Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is a city on the Laccadive Sea in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It’s best known for houseboat cruises along the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. Alappuzha Beach is the site of the 19th-century Alappuzha Lighthouse. The city’s Mullakkal Temple features a traditional design. Punnamada Lake’s snake boat races are a well-known annual event.
The Backwaters of Alleppey have been used for centuries by local people for transportation, fishing, and agriculture. Today backwater tourism can be added to the list as people flock to the Kerala backwaters after the monsoon to experience life on the Alleppey houseboats and to see some of the surrounding village life for themselves.
Kerala houseboats were once used to transport fish, rice, and spices but are now being converted into floating hotels or rooms where people can enjoy a night or two out on the water.
What you need to know before taking an Alleppey boat house tour:
What type of Alleppey houseboats are available?
Firstly you have to narrow it down to exactly what kind of houseboat package you want and how much you want to spend. The boats come at all shapes, sizes, and prices.
There are Kerala houseboats with one bedroom deluxe and up to ten rooms, A/C or non-A/C. Some have an upstairs area or deck and some come with luxury extras. You even have the option to share with other travelers or you can opt for a private cruise.
There are different houseboat Categories
Here are some houseboat categories starting from the budget houseboats. Other categories include deluxe houseboats, luxury houseboats, premium houseboats, special cruises, and ultra-luxury houseboats. The Alleppey houseboats offer everything from very basic amenities to extras such T.V, lounges even going as far as PlayStation for the kids or Karaoke machines.
The food seems to be pretty standard on all houseboats, offering a vegetarian or non-vegetarian option. It does change slightly according to which boat you choose to go with or whether you have special requirements.
Your trip will usually start with a welcome drink which is a fresh coconut. For lunch, they prepare rice, Sambar, mixed vegetables Fish Fry (fried fish) pickles and fruit. Dinner, you can expect Indian curry veg or non-veg, Chappati, Dal, Rice vegetables or salad. If you looking for a snack you will get tea, coffee, and banana fritters. Finally, for breakfast, you will get a choice of eggs, bread, butter and Jam and either a Dosa or Poori Masala.
If you want to have a few beers or a bottle of wine onboard then you can normally pre-request this or take your own.
What areas or routes do the Kerala houseboats go to?
The backwaters of Kerala is made up of interlocking canals and lagoons. There are a number of routes in these canals and lagoons in Kerala where houseboats can sail. Out of a number of backwater destinations in Kerala, Alleppey and Kumarakom are the most popular ones. They both offer something unique set in beautiful relaxing nature.
From Alleppey to Kumarakom the houseboat distance is 32.6 km as these are the two corners of Vembanad Lake. Kumarakom is a laid back village where Alleppey is more of a town. Alleppey and Kumarakom are both starting points of the boat cruises through the backwaters.
Different operators will offer slightly different routes, depending on your budget, how long you want your Kerala tour to be or what you want to see – you can choose your preference. Enquire and get all the details before making your Alleppey houseboat booking.
Sailing along in a boathouse through the enchanting backwaters of Alleppey or Kumarakom will both give you an amazing experience. You will see palmed fringed narrow canals that wind through green paddy fields and mangrove forests. There is also a chance to witness daily rural village life, farming, and fishing. Look out for the ample wildlife ranging from ducks swimming and waddling on the river banks to different species of birds.
If you on a low budget and looking for an affordable budget houseboat, it is a wise decision to choose Alleppey as your starting destination. However, if you are looking for more of a luxurious stay or if you are a honeymooner Kumarkom may be a better destination.
Alleppey is beautiful, the water is level gives you the advantage of getting a closer look at the village life on shore while on the backwaters. Being close to the city, these canals are busier allowing you to see more of the villages and passing boats. Most boats in Alleppey will give you the option to stop along the way at a fish shop to buy prawns or extra fish that the houseboat cook will cook for you with lunch.
Kumarkom is a charming village surrounded by a cluster of small islands with interlinked lagoons. It is more rural and has more luxury resorts than Alleppey. It is a popular vacation destination for a number of VIP and celebrities.
Kumarakom offers a quieter natural beauty it is known for its bird sanctuaries where you can see a number of rare migratory birds. You can go on a canoe to explore the small surrounding islands and visit places where houseboats cannot go.
Alleppey Vs Kumarakom
Alleppey is the best if you want to stay on an overnight cruise and Kumarkom is best if you want to do a day cruise with a culture and village feel. You do have the choice to stay in a houseboat overnight in Kumarkom but keep in mind there are many exquisite luxury accommodations available to stay in too.
How long should you stay on a Kerala houseboat?
Many houseboats offer day trips in Alleppey and Kumarkom. If you do not prefer to sleep on a houseboat then this is the next best option. Most day trips offer lunch and snacks and you head back to shore at sundown.
This is the most popular option which gives you enough time to enjoy your surroundings, see some village life and relax a little. It also gives you the experience of sleeping on the water and witnessing a beautiful sunrise.
I have read many testimonials and reviews that two nights on the water gets a little boring especially because you are confined to a small space for so long. If you really need to recharge your batteries away from the busy city life, be in nature and finish a really good book then this is for you.
How To reach
Alappuzha is linked by Ernakulam–Kayamkulam coastal railway line and connects to cities like Trivandrum, Quilon (Kollam), Cochin, Coimbatore, Chennai, Delhi, Bokaro, and Mumbai. The railway station is about 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) from the heart of the city. A total of four trains originate from Alappuzha to cities like Kannur, Chennai, Dhanbad, and Tatanagar. There are a lot of local trains running throughout the day, which connect Alappuzha to other towns nearby. Since Alappuzha is a prime destination, trains from important cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mangalore, Kozhikode, and Amritsar pass through this station.
Cochin International Airport, which is 78 kilometers (48 mi) to the North, is the closest airport. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, 159 kilometers (99 mi) to the South, is the other airport that links the district with other countries. International tourists use these airports to reach Alappuzha. The other nearest airports are located at Kozhikode (236 kilometers (147 mi)) and Coimbatore (254 kilometers (158 mi)). A helipad in the town is reserved for government uses.