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Alappuzha Quick Information

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Summarise the city :
Venice of the East

Best time to visit (High & peak months) : 
October to March

Experiences :
Backwaters, houseboats, temple and churches

City calling code :
0477

Recommended no. of days for a tourist :
A day is sufficient

Best buys :
Coir products

Essentials to be carried along :
Cotton wears, sun blocks, hats, glares

All about the city :
The feature that puts Kerala so strongly on the world tourism map is its backwaters- the USP of this God's own country. The total expanse of backwater stretches over 1500 kms, with a network of 44 rivers, lagoons and lakes from north to south. Alappuzha, which forms the main part of this network, has the peculiar geographical feature of having the water in level with the land. This gives the advantage of getting a closer look at the countryside life on shore while on a backwater ride and probably this is the most fashionable way to taste the true flavours of Kerala's rustic life.

Flanked by Arabian sea on the west and crisscrossed by numerous lakes, canals and rivers meandering through it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty, and is very aptly known as the Venice of the East. Authentically designed and luxuriously furnished houseboats, plying on the fabled backwaters give you a chance to absorb the maximum of Kerala beauty and that too without putting in any effort. While gliding at a leisurely pace you pass across the paddy fields, numerous tiny hamlets where you find the villagers busy in their routine work, women coming to the water threshold to haggle with the shopkeeper boatman,  flocks of ducks, the water hens which at times seem to be playing hide and seek, some eye catching aquatic plants etc. all of which make for a wonderful sight. If you want to get one to one with the localites making a homestay (watch a video made at a homestay) here is the best idea. 
 
Alappuzha is basically a very quiet place. Infact whatever little crowd you find here comprises mainly of the tourists. But those who want to see the other side of Alappuzha should visit it during the period of its fantabulous boat races when the town comes alive resounding with the cheers of the spectators.
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Alappuzha Tourist attractions

Name (suggested time required to see the place)DescriptionEntrance charges (if any) for Foreigner Close Day (if any) Open / Close time
Alappuzha Beach Once the busiest coast south of Mumbai, it is now a popular picnic spot. Over 145-year-old pier (1000 ft long) and a very old lighthouse stand upto this day as the traces of colonial era. There are several entertainment facilities on this beach (Vijya Beach), including a children's park with arrangements for boating, toy train etc.   
KuttanadSet in the heart of Alappuzha backwaters is the region of Kuttanad, better known as the rice bowl of Kerala. The place deserves a special mention because it is perhaps the only place in the world where farming is done 1.5 to 2 m below the sea level.   
PathiramanalThis 10-acre Island on the backwaters of Vembanad lake (border of Kottayam - Alappuzha dist.) is a stop over for hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. A 1.5 hr sailing on a motorboat (only 0.5 hr by speed boat) through awe-inspiring sceneries is all what is required to reach this haven.    
Chavara Bhawan (6 km/ accessible only by boat)It is the old wooden house where the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born. It has now taken the shape of a shrine and is duly visited by devotees seeking blessings to overcome the difficulties in their life.   
Ambalapuzha temple At a distance of 14 km from Alappuzha, it is an ancient Shri Krishna temple that is famous throughout the Kerala for the milk porridge, 'palpayasam' - an offering fit for the lord of the ocean of milk. It is said that if the offering to the Lord gets late his mundu (cloth worn by him to cover portion below waist) loosens and falls to the ground. If God cannot resist its temptation, how will the followers. Unsurprisingly the reservations for getting it have to be made the previous day.

Just 3 km from this place is Karumadi Kuttan, a 9th or 10th century granite image of 3 ft high sitting Buddha.
  3 am - noon, 5 - 8 pm
St Mary's ChurchOne 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 is held on the 3rd Sunday of October every year. The present building is 500 years old and has ceiling murals painted by Sri Lankan artists.   
Boat races

Sitting amidst a frenetic crowd cheering the world famous regattas is a unique experience that can be tasted only at Alappuzha. Snake boats (chundanvallam), once used to carry warriors, now participate in what is believed to be the world's largest team sport.

Alappuzha's famous boat races commemorate the carrying of idols to their abodes i.e. respective temples. The most inviting ones include: Nehru Trophy Boat race: Held on the 2nd Saturday of August on the backwaters of Punnamada lake is named after India's first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Champakulam Boat Race: This is the oldest of the tradition and is held in the month of July to celebrate the arrival of Lord Krishna's idol at Ambalapuzha temple.

