The village tour in the backwaters of Alappuzha

Alappuzha, a district in Kerala is called the Venice of the East owing to its several lakes and rivers adorned by lush paddy fields, coconut trees and villages dotting the banks. In the past, people living in these villages heavily depended on boats to ferry them to another village, or just cross over to the other side. Of course in the modern age, some of the villages are connected to the town and other villages by road as well, but there are yet few villages that depend on boats for transportation.

Alappuzha, also called Allepey, is very dear to my heart having spent part of my childhood and most of my summer vacations with my paternal grandparents who were in the business of making Ayurvedic medicines and exporting seeds. My grandparents have long passed away and I do not have any other kin there, but the place still draws me which leads me to visit every now and then, and when I do I always make it a point to sail amidst its winding waterways admiring the green landscape and feeling the refreshing cool breeze on my face.

The tour that I do take sometimes is the village tour which cruises through the villages for a duration of about 2 to 3 hours. A myriad of boating options are available on the lake ranging from row boats, speed boats, motor boats and the majestic houseboats that the tourists are spoilt for choice. There are several sights on the rivers that one can feast their eyes on which I shall describe further in my post.

Houseboats

Though there are different kinds of boats that can be seen on the backwaters, the most impressive of them all are the house boats. These boats are huge live-in boats with all the amenities. They can have up to 4 bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a hall and a kitchen. The staff on the boat are usually a cook and a driver and sometimes an additional person to assist. The rental cost of the boats depends on the number of bedrooms , the furnishings, air conditioning and of course the season. During season time the rates have even gone up to 25000 inr per night for a 4 bedroom house boat. But typically a good 2 to 3 bedroom house boat can be rented out for around 10000 to 15000 inr per night.

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From the number of windows I assume this is a 3 bedroom house boat. Its got a deck on top and will have a stairway leading to it. The hall is encompassed with glass which means this boat has air conditioning in the hall as well. Typically most boats have air-conditioning only in the bedroom. The rear of the boat will have the kitchen facilities and a fridge to store raw materials for food.

Village Life

Allepey’s main lakes are Vembanadu and Punnamada and there are several villages around these lakes. The day to day life of the villagers revolve around these waterways and even today the transportation of raw materials and people still happen on these waters. Some of the villages like Kainakari, Kolothuchety, Kuttamangalam and the famous kuttanadu are served by the rivers that offset the lake.

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A boat transporting Bananas to probably sell in another part of village or town
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A woman being ferried across the river
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A man using his boat to possibly get to another part of the village
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Women washing clothes in the river banks
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A government passenger boat. These boats ferry passengers to nearby towns and villages. There are several jetty along the river where passengers wait for the arrival of these boats
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Typically every family in the village own a boat. They are parked in front of their homes
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Boat transporting construction material to build a house on the river banks 
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A government school for the children in the villages
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A Catholic church

 Eateries

One of my favourite things in Allepey is the food. I simply love the cuisine and there are some eateries on the river banks that can satiate a salivating soul. These eateries serve meals and kari meen(pearl spot fish), Konju(prawns) or kakka(oysters) all freshly caught from the lake.

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Freshly caught lake prawns (Konju)
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Deliciousness on the table 😀
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Chenthenga (red coconut) and Karukku (green coconut) are 2 main varieties of tender coconut found here. Both have a strong patronage. To me Chenthenga is little stronger in taste while Karukku is more sweeter.

Other sights

Other sights to behold are the narrow winding waterways, lush paddy fields, bridges, bird life, small islets and luxury resorts overlooking the lake.

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The lush paddy fields of Kuttanadu village. The unique aspect of these paddy fields is that it is at lower level than the river leading to flooding from the overflowing river during rainy season. To prevent this from happening dams are constructed that obstructs the water from entering into the paddy fields and excess water from the paddy fields are being let into the river
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Neerkakka (Cormorant) swimming in the water. These birds are fairly common in these waters and are a definite sight to spot

 

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This 38 meter long Chundam Vallam or snake boat called Gabriel is the pride of Kainakeri village. Every village owns a Chundam like this that takes part in the famous boat races of Kerala. Gabriel came second in the 64th Nehru trophy boat race held this year.
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A close up of part of the Gabriel Chundam
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An islet on the Meenampally lake, another lake that forms part of Alappuzha backwaters
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One can see several bridges while cruising the river, but the Mottaijetty bridge is the most impressive being the largest
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Some of the waterways are pretty narrow that can cause congestion on the river
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The luxurious lake palace resort. I heard that the rooms can cost 15000 to 25000 inr per night. It is owned by a politician. 
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A closeup of the villas of lake palace resort. This resort is built right on top of the lake and has a swimming pool surrounded by the lake waters
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Small boats parked on the side of the river is a common sight

Industrial life has not picked up much in Alappuzha and tourism is the livelihood of most of the people here. The slow pace of life in Alappuzha is the reason why there is barely any change in the landscape, and I believe that’s why it still remains an enchanted place, a place where I can go back to wind down, a place that beckons to me time and time again.  

 

 

 

 

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