Alleppey (Alapuzha) is the land of backwaters and house boats, located in central Kerala, the Arabian Sea coast bordering its west. The backwaters, locally known as kayals, form a distinctive feature of Kerala. These are basically a wide network of canals, lakes and lagoons, extending along the coastal regions, well protected from the sea.
Cruising through the backwaters are the royal and graceful House boats ( Kettuvallam). The joy of the intoxicating ride in these houseboats, is one to be experienced. Originally used for the transportation of food grains, agricultural products and goods from one part of the state to another, most of these ordinary Kettuvallams have been transformed into luxurious House Boats. Measuring about 25 metres long, these houseboats are air-conditioned and well equipped with well-decorated bedrooms with attached washrooms, kitchens and other modern facilities.
The annually conducted Vallam kali or the Boat Race is another hallmark of the city. The traditional boats or Chundan Vallam popularly known as snake boats, used in these races are beaked boats of about 100 to 138 ft in length with a long tapering front. Each boat is rowed by about 128 Oresmen in unison. These Boat races are usually held in the month of August/ September in connection with Onam (The Harvest festival of Kerala). The famous Nehru Trophy Boat race is held on the second Saturday of August every year on the Punnamada Lake, in Alleppey.
Kuttanad, ‘the rice bowl of Kerala’ is also located in this picturesque city. Rich in paddy, banana, cassava and yam, the place is reported to be the only region in the world where farming is done 4 to 6 ft. below sea level. The inland waterways, flow above land level and is an amazing feature of this region.
The city also referred to as “ The Venice of the East” has a lively beach park and an old lighthouse, greatly fascinating the visitors. Pathiramanal, a small island on the backwaters is a favorite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. The city also houses a rich population of exclusive species of aquatic life including frogs, crabs and mudskippers, water birds such as cormorant, darter, kingfisher and animals such as turtles and otters alongside the Alleppey backwaters.
A popular tourist destination, Alleppey is also famous for coir and coir factories. The Head Quarters the Central Coir Research Institute is located in this resourceful city. Alleppey has emerged as a most sought after tourist destinations in South. The backwaters have been listed as one of the ‘50 Must See Destinations of a life time’ by the National Geographic Society.