Several wooden planks which are joined together by using coir with fiber stuffed in between them are called as a hull. The wooden pieces are long and are beautifully carved by carpenters. A resin that is obtained from cashew nut oils is used as varnish and is applied on this fiber and ropes in order to seal any gaps between the planks.
In Kettuvallom, normally there will be two persons to steer in deep waters. In shallow waters long bamboo poles are used for propelling. There are racks for cooking purposes and sand and bricks are available for cooking. There is an upper rack for storing food and other items. There is large space in the interior for carrying any goods. The water is stored in mud pots.
The hull will be of various sizes and the number of rooms also depends on the structure. It may be single room, double room or even more. With more facilities the comfort and luxury also differs. There are houseboats of different sizes, some are small whereas there are large ones also.
The items that are used normally for constructing the roofs are bamboo, cane, arecanut etc and a unique feature is that eco friendly items are always used for the construction of a houseboat. The framework is made of bamboo poles. The bamboo shoots are split and smoothened to make mats to be used as roof cover. They are made water proof so that it lasts longer and is durable. The roof will be of different shapes depending on the structure and design.
Color and Texture
The common color of the houseboat is yellowish brown, the colour of the bamboo poles. Coir fiber also has somewhat similar color. This cool color of bamboo is in contrast with the bluish water and the surrounding greenery. The bamboo, cane and wooden items made are beautifully crafted to fit the design.
The common houseboats have one or more bedrooms that are bath attached, a kitchen, balcony, sit outs etc. Some large houseboats even have mini conference halls. The floor is covered with mats made of coir. The interior decorations vary according to the luxury level needed. The various categories of houseboats available here include standard, economy, luxury, air conditioned etc. which allows the tourists to select from these wide varieties.
The furniture inside the houseboats is made of cane or some common woods that are grown in Kerala. They are made of various designs and carved by skilled artisans.
The lighting is usually done using solar panels. Together with that one can find kerosene lamps, terracotta lamps with candles which give a special ambience to the houseboat at night. It is very beautiful to have a tour through the backwaters in houseboats during moonlit nights because the light that gets reflected from the water illuminates the interiors. The solar panels fitted are not only used for lighting but also for refrigeration and air conditioning as well.
For drinking purposes purified water is filled in bottles and bottled waters are also available. Soft drinks and beverages are also available for those who need them. The water required for cooking and toilet is stored in huge plastic containers or tanks and is placed on the roof with pipes attached to it.
There are toilets in each houseboat and the facilities provided vary in each houseboat depending on their type. Some houseboats have toilets attached to the bedrooms whereas in those houseboats with two or more bedrooms, there will be a common toilet. At the bottom of the hull a concrete slab is placed with the aim of fixing toilet seats, shower, ceramic floor etc.
The waste from the toilets is not expelled into the backwaters to pollute it. Instead special bio septic tanks which are tested by the Central Research laboratory are fitted for collecting the wastes. This avoids pollution of backwaters.