Palm fringed canals, lazy lagoons and water locked towns have made Alleppey one of the best backwater tourist destinations of Kerala, truly God's own country. The backwaters of Alleppey are also home for diverse animal and bird life.
Built in the 9th century AD, Alleppey (Alappuzha) lies on the edge of the Ashtamudi Lake. Often called the 'Venice of the East' by travelers across the world, this town enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. alleppey is the world's premier supplier of coir.
Alleppey lies flanked by the Arabian Sea on the west, Kottayam on the east, Kollam on the south and Ernakulam on the north. It has a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers.
Alleppey Boat races:
Alleppey is synonymous with boat races. The Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race, a water sport unique to Kerala takes place in alleppey during the second Saturday of August every year. This spectacular event is a prime attraction for residents and tourists alike. The elegant house boats in the dense palm groves that are so characteristic of Kerala landscape is a treat to the eyes. The water carnivals, the gigantic snake boat races and the country canoes are the backbone of Alleppey's lifeline.
Alappuzha or Alleppey Backwaters
In Alleppey, life revolves around water. Children learn to swim before they can walk or bicycle. Kuttanad in alleppey is the most beautiful backwaters region of Kerala. A backwater cruise on the Punnamada Kayal takes the tourist along the scenic islands offering a sublime view of the serene waterways fringed by palm groves and paddy fields. The tourist can stroll into the town and view the canals covered with mauve hyacinths, Chinese fishing nets, toddy tappers at work, lush green fields.
Paddy cultivation below the backwaters:
The paddy fields in these backwater regions of Alleppey stand below the sea level where the cultivation occurs. Cultivation and habitation are made possible by indigenous agricultural engineering know-how at four to ten feet below the sea level. Extensive land has been reclaimed from the backwaters and is protected by dikes built around it. The similarity between the backwaters of Kuttanad and the famous dykes of Holland is often noted.
Tourist destinations at alleppey:
Alleppey beach: This is one of the most popular tourist spots in alleppey. A 1000 ft long pier was built at the alleppey beach by Captain Hugh Crawford in 1862. The beach is clean and there is a park for children on its southern side. On the northern side, the 'sea view park' has boating facilities for tourists. The alleppey beach is long and has thick palm groves. An old lighthouse continues to attract visitors to this beach.
Pathiramanal Island: This means 'sands of night' and bird watching is famous here. Being the favorite haunt of hundreds of migratory birds every year, this island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom and is accessible only by boat.
Krishnapuram Palace: This palace which belongs to the 18th century was built by the Travancore kings in typical Kerala style of architecture with gabled roofs, dormer windows and narrow corridors. Antique sculptures, paintings and artifacts in bronze adorn this palace which is situated about 47 kms from alleppey. It contains one of the greatest mural panels of Kerala - the Gajendra Moksham measuring 14 feet by 11 feet.
Aruthukal: This is a popular center of pilgrimage for the Christians of Kerala. The ancient St.Sebastian Church erected by the Portuguese is situated in this place, 22 kms north of alleppey.
Ambalapuzha Temple: The famous Sri Krishna temple here is known for its traditional Kerala architecture as well as it's delicious pal payasam. About 3 kms from Ambalapuzha is 'Karumadikuttan' statue, which is a black granite statue of Buddha belonging to the 10th century.
Champakulam Church: This is one of the oldest churches of Kerala. The St.Mary's church was established by St.Thomas.
Kanakakkunnu Palace: This palace stands as an example of architectural excellence of the Travancore Maharajas, with gabled pagoda style of architecture. The palace is adorned by large crystal chandeliers and exquisite pieces of royal furniture.
Sree Krishna Temple: Located 14 kms from alleppey in Ambalapuzha, this temple is built in typical Kerala architecture. Paintings of Dasavatharam are on display in the inner walls of this temple.
Trekking at alleppey: There are numerous trekking possibilities for tourists in and around alleppey. The Western Ghat mountain ranges which are thickly forested with imposing mountains offer the most spectacular trekking routes for those adventurists!
Alleppey Wildlife Sanctuary: View animals in their natural habitat as you cruise down Periyar Lake. The Vembanad Lake and the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary are the favorite haunt of ornithologists.