The backwaters is the jewel in Kerala's crown. The incredible resource of 44 west-flowing rivers and nearly 1,000 kilometres of tranquil inland waterways is something that no country has yet been able to replicate. There is a wide choice of boat cruises. The starting rates for the cruises are low enough for everyone to take a dawn-to-dusk ride. For others who are out to look for higher levels of comfort, there are a number of luxury houseboat operators, some of whose packages cost a packet.
Alappuzha woos the visitor with its lovely lakes, lagoons and the fresh water rivers. Known as the 'Venice of the East' for its similarity to the Italian city, Alappuzha's passion play with water has made it the hub of houseboats and beaches. But the little town has a lot more. It has marine products the coir industry, rice, bananas, yams and cassava. Besides, the nearby island of Pathiramanal - barely half-an-hour away by speedboat -- has a profusion of rare migratory birds, which fly in to spend their summer from as far away as Siberia.
Alappuzha or Alleppey is, perhaps, the most exotic of the backwater destinations of the state. With the Arabian Sea on one side, and the large number of canals and bridges, Alappuzha is famous for its annual Nehru Trophy boat race, held during the festival of Onam in August. There are other festivals in the small town like the one at the Mullakal temple in December, which is famous for the performances of some of India's finest temple musicians.
Although Alappuzha welcomes everyone throughout the year, the best time for a visit is during winter. The summer months are humid. Generally the climate is temperate with tempeatures ranging between 22 to 35°C in summer and 20 to 32°C during winter.
It was during the time of Maharaja Marthandavarma when Alappuzha became an important centre for trade, attracting merchants from all over the world. Ever since the first coir factory was started by an English sea captain, the number of coir factories have grown and a visit to one of them must be on the itinerary. Among the other places in and around Alappuzha that are must-sees, there is Punnamada Kayal. This is the place where the Nehru Trophy boat race takes place. During the race the place throngs with spectators, competitors and, of course, the huge boats, which are designed to look like snakes. Each is long and spacious enough to seat 120 oarsmen. The energy and the coordination of the competitors are worth watching.
The Krishnapuram Temple, a huge two-storied traditional piece of architecture, has a large mural, Gajendra Miksham, on display in the museum. There is also the Ambalapuzha Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple serves the Kerala delicacy, payasam, to visitors during festivities held in March/April. Another temple that attracts visitors from India and abroad is the Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple in the midst of a thick forest, dedicated to the king of serpents. The other holy place that is frequented by devotees and pilgrims is the Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, which is believed to have miraculous powers.
Nearby is the St. Andrew's Church, which was established by Portuguese missionaries. The church celebrates the feast of St. Sebastian.
Alappuzha is also well-connected through the backwater canals and there are regular ferry services from Cochin, Kottayam, Kevalam, Chenganassery and Chengannur.
Kochi, 64 km away, is the nearest airport. Thiruvananthapuram airport is 160 km from Alappuzha. National Highway 47 passes through the town and connects it to a number of cities in south India as do the railways.
Other Kerala Backwater Tour