Villipuram (Tamil Nadu), Sep.26 : After the conventional rowing boats followed by motor boats, pedalling boats and cycle boats, the latest draw among rowing enthusiasts are the banana boats in coastal Mudaliyar Kuppam of Tamil Nadu.
Mudaliyar Kuppam was one among the worst affected targets of the unfortunate tsunami waves in 2004.
After having executed rehabilitation programmes in this region, the banana boats have been introduced as a new water sports attraction by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) in a bid to attract tourists.
Banana boats, named like that for its shape and yellowish outer colour, are a popular water sport for kids and it is equally popular among adults. Riders sit astride a large tube, which is fastened by two smaller tubes meant to provide balance and footrests.
It enables the riders to experience the thrill of moving really fast and close to the water.
The banana boat ride is popular water sport, full of fun. All the passengers are strapped to a life jacket while riding on the boat.
Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation feels that the banana boats would help them earn more revenue.
"About one-and-a-half-years ago this was very small boathouse, generating rupees 2000- 3000 per day. Now after introduction of water scooters, the number of visitors has increased. Similarly, the banana boats is a new thing so it would attract more tourists and visitors," said Sanwant Ram, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC).
An inflatable yellow and orange coloured banana boat that is powerless can carry six persons at a time. A larger motorboat tugs it.
A banana boat costs rupees 57,000. And it promises a treasured ride over the serene backwaters.
"I am very happy and excited. The experience was good I intend to visit here often," said Sivashankari, a visitor.
Out of the 10 boathouses of the TTDC, the Mudaliar Kuppam boathouse has become the hot spot for most of the visitors.
TTDC has major plans to upgrade the boathouse further and add features such as a floating jetty and expand other facilities at the boathouse.
A ride in the banana boat is full of adventure. At times, one may be flung over the waves. Indeed, it is a test of stamina coupled with excitement of riding on waves, similar to surfing. By Juhan Samuel