First thing which comes to anyone’s mind when you say Kerala is “House-Boat”. This is something which makes Kerala a distinguished state from all other states in India. And, the best explored, commercialized, widely available town in Kerala where you can do house-boating is Alleppey also known as Alappuzha. Alleppey is a name derived from Alley which means lane, passage.
In fact, when I asked my hotel receptionist on what all we can do in Alleppy beside house-boating, he appeared quite amused. He took a while and replied “Sir!! Tourist come to this place for house-boating only”. I’m very sure, this was not a very regular question for him.
Sir!! Tourist come to this place for house-boating only!!
While, house-boating is something you should try while in Alleppey, there are few other things which one can explore as well. I will take a moment here to at least put few of the other activities I tried in Alleppey.
Note on House-boating – There are 1000+ houseboats in Alleppey and such a huge number is already creating fierce competition to at least get enough tourist on board to maintain houseboats. Government has stopped giving anymore licenses for new houseboats as well from last two years considering current situation and to ease on traffic.
This gives tourist an upper-hand while negotiating. Houseboats usually come with standard packages, but prices are highly negotiable. Don’t try to bargain down a lot, but, getting a houseboat for Rs. 4000/- per couple for a night is a decent deal.
What to do in Alleppey beside House-boating
Not much known and it came as a surprise to me as well. Alleppey do have few operators for kayaking and I could find two such operators who offer kayaking packages.
Kayaking in the backwaters is an amazing experience. You get to kayak through wide canals witnessing early morning activities of villagers, site of pristine villages, paddy fields, and amazing views of sunrise.
Try booking Kayaking session in advance because of low availability of Kayaks. I did it through Keralakayaking and found their services quite good. Package includes pickup and drop to hotel, 4 hour kayaking session with breakfast. Another nice service provider we found in Alleppey offering kayaking is AllepeyKayaking.
Alappuzha and Marari Beach
Not many tourist visit Alleppey for its beaches. But there are two really nice beaches within 15 km range of the finishing point. Alappuzha is the nearest one. We visited Marari beach, around 13 km from finishing point. Beach is a white-sand beach, extremely clean and has a very big coast line.
Already being in Marari beach and giving a miss to Arthunkal church is a sin. This 16th century church built by Portuguese missionaries is extremely beautiful and a must visit for all. In fact, Arthunkal is a famous pilgrimage site for Christians and other faiths as well.
Visit vast Paddy fields and Villages along backwaters
Hiring a motorcycle possibly is the best bet in Alleppey to do all kind of sightseeing. Visiting pristine villages along the backwaters is something that should never be missed while in Alleppey. We hired automatic motorbike from Nanni Tours near Alappuzha beach. Plan to take round around, and visit Kainakari backwater village. More than reading the words check out few clicks around these villages.
If on time, try Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Also known as snake boat race, conducted on second Saturday of August every year. This is a major tourist attraction and should not be missed if in India around same time.
Once in India, reaching Alleppey is not an issue at all. Town is nicely connected with major junctions within Kerala state. I travelled to Kochi and got a direct Air Conditioned KSRTC bus to Alleppey.
Please make a note as mentioned above as well, ask for Alappuzha (pronounced as – alley-pu-dda) and not Alleppey which is a colloquial name and not very popular among locals.
Railway Station of Alleppey – Alappuzha Railway Station
Bus station of Alleppey – Alappuzha Bus station, which is very near to houseboat finishing point and hence the best place to stay in Alleppey. Also, there are multiple house boat owners around this area, with whom one can negotiate and fix their choice of tour.
For Bus Timings check – Aanavandi
Departing from Alleppey
Alleppey itself is a major junction and connects to almost all destination in Kerala state directly, though frequency might be bit less.
Nearest major junction from where more frequent services to other destinations such as Trivandrum or to Northern Kerala are available is Kottayam. Kottayam has both Railway as well as KSRTC bus junction and connects quite well with Idukki (district region of Western Ghats in Kerala), Northern and southern Kerala.
Please make a note
- Backwaters of Alleppey comprising mostly of Vembanad lake is the life line of locals and major tourist attraction in the area around. Please don’t litter and dispose your waste in designated bins.
- Consider hiring two-wheeler to enjoy around the town area, Nanni Beach Regency is one such company providing two-wheeler on rent.
- Be a responsible tourist and ask your houseboat owner if they have sewage tank on board, which is a must as per government law.
Accessibility of Alleppey for wheelchair users
Alleppey is a destination to relax and to soothe your eyes with picturesque views. Destination can always be made more adventurous by trying Kayaking as mentioned above. But, the most famous part, which is House-Boating can be enjoyed by wheelchair users as well.
Houseboats have ramps to get a smooth entry for wheelchairs, which make them further ideal to board and disembark. Also, they are quite safe, and nicely maintained.
Also, Marari beach, Arthunkal church are easily accessible. You just need to have your own four wheeler or a hired taxi to get to these two places.
Please note, the buses of both Tamil Nadu as well as Kerala government doesn’t have ramps for wheelchair accessibility. Consider using your own taxi/cab/car to come down to Alleppey.
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Thanks for reading and happy travelling…