- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Culture (paddy field, coffee, tea ...)
- Place or Religious Monument
In between Kochi and Varkala, Alappuzha (nicknamed Alleppey) is a town surrounded by some amazing places to visit. Being less touristy than its neighbors (in low season it can feel like a ghost town), Alleppey still has a number of good hotels and restaurants, which benefit from views over its white, sandy beaches.
This is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore The Backwaters, where numerous activities are available, thanks to the calm waters found in this part of southern India. If you don't want to be stuck on a houseboat, you could always take a boat trip along on the canals in the region.
The area is also famous for its 'snake boat' races, on vessels that can carry a hundred or so rowers. The Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race is the best known and takes place on the second Saturday of August. It's named after Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
On my trip to India, I stopped off at Allepey when I went to the backwaters. This city on water is fascinating, lying between ocean and river amid lush, untamed nature. It is nicknamed the "Venice of the East".
Most travelers don't spend a long time there. They simply stop off there to board a houseboat and head out into the backwaters. However, Allepey is a very charming and peaceful city, and worth a detour to see.
I have memories of the incredibly deserted beach at Alleppey, with its little cafe virtually on the sand itself, as well as the city center's pretty temples, which become lively places in the evening.
The city itself is not at all charming. But once on board an old rice barge, houseboat or rowing boat all that is quickly forgotten. When you explore the backwaters you will find yourself faced with a labyrinth of canals along which lies a succession of rice fields, lakes, lagoons, coconut plantations and small houses. A fisherman raises his net, a cloud of birds takes to the air … you feel like you've stepped into another time and place in Alleppey.
And then there's the Kidangamparambu Temple, the sublime white sandy beach of Marari – which is just quarter of an hour away by richshaw – and Kuttanad, with its rice fields extending as far as the eye can see. I really enjoyed this stop on my journey, and this was because, despite the number of boats on the canals (yes, that's right, you don't get the place all to yourself!), the backwaters provide a stark, clear contrast to the typical Indian triumvirate of crowds, noise and pollution.