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South Kerala

Alappuzha

With the Arabian sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers criss crossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Alappuzha, one of the best-known ports along the coast of Malabar, is referred to as the Venice of the East, built on the banks of a network of canals. This backwater country is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. The rice bowl of Kerala, Kuttanad is perhaps the only place in the world where farming is done below sea level.

Alappuzha at a glance :

Alappuzha at a glance :
Area 1414 sq. km
Altitude Sea level
Population 19,90,603
Climate Tropical Humid
Annual Rainfall 229 cm.
Best season August to March

How to reach

By Air

The nearest Airport is Cochin 64 km to the north and Trivandrum Airport is 159 km to the south.

By Train

Alleppey is quiet well connected by trains to different cities. Trivandrum and Cochin are connected to Alleppey by a National Highway.

By Boat

If you are coming from Kollam, an intresting alternative would be by boat which starts from the Kollam boat jetty. The trip through the backwaters is slow but an interesting experience. There are also boat services to Alleppey from Kottayam & Changancherry. Kottayam (50 km) and Changanachery (32 km) are also connected by road.

Places of Interest

Religious Places

Ambalapuzha
Karimadi
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple
Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara
Champakulam Church
Edathua Church
Arthunkal
Chavara Bhavan

Picnic Spots
Pathiramanal
Q S T and R Block Kayal
Kuttanad
Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race
Krishnapuram Palace, Kayamkulam

Beaches
Alappuzha beach

Monuments
Alleppey-Kollam backwater trip

Religious Places

Ambalapuzha

The Sri Krishna temple here is a famous pilgrim "center". Built in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous all over India for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge. It is also in this temple that Pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) once every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are on display on the inner walls of the Chuttambalam. Ottanthullal, a satiric art form originated by the poet Kunchan Nambiar, was first performed on the premises of this temple. The temple is 15 km south of Alappuzha.

Karimadi

This town is close to Ambalapuzha. There is a 9th century black granite statue of Budha (called locally Karimadi Kuttan) which is of historical importance.

Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple

Situated near Harippad, this is a serpent shrine under the patronage of a brahmin family, headed by a priestess. The ancient shrine is an internationally renowned pilgrim centre dedicated to the Serpent God Nagaraja. Sarpa Yakshi and Naga Yakshi are the beloved consorts of Nagaraja. It is believed that Nagaraja as the installed diety is endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva. Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five-headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family. At Mannarasala barren women are believed to be blessed with children and a special turmeric paste available at the shrine is credited with powers to cure even leprosy. It is situated 32 km south of Alappuzha.

Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara

The Kettukazhcha festival at this temple draws large crowds of devotees. Processions of tall decorated structures on chariots, brightly decorated effigies of horses and bullocks and cultural performances make a spectacular pageant. It is held in February/March every year.

Champakulam Church

One of the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary's Church is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas. The annual feast at this church falls on the 3rd Sunday of October every year.

Edathua Church

Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. It is believed that prayers and offerings at this church help to heal all mental disorders and other ailments. During the annual feast (5th, 6th and 7th of May) pilgrims from all parts of South India, irrespective of caste and creed, visit the church and seek the blessings of the saint. It is 24 km away from Alappuzha on the Alappuzha - Thiruvalla Road.

Arthunkal

The St. Sebastian's Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. A festival named Arthunkal Perunnal - the feast of the patron saint is held in January every year. It is 22 km north of Alappuzha.

Chavara Bhavan

Chavara Bhavan is the ancestral home of the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara. It is now a holy shrine and spiritual resort where thousands of devotees gather for prayer, receive favours and feel amply gratified. Here, a 250 year old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form. It is 6 Km away from Alappuzha and is accessible only boat.

Picnic Spots

Pathiramanal

Pathiramanal, a small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha,is a heaven for hundreds of rare birds migrating from different parts of the world. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, stretching from Alappuzha to Kochi and the Kayamkulam lake, Pathiramanal is accessible only by boat which takes around one & half hour by motor boat and 30 minutes by speed boat from Alappuzha. The green island thus forms an ideal place for a break in the journey while on a backwater cruise. The mainland Alappuzha has a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers criss crossing it and is a district of immense natural beauty. Cochin International Airport is about 85 km north and Thiruvananthapuram about 150 km towards the south of Alappuzha.

Q S T and R Block Kayal

Situated in Kuttanad popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala, QST & R Block Kayals (backwaters) remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland. A striking example of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how, here cultivation and habitation are made possible at four to ten feet below the sea level. For this purpose extensive land has been reclaimed from the backwaters and is protected by dikes built around it. A leisurely cruise along the canals here is a memorable experience. Kuttanad is the most beautiful backwaters region of Kerala. It is here that most of the snake boat races are conducted and a majority of the rice boat & houseboat cruises are scheduled. Keralas network of navigable backwaters stretches to over 900 km. These serene waterways are fringed by palm grove and paddy fields and offer a striking spectacle of the rustic life. Cochin International Airport is about 85 km away from Alappuzha.

