The first thing that struck us as our overnight bus pulled into Alleppey (Alappuzha) was the continuous flow of ads for houseboats! Well actually the first thing that our groggy eyes took in was being surrounded by every shade of green, but the ads really were everywhere! 😊
The bus dropped us off at a junction just off the main bus stand. It’s not really uncommon for buses in India to do that, drop you off en route. But we got an auto rickshaw almost immediately, so it wasn’t too much of a bother. We were booked at the Ramada Alleppey, which is right in front of the finish point of the famous ‘Nehru boat race’, and also the boarding point for numerous houseboats! Tired as we were, it was still much too early for our room to be made available, but they did check us in and put our bags away till they could get our rooms ready, so that was something.
Rather than wait at the hotel, we decided to step out for breakfast. We didn’t need to go far, there were a couple of breakfast joints just outside the gate! It wasn’t the greatest, considering some of the amazing breakfasts we’ve had in different regions of the state, but the ‘appam and stew’ got us going anyway. And with that, the start of our extended weekend break in Alleppey!
Our 3 day itinerary
Alleppey beach – Not!
Give this main beach a skip altogether! Unless like us, you’re waiting for your hotel room to get ready and so just looking to kill some time. In which case, there are a few spots to sit around. We did get super lucky tho – we saw a pod of Dolphins go by while we sat there! But otherwise it’s really a very uninspiring beach, no restaurants, beach beds or umbrellas either. Maybe a morning or evening stroll even, but that’s about it.
Krishnapuram Palace (Kayamgulam)
The palace itself is a wonderful example of traditional Kerala architecture. All wood and courtyards, this place is some serious home goals! It also houses the largest intact murals of the period in all Kerala, titled ‘Gajendra Moksham’. That said, the palace is a good 50 Kms from Alleppey. So if architecture and murals is not your thing, you can give it a skip altogether.
We just hopped on a local bus post a very heavy and satisfying lunch, so fell asleep for the hour it took us to get there and then again on the ride back. The bus cost us INR 86 (one way) for the both of us and another INR 40 for the entrance to the palace. Unless you’re driving down, the bus really is a good option. There’s also the Kayamgulam lake nearby, if you’re interested.
Walk down the boat jetty road
For no reason other than that it’s a nice sight, watching holidaymakers and locals go their way in boats of varying sizes and speeds. Try and make time for a cup of coffee by the canal at the Café Paradiso, by the side of the road. I thought their Indian tea / coffee was a lot better than the iced ones, but whatever works for you. It’s a very pleasant spot to soak in all the activity on the canal, especially around dusk.
They also help with bike and boat rentals. We signed up for the canoe boat ride with them, more on that in a related post.
Rent a bike!
We did this on our second morning and it worked perfectly for our plans for the day. Café Paradiso was offering us a bike on rent for INR 500 per day. However, a shop we were walking by near our hotel offered us one for INR 300 per day. Obviously we went for that.😊 We got a Honda Activa, in good working condition, against a copy of the PAN card. For reasons beyond us, neither of us had our DL on us! I half expected to be refused on that account, but he didn’t seem to concerned by it. Carry your DL tho, they’re a good number of cops on the roads and the possibility of getting pulled over really isn’t worth it.
This shop didn’t have a name on display, and for some reason we weren’t too concerned by that. 😊 It was a hassle free experience – we actually ended up keