A charming little town tucked away in God’s Own Country, Alleppey or Alappuzha, is bursting with history, colour, culture, and festivities year-round. It is the heart of Kerala’s famous backwaters, complete with houseboats, lush greenery, and serenity.
Need to Know
Alleppey enjoys wonderful, albeit humid, climate almost year-round with temperatures rarely crossing 37º C even in the height of summer. Alleppey has a long monsoon between April and November, so the best time to visit is between December and March.
The most relaxing and rewarding way to explore the backwaters is on a houseboat cruise. Alleppey is also well connected by rail and state buses to nearby attractions, or you could hire a private car to take you around.
There are a variety of cuisines in Alleppey, but a Kerala thali with fresh seafood is a must-have meal for an authentic taste of the delicious local flavours.
Did You Know?
The backwaters are home to Kerala’s traditional snake boats, and Alleppey is the access point for the Nehru Trophy Boat Race held annually on the second Saturday of August.
Where to Stay
A trip to Alleppey is incomplete without spending at least one night on a houseboat. The breath-taking maze of lakes and lagoons surrounded by lush greenery and coconut trees offers visitors the opportunity to experience what can only be termed as paradise. If you prefer to be land-bound, you can opt for a day cruise on a houseboat instead, and stay at one of the numerous resorts that offer views of Vembanad Lake.
Houseboats come in a variety of styles and budgets. Luxury houseboats, some as big as 80 feet, are equipped with everything from rooms with en suite bathrooms, 5-course meals, and a multilingual guide. There are also heritage-styled houseboats or eco-friendly houseboats, the latter offering a bio-tank for water, lights that run off the engine, and are plastic-free.
Things to Do
For Religious Travellers / Architectural Enthusiasts
Alleppey is home to the Basilica of St. Mary, one of the oldest Christian churches in India, dating back to 427 AD. While it has undergone several renovations, the intricately decorated altars and stained glass windows have been untouched.
Built over 1000 years ago, the Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple’s mural paintings are mesmerising. The temple is also home to the famous, annual, Ambalapuzha Temple Festival. It also claims to be the birthplace of Ottamthullal, a famous performing art form, which was born in an effort to voice protest against societal norms of the time.
The Karumadi Kuttan Statue in Karumadi village is home to a beautiful black granite statue of Lord Buddha dating back to 10th century AD. There are several myths attributed to the statue that is missing its left side, including one that says its healing powers can be directly transferred to the healer or victim.
For Leisure Seekers
Do visit Vembanad Lake, the largest in Kerala and one of the largest in India! Nothing compares to the tranquillity of floating along the rivers that feed the lake, surrounded only by the sounds and sights of nature.
Alleppey Beach is arguably the best beach in Kerala, owing solely to its raw natural beauty. It holds a bewitching amalgamation of dense palm groves, an ancient lighthouse, a breath-taking garden, and the raw might of the sea.
For History Buffs
The 300-year-old-Krishnapuram Palace is home to several highly valuable artefacts from the time. It contains weapons, historical documents, and artwork on display. The highlight of the artefacts is a 154-square-feet tall mural christened Gajendra Moksham.
What to Eat & Where
A stone’s throw away from the Alleppey jetty is the wonderful Cafe Paradiso Espresso (Tel: 090618 01706). Come for great snacks like grilled sandwiches with fresh juices, milkshakes, and teas. Dreamers Cafe and Restaurant (Tel: 080867 52586) stands proud as one of the few gay-friendly bars in Kerala and serves a mouth-watering range of chicken wings, fish, and chips. If you’re on the lookout for authentic Kerala food, as you should be, head to Thaff Delicacy (Tel: 0477 703401123). The Kerala thali is the star here, so come hungry.
Floating Triveni is a floating market that sells everything from shampoos and medicines to electronics like TVs and air conditioners.
The famous Canal Bazaar, is a little market filled with tiny wooden platforms displaying a variety of fresh spices. It’s also the go-to place for foodies on holiday.
Known as the main market of the city, Mullakkal Market is located in the heart of Alleppey and is best-known for gold, silver, and coir products.