Alleppey defines the quintessential Kerala experience in several ways. The placid backwaters which flow into narrow canals are the lifeblood of the small town which lies 60 kms south of Cochin. Life revolves around the water and most visitors will be here to explore the backwaters by boat, from the large elegant houseboats to small fishing canoes. Also known as Alappuzha, the town has a rich history, a burgeoning home-stay culture for travellers and also serves as the venue for some of the most exciting festivals of the state. Here are our five favourite places in Alleppey to visit.
1. Punnamada Jetty
You don’t need to take an entire house-boat to get the experience of the backwaters. Walk to the Punnamada Jetty point and watch the elaborate and well equipped house-boats dock on the banks. You can walk into some of them and have a look around. The jetty point is also a good spot to sight some rowers from a local sports school in the middle of the lake. Children from the school often whiz past the banks in canoes or hold swimming practices close by.
2. Alappuzha Beach
Though Alleppey is better known for its network of canals, it has a great stretch of sandy beach, often overlooked by visitors. There is 140 years old wharf which extends into the sea. Take some time to explore the sandy, palm-fringed shore line lapped by the Arabian Sea. Marari beach just before the town is a hot-spot for resort oriented holiday.
Further towards the South, the Kuttanad region unfolds just after Alleppey. A fascinating area, this is well below the sea level and is known for its lush paddy fields. The topography is different from the backwaters and makes for an idyllic day out. You can see the locals at work in the fields as you cross vast patches of cultivation.
4. Vembanad Lake
Alleppey is sandwiched between Vembanad lake and the Arabian sea. The longest lake in India, Vembanad spans several districts in Kerala. The lake is stunning, covered in water hyacinth and home to a vast variety of bird life. Houseboats travel along the lake giving visitors the opportunity to see the many fishing villages clustered along its shores.
A small island on the backwaters, Pathiramanal is a bird watchers paradise as it is home to over 90 local species of birds and 50 migratory birds. About 13 km from Alleppey it can be reached in about 30 minutes by speed boat from the town.