Sometimes, foreign influence can disturb (or even destroy) an indigenous culture – but at other times, outside tourist interest can drive vacation traffic to new destinations and revitalize failing industries and ways of life slowly be lost. These renovated boat-to-house conversions may be changing in use but are, as a result, being preserved as well.
The Kettuvallom houseboats (formerly up to 30-ton capacity rice barges) of rural India have enjoyed a curious revival in recent years. Old houseboats have been given new life as (largely luxurious) rental properties – in many cases equipped with energy provided by solar-power panels, comfortable seats, lounge spaces and cooking areas.
As hand-constructed and local works of craft, there are certain building conventions and materials found across multiple boats but there also exists a surprising variety of styles and sizes within this houseboat type.
Natural and local materials including bamboo, wood and marinated plywood make up the hull, deck and living space structures aboard these spruced-up native constructions.
Needless to say, the plush sun deck, master bedroom and full bathroom as well as other contemporary appliances and modern amenities are new additions to these traditionally more bare-bone boats.