Holding a first of its kind lighthouse along the coast of the town, Alappuzha aka Alleppey is considered to be the oldest planned town in the region.
Spellbound by its beauty and spice trade, described by Lord Curzon as the "Venice of the East", Alleppey is the 6th largest city of the state world famous for its canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons.
Tracing the trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages stands Kuttanad acclaimed in the name 'Rice bowl of Kerala'. Kuttanad extends an unending view of paddy fields with lush green coconut palms complimented with small streams and canals. Paddy fields cultivated about 0.6 to 2 m below mean sea level, it is also one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.
A place mentioned by travelers like Pliny and Ptolemy of the first and 2nd centuries and literary works like "Unnuneeli Sandesam emphasizes its historic value. Church at Kokkamangalam, one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas who landed at Maliankara in 52 AD in Muziris Port known as Kodungallur affirms the religions foothold in this district even from the 1st C AD. Ascharya Choodamani` a Sanskrit drama written by Sakthibhadran Chengannur enables us to know the facts related to the place.
Portuguese and Dutch gave way to factories and warehouses for storing pepper, ginger on the base of treaties signed with the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram. 'Maker of modern Travancore' Maharaja Marthanda Varma intervened in the political affairs of those princedoms progressing in all spheres. The first post office and first telegraph office in the former Travancore state was established in this district which played a prominent role in the freedom struggle of the country namely Punnapra and Vayalar. With no forest area and no mountains a sandy strip of land intercepted by lagoons, rivers and canals, Alleppey covers an area of 1,414 square kilometres.
Achieving an unparalleled position in the maritime map of India giffted with Arabian sea on its west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers, it is well connected with Kumarakom,Cochin and Quilon. Accessible through air, rail, road and water, today Alleppey is an important tourist destination in India, mostly visited for the backwater cruise. One can get to see the Coir manufactured on road and on backwater cruise. Traditional industries based on coir, handlooms and marine products have been dominating the scene from the very early times. The establishment of The Coir Board, The National Coir Training & Designing Centre and the Coir Research Institute trace back Alleppeys trade with the outside world especially with the Arabs from the very ancient period.
The annual deposit of a huge quantity of fishes and prawns on the Alleppey coast called 'Chakara' during the post-monsoon period is a festive season for the people contributing to the local economy. The city experiences a long monsoon season with heavy showers influenced by the Southwest monsoon and Northeast monsoon. Out of 21,21,943 people, the majority is Hindu and Christian with a sizable numbers of Islam followers too.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the most competitive and popular boat race in India named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India draws tourists from all over. Held annually on the second Saturday of August every year in Punnamada Lake, one can witness a sea of humanity with 2 lakh people, including tourists from abroad watching it. Foreigners draped in traditional Kerala attire participating in the race are another attraction. For the people of each village in Kuttanad, a victory at this fiercely fought boat race is a celebration for months to come. Competition of the Chundan Vallams (Snake Boat) 100–120 foot long canoes – (recorded as "the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose) made of 'Aanjili' Wood carrying 90- 110 rowers which moves like a snake through the waterways (hence the name), is an eye catching sight for any tourist. Boat songs (VANCHIPATTU) of high literary quality and musical charm sung during the race loudly by groups of people provides delight and encouragement to the rowers and the onlookers.
The oldest and most popular vallam kali, the Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is held on the Malayalam month Midhunam on the day of the installation of the deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple in Pamba River. For almost 500 years from 1545 A.D the boat race and the wonderful tradition behind, showcases Kerala's fabulous religious harmony depicting the relationship between Raja of Chempakasseri - Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan and the home of Mappilassery Itty Thommen in the village of Champakulam with Lord Krishna who on the Moolam day resides not at the Temple, but at Mappilassery House.
Built in the year AD 790 by Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran, the Temple is directly associated to the Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Temple. During the raids of Tipu Sultan in 1789, the idol of Sri Krishna from the Guruvayoor Temple was brought to the Ambalappuzha Temple for protecting it.
