events such as honeymoons, group and family get-togethers, adventure tours, and corporate meetings. Yamini uses Ernakulam's canals to operate tours to sightseeing destinations including Bolghatti Island, Cochin Harbor and Willington Island, the Dutch Palace, Cherai Beach, and the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary.