They say no trip to Kerala is complete without a visit to Alleppey. This beautiful little backwater town is one of the most breathtaking tourist destinations in the state of Kerala. While you, as a tourist, may have been to several beach towns, what sets Alleppey apart from the rest is its old-school charm, a network of canals, gorgeous backwaters (which need to be explored on a houseboat, preferably) and the numerous boat races (taking place during the ‘Onam’ season) that enthral every visitor.
It is a tough task to put together a list of the top places to visit in Alleppey, as the city and its neighborhood have so much in store for every kind of traveler.
Top Tourist Places in Alleppey
1. Vembanad Lake
Without a doubt, featuring amongst the most popular places to visit in Alleppey, is the Vembanad Lake where you can take a cruise with your family in one of the many houseboats which have roofs made of palm leaves and bamboo poles. The major purpose of visiting Vembanad is to relax, revitalize and relish some local cuisine. The houseboats mostly come have a cook on board who serves mouthwatering (and of course, spicy) Kerala dishes.
2. Mararikulam Beach
Mararikulam Beach lures visitors with its glistening sands, gently swaying palm trees, tranquil waters and friendly locals. The sunsets and sunrises here are a treat for the eyes. The National Geographic Survey has deemed it a ‘hammock beach’ signifying its calmness. The sea here is calm, and the beach is lined with. This place is sparsely populated unlike most other beaches in Kerala. Seekers of solace and quietude, you know where to head.
3. Alleppey Beach
The Alleppey beach is indeed a perfect getaway for couples/groups of friends alike as there are activities catering to all kinds of tourists. The remnants of the Alappuzha Sea Bridge provides a great backdrop for photographers, telling many a tale about Alleppey’s glorious past as a trading destination. While Vijay Park is considered best for couples, the Seaview Park offers plenty of boat rides. Also, on one end of the beach is the famous Alleppey lighthouse which was built during the 18th century.
4. Kayamkulam Lake
Previously a lake now converted into a lagoon, Kayamkulam lake has emerged into a hub for fishing, boat races, and tourism. The Alappuzha Mega Tourism Project offers a plethora of activities (such as kayaking, yachting, and boardwalk) in the region. The famous Kayamkulam boat race is held in this lagoon. There’s nothing surprising if you happen to spot a stork or kingfisher swooping down to catch their daily fish. Just be ready with your cameras to capture them in the act!
5. Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple
Said to be one of the oldest Krishna temples in the country, Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple has been the bastion of Krishna devotees for many decades. The soothing ambiance of the temple often render visitors relaxed and they end up sitting on the stone stairs for hours together. Built sometime between 15th and 17th century, the temple is also known as the ‘Dwaraka of the South’. Sweet milk porridge (known as ‘palpayasam’) is a special form of prasad you get at this temple.
6. Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple
A temple devoted to the Snake God (Nagaraja), the Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is encompassed by forest vegetation. Frequented by unusually large numbers on a daily basis, a good majority of its visitors are women who come to pray to attain the ability to conceive children. The interiors of this temple are filled with hand-drawn portraits of snakes. The temple does shed some light on the cultural history of Kerala. Early morning visits are recommended.
7. Krishnapuram Palace
Built by King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma in the 18th century, the Krishnapuram Palace is a must-visit for history geeks. Previously the stronghold of the Travancore empire, the temple features classic South Indian architectural styles. The temple is now managed by the Archaeological Department of Kerala. A few personal belongings of the Maharaja are also put on display here. Spending a few hours here definitely guarantees complete de-stressing.
8. Mullakkal Bhagavathy Temple
Considered to be over five centuries old, the Mullakkal Bhagavathy Temple welcomes individuals pertaining to all castes and creeds benevolently. The temple has been dedicated to Goddess Durga (also referred to as ‘Mullakkal Devi’) and houses an open-roof shrine. A lovely pond with blooming jasmine flowers can be found in the temple perimeter. The temple plays host to a 41-day long festival called the ‘Mullakkal Chirappu’ that runs from Mid November to Mid January, replete with processions and fireworks.
A 9th-century statue made of black granite, apparently sculpted by a number of Buddhist monks, Karumadikuttan has lost half of itself over the years. Believed to possess great healing powers, the statue remains a popular tourist attraction in Alleppey. Club your visit to Ambalapuzha along with this one as both places lie a few kilometers apart from each other.
