There is no doubt that cruising in the backwaters is the highlight of a trip in Alleppey. You can lounge in the luxurious or basic boats for a couple of hours or even take an overnight package of 22 hours to enjoy the soothing backwater canals. Most houseboats have dining facilities on board including a chef and a kitchen, so you literally don’t have to stop, except for docking at night if you are on an overnight trip. But there is more to Alleppey than just the houseboats. Here are some of our top recommendations:
The main hook of Alleppey is the Vembanad Lake, spread over 2033 sq km and flanked by Alleppey, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts. This is the longest lake in India and largest in Kerala and an epicenter of ecological facets. Travellers usually cruise around in houseboats but Vembanad also provides other livelihood options to the locals, which is fascinating to see; fishing, tourism, inland transportation, lime shell collection and coir retting makes this a thriving place.
Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple
One of the most famous temples of Kerala, the Sri Krishna temple lies only 14km south of Alleppey in a small town called Ambalappuzha. It is recommended to visit as early as 5 in the morning for a soothing spiritual experience. The high walled temple built inside a sprawling compound has a kalyani (water pond) and a temple elephant inside. You can stroll around the beautiful lamp lined walls of the sanctum. The prasad (sweet offering) is the local specialty, payasam (milk based sweet dish) which is given to devotees.
Beach Area, Lighthouse and Vijay Park
This part of town is great to enjoy the breezy evenings with a view of the setting sun. The beach is a local hotspot, where you can see impromptu football games, people snacking away on ‘bhajjis’ (tempura), the nearby lighthouse (entry not allowed) and kids enjoying at the children’s park close by.
Snake Boat Races
The Snake Boat races of Kerala are an enticing display of sinew and sportsmanship on the otherwise serene backwaters of the region. The annual ‘Vallam Kalli’ or boat race organized in the canals of the region sees the months of July to September host 15 plus Snake Boat Races. The most popular ones are the Nehru Boat Race in Punnamada Lake of Alappuzha, Champakkulam Moolam, Payippad Jalotsavam on Payippad Lake and the Aranmula race. Historically, it is believed that the Kings of the surrounding areas could only fight in the region on these vehicles to maneuver through the canals. Even 400 years later, the tradition continues. The 100-seater narrow boats are about 100 feet along with oarsmen sitting astride and 6-7 team members to steer. The team also consists of 2-3 people who clap and sing rhythmically to encourage the rowers and maintain the tempo.
RKK Memorial Museum
Enter here to lay eyes on diverse artefacts, murals and paintings from all over the world. Porcelain from China, a 1948 Buick, carved sculptures from Africa, an impressive collection from Belgium, South America, Japan, Italy Turkey and more are some of the greatest highlights. The RKK Museum is a private collection of Mrs. Betty, wife of deceased coir magnet, Revi Karuna Karan. Her worldwide acquisitions consist of the largest private collection of ivory and Swarovski in the world.