Welcome to God’s own country – Kerala. (while Uttarakhand is known as Adobe of the God)
The small town of Allepey, also known as Alappuzha is considered the undisputed queen of backwaters of Kerala. Allepey is also dubbed as the Venice of the East because of its vast network of backwater canals. The town of Allepey is situated at a distance of about 80 km from Kochi and is well connected by bus as well as by train network.
How to reach Allepey
The nearest airport to Allepey is Cochin, alternatively you can also make use of Trivandrum international airport. To save money you can take the cab from the airport to the city (Cochin/ Trivandrum) and then travel to Allepey by using bus or train.
There is a frequent bus service to Allepey from both Kochi and Trivandrum. Travel time between Kochi and Allepey is about 2 hours while journey to Trivandrum takes around 4 hours. Both A/C as well as regular buses are available on the run. Though the frequency of A/C Volvo (Orange, low floor) is very less in comparison. The bus fare of regular (cheapest option) bus is:
Allepey-Kochi 60/- INR
Alepey-Trivandrum 125/- INR
Don’t be surprised at the rates. The ticket prices in both Tamilnadu as well as Kerala are dramatically cheap but ultimately it’s the taxpayers who are paying for it.
There are also direct buses available from Bangalore. Be warned that in the off-season the bus can be cancelled as well. I traveled in march and bus was canceled but luckily the bus operator helped me get another bus. Ticket cost for Bangalore-Allepey A/C Volvo bus: 700-800 INR/-
The best way to travel long distance to Trivandrum from Allepey is by train. There are about three trains which you can take. Reservation is not required as you can take a general ticket from the counter. Though in a peak season getting a seat might be difficult. The journey between Allepey and Trivandrum by train is 2.5 hours. The best ones are the trains departing early morning. Allepey – Guruvayur Intercity Express leaves at 06:30 A.M., while KSR Bengaluru leaves at 05:30. Both trains run daily.
For detailed train schedules check.
There are also direct trains to Bangalore. While booking in IRCTC website input the station names as Bengaluru City and Alappuzha (not Allepey).
Island express leaves Bengaluru at 20:00 and reaches Allepey in the morning at 10:00. There is also a Garib rath which leaves at 21:00 but it runs only on Sun, Tue and Thursday and only has A/C compartments (and they are quite cramped!). Check for detailed schedule.
Getting around Allepey
Autorickshaws are the most convenient and reasonably inexpensive means of getting around Allepey. You can also take the local city bus but since Alappuzha town is very compact traveling by auto doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Unfortunately, the app based taxi services Ola and Uber are not yet available in the Alappuzha city.
Allepey Attractions/ What to see in Allepey
Allepey Backwater tours
Why else would anyone even be in Alappuzha if not for the legendary Backwater trip. When it comes to taking the boat there are several options available.
Water Taxi: The cheapest is to use the water taxi, the boat which is used as public transport by the local to get around the neighboring areas. Yes! Backwater canals don’t exist just as a decorative piece in the showcase meant to wow the tourist, they are actually used as primary means of transportation by the local people. And as you will tread these canals you will find out there is a whole ecosystem built around the backwaters which drives the livelihood and daily lives of the people of Kerala. Needless to say this is best option for a solo backpacker traveling on a tight budget.
You can either go for a short ride on the water taxi or you can choose to go long distance to Kollam. The entire Allepey-Kollam journey by boat takes 8 hours. You can find details on the official website.
Shikara: Alternatively, you can choose to go around in backwaters by a shikara. It is meant for a small group of people (4-5) and is good for a quick couple of hour tours. The shikara for two hours for two people would cost somewhere around 800/- INR.
Note: To get a water taxi or a shikara head to Government boat jetty located on a walkable distance from the bus station. To locate the boat jetty on Google Maps search for – KSWTD Boat Jetty.
Canoe: You can also take 3-4 hours’ canoe trips which will cost you about 800/- rupees per head. This trip can be book easily with the help of your hotel or homestay.
Houseboats: The houseboats are the most luxurious option available and come with lot of bells and whistles, but these additional comforts also makes houseboats the most expensive means to explore the backwaters. The houseboat can cost up to 10,000/- INR (155 USD) or maybe more during the peak season. They are an ideal choice of exploring backwaters if you are looking to unwind yourself (and unwind your wallet too) or if you are traveling in a group so that expenses could be split up. Houseboats are also the choice of the travel for couples on their honeymoon.
No matter which of the above you choose, these boats pass through the waterway where the annual Nehru Trophy race takes place.
Allepey has a nice, clean beach which is ideal for an evening walk or to watch the sun go down the Arabian sea. For cheap, decent coffee and snacks just walk in to Indian Coffee House located very close to the beach.
Every time I visit a lighthouse I trip back in time (Ah, those childhood memories) feeling nostalgic of the days gone by. The Allepey lighthouse is a part of the network of lighthouses which are scattered around the Kerala coasts. There is also one lighthouse near Varkala, which is easily accessible on a gearless scooter trip. However, the Allepey lighthouse is situated right inside the city and very close to the main beach.
The Allepey lighthouse is very well maintained and looks as if it was built only yesterday. There is a beautiful garden surrounding the lighthouse with a carpet of colorful flowers and mangoes in the summer. There is also a small museum which houses has on display old lighthouse equipment. Fantastic for the lighthouse aficionado! But if you are looking for a view of the mesh of the canals you’d be disappointed as Allepey has a very thick green cover and all you see from the top are the towering Palm trees.
Snake Boat race or Nehru trophy boat race
The famous snake boat race takes place in the month of august every year on 2nd Saturday. The snake boat race has a long tradition and has been regularly held in Allepey since its inception in the year 1952. The waterway where the race takes places can easily be viewed as it is on the route of all the backwater boats.
Official website: Nehru Trophy
Allepey Hotels/ Where to stay in Allepey
Rating: 9.3 from 40+ reviews
Standard Family Room – U.S. $12 | ₹
Location – Close to the beach.
8 Bed Mixed Dorm – U.S. $7 | ₹ 450
Double room – U.S. $19
Location – Close to the Allepey beach
Bed in 6-Bed Dormitory Room – $2 | ₹ 130
Deluxe Double Room with Two Double Beds – $9 (at discounted price)
Location – Walking distance about 10 minutes from the beach
Deluxe Double or Twin Room with River View – US $78 / ₹ 5100 + taxes
The boat comes with modern amenities including LED TV and A/C rooms.
You can dine in the restaurant on the boat. Parking facilities are also available.
Location: On the water within half a km from Nehru Trophy Boat Race