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The old trading port of Alleppey – or Alappuzha as it’s also known – is well known as the capital of backwater country. This is where many of the boat tours of Kerala’s “Venice of the East” begin or end.
It goes without saying that a slow crawl around the canals and lakes of backwater Kerala is the main ‘thing to do’ when you visit Alleppey.
But here we give you nine extra items and ideas that add more to your visit.
These are activities you can either enjoy on your backwater journey or find elsewhere in Alleppey town or nearby villages.
1. Go night fishing
There’s something particularly enchanting about floating in a vallam, the traditional paddled longboat familiar to Kerala, under the moonlight, on a warm Indian evening, and hanging a fishing line into the glimmering waters. Other forms of fishing to look out for include the incredibly hard spear fishing, and fishing using a trapping pond.
3. Eat a banana leaf lunch
Use your fingers as cutlery and a large green banana leaf as a plate and you’re half way to eating ‘Kerala style’. Add some pickles to your plate and a ball of steamed rice, flavoured with grated coconut, and you’re nearly there. Finish off the look with main dishes of rasam or sambar or perhaps a delicious fish molee, all mopped up with a pathiri pancake, and you’re enjoying an authentic Keralan lunch. Still hungry? Order some crispy banana chips and a bowl of sweet payasam for pudding.
4. Hire a bicycle
While guided tours give you a wealth of trivia and background information, sometimes it’s nice to abandon them and let instinct direct you instead. Bicycle is a great way to explore both the streets of Alleppey and the surrounding countryside. Buy a good map and take off early, enjoying the freedom of travel on Alappuzha’s quieter roads.
5. Swim in the holy river
The River Pampa is a holy river, treated with reverence by garland-wearing pilgrims who visit it to bathe. If you are staying in a homestay, ask your host to suggest a good spot where you can enjoy a leisurely swim.
6. Get an Ayurvedic massage
Ayurveda is an important Indian medicine system, thought to be influenced by Buddhism. It focuses on meditation, yoga and massage. Massage uses herbs and oils coupled with a variety of hand techniques, including kneading, tapping and squeezing. A full body, relaxing Ayurvedic massage in one of the quality treatment rooms of Alleppey fits ideally with the overall laid back theme of Kerala life.
7. Explore the surrounding villages
There’s plenty on offer in the small villages dotted outside of Alleppey. Especially worth a visit is Champakulam, a peaceful place sat on the River Pampa and home of India’s oldest Christian church (built in AD 427). It also stages the famous ‘snake boat race’ held in June or July.
8. Spot unusual birds
Take a short trip out of Alleppey to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and you’ll enjoy one of the world’s most popular bird-watching locations. You’ll see migratory birds that travel from as far as Siberia and the Himalayas, including the stork, egret, darter, heron and teal.
9. Get real local insights
If you’re staying with Mahindra Homestays you’ll benefit from the expert local knowledge and hospitality of your chosen host. In Alleppey we have hosts who will be happy to take you on a walk of the beach and the town, pointing out things of interest. They’ll also be able to organise activities for you, such as a visit to the sports ground where you can play sports such as basketball, tennis and badminton. Make use of them – they are delighted to help.
To find out more about staying in Alleppey, Kerala, and to book accommodation, take a look at our homestays in Alleppey.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.