With the Arabian sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons, and fresh water rivers criss crossing it. Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travelers from across the world, this backwater country is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today Alappuzha is grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, attracting several thousands of foreign tourists each year. Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holydays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Here, one can see coconut husks being beaten into fiber for making beautiful mats and coir products. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad. The rice bowl of Kerala. Kuttanad is perhaps the only place in the world where farming is done below sea level.
The Parthasarathi temple (Dedicated to Load Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna in .Pandava – Kourava war) on the banks of the holy river Pamba attracts large crowds of devotees The famed Aranmula Boat Race is held on the last day of week long Onam festival. The Vijnana Kalavedi at Aranmula imparts training in the traditional arts like Kathakali, classical dances, classical music, as well as Kalaripayattu. Foreign tourists stay here for long periods to get a first hand knowledge of the culture of Kerala. The Vishnu Temple here has fine murals from the 18th century. Aranmula is fast emerging as an important summer resort. Aranmula is also famous for its metal mirrors which make good souvenirs.
ARANMULA BOAT RACE :
The famous water fiesta which is held during Onam (August – September). The snake boats assemble near Sri. Parthasarathi Temple before the grand procession. Each boat is 30 ft long and accommodates 4 helmsmen, 100 rowers and 25 singers. The snake boats move in pairs to the rhythm of full-throated singing and shouting, watched by excited crowd.
According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanadu Lake to perform his evening ablutions, and water made way for land to rise from below. Thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight). This little island on the backwaters is a favorite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world.
Kuttanad is called as the rice bowl of Kerala, because for her wealth of paddy crops is at the very heart of the backwaters. The scenic country side of Kuttanad with its shimmering waterways also has a rich crop of bananas, casava and yams which accompany the rice bowl as “side dishes”. This is perhaps the only land in the world where farming is done below sea level. Inland waterways which flow above land level are an amazing feature of this unique land.
The Sree Krishna Temple here, built in the typical Kerala architectural style, is famous all over Kerala for “Palpayasam”, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge, which tastes like rice pudding. It is also in this temple that pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) one in twelve years Human sacrifice was conducted in ancient times. However cocks have now replaced humans on the sacrificial altar.
Situated near Harippadu, is is a serpent shrine under the patronage of a Brahmin family, headed by a priestess. Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral houses to safeguard the family. At Mannarasala barren women are believed to be blessed with children, and a special turmeric paste available at the shrine is credited with powers to cure even leprosy.
BOAT RACES :
Alappuzha Nehru Trophy Boat Race at Punnamada Kayal – second Saturday of August. Pulinkunnu Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race – Last Saturday of August. Champakulam Moolam Boat Race – Moolam day of Mithunam – July Payippad Jalotsavam – 4th Onam day – August/September. Neerattupuram Boat Race- Onam – August/September.
The St. Sebastian’s Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. Annual festival Arthunkal Perunnal – the feast of the patron saint (January).
The Nearest airport is at Cochin, 64 Km. from here. Cochin is connected by daily flights with almost all the important cities in the country. Alappuzha is connected by rail with almost all the important towns in India. National Highway No. 47, which runs through Alappuzha town, connects the district with important centers in South India. Ferry Boats on the scenic backwaters of Alappuzha, connect the district with Cochin, Kollam, Kottayam and Chengannur. The cruise through the winding canals and backwaters is truly an unforgettable experience.