Payippad Boat Race: Held on the third day of Onam this race celebrates the installation of the idol found in Payippad lake at the Subramanya Swamy temple at Haripad.

Indira Gandhi Boat Race at Kochi: It is planned every year in the last week of December in Kochi. Its pure theatre with serpent shaped boats competing with each other and the crowd cheering them with full enthusiasm.

 

INR 30 - 2000 depending upon the positions

In royal category there are 10 seats. INR 1,00,000 admits 2 in this category
  
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Getting there/ How to reach Alappuzha

AirRailRoadWater
Alappuzha does not have an airport but the nearest one is Kochi International Airport (90 kms) and the other one is Trivandrum that is 150 kms away from Alleppey.Alappuzha railway station is well connected to Ernakulam (Kochi) and Trivandrum. It also has adequate rail services for Chennai and Mumbai as well. The town is on NH47 and lies 67 km  south of Kochi, 62 km SW of Kumarkom, 84 km north of Kollam, 159 km north of Thiruvananthapuram  (Trivandrum), 192 km SW of Munnar and 164 km west of Thekkady, 175 km north of Kovalam Kovalam (Trivandrum) Alappuzha is linked by boat service through the backwaters to Quilon (8 hr), Kottayam (2.5 hr), Kochi (5.5 hrs), Kumarkom, Kovalam (Trivandrum).
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Alappuzha Festivals

Name of festivalDates / MonthsFestival details with link for more information
Alappuzha Nehru Trophy Boat Race2nd Saturday of AugustThis is the biggest boat racing event of Kerala. Huge boats that resemble a snake in shape compete with each other to reach the finish point. Each boat has a large no. of rowers, a few helmsmen along with a few cheer leaders. No other sport in the world has such a large number of participants.
Champakulam Boat RaceJuly-AugustThis is to celebrate the arrival of Lord Krishna's idol in Ambalpuzha temple.
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Alappuzha Excursions

Excursion (distance in kms / time taken)Write up on the excursion
Cherthala (20 km/40 min)It's a noted coir-weaving centre of Kerala where you can see the traditional way of manufacturing coir. To the north of Cherthala town is a very famous Bhagwati temple.
Arthunkal (22 km/40 min) The Saint Andrew's church built by Portuguese in 1591 is highly revered by both the Hindus and the Christians. It's design very well reflects the Hindu influence on the Jesuit missionaries who supervised its construction. Every year in January, an elaborate feast is organized in the honor of St. Sebastian and thousands of devotees come to take part in the grand feastings.
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple (32 km south of Alappuzha near Haripad/50 min) Timings: 5 am - noon, 5:30 - 7:30 pmThis is an internationally renowned temple dedicated to serpent God Nagraja who is perceived to be an incarnation of both Shiva and Vishnu. According to a legend a woman from a great Naga family gave birth to two sons, one of whom was a serpent. He asked his family to worship him and then vanished. All around you will find the depictions of serpents whether in stone, wood or paint. The shrine is under the patronage of a 'Brahman' family and is headed by a priestess who is a virgin. Childless couples offer bell metal vessel face to the Nagraja to seek his blessings. In Kerala the ancestral home of every upper class Namboothiri and Nair family traditionally has a sarpa kavu (snake grove)housing a snake stone. Those who cannot afford a private shrine offer snake stone to this temple.
Krishnapuram Palace (5 km from Haripad & 47 km from Alapuzzha on the way to Kollam/1.25 hrs)Come here to see the largest mural (14 feet by 11 feet) in Kerala, the Gajendramoksham - which depicts a mythological event. This residence of the former local kings has now been transformed into a museum displaying various artifacts of the past era some of them dating back even to the Harappan age
 
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Suggested tour program with Alappuzha

Tour NameNo. Of days Other places covered Detail's link (if applicable)
Best of Kerala9 nights/10 daysKochi-Munnar-Thekkady-Kumarkom -Alappuzha-Kovalam (Trivandrum)  
Ayurveda and Backwaters
6 nights/7 daysKovalam (Trivandrum)-Alappuzha-Kochi 
Rustic Kerala on Balmy Backwaters4 nights/5 daysKochi-Alappuzha-Kochi 
A Different Stay Everyday [our special tour of India]
9 nights/10 daysWayanad-Kochi-Alappuzha-Kovalam (Trivandrum)-Neyyar Dam 
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