Alappuzha, better known as the Venice of the East is an important tourist location in India; in fact a pearl in India’s tourist map. Rich in cultural history, Alappuzha even had trade relations with Greece and Rome in BC and in the Middle Ages. A land that veins itself with stretches of backwaters fringed by coconut palms; labyrinth of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers makes it an exotic tourist location.
The most delightful experience at Alappuzha is of course it houseboat cruises. The houseboats moving silent, un-disturbing the waters are the ones that evolved from the Kettuvallams of the olden times. The Kettuvallams (boats with knots) are nothing but boats held together with coir knots, they were used as rice barges capable to carry tonnes of rice or spices.
But now, these traditional barges have transformed to peaceful water-habitats with all the creature comforts of a nature inspired hotel that floats on water with facilities including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, kitchen and balcony for angling.
Boating on these houseboats, one can enjoy a peaceful voyage along Kerala’s famed palm-lined backwaters through the quiet, water-bound villages and the state’s lush rice bowl, Kuttanad, is a peaceful dip along the simple lifestyle of the people here which is far cry away the busy crowds of the people in the cities of India. Top tourist attraction is the annual boat race, Nehru Trophy Boat Race featuring snake boats racing each other in the Punnamada lake.
There are pre-planned cruise routes, but independent, flexible cruises can be made renting a houseboat. One of the most popular cuises along Alapuzha backwaters are from the south of Alappuzha to its neiboring district, Kollam. The trip features an 8 hour schedule with halts for lunch, chai (tea), a temple visit, scenic waterside villages, palm-lined banks, prawn farming, Chinese fishing nets, coir manufacture and Kathakali, the traditional Indian dance and drama portraying traditional, mythological and historic stories. Apart from the backwater delights, Alappuzha offers other delicacies as well.
Pathiramanal- The legend is that, the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight) was created by a young Brahmin, when he dived in to the Vembanadu lake for his evening purifications and the water made way for the island to rise from below. The island falls between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom and is only accessible by boat, the favourite host for rare migratory birds from around the world.
Krishnapuram Palace- The place is built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma of the Travancore kingdom and is famous for its mural arts, particularly the mural depicting the story of Gajendramoksham, one of the largest murals in Kerala. The palace also holds antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes.
Alapuzha Beach- Features a long stretch of sandy beach raisined with palm trees, a light house and pier over 137 years old, standing proud as a reminder to its age-old maritime prominence. The beach is also a popular picnic location and the entertainment facilities available at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach.
Mannarasala Temple- Very ancient and internationally known centre of pilgrimage for the followers of the serpent god or Nagaraja, the temple is spread across an area of 16 acres of dense forest grove and has a collection of over 30,000 snake images and special offerings are made to celebrate Mannarsala Aayilyam, the main festival of this temple.
Alappuzha CSI Church- Built by the first Church Missionary Society in 1818, Alappuzha CSI Church was the first church established in Travancore. The church shouts the history of Alappuzha, how Purakkad, an ancient port near Alappuzha facilitated people of different cultures including Parsur, Gujaratis, Mamens, Anglo Indians, etc to commingle and settle here.