The Vembanad Lake and the surrounding wetlands area sits in southwestern India around the city of Kolchi (known as Cochin in colonial-era spelling). The lake is part of a web of waterways that includes smaller lakes, rivers, marshy areas and canals. This entire watery landscape is known locally as the Kerala Backwaters. Because of their scenic beauty, the Backwaters draw both international and domestic tourists. Cruises on large houseboats or smaller boats carry sightseers into the backwaters in search of picture-worthy landscapes. With the network of canals, lakes and rivers stretching for more than 600 miles, cruisers can travel through the mazelike system for days without seeing the same scenes of tropical idyll twice.