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 ALAPPUZHA (Alleppey)

Like Kollam, this is a pleasant, easy –going market town surrounded by coconut plantation and built on the canals which service the coir industry of the backwaters. There’s precious little to see for most of the year, but the annual Nehru Cup snakeboat race is an event not to be missed. Any other day of the year, the backwater trip to or from Kollam is the only reason to pass through. 

Nehru Cup Snakeboat Race  
This famous regatta takes place on the second Saturday of August each year. It’s held in the lake to the east of the town. Scores of long, low-slung dugouts with highly decorated sterns and crewed by up to 100 rowers shaded by gleaming silk umbrellas compete for the cup, watched from the banks by thousands of spectators. The annual traditions of ancient Kerala.

Tickets for the race are available on the day from numerous ticket stands on the way to the lake where the race is held. This entitles you to a seat on the bamboo terraces which are erected for the occasion and which give an excellent view of the lake. The only drawback is that shortly into the race the terraces are invaded by local (ticket less) youth seeking a better view. So far, the scaffolding has not collapsed, but one day it just might! If you’re not keen on testing fate, there are pricier tickets for the Rose Pavilion built in the middle of the lake.Take food and drink to the race because there’s little available on the lake shore. An umbrella is another necessity because the race takes place during the monsoon and the weather can alternate between driving rain and blistering sunshine.


ALLEPPEY PRINCE HOTEL, (Government Approved) 2 Star

Fringing the coast of Kerala and winding far inland is a complex network of lagoons, lakes, rivers, and canals. These backwaters are both the basis of a distinct lifestyle and a fascinating thoroughfare. Traveling by boat along the backwaters is one of the highlights of a visit to Kerala. The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded a with cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, and travel along narrow, shady canals where coir (coconut fiber), copra (dried coconut meat) and cashews are loaded onto boats.
Stops are made at small settlements where people live on narrow spits of land only a few metres wide. Though practically surrounded by water, they still manage to keep cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks and cultivate small vegetable gardens. On the more open stretches of canal, traditional boats with huge sails and prows carved into the shape of dragons drift by. The sight of three or four of these sailing towards you in the late afternoon sun is unforgettable.
  The most popular backwater trip is the eight-hour voyage between Kollam and Alappuzha. The regular ferry service on this route has been suspended for some timed due to a canal blockage at the Kollam end, but faster and cheaper buses were already eating into the traffic on this long route. Tourist boats are, however, more popular than ever. They are daily services operated by both the private Alleppey Tourist Development Coop (ATDC) and by the state government District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC).   Two stops are made along the way, a midday lunch stop and a brief afternoon chi stop. Ayiramthengu or the coir village of Thrikkunnappuha are popular stopping places. The crew have and ice box full of fruit,
soft drinks and beer to sell, although you might want to bring along additional refreshments and snacks. Bring sunscreen and a hat as well; sitting on the roof is pleasant, but the sun really burn. The boat pauses to drop visitors off at the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission at Amirtapuri. This is the residence and headquarters of Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, one of India’s very few (but in this case very much revered) female gurus. Visitors should dress conservatively and there is a strict code of behavior that all visitors are expected to adhere to. The trip also passes the Kumarakody Temple where the noted Malayalam poet Kumaran Asan drowned. Close to Alappuzha, there’s glimpse of the 11th –century Karumadi Kuttan Buddha image close to the canal bank.

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