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Commonly known as the ‘Venice of the East,’ Alleppey or Alappuzha is a beautiful city located in the Kerala State of Southern India. It consists of picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons. The backwaters of Alleppey are considered to be the most important tourist destinations of Kerala.
Tourists come here in masses in order to enjoy the cultural and traditional warmth of this region along with enjoying a delightful ride at one of the houseboats at the Alleppey backwaters.
Apart from this, the other places to visit in Alleppey consists of the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Mannarasala Temple, Alappuzha CSI Church (oldest Anglican Church in Kerala), Krishnapuram Palace, and other significant sites.
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The name Alappuzha stands for ‘a land located between the sea and the network of rivers flowing into it. Fascinated by its scenic beauty, especially the view of the Laccadive Sea and that of the backwaters of the city, Lord Cursor on his trip to this region said, “Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties.” In his exhilaration, he further exclaimed, “Alleppey, the Venice of the East.”
The Portuguese played an influential role in this city ever since their landing in Calicut in 1948, as they started converting Syrian Christians of this region into Catholics. The whole process of spreading Catholicism continued in this region until the 17th century when the Dutch overpowered the Portuguese and held a predominant position in this city.
At present, the economy of this region is based on the agriculture, marine products, coir industry, and handicraft. Also money generated from tourism too helps in boosting the economy of the state to a certain extent. Enthusiastic tourists come here in abundance to visit the various Alleppey tourist places. So if you too wish to visit this city for a delightful experience, then here’s a list of important places to visit in Alleppey.
1. Kuttanad Backwaters
Photo credit- Ajith Kumar
Consisting of shimmering waterways, canals, lakes, rivers and rivulets, Kuttanad is a beautiful tropical region in the state of Kerala. The region is surrounded by the sea and the hills and offers a beautiful scenic vista to its guests.
Talking about tourism in this region, Kuttanad is considered to be the backwaters paradise of India where backwater cruising is concerned.
Kuttanad’s geographical peculiarities along with its paddy fields are what make it edgy and interesting. The vast stretches of paddy fields are beautifully and enchantingly interlaced by backwaters, providing incredible sights. Here, farming is done below the sea level, usually 4 to 10 feet, which is interesting for travellers who seek to learn more about Kerala’s tourism.
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Here, four major rivers – Meechil, Achankovil, Pampa and Manimala flow, making this region a hub for travellers who like natural beauty and the swaying of coconut trees. One of the best things to do in Alleppey is to visit these backwaters and enjoy the swish of winds and trees.
This is one of the best places to visit in Alleppey, which must be explored by epicureans who wish to have the taste of rustic, indigenous Indian foods and spices. Seafood here is the speciality.
2. St. Mary's Forane Church
St. Mary’s Forane Church is one of the best places to visit in Alleppey. This beautiful church traces its existence back to 835 AD and is known for its events, Friday Liturgy and educational institutions. Praying here is considered to be one of the best things to do in Alleppey.
Currently, the church is a world renowned centre of pilgrimage, where one can know more about the culture and lifestyle of the Christians. This is one of the biggest churches and parishes of the Archeparchy of Changanassery. Currently, the church is known for housing 2500 families and is one of those Alleppey tourist places that are popularly visited by the masses.
The church organises two feasts or festivals every year. The first one of them is the St. Mary’s Feast. Since the church is dedicated to Virgin Mary, hence every year on the third Sunday of September, a feast is organised by the Church. The feast sees Darsans Samooham, a pious association playing a pivotal role in its organisation.
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People visit the church on this day and participate in the festival wearing special costumes for the procession and mass. The other feast celebrated here is St. Sebastian’s Feast. This feast which has been organised since 1647 AD is known for its deeply rooted tradition. It is widely believed that the statue of St.
Sebastian over here is quite ancient and attractive. The statue is exposed for public veneration only during the feast festival. Fireworks and other dazzling display of colours make this feast even more remarkable, interesting and fun. The gorgeous decorations, feast and regal look of the church make it one of the best things to do in Alleppey.
3. Krishnapuram Palace, Alleppey
This is one of the best tourist places to visit in Alleppey for those who wish to gain an insight about the culture, lives and times of the people of South India. Spending a day at this palace is certainly one of the best things to do in Alleppey, guaranteeing rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.
Krishnapuram is a museum and palace of South India, the history of which can be traced back to the 18th century. Built by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, this palace was the foothold of the Travancore kingdom. Its architectural style consists of narrow corridors and dormer windows along with gabled roof and other areas, which is reminiscent of the classic architecture of South India.
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Currently, the palace is maintained and run by the Archaeological Department of Kerala and therefore, the palace has been converted into the museum. History enthusiasts and explorers will love this palace and its exhibits that originally belong to the Maharaja Marthanda Varma.
4. Alleppey Beach
Photo Credit- Shankara Shubra Datta
Glistening sands, crystal clear water, beautiful waves, enchanting sunrise and sunset is what makes the Alleppey or the Alappuzha beach one of the best places to visit in Alleppey. This stunningly beautiful beach is known for its vast, endless stretches, thereby proving as a getaway for couples as well as families.
The remains of Alappuzha Sea Bridge also make it one of the most popular destinations for explorers, narrating the tales of those times when Alleppey was one of the most famous and important port destinations in the state of Kerala. The bridge was then used for passage of goods through ships.
The beach has beautiful stretches, making the visit to this beach quite ecstatic and enjoyable. It is also in close proximity to several others places to visit, including the Vijay Park, which is a hub for couples and those who wish to enjoy some solitary time.
