The Shikaras of the backwaters: Tourism all set to open with Covid protocols

The Shikaras of the backwaters: Tourism all set to open with Covid protocols

The Shikaras will resume their service in the backwaters of Kerala. Where else than Kumarakom will provide the perfect setting for these quaint boats to sail? The idea of Shikaras was borrowed from Kashmir, which is considered the cultural symbol of the state. In Kashmir’s Dal Lake, you can find these wooden boats in various sizes and shapes, ready for transportation, and also is used by shopkeepers to sell their wares to tourists. These houseboats are made out of deodar and other sweet-smelling wood. With the arrival of tourists in Kumarakom, the shikaras are ready for service. The normal Shikara boats in Kerala are around 25-41 ft in length and 1.5 ft in height.

The passengers from Pala and Kottayam were offered a four-hour ride in the Shikaras. And they followed all the Covid safety protocols. A standard houseboat which can hold up to 150 people at a time, will have a balcony in the front, a lounge, dining room, pantry, and three or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms. There will be an in-house chef/cook and you can savour some of the local delicacies. Also, they cannot be taken through narrow spaces and are more expensive. But Shikaras are open boats with a roof and seating arrangements. While houseboats are ideal to spend a weekend, Shikaras are more ideal for a day trip and the pricing is also pretty reasonable.

The shikhara boats are smaller in size with roofs and sides being carved with bamboo sheets that depict the Kerala style of handicraft works. An average Shikara boat ride in Alappuzha can carry around 4-20 people at a time. These boats in Kumarakom are ideal for passage along the small rivers and narrow canals of the backwaters. You can closely watch the village life and also covers some of the beautiful villages nearby. Prices usually start from Rs 600 onwards.

Hotels and resorts are likely to open next week. The houseboats are already on a trial run to welcome the tourists. And they are expecting tourists from other parts of Kerala during this time. All the people working in the Kumarakom tourist Kendra have been administered the first dose of vaccines. The workers will be equipped with every possible safety equipment to combat Covid. And they have been given strict training for this purpose.

Better be safe than sorry

The tourists who will be checking into the hotels and resorts will be required to undergo thermal scanning. Their bags and phones will be sanitized. If they show symptoms of Covid, they will be taken to the medical department. The rooms will be thoroughly disinfected with sanitizing machines. A room that has been occupied will be available for the next customer only after 48 hours. At restaurants, all the tables will be positioned considering the social distancing rules. And all the tables and chairs will also be sanitized after every use.  

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