Alappuzha, Tours, Festivals, Events
Alappuzha has a large network of canals, choked with the blue flowers of water hyacinth, passing through the town. It is the chief departure point for cruises into the backwaters and the venue for the spectacular snake boat races.
Houseboat trips can be arranged at any of the numerous tour operators in town or directly, by heading to the boat dock just off VCNB Road. Although the town itself doesn't have many tourist sites, it is a pleasant, bustling place to walk around and there is a lovely stretch of undeveloped beach as well.
Mararikulam, 15 km north of Alappuzha on the coast, is a quiet, secluded beach which, until recently, was only known to the adjoining fishing village. The main village has a thriving cottage industry of coir and jute weaving.
Some 16 km southeast of Alappuzha is the hushed backwaters village of Champakulam where the only noise pollution is the odd squeak of a bicycle and the slush of a canoe paddle.
The Syrian Christian church of St Mary's Forane was built in 1870 on the site of a previous church dating from AD 427. The English-speaking priest is happy to show visitors round. Nearby the St Thomas Statuary makes wooden statues of Christ for export round the world.
To get there, take the Alappuzha- Changanacherry bus (every 30 minutes) to Moncombu, then an auto-rickshaw to Champakulam. Alternatively the Alappuzha-Edathua ferry leaves at 06.15am and 5.15pm and stops at Champakulam. In the backwater village of Edathua, you can visit the early Syrian St George's church.
Activities and Tours
Alappuzha is the starting point of backwater boat trips to Kollam, Changanacherry, Kottayam and Kochi, and everybody you meet seems to have a houseboat to rent Trips and boat standards vary widely. Always ask to check your boat before handing over the full payment to make sure you are getting what you agree to pay for.
Tel: 0484 3011711
Runs 'spice boat' cruises in modified kettuvallams, which are idyllic if not luxurious: shaded sit-outs, modern facilities including solar panels for electricity, 2 double rooms, limited menu.
Malabar House 'Malabar Escapes' take on the houseboat is silent and pollutant free. Because it is nimble and trips are for a minimum of 3 nights, it is guaranteed to take you far from the wider watery motorways bigger rice boats ply. 1 bedroom, large bathroom and sitting room plus sun deck food is to the Malabar House's high standard.
Tel: 0477 2251796
Runs the same 8-hr backwater cruises as its sister office in Kollam, except going the other way. Departs 10.30am from Alappuzha ferry jetty. There is also a shorter round-trip to Kumarakom (4 hrs), and canoe trips through local waterways.
Lakes and Lagoons
Solar-powered 2-bed boats. Consistently recommended operator.
Tel: 0477 2261375
Solar powered with high safety standards and emergency speedboat support (houseboats have been known to sink).
Festivals and Events
Cheruppu is celebrated in the Mullakkal Devi Temple with a procession of elephants, music and fireworks.
Tourism Boat Race.
DTPC Boat Race (3rd Sat) in the backwaters. Champakulam Boat Race, Kerala's oldest, takes place 16-km ferry ride away on 'Moolam' day.
The Nehru Trophy, inaugurated in 1952, is the largest Snake Boat Race in the state. As many as 40 highly decorated 'snake boats' are rowed by several dozen oarsmen before huge crowds. Naval helicopters do mock rescue operations and stunt flying. There are other snake boat races held throughout the year.
It is only a 5-min walk between the ferry jetty and the KSRTC bus station despite what many local rickshaw drivers will tell u.
From the KSRTC Bus Station, Tel: 0477 225 2501, there are frequent long-distance buses to Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, via Kollam, Champakulam and Kottayam. There are several buses daily to Coimbatore.
Public ferries,Tel: 0477 2252015, sail to Kottayam, 07.30am, 10am,11.30am,1pm,2.30pm and 5.30pm (3 hrs) and Changanassery, 10am,1pm and 5.30pm(3 hrs). Also frequent services to Nedumudi (1 hr).
The train station, Tel: 0477 2253965, is 3 km from the jetty. Trains run to Ernakulam (Junction) regularly between 6am-7.25pm. Going south trains, journeys to Thiruvananthapuram, via Kollam, and Varkala.
Rooftop dining with attentive service and excellent multi-cuisine food. The 4-course set dinner menu is unbeatable value. Alcohol available.
Alleppey Prince Hotel
2 km from town
International, comfortable a/c restaurant, reasonable food, alcohol in bar only.
Specializes in seafood but also has Indian and European dishes. Excellent value. Alcohol available. Recommended.
Large range of sweet and savoury pastries, and other snacks, to take out or eat in at the tiny seating area.
Mullakal Main Rd
Good for iddli, dosa, vadai, etc.
lndian Coffee House
Mullakal Main Rd
Good value, tasty non-vegetarian snacks.
Zilla Court Ward
Excellent South Indian thalis and Chinese.
Good south lndian vegetarian and Chinese.
Vegetarian, ample helpings on banana leaf, locally popular.
There are several places on Mullakal Rd
Tel: 0477 2253324