If you want to experience the backwaters of Kerala, Alleppey is one of the many places where travellers can take to the sea. Around 80 km away from the bustling city of Ernakulum, Alleppey can be reached by road via tourist cabs or local buses.
Alleppey bus depot is just a stone’s throw away from the backwaters. You can hop out of the local bus and find a boatmaneager to escort you across the pristine waters of Alappuzha (the city’s other name). It’s cheaper to go on such mini-cruises of Kerala backwaters in a group as the boat has enough room for a group of four to six.
You also have the option of living lazily on larger houseboats as they gently glide across the water. These houseboats are equipped with rooms and meals so you don’t have to lift a finger (unless you’re reaching for your wallet to pay them). Needless to say, such accommodations have to be pre-booked and cost a bomb.
Boat rides are hired based on duration, an ideal one being around 90 minutes long so that you cover enough water mass, click selfies, take the view in and sink deep into your thoughts. It’s always good to bargain with your gondolier to get the best deals. After a rough couple of minutes till your caravan catches speed and the murky water fades away, the backwater ride in Alleppey truly begins to take shape and leaves you breathless.
Clusters of coconut trees dot the coastal boundaries as you sway slowly across these waters. The real spectacle of the Alleppey backwaters ride is at the start and the end. Once you reach the high seas, the ride has already hit mid-way point and you feel your interest levels dipping. After docking and paying your oarsman, you’re free to visit other sites in Alappuzha.
Apart from the famous Kerala backwaters, Alleppey has its own eponymous beach with a beautiful, publicly accessible lighthouse. A unique feature of all Kerala beaches are their wonderful lighthouses with speckles façades painted in alternating stripes of red and white.
At the zenith of each Kerala lighthouse lies an illuminating lamp that is always off when tourists are allowed to visit. These towers are open at early hours and mostly close by 5 pm so make sure you’re on time for the experience. From Alleppey’s lighthouse, you can get a commanding aerial view of Alleppey Beach.
Alleppey Beach is a popular seafront for the locals as swarms of Malayalis visit it in the evenings for a casual stroll, fish food and a game of cricket. It may not be the most beautiful beach of Kerala, but Alleppey is worth a visit. The most notable sight on the beach is a heavily rusted skeleton of what once must have been a majestic peer. It is now shrivelled to nothingness due to erosion and neglect.
Food options are plenty in Alappuzha, if you’re willing to dine on local cuisines. You can feast on a hearty dinner at affordable rates. The Kerala staple of beef curry and parotha are easily available along with other Malabari fish curry dishes. Try dining on any of these delicious and fiery curries with a helping of rice.
Bound to set your guts on fire, these curries pack a punch due to the generous use of local, potent spices. As mentioned earlier, Alappuzha Beach also serves a variety of fried fish platters similar to pakodas and samosas dished out across the country.