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Tourist literature for the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, known as “God’s Own Country,” often gives prominent display to its beaches. But as gorgeous as Kerala’s coastline is, its interior is even more breathtaking.

“Backwater” denizens rely on the web of slow- moving rivers for their livelihood – as they have for centuries. There are 41 rivers in Kerala, ranging in size from the 233-mile Bharathapuzha to the 5-mile Kalnadu.

The rivers irrigate rice paddies and coconut groves and host duck farms. They provide a means of transport, typically by canoe or pole-driven raft.

On the rivers, far from the din and rush of urban India, life slows down.