Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Alappuzha, Venice of the East


A visit to Kerala can never be complete without visiting its backwaters. Since we were in short of time so we were compelled to allot only half a day for Alappuzha ( or Aleppy ). We started from Thiruvananthapuram  early in the morning around 6:30 AM to avoid the city traffic and reached Alappuzha by 10:30AM (that included breaks).

  Once we reached Alappuzha, there were no markers on the roads as where the backwaters are. The city has so many lanes, bylanes criss crossing each other and running everywhere. Luckily for me, even if I get confused about the directions I don't need to worry. Ankur has a great sense of direction and is  very reliable to bank on. The auto drivers showed us the way and we soon reached the backwater side of the city.

  We went to the District Promotion Tourism Council Office at Alappuzha. There they told us about the various types of house-boat and shikara packages that they have. A 22 hour package on a house boat can vary from 4000 INR to 65000 INR depending on the amenities, food, number of rooms etc. Since we did not have much time, we opted for a two hour Shikara ride.

  The shikara is a small  boat with its roof covered. However all the sides are open and there are luxurious reclining seats, couch bags inside. The Shikara takes you leisurely through the backwaters to the Vembanad lake and again back to the boarding point.

  Since the temperature was high, we were not sure whether it would be enjoyable in the Shikara for too long. So initially we settled for a two hour ride. Once we got into the Shikara boat, what we got, was a surprise. Since the boat goes through the waterways, the air is cool and and the breeze too relaxing. We had no option but to ask the Shikara driver to increase our 2 hour duration to 3 hours.


Backwater canal

A two bedroom houseboat


Houseboat parking lot
  
Once the shikara starts, it slowly moves through the backwater canals. The surrounding is lush green with numerous coconut trees. There are some patches in the backwater where the trees form an arch and the boat moves through the narrow stretch of water under the arch. We got to see the village life from the shikara..... women washing clothes, men fishing with fishing rods made from a thin bamboo shoot with a long thread hanging from the stick's tip.
Men fishing with fishing rod

Chit chat and the coracles

  Our Shikara driver was a jovial person and a very good guide. We saw many house boats and he updated us with interesting bits of information like how much a 1 BHK/2 BHK house boat costs to the owner, charges for a day package on the various house boats and all. He also enthusiastically shot so many of our photos and was eager if we'd give a "titanic pose" for him to shoot. The calm breeze flowing through the Shikara  was so nice... it felt that the last 6 months fatigue has been wiped off.
Houseboat under construction

Local transport. Like bus stand, these are boat stands.
  After some 1.5 hours of riding we reached the Vembanad Lake. It is the longest lake in India. One side of the lake directs to Kollam, another to Kumarakom and another to Kochi. There are small islets on the lake and water birds flock on them. Ankur was fast to take as many photos of them from so close. From there our Shikara took us to another part of the backwater where there were rice fields on the grounds. We got out of our boat walked a few metres near the fields and again got back on the boat.


Cormorant

Giant egret and little cormorant

Cormorant

Family for sure

Snake bird
   We also saw a snake boat (local name is "Chundan Vallam") parked near the bank. The boats are more than 100 feet long and our guide told that this one was oared by 100 people during the famous Kerala boat race held every year.


Snake boat or Chundan Vallam

Stadium to watch Snake boat race
  Soon we realised that our Shikara was heading back to the boarding point from where we started the ride. Our 3 hour Shikara journey came to an end. We wish we could enjoy some more hours on the backwaters, but for us time was a constraint. We had to reach Kochi before evening. We thanked our Shikara driver cum guide for the wonderful time and the everlasting memories. And we hit the road for Kochi.


Our Guide cum Shikara driver:
Name: Thankachan
Mob: +919846427458

For House Boat/Shikara booking you can contact:
The Secretary,DTPC
Boat Jetty Road,Alappuzha
Ph: 2251796,2253308
www.dtpcalappuzha.com

Shiraka(silent motor boat) ride rate: Rs. 400/hour
Row Boat ride rate: Rs. 200/hour

Vembanad lake and the houseboat

Luxurious resort on Vembanad lake

A group of ducks taking a stroll

A loan harvester

Inside the Shikara

Its all green and blue at the backwaters

A row boat.



14 comments:

  1. Nice account of your sojourn in the Vembanad lake.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Raj. Your complements are always great to read. :)

      Delete
  2. Beautiful photographs! I like your narration also!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great piece of advice. Excellent Snaps. Well Done.

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  4. Wow really great article :) Everyone surely gets fascinated by the wonderful Alleppey boat house. Cool pictures tbh

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  5. Useful info.. and awesome pics..

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  6. Great travel blog! there are many good places in Kerala are there to visit and to tour in the right places a good professional travel agency needs to be hired to make the tour memorable. Arabian Time Travel Tourism is one of the best travel agency ( http://arabianttt.com/Alleppy.html ), tourists had a good time with arabianttt.

    ReplyDelete

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