Travel story contributor: Gayatri Sivakumar
With picturesque backwaters, lavish houseboats, soothing greenery and humility of its people to top it off, Kerala is undoubtedly God’s own country! For me one of the best experiences so far has been travel to Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha), the oldest planned city of Kerala and Venice of the east. If you’re planning to go there, make sure you do what I did too! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge yourself, letting your hair down and floating along the backwaters and gazing over the lush paddy fields!
Romancing nature in houseboats
Writing this, I’m already transported to the time I spent in the houseboat. The houseboats as you will notice are heavily inspired by Kerala architecture. Excellent service inside that houseboat can be availed for a day, overnight or whatever takes your fancy! The boatsmen use their fishhook to catch fresh fish from the backwaters and cook it to order! An amazing lunch and dinner is usually served along with tea and snacks. The calm waters and star-studded sky above, with an air-conditioned houseboat to cater to you, is all you need for peace!
Take home a few handmade coir!
Kerala’s famous coir products are best available at Alleppey. Coir curtains and mats are a must by. The
curtains are said to be infused with aromatic herb strands that make homes cooler. Coir articles can be found all over Alappuzha and it’s shame if you miss buying them. Get an authentic handmade Kerala Vishari (hand-fan), infused with Vetiver strands for relief from the humidity and some aromatic cool air. Trust me when I say it’s pure bliss!
Eat some delectable food!
Allappey is home to not just a vast array of backwater network but also impeccably tasty food! Allappey
beach is dotted with shacks that sell hot tapiocas and fish curry for parched souls apart. It is sure to give your tatsebuds a kick and you won’t stop digging at it! While you relish your vegetarian sadya at the Indian
coffee house in town, or sip on some cold natural coconut water, don’t forget to munch on some toddy-shop fish favourites like karimeen/prawns!
Watch the boat race
Every year, as a part of the harvest season celebrations (Onam) of Kerala, the Nehru Trophy boat race is organized on the vast expanse of the backwaters. You’ll be lucky to witness the grandeur around the race as you will sense stiff competition that give the spectators (forget participants!) an adrenalin rush! The lining up of the boats and the vigour in their sport is a must watch, mainly because of it’s a rarity.
Row a little boat yourself
The best you can give yourself at Alleppey is to ride on a small vallom yourself. There are little boats on the backwaters that ply around taking a tourist or two on it, into the inland waterways for a fixed amount. It will cost you anywhere between INR 50 to INR 600; You should be smart enough to negotiate for a ride on the boat. Row into the narrow canals, and see for yourself, the wonders of nature and the magic that calm waters spell on you!
So, are you ready for Alleppey yet?