The backwaters of Kerala have always left tourists in awe of its natural beauty and the unusual experience that it offers. But the heart-stirring beauty of the backwaters of Alappuzha is perhaps the most enchanting destination in ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala. Be it nature lovers, honeymooners, adventure seekers, wildlife enthusiasts, or photo fanatics, this gorgeous city is a true paradise for all. Its lush green coconut groves, the endless lagoons, the splendid natural grandeur, and the silent backwaters have earned Alleppey the title ‘the Venice of the East’.
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Where Is Alappuzha And Its Backwaters
Alleppey, also called Alappuzha is a coastal town of Kerala where one side is the Arabian Sea and the other side is covered by rivers and canals. These rivers and narrow canals are Alleppey backwaters. Cruising down the backwater in Alleppey is a must-do for any traveler as it gives a feeling of being one with nature. Spread across an area of 300 square km, one needs at least 2 days to experience the best of Alleppey backwaters. Those running short of time can witness a limited area within a day or in a few hours. Alappuzha is undoubtedly one of the most popular backwaters destinations in Kerala. This is where one can enjoy a blissful vacation in the lap of Mother Nature.
6 Best Ways To See The Backwaters Of Alleppey
With the backwaters of Alleppey becoming the top attraction in Kerala, there are many ways to experience its beauty. The mode of transportation and duration of the stay totally depend on your budget and what you want to see. So here’s a list of how you can witness the backwaters of Alleppey for all kinds of travelers.
Probably the best and the most popular way to get around the backwaters is by hiring a houseboat. Most of the tourists prefer spending both the day and night floating along the breathtaking backwaters and green surroundings. If you have budget constraints you can book yourself into a hotel or resort near the backwaters and hire a houseboat for a couple of hours. Almost all hotels and resorts in the city have their own houseboats, so finding a good one will not be a task. All houseboats are not the same, there are budget-friendly ones with limited facilities and also luxury houseboats which are as comfortable as any hotel room that comes with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, and an open deck. So pick what suits you the best and experience the magic like never before.
Shikara, a wooden boat that is most popular in the north on Dal Lake, Srinagar has managed to win the hearts of people down south too. It is a small wooden boat that can accommodate around 2 to 8 people. Because of its size, cruising through the smaller and more offbeat canals is possible with great ease. Though small in size it has comfortable seats, a bed to lie on, a cover to protect from heat, and a petrol engine that will help to cruise. These boats can be hired for a few hours depending on what you wish to explore. Cost wise it’s a lot cheaper than a houseboat and does not require any advance bookings.
Motor boats are a fabulous way to explore the backwaters of Alleppey if on a group tour or on a family vacation as it can easily accommodate 10 to 50 people. These boats, though bigger than a houseboat, can take you down the smaller waterways for the best views. It is the most economical way to see Kerala’s backwaters. A typical motorboat tour lasts from one to four hours depending on various factors like the duration and the season you choose to sail in. Motor Boats are always easily available and hence one of the best ways to witness greenery and picturesque views of the backwaters.
If you are only one or two people, then hiring a Canoe is a great option. Canoes are traditional country boats that are used by locals to get around. Unlike the houseboats and speed boats, Canoes are much smaller and can be rowed yourself or you can hire one with a rider. It’s the most environmentally friendly ride as the canoes are paddled and not run with motors. The only sound one can hear on this ride is the rhythmic splash of the paddle and the chirping of the birds. This unforgettable Canoe tour can be booked through any of the guesthouses in Alleppey. It’s a really fun and local way to experience every nook and corner of the backwaters of Alleppey.
Kayaking is another great way to see the backwaters of Alleppey. It is more suited for the adventurous and active ones. From environmental benefits to seeing more, the similarities between canoes and kayaking are many. One can choose a half-day or full-day kayaking tour of the backwaters. However, we suggest you opt for the full-day tour as you can explore a lot more at your leisure. There are guided and unguided tours with lunch so that you can spend the whole day touring the backwaters and understanding the local life here. There are also guided sunrise and sunset tours for you to check out. This is your best chance to see the smaller waterways amidst peaceful surroundings.
The govt-run ferries are budget-friendly options for exploring the backwaters of Alleppey. These ferries are run by the Kerala Govt Water Transport Service. They need no booking in advance as tickets are available easily for a pretty cheap price. With specified boarding points at planned time intervals, this is the most convenient way to explore the backwaters. Hop on to a govt-run ferry for a stress-free experience.
5 Most Popular Backwater Routes In Alleppey
With each of Alleppey’s backwater routes being one better than the other, picking one route may be a difficult job. So here we are with our list of the most popular routes to make things easy for you.
Alappuzha Round Backwater Route
Alappuzha Round or Alleppey Round is one of the busiest houseboat routes as it is abundant in natural beauty and lush greenery. It is the most preferred route by tourists who want to experience it all in a day. On this Alleppey backwaters cruise you will sail past Kuttanad’s beautiful paddy field, Kanjipadam Lake, Champakulam Church, Nedumudi Kottaram Bhagavathy Temple, and the famous 11th-century large Buddha statue – Karumadikuttan. A ride through this route is nothing short of a fairytale experience.
