Alleppey, also known as a Venice of the East, is a quaint relatively small town located 70 kilometres south of Cochin. It is inlaid with channels that support its thriving backwater tourism. Any tourism coming to Alleppey should take a cruise along the backwaters. Houseboat can be rented for a few days equipped with air-conditioner, cook and all other facilities. From the boat one can observe the everyday life of people, stop for toddy (traditional mildly alcoholic drink made from coconut sap) with grilled prawns, watch birds, and relax in the middle of the lake. It is nice to go towards Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, where rice farming is done below sea level.
Alleppey is known for it snake-boat race, Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race, held every second Saturday of August. It is named after Jawaharlal Nehru because he inaugurated it in 1952. The race is very popular with local population. Traditional snake boats each manned by over a hundred local people compete for the Cup. Tourists could rent a houseboat and watch the race close up from those boats.
Another fun thing to do in Alleppey is to wander through Mullakkal – the central area of the town. It is worth checking out the local gold and silver stores there. The silver anklets with bells are very pretty and cheap.
Alleppey beach is another nice place to hang out. However, it is not a place for swimming. The water is very deep and the current is very strong. Multitude of local males with nothing better to do stair at every passing woman, so don’t even consider sun tanning there.
If you are visiting Alleppey, enquire about the schedule of temple festivals. Alleppey is one of the few towns in Kerala where non-Hindus are generally allowed enter the temples. Majority of famous Kerala temples do not allow such thing, and if you are white you are immediately branded as non-Hindu and prevented from entering. Alleppey temples are generally not that narrow-minded.
Ambalapuzha temple festival is particularly impressive. Five elephants carry the Krishna idol for quite a long distance with music accompaniment. The temple itself is 14 kilometres away from Alleppey. It is famous for its rose palpayasam. The temple makes this traditional very sweet milk-based dish as an offering. Because of long boiling the milk condenses turning light pink colour.
Sree Nagaraja Temple in Mannarasala is 32 kilomenres south of Alleppey near Harippad. It is a Brahman family ‘owned’ snake temple featuring beautiful stone carvings of snakes throughout its territory. It is headed by a priestess. The temple deity is credited with restoring fertility in women. The turmeric paste available there supposedly cures many diseases.
Alleppey has a high percentage of Christians. St. Mary’s Church (Champakulam) is believed to be one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas.
Main industry in Alleppey is coir manufacturing. Coir is made of coconut husk. Some of bigger producers organize tours of their facilities.
18th century Krishnapuram Palace is located 47 kilomenters south of Alleppey on the way to Kollam. Its two-story building is typical of Kerala architecture. It contains impressive murals worth watching. The palace also housed a museum of antique sculptures and artefacts.
The best thing about Alleppey and Kerala in general is the weather. Due to its proximity to the ocean it is more temperate that central India. The temperature rarely goes above +35 and never below 20. The best time to visit is from August to March. Monsoon is always heavy.