Kuttanad

It is the major rice granary of Kerala, where vast stretches of verdant paddy fields are interlaced with enchanting backwaters create some of the unforgettable sights.Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala is all about an agrarian community. Noted for its farming below sea level (about 4 to 10 feet) the land of Kuttanad possesses a socio-cultural fabric of its own. Four major rivers in Kerala viz. Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region. Kuttanad can be accessed from places on the National Highway- 47 from Harippad to Alappuzha town in the District of Alappuzha, and from places like Thiruvalla and Changanasserry on the Main Central (MC) Road going through the District of Kottayam. The most popular route taken to get close and explore Kuttanad is the Alappuzha-Changanasserry road. This road goes through the heart of Kuttanad and gives visitors plenty of options to watch the day-to-day life at Kuttanad. The Kuttanad area is also rich in avian population, and one can easily find flocks of parrots hovering in the paddy fields, especially those fields with rice stalks in bloom. You may also come across a black blanket sweeping across the sky, which on close look will reveal as yet another flock of birds. And this time it is the darter birds, which haunt the backwaters in and around Kuttanad and the adjoining Vembanad Lake. Numerous canals that crisscross Kuttanad are lined by tall coconut trees swaying in the breeze and abuzz with different activities whole day like vendors on boat selling vegetables, grocery and fish to households on the banks of these canals, also come across big country boats called Kettu Vallams on which goods like coconut husk, rice grains etc. are transported to nearby markets in bulk. The most fascinating obviously is that of the ducks, quacking together in high decibels and moving across the backwaters in large numbers; shepherded by men on small boats. One can also catch men plying on the backwater; some diving down to collect lime shells from the depths and others fishing with their nets and traditional cane basket called Ottal. If you are interested in few local dishes you may do so by dropping at the small traditionally built wayside eateries, which are quite famous for backwater fish delicacies and tapioca. A popular naturally extracted beverage is the toddy, which is available in plenty and enjoyed by many for its speciality. You can also hire motorboats, houseboats etc. from the boat jetty operated by the government as well as private groups near the KSRTC Bus Station at Alappuzha or else may get on one from places like Kidangara, which is on the Alappuzha-Changanasserry road. Some of the places worth visiting in the Kuttanad area are Nedumudy, Kaavalam, Champakkulam etc. Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery is about 85 km away from Alappuzha.

Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race

Held on the second Saturday of August every year this boat race is a "must see" for the tourist. Boats of all size compete in different events, but the most prestigious and interesting is that of the "Chundan Vallam". This boat with 100 rowers, 4 helmsmen and has 25 cheer leaders is decorated with colorful umbrellas. The race is held in the massive Vembanad lake, east of the town. Packing food and an umbrella to the venue is a good idea.

Alleppey-Kollam backwater trip

The boat passes through palm fringed the backwaters. A close view of the country side and fishing activity in the lake are interesting sight. The boat stops for lunch in between.

Beaches

Alappuzha beach

Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors. This place is about 5 Km from Alappuzha and Cochin International Airport is about 85 km away from Alappuzha town.

Monuments

Krishnapuram Palace, Kayamkulam

The Krishnapuram Palace is a rare specimen of the Kerala style of architecture - complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows. Residence of the rulers of Kayamkulam kingdom, the age of the palace is unknown. Renovated some time in the 18th century, the palace is today a protected monument under the Archeology department. Recently it has been again renovated according to the scientific techniques prescribed for the protection of heritage buildings. Today the palace is an archaeological museum, and the most fascinating exhibit here is the 49 sq.m - Gajendra Moksham - the largest single band of mural painting so far discovered in Kerala. Literally, the salvation of the elephant king, the theme of the mural is mythological and depicts an elephant saluting Lord Vishnu in devotion while the other gods, goddesses and saints look on. It is said that Lord Vishnu was the family deity of the Kayamkulam rajas. This mural was placed at the entrance to the palace from the pond to enable the rajas to worship the deity after their bath. Other attractions here are the beautifully landscaped garden in the palace compound where there is a variety of flora typical of Kerala, and a newly erected Buddha mandapam, where a recently recovered statue of the Buddha is housed. Other collections at the museum include rare antique bronze sculptures and paintings. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays. This place is 39 Km away from Kollum. It is 103 m away from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and 132 Km from Cochin International Airport.