10. Edathua Church
St. George’s Catholic Church, situated in Edathua, is a fine specimen of European architecture. This church is located on the banks of the river, Pamba and hosts massive feasts during the month of May. As part of the celebrations, the idol of St. George is brought out, adorned with gold, followed by prayer processions. St. Aloysius College, governed by the Mahatma Gandhi University is located right next to the church, and is run by the same trustees.
11. Achankovil River
This river joins the Pamba in the Alleppey district and is often seen astir with its numerous houseboats. While the adjoining village (located in a forest) isn’t easily accessible, taking forest routes can get you there. On the banks of the river, you can spot several ancient temples, besides a great variety of fauna and flora. The riverside stretch is slowly being developed into a picnic spot by Kerala Tourism.
12. St. Mary’s Forane Church
This magnificent-looking church has its roots dating back to 835 A.D and is currently a well-known pilgrimage spot in the district. The church is said to have been responsible for looking after nearly 2500 families in the region. The famous St. Mary’s feast takes place on the third Sunday of September every year and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Another prominent feast here is St. Sebastian’s feast that is hallmarked by long processions, vibrant display of colors, fireworks and holy mass.
13. St. Andrew’s Basilica
Officially known as ‘Arthunkal St. Andrew’s Basilica’, the church was constructed in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries. The church underwent a number of revamps later on. A statue of a fallen St. Sebastian with arrows struck all over the body, sculpted in Milan, was brought and stationed in the Arthunkal church. One of the vicars, Fr. Jacoma Fenicio, was believed to own magical healing powers.
14. Pandavan Rock
This rock owes its name to the Pandavas (from the ‘Mahabharata’ epic), and the nearby cave is supposed to be where the fivesome stayed during the period of their exile. Presently a bustling picnic spot, tourists are expected to take long walks towards the destination, which turn out to be great learning experiences themselves thanks to the splendid views (of forests and hills) en route.
Pathiramanal is a tiny island situated in the backwaters of the Vembanad lake. The name of the island literally translates to ‘Midnight Sands’. Adjudged a bird-watcher haven, the place supposedly houses 90 local and (over) 50 migratory bird species. Since the island has been left uninhabited, the beauty of the place remains intact. The chirpy noises made by hundreds of birds in the area is truly wonderful to listen to.
16. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
You’ll witness a canopy of green as you enter the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which is home to a large number of avian species (both local and migratory). The Kerala Tourism Development Commission has taken over the management of this sanctuary and has put up an interpretation center apart from a large resort right in the midst of it. Capture a few avian beauties on your camera and head to the resort to feast on local cuisine. Entry fee of INR 50/- (INR 100/- for foreign citizens) is levied per person.
17. Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race at Punnamada Backwaters
Taking place in the month of August every year and a major competition leading into the Onam festival season, the Nehru Trophy Boat Race (or ‘Vallamkali’ as it is locally called) is an event not to be missed if you happen to visit during the latter half of the year. Teams of over 100 (generally, fishermen of the region) battle it out in a race while hollering out popular folk songs at the top of their voice.
18. Vijaya Beach Park
A children’s park situated on the Alleppey Beach, Vijaya Beach Park is supervised by the Kerala Municipal Board. If you’re visiting with kids in tow, let them have a go at the toy-trains, swings, and slides at the park. Boating facilities are also offered here (for the entire family). A video-game area (mainly for kids), can be found in the park. You can even rent cycles and go for rides around the quieter areas of the beach.
19. Local toddy shops on Alleppey-Changanacherry highway
Savoring local cuisine along with fresh toddy (a drink which is naturally alcoholic and extracted from coconuts) would be the perfect way to top off your Alleppey trip. The toddy shops here serve some of the spiciest dishes you’ll ever have (straight out of recipes that have been passed on for generations), such as dried beef fry, duck roast, prawns masala, crab fry which go well with a portion of steamed tapioca, appam, pathiri (a pancake made from rice flour), boiled rice, or chapati.
20. Andhakaranazhi Beach
The beach has been a major draw for local and international tourists, apart from gaining a name as a popular spot for film (and song) shoots. Andhakaranazhi Beach apparently has one of the best sunset views in all of Alleppey. Bridges and aerial walkways have been constructed over the lakes leading into the sandbar. The lighthouse found at the corner of the beach guides fishermen who’re out at sea late into the night.
Alleppey is a place that is not going to lose its appeal in the near future. But, why wait? With this list of places to visit in Alleppey, you already have your itinerary sorted. Let us know of your Alleppey travel experiences by leaving comments in the ‘feedback’ section provided below.
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