The famous payasam (sweet pudding made of rice and milk) has an interesting mythological legend behind it. Lord Krishna who appeared in the form of a sage in the court of the king defeated him in the game of chess. As the promised reward the King realized that he had to provide more grains than all the rice in his kingdom and his adjacent kingdoms. Seeing the dilemma, appearing in his true-form Lord Krishna told the King that he did not have to pay the debt immediately but could pay him over time. The king would serve Paal-payasam (made of rice) in the temple freely to the pilgrims every day until the debt was paid off. That is the how this sweet Palpayasam is being served in the temple.
Built in 1810 in Alappuzha, dedicated to St. George, devotes from all over South India throng to the church to make offerings and prayers to heal all mental disorders and other ailments. The annual fest of the church situated on the banks of the holy river Pampa called Perunnal is celebrated with fireworks in May. The gold covered St.George statue is taken for procession during the feast and delicious food including different non vegetarian is served to all devotees.
The St. Sebastian's Church 22 km north of Alleppey is an important Christian pilgrim centre. Arthunkal Perunnal, annual feast of the patron saint celebrated in January draws devotees from all over.
The Mullackal Chirap or Chirappu Mahotsavam, the colourful ten day festival in the month of December at Mullackal Temple,a big occasion is the other attraction of Alappuzha for tourists and natives alike.
The most important festival in Alappuzha district Chettikulangara Bharani is also one among the important temple festivals of Kerala dedicated to the awesome Goddess Bhagavathi. The main rituals of the annual festival held on February/ March are the 'Kuthiyottam' and 'Kettukazcha'.
Padanilam Parabrahma Temple Sivarathri in Padanilam, a town celebrating large number of festivals every year is also an important festival held in the Padanilam Temple. 16 km from Mavelikkara town, Padanilam is a place of religious unity.
'Nagaraja Temple', Kidangam-Parampu Temple and Chandanakudam festival,Kottamkulangara Temple in Alappuzha, famous Kandamangalam Rajarajeshwari Temple in kadakkarappally are some of the other important temples and event attracting thousands of devotees and tourists. Apart from Backwaters some other attractions in Alleppey are Alappuzha Beach offering one of the most beautiful views of the Arabian Sea and the Krishnapuram Palace in Alleppey housing one of the biggest mural paintings in all of Kerala called Gajendra Moksham, meaning "The redemption of the elephant", Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple in Alleppey and Pathiramanal.
Panoramic backwater stretches, lush green paddy fields, Highlands and Beaches that is What Kottayam offers and among all that the most Blessed is Kumarakom Connected with the Backwaters of Alleppey.
A great expanse of water formed by the convergence of a network of rivers canals and backwaters. An enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination. Sightseeing boating and fishing experiences that are truly exciting. Yes it is Vembanadu Lakes 16 km from Kottayam offering a lot more to you.
The most mesmerizing backwater destination in the state with its backdrop of greenery of coconut groves, mangrove forests and hills offers exceptional Aqua Tourism experience for a tourist. A voyage towards the north of Alappuzha, about 10 Kms from Kottayam, will bring you to this rich green, sleepy little village of Kumarakom on the Vembanad Lake. The scenery flashing up vivid contrasts of breath-taking greens and deep blue's cruise in the backwaters in country boats absorbing the beauty of rural life in Kerala villages exploring the rich ecological system is incredibly a different experience. Traditional rice boats and canoes moored leave a pleasing sight to the eye.A pleasure trip to Vembanad Lake in Kerala is the perfect gift to your family.
Canoeing, Dingy sailing, catamaran riding, wind sailing, water skiing and much more awaits an adventurous tourist interested in water sport. Apart from these some of the resorts also offers a canoe for you out into the quiet lake, and armed with a fishing rod to catch your own supper.
