Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is a coastal town in Alappuzha District of Kerala. Alappuzha is the district headquarters of Alappuzha District. The Alappuzha coast is called as Chakara (a unique marine feature in which a large number of fish and prawns swarm together in a season as a result of mud bank formations).
It is believed to be the oldest town that was technically well planned. The town has a light house that was one of the initial light houses of the country.
The most important industry of Alappuzha is Coir industry which is both large and small scale. The industry is a major contributor for not only the districts economy but also for the state. Huge quantity of Coir is exported from here to all parts of the world. The Coir Board was established in Alappuzha by the Central Government. There is a Coir Research Institute in the district that works on improving the quality and quantity of the product. Pepper, coconut oil, areca nut, cardamom, sugar, etc are the other products cultivated here.
Alappuzha is the sixth largest city in Kerala with beautiful canals, backwaters, beaches, and ponds. The city was called as "Venice of the East" by Lord Curzon.
The Alleppey Tourism Development Co-operative Society Ltd. was started in 1987 to promote tourism in Alappuzha.
Alleppey or Alappuzha is located in the Alappuzha district of Kerala. Its geographical coordinates are 9.54°N 76.40°E and is at an elevation is 1 meter (3.3 feet) about sea level. Alleppey is 155 km from the state capital Trivandrum and has a stretched sea coast of 82 Km which constitutes about 13.9 % of the total coastal line of Kerala.
The Alappuzha district is bounded on the north by Kochi and Ernakulam district, on the east by Vaikom, Kottayam, Thiruvalla, Kozhenchery and Pathanamthitta district, on the South by Kunnathur and Kollam district and on the west by Arabian Sea.
The district has a number of rivers,canals and backwaters. The rivers are Manimala, Pampa and Achancovil. The most prominent backwater lakes are Vembanad Lake and Kayamkulam Lake. The important canals are Vadai canal, Commercial canals and the link canals between these two canals. In addition to this there are many inland canals also.
The name Alappuzha means the land between the sea and rivers flowing into it. These geographical features of the place have led to its name.
Alappuzha is a popular and an important tourist destination in India. What make the place extremely interesting are the backwaters that connect to Kumarakom and Cochin in the north and Quilon to the South. Fishing, swimming, houseboats and cruises are the attractions of these backwaters. The traditional delicacies from these backwaters include lobsters, prawns, shrimps, crabs, fish, turtles etc.
The "Kettuvallam" (country boats or Houseboat) in the backwaters of Alappuzha is the magnetic force that attracts tourists from all over the country including foreign tourists. The stay in these luxurious boats is an unforgettable experience. The boats are heavily booked during peak seasons by families and mostly honeymooners. The boats are both A/c and non A/c with options of 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. When one lives there the immediate view of the lake, the greenery and tall coconut trees is mesmerizing. It feels sad to come back. The houseboats have all the modern amenities that any star hotel could have. The boats are owned privately and also by the Government. Hotels also run houseboats. One can directly approach the boat owner or the Alleppey Tourism Development Co-operative Society to rent a boat. Local tour and travel operators and guides can also guide the tourists.
The Kerala District Tourism Promotion Council conducts a number of short time daily back water cruises. They have a number of luxury boats and speed boats for short and long time backwater cruises. These short cruises take visitors around the lake and back. A few of them also offer entertainment such as dance and music during the cruise for the visitors. Sight-seeing is also available in boats for backwater coastand in cabs or buses for the city. These tours are very economical are easily available.
The local festivals of Alappuzha are:
1. Chettikulangara Bharani festival celebrated in the month of Feb-March.
2. The feast of St Sebastian
3. Feast of St. George is celebrated from April 27 to May 7 every year. The colorful festival is celebrated with fireworks and a major treat.
4. Onam - This is the most popular and important festival of any city in Kerala. The festival is celebrated in August - September in the memory of the golden era of King Mahabali. The celebrations begin within a fortnight of the Malayalam New Year and go on for ten days. The last day called the Thiruonam is the most important. All over the state, rituals along with new clothes, traditional food, dance, and music add glory to this harvest festival.Young men and women, dressed in their best, sing Onappaattu, or Onam songs.
5. Vishu - Vishu is celebrated in all parts of Kerala. It is the Malayalam New Year that is celebrated with great joy in the second week of April. The puja in the house is beautifully decorated with flowers and offerings to Lord Vishnu. Delicacies are cooked; people wear new clothes, make sweets and greet each other. Cultural programs are also organized that is attended by all. It is a festival of joy and welcoming the new coming year.
The nearest big town to Alappuzha is Kochi which is about 80 km away. Kochi is one of the most developed city of Kerala and an industrial hub.