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Tue, 4/16/2024
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A Guide to Alappuzha & the Kerala Backwaters
Alappuzha is a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, coined as 'the Venice of the East'. The vast network of palm tree lined canals and lagoons known as the slithering Kerala backwaters, offer a unique and tranquil travel experience filled with succulent greenery, striking sunsets, lush paddy fields, waterside villages and thousands of houseboats.
Kerala Backwaters The Kerala backwaters are a labyrinth of 900km of serene canals, lagoons, rivers and extensive lakes stretching across the state that drain into the Arabian sea. The Kerala backwaters run inland from the coast with Alappuzha, formally known as Alleppey, being its main entry way. The backwaters connect villages and are used as a transport network for mainly fishing, coconut, spices, rubber and other agriculture.
Alappuzha BackwatersAlthough the backwaters extend across the entire state of Kerala, the main backwater regions are around Ashtamudi Lake and Vembanad Lake. Popular routes are:

- Alappuzha to Thottappally
- Alappuzha to Kumarakom
- Alappuzha to Kottayam
- Alappuzha to Mankotta
- Alappuzha to Alumkadavu
- Alappuzha to Kidangara
Best Time To Visit The Kerala Backwaters Kerala has a tropical monsoon climate with three seasons - winter, summer and monsoon. Winter expands from October to February, summer is March to May and monsoon season is from June to September. The most comfortable time to visit is from October to early March with the coolest and driest month being January with a temperature of 29C. Monsoon season will still be warm but with more rainfall it will take away from the serenity, therefore not recommended.
As winter is peak tourist season, this results in an increase in demand, thus inflated prices. Temperatures can still soar during this time so it is recommended to seek accommodation with air conditioning.
Kerala Backwaters Houseboat One of the most popular and unique ways to experience the palm-fringed backwaters is to cruise along on a kettuvallam - the traditional rice barges which have been tastefully reinvented into houseboats. The thrilling views of the sunset and sunrise, the moonlight, ancient temples, village life on the banks, and the rich biodiversity are at your disposal from the balcony 24/7, with the boat only stopping for the night. The cost of hiring a houseboat depends on the size and quality of the boat starting from around 5,000 rupees for a basic houseboat with no air conditioning, to 20,000 rupees a night for a more luxurious experience.
What To Do In The Kerala Backwaters TODDY TASTING - Toddy or kallu is palm wine or fermented coconut liquor created from the sap of palm trees, and is very popular in Kerala. Toddy is commonly served with a helping of fried fish and boiled tapioca - a local delicacy. Toddy is tapped twice a day - once in the morning at 8am and the other at sunset. Don't be surprised if you re offered toddy at breakfast - when toddy is initially extracted it is sweet and non-alcoholic but by evening, it transforms into a stiff alcohol. You will notice jugs tied at the top of many palm trees across the backwater region for toddy tapping.
VILLAGES - Staying in Alappuzha offers you the chance to experience life on the water banks close up and personal. As you get into the smaller canals, the twisting waterways open up to vibrant village life where you will encounter the rich culture the Malayalis beautifully display. Kids swimming in the water, women washing crockery and laundry, and men bathing in the backwaters are some of the familiar sights you will see. The locals are very friendly and will wave and smile at you.
WILDLIFE - Kerala is honored for its diverse wildlife owing to its vast forest and jungles. Spend an afternoon on a thrilling safari spotting elephants, wild dogs, and native gaur, which you can book when in Kerala. Although, you do not need to go far to spot wildlife. On the banks of the water you will spot turtles, crabs, frogs and mudskippers. Perched within the trees you will notice lots of stunning kingfisher, darters, paradise flycatchers and egrets. For bird enthusiasts, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a wonderful option where you can learn about migratory birds. And you will undoubtedly spot at least one lizard in your sleeping space!
What To Take To The Kerala Backwaters With the Kerala backwaters being relatively remote, there are some things you should take with you. ​ • BUG REPELLENT - Take anti-insect repellant from home as the local varieties may not be as accessible or effective. • SUNSCREEN - It is hot and sunny for most of the year so stock up on face and body before you go. • APPROPRIATE CLOTHING - With the tropical climate, its recommended to bring loose cottons that you feel comfortable in, a hat to protect your head from direct sunlight, sunglasses and comfortable footwear. Avoid heels of any kind (including wedges). • BLUETOOTH OPERATED PORTABLE SPEAKER - Many resorts are 'off the grid' therefore do not have TVs or sound systems, so a speaker is recommended. Please respect the locals in terms of volume.
The locals are very friendly and you will notice this right away. When photographing local life, ask permission before you take photos. As many locals bathe in the waters, be very respectful to their personal space and avoid taking photographs of them doing this. Drones are not prohibited but be respectful to the villagers when using them by not flying it too close to their personal space. Cre: Anika Pannu


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