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The beach is also close to the Sea View Park, which offers an opportunity to enjoy and have fun through different types of boat rides. A picnic spot is located close-by, therefore families can enjoy a day off at the beach and picnic at that spot. Bishop’s House, another popular place of interest is also located close to Alleppey Beach.
The beach is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East,’ because of its romantic location and popularity among European countries. The beach is also unique because of its importance in the maritime history of Kerala. Alappuzha or Alleppey Beach has also served as a prime location for movies from South India.
5. St. Andrew's Basilica Arthunkal
Located in Kumarakom, a district in the vicinity of Alleppey, this is one of the best destinations for those who wish to enjoy the perks of wildlife. Providing a rendezvous with the wild, this bird sanctuary is perhaps best known for its migratory birds and animals which make it a paradise for ornithologists.
Set in Kerala’s backwaters, this bird sanctuary was initially built as a rubber plantation and then slowly turned into a sanctuary by an Englishman. Spread over 14 acres, this sanctuary is located on the Southern Bank of the Kavanar River, which serves as a hub for travellers from all over the world.
This beautiful sanctuary is also known for its neighbouring areas, where explorers love to enjoy bird watching activities. The tropical climate of Kerala makes this sanctuary a heaven during the on-season months, wherein travellers can easily invigorate themselves with the beauty and greenery of the surroundings.
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World Wetlands Day is celebrated here with zeal and vigour. This is the day when the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation organises events and bird watching programmes for travellers. The main attractions at this sanctuary include cuckoo, waterfowl, cormorant, darter, owl, egret, heron, duck and Brahminy kite and Siberian Crane along with flycatcher, lark, parrot and teal, all of which migrate from all over the world, including Siberia.
A village situated just a few kilometres from Alappuzha or Alleppey, Karumady or Karumadi is one of the places to visit in Alleppey that explorers would love. The place plays a pivotal role in the history and development of Buddhism as a religion and is perhaps best known for the black granite statue of Sri Buddha.
What makes this statue even more alluring is the fact that the left hand side of this Sri Buddha Statue is missing. Several theories have been created regarding that missing hand and how it must have been either cut off or broken over a period of time.
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Many fascinating legends surround this statue of Buddha, who was known for his wisdom and philosophy. It is widely believed that the statue of Buddha is affectionate and has a number of magical or mystic powers.
Several travellers, especially the ones who are gravely ill or have someone who is ill, come to this village and touch the feet of this Lord Buddha statue because is believed that the statue has healing powers which can be directly transferred to the healer or the victim.
The place also has a wide range of local restaurants that any epicurean would love to try because of the use of indigenous spices and wide availability of different South Indian dishes and cuisines.
7. Marari Beach
Image Credits- Wikipedia
If you want to unwind completely, then the Marari Beach is a must-visit destination for you. The sleepy little village located close to the Marari Beach is what makes this beach distinct and attractive, inviting people from all over the world to learn and understand the culture of the Indian state of Kerala.
This beautiful destination is known for being a beach symphony, thanks to its glistening sands and crystal clear waters. Watching sunrise and sunset here is quite a romantic experience that couples would love to enjoy. The place is rated as one of the World’s Top Five Hammock Beaches by the National Geographic Survey.
The Marari Beach is known for providing unique experiences to the travellers. Taking them away from the modern life, this beach gives them an opportunity to unwind and to enjoy the different facets and bounties of life and nature.
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The village by the sea is one of the best places to visit in Alleppey where one can go to learn more about the culture and heritage of Kerala. Ecology is an important consideration at this beach and therefore travellers have to follow strict rules for keeping the beach and its surroundings pristine.
The cuisine experience is memorable and several dishes from Kerala’s cuisine are provided at the restaurants and local eateries, which will surely soothe the palate of discerning customers. The beach also has vignettes close by and is a living space that anyone would love to enjoy.
8. Edathua Church
This is a famous St. George’s Catholic Church which is located in Edathua, a place in the Alappuzha or Alleppey district of Kerala. The church is known for celebrating huge feasts during the month of May. The church is also popular for its Christian and non-Christian pilgrims. The Vicar of this Palli was Father Thoman Olakkapady.
Currently, the church is located close to the Mahatma Gandhi University’s St. Aloysius College which is built and managed by the church. Since the church is located close to the below sea level area, therefore travellers can enjoy agricultural lands and rice farms that are seen separated through the rivers.
The environs here are enchanting, with mud levees being used for separating runs which are nothing less than a highway or street that one would find in New York.
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A massive shrine at Edathua is located close by. The shrine features architecture similar to that of the churches in Medieval Europe. The church itself was built in 1st century AD and is said to be built by St. Thomas himself, who was a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is also believed that the church at that point of time served as a resting spot for traders and king’s men travelling by the river.
The annual feast that is celebrated here starts on 27th of April and concludes on 7th of May. The feast sees St. George carried out, decked in golden coloured regalia. Special church prayers are sung and some of them even feature the Syrian dialect of Hebrew.
9. Pandavan Rock
Deriving its name from the Pandavas in the epic Indian tale of Mahabharata, the Pandavan Rock is known for being one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It is widely believed that this was the cave inside which the Pandavas stayed during the time of their exile.
Currently, this beautiful rock serves as a backdrop for a picnic spot. Tourists are supposed to walk to the destination, but with family or friends, the walk becomes quite interesting and an incredible learning experience. Along the trails, travellers can easily enjoy the stunning views of hills and forests.
During the walk, the popular Kallada Dam is also visible and people can take a small detour to enjoy the dam and these views.
So, what are you waiting for? The destination of Alleppey has so many places of interest and it offers something to everyone. So, don’t wait! Start planning your trip and enjoy a wonderful, de-stressing and invigorating vacation with the backwaters, islands, palaces, museums and beaches of Alleppey.
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