Home to exotic water birds Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a must visit destination in Kumarakom. Spread across 14 acres, an ornithologist's paradise it is a favourite haunt of migratory birds like cuckoos, Siberian storks, egrets, darters, herons and teals and many more rare and migratory birds some from the Himalayas, some even from as far as Siberia.
Leaving you in a trance, a boat cruise to the serenely beautiful and scenic Bird Sanctuary leaves you speechless and excited. The best time to bird watch is between June and August. To watch Migratory birds, November to February is the best time.
The YUMMY Factor of Kumarakom: Kumarakom Karimeen or Pearl Spotted fish, Konju or Tiger Prawns, and Njandu or Crabs are the delicious marine dishes not to miss from your mouth for its Yummy factor.
Finest drink in the world having numerous medicinal properties, Water of tender coconut is the to be tasted and it is no doubt a valuable gift of nature to mankind. It No other drink leads itself to such diversity of applications and uses in our traditional system of medicine. Toddy which is tapped from coconut trees is a favourite drink among the rural men folk as well as visiting tourists. 'Kappa'(Tapioca) and fish curry served with toddy make a unique combination.
Fishing and Shell Collection is a fascinating sight.A livelihood for the backwater people, the men folk use small fishing boats and nets while the women who have developed skills in fishing walk neck-deep in water carrying terracotta pots and feel the fish with their toes and grab them and deposit in the earthen pots they carry.
Knowing the spots where large number of fresh water mussels breed , the people of the backwaters anchor their boats over these places, dive down and bring up basket loads of these shells which are then burnt in kilns on the banks making an excellent building lime. This is also an alternative source of income for many people in this area.
Main tourist sport in Muhamma – Alleppey Pathiramanal an enchanting 10 acre island on the lake can be accessed by boat from Kumarakom. This island on the backwaters is home many of migratory birds from different parts of the world. to An eco friendly tourist center Pathiramanal is a Birdwatcher's paradise, it is home to around 91 local species of birds and around 50 rare varieties migratory birds. One can see Pintail Ducks, Common Teal, Night Heron, Cormorant, Darter, Indian Shag, Purple Heron, gulls, terns, large egrets, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Little Egret, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Watercock, Whistling Duck, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Little Cormorant and Whiskered Tern. Some people have even reported seeing the Monarch flycatcher.
Accessible by boat from Alappuzha, 'Pathiramanal' meaning 'Sands of Midnight' leaves you in a trance with the scenic beauty of the lake and the island. The island (also known as Anantha Padmanabhan Thoppu) at present is uninhabited. Till late seventies of the 20th century 14 worker families resided in the island, who were later rehabilitated on the mainland in the Muhamma Panchayath. The journey through Vembanad Lake is a marvelous experience. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary.
Picturesque and beautiful picnic spot Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls 18km from Kottayam and 2 Km from Kumarakom cascade down from the mountains with a height of 100 ft.
An important pilgrim centre for the Hindus and Muslims, ancient Sree Dharmasastha Temple here dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is visited by the Pilgrims going to Sabarimala.
trekker's paradise situated at an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level Vagamon is 64 km from Kottayam and 34 km from Pala. An ideal tourist spot surrounded by the greenery of tea gardens, beautiful meadows and valleysThangal Para, Indo-Swiss project, Kurisumala Ashram are the other attractions.
Another picnic spot accessible from Pala and located in the midst of beautiful hills.
Shiva Temple and the festival in November-December lasting for 12 days is 40km from Kottayam.
Ancient town famous for its centuries old churches, like Cheria palli, Valia palli, St.Mary's Church Kuravilangad it is also blessed with the mortal remains of the blessed Alphonsa and the Blessed Father Chavara. The Ettumanoor Shiva Temple 12 km north of town with exceptionally beautiful wall paintings and sculptures, the Thirunakkara Mahadeva temple are some of the pilgrim centers visited by devotees and tourist alike.