Alleppey – Kumarakom Backwater Route
The next popular route is the Alleppey- Kumarakom route which is very famous among honeymooners. The reason why it’s a hit among couples is because this route takes you through scenic and romantic locations. The added benefit of this route is one can cover two top backwater destinations in one go. Either start from Alleppey and end the cruise at Kumarakom or vice versa. From local village life to canopies of swaying palms, from patches of green fields to a famous bird sanctuary, all are noteworthy attractions on this route.
Alleppey – Alumkadavu Backwater Round
Alleppey to Alumkadavu is the lengthiest houseboat cruise route in Kerala. It takes about 8 hours to cover the entire distance on a houseboat. Ideally, a two-night stay is recommended to enjoy the route to its fullest. A large portion of this cruise is dotted with scenic locations and breathtaking views. En route, you will get to see Karumadikuttan, Kumarakodi, Pallathuruthy canal, Kanjipadam, Kayamkulam Pozhi, and Matha Amritanandamayi Ashram. It’s a one-way cruise ride that’s best enjoyed on a weekend.
Alleppey – Thottappally Backwater Route
Another popular and most sought-after cruise route is the Alleppey to Thottappally backwater route. Here one gets to unwind and relax while enjoying the serenity and tranquility of nature. As you pass by you will get to see the famous Punnamada Lake, the traditional houses of Chavara Bhavan, the popular Karumadikuttan statue, the Champakulam church, and Ambalappuzha temple. You can also experience the activities of rural life of the locals as the backwaters are their lifeline. The Alleppey to Thottappally Backwater route is best enjoyed by nature lovers and birdwatchers.
Alleppey – Nedumudy Backwater Route
Alleppey to Nedumudy is one of the shortest routes for a backwater ride in Alleppey. This short route is filled with wild greenery and lush green paddy fields on both sides of calm backwaters. The earthy smell, cool wind, and soothing environment make for one of the best experiences. Because of the short distance, this route has some reliable and economical ferry services. Sailing through the calm water with only sounds of swishing of water and chirping of birds gives that extra cozy feel.
Best Things To Do In The Backwaters Of Alleppey
Experience A Houseboat Stay
Coming to Alleppey and not staying in a houseboat is sure to make your experience incomplete. Backwaters and houseboats are like two sides of the coin, so experiencing this should be on top of your to-do list when in Alleppey. As Alleppey houseboats offer a customized palette, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the view with good food while everything is taken care of by your houseboat operators.
Pamper Yourself With An Ayurvedic Massage And Spa
Many resorts by the side of the backwaters offer massages and spas that help in rejuvenating oneself. So get yourself pampered with a quality spa and Ayurvedic massage that uses aromatic essential oils made with ingredients from Kerala. They are believed to rejuvenate your life, and skin and also treat chronic illness. Choose what suits you the best to experience the ultimate rejuvenation and relaxation that an urban city folk needs.
Treat Your Taste Buds
Kerala cuisine offers a variety of options from vegetarian to non-vegetarian dishes. The use of coconut and spices here is in abundance compared to the other states of India. Enrich your taste buds with Kerala’s famous seafood like fish, prawns, mussels, lobsters, and crabs. Other delicious combos that you must try are Puttu and kadala curry, Appam with stew, Karimeen pollichathu, and Malabar Parotta with beef curry.
Bird Watching While On The Go
The backwaters of Alleppey are home to some of the rarest and most exquisite migratory birds in India. Book yourself on a bird-watching and Canoe tour while cruising through the backwaters. If you are a bird lover or photography enthusiast, this activity will help explore your adventurous side. Apart from the various species of birds, one can also spot rare birds like monarch flycatchers. Not just the birds but the island’s greenery and peaceful environment are also a treat for your eyes.
How To Reach Alleppey Backwaters
Traveling to and within Alleppey is pretty easy and hassle-free. Here’s how you can reach Alleppey and experience the magical backwater in Alleppey.
By Air – If you are coming in from another country, take a flight to Cochin International Airport. For people traveling within India, please note that Cochin airport is well-connected to other major Indian cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. Once at the airport, hire a taxi to Alleppey which will take around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach.
By Train – You can take a train to Alleppey Railway Station from almost any major Indian city like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. Once at the station, you can hire a cab which will take you anywhere in Alleppey.
By Road – Thanks to the efficient Kerala State Run Transport Corporation (KSRTC) that connects Alleppey by road from all major cities in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. One can get to the beautiful backwaters in just about ten minutes from the Alleppey bus stand. There are frequent buses throughout the day that will take you to Alleppey’s exquisite backwater locations.
Now that you know it all, book your Alappuzha backwater holiday tour to get a feel of the splendors of the backwaters and to immerse in its breathtaking beauty. The immense natural beauty of this canal town in Kerala is bound to remain in your hearts forever.
Some FAQs On Alleppey Backwaters
2 to 3 nights is a good time to see and experience the real charm of the Alleppey’s backwaters. Apart from houseboats and beautiful Alleppey beaches, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy for days together. If time is not a constraint, even a week’s time is good to see all that Alleppey has to offer.
The winter months between October to February are the best time to visit Alleppey. The weather during this time of the year is pleasant and perfect for houseboat rides and sightseeing activities.
Both Alleppey and Kumarakom are the best backwaters in Kerala as they both offer splendid views and experiences. While Alleppey gives you the facility of a town, Kumarakom gives a much more rural experience.