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Friday, April 16, 2010

Edition 15- Alapuzha : Age Of Shikkari Boats

C G Vasan/UNI Alappuzha: It is the age of ''Shikkari'' boats in Alappuzha, which is famous across the world over for its houseboats. Experience the true life of local people and enjoy the serene beauty of backwaters rowing the ''Shikkari'' boats, which has become an increasing trend in the Alappuzha backwaters. Till some years back, both foreign and domestic tourists depended mainly on houseboats, the main tourist attraction in the lake city of Alappuzha. But, with the introduction of ''Shikkari''boats, the foreigners are now opting for this open boats, as their favourite mode of water transport. ''The main reason for switching over to the ''sikkhari'' boats from the houseboats is, of course, its cheaper charges, as a family of four or five members had to spent about Rs 10,000 if they wanted to spent one night on the waves of lakes in house boats,'' said Sudheer, who manages the AKG house boats and motor boats. About the popularity of these kinds of crafts, Sudheer said the tourists who did not have advance booking for house boats could hire the boats easily. Even they could go through small canals and enjoy the true village life in the back water. ''In the past, there was little demand for such boats but now the demand is very high as 60 boats are operating in Alappuzha alone,'' he added. The seating capacity of the boats, converted from fiber fishing boats with fitting outboard engines, ranged between six to 14, and the rent for one hour had been fixed between Rs 200 to Rs 350. ''The boats have been equipped with sufficient security systems like life jackets and fire extinguishing systems,'' Sudheer said. The AKG society was now operating about 20 boats, most of them owned by local people, he said.

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