Alleppey – Where the Backwaters Stare Down the Arabian Sea

As you gaze around standing on the quaint wharfs of Alleppey, you see this as a sleepy small town to shed your city-slick poses and refurbish in the lap of brackish lagoons. But Alleppey begins to gesticulate wildly & springs awake to a whirlpool of activities when the boat race season and the fascinating Ambalappuzha Temple Fest knock at the door. And the sweetness of the legendary Ambalappuzha Palpayasam permeates a touch of it to everything in Alleppey.

Waves of holidaymakers and soul searchers are being drawn to Alleppey by its promise of tremendous greenery and the embrace of eco-tourism. Home to a hundred shades of green and a thousand sounds of tranquility, Alleppey spills with fairytale creation of stone-walled brasseries and expansive carpets of lush green paddy fields juxtaposed against confusing crisscross of water highways. Slumbering ‘Kettuvalloms’ (houseboats) are tethered to the shores and bob serenely in rhythm. Little hamlets thatched with coconut leaf are dotted here and there. Everything there seems to compete for the attention of palm-flanked backwaters.

A houseboat cruise is must. Sailing along the pristine backwaters it gives an otherworldly impression of Alleppey’s dizzying mix of farm life, trading & the general hustle. Listen… the Chinese fishing nets fastened on the shore glisten lazily in the sun as if to relate the story of how it reached here. Flocks of multihued ducks swimming close to the banks nearly deafen you with their quacking in chorus.

If your houseboat captain asks if you’d like to try fresh seafood prepared on board, jump at the chance to experience the magic of alfresco dining in the boat. Every ingredient like spices, fish, prawns etc can be purchased from the fishermen canoeing around. Wait till the appetizing aroma fills the air and soon you’ll be gorging on a typical Alleppey lunch seasoned with Kerala spices to the core! Perhaps one of these local fishermen may arrange a trip to Pathiramanal Island for you. Bang in the middle of the beautiful Vembanad Lake near Kumarakom, this isle on the backwaters is a pet haven of thousands of rare migrant birds from all over the world.

Hit the scenic beach of Alleppey complete with a sprawling shore-garden. The crowds at the century-old pier including magicians, fortune tellers, peanut sellers and many more can spark your interest and keep it lit till the end of the day. Vijaya Park and Sea View Park adjacent to the beach have enough rides and amusements to keep the crankiest child occupied for hours.

Alleppey hopping during the harvest time will present you an intrinsic experience of witnessing lines of ladies yanking up the paddies by hand and bashing them in a funny way, humming to some long-ago formed folk song. Heading back to your resort at sunset, the red-tile roofed houses seem to emit a fiery crimson against the backdrop of the pearly waters and palm groves. As the sun sinks down the horizon, the breeze freshens slightly as other people too hurry home to join the evening prayers.

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