– by manoj kumar
Sitting in my office, I received news that a close friend is getting married. The moment I heard the wedding would take place in Alleppey, I was thrilled. At last, I got a chance of visiting the place. With a dream of experiencing the legendary life in backwaters of Kerala, I kick-started my jaunt along with a couple of other friends from country’s IT capital Bangalore.
We boarded the bus around six in the evening and within no time; it crossed the bordering state Tamil Nadu and entered Kerala. Locally known as Alappuzha in Kerala, Alleppey is situated at a distance of about 600km from Bangalore. Therefore, we travelled for about eight hours to reach the place.
The journey begins – Exotic Kerala Backwaters Tour:
It was the chilly breeze that woke me up to give the morning glimpse of Kerala. I noticed senior citizens walking on the road, regardless to mention, with copies of Malayalam Manorama on their shoulders. A kid cried somewhere in the bus, awaking the fellow travellers. To get more information about the place, I turned to a friend who knew the local language. Before he could start explaining, the bus came to a halt, making passengers call out ‘alappuzha…alappuzha’. These cries informally indicated our arrival at the magical location called Alleppey.
While sipping the morning tea at a local tea stall, we discussed the purpose of our arrival–the wedding. After the grand Malayali wedding and lunch, we contemplated on the most exciting part of this trip – our stay in a houseboat. Tiny town with just a single canal, we got to know that Alleppey today has become a global attraction for its backwaters.
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The Vembanad Lake, the most important of the west coast canal system, stretches from Alleppey to Kochi. The Thannermukkom regulator constructed across Vembanad Lake between Thannermukkom and Vechur prevents tidal action and intrusion of saline water into it, the largest mud regulator in India.
Kayamkulam Lake, stretching between Panmana and Karthikappally, is a shallow lake which has an outlet to sea at Kayamkulam barrage and connects Ashtamudi Lake by the Chavara Panmana canal, Alleppey has a network of canals including the Vadai canal, commercial canals and the link canals between these two. Alappuzha also boasts a flat unbroken seacoast of 82km, which is around 13 per cent of the total coastal line of the state of Kerala.
Guide told us that Alleppey just 63km from Kochi. A visit to Kochi is rendered incomplete without visiting Alleppey, a land of amazing backwaters and snake boat races. The word snake boat races rang alarms in our heads, and we wanted to know more about it. We were informed that the world-famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held on second Saturday of August every year at the Punnamada. The main highlight of the race is Chundan Vallam, the 130ft-long snake boat that requires 100 people to row. Thousands of spectators from all over the world watch this event avidly from the banks. On tourist demand, the race is now repeated during the tourist season also–in mid Jan–and is called Tourism Snake boat Race.
Having struck a good rapport with the crew members, we were served excellent lunch that had traditional Kerala dishes like fried fish called karemeen fry. Post-lunch, we tried a bit of fishing, but had no luck. The boat came to a halt for the day. We celebrated the birthday of one of our friends and called it a night.
Savour traditional Kerala cuisine, witness the spectacular water regatta, lounge at pristine beaches or buy coir products, Alleppey has it all. With pain, I bid goodbye to this place with a promise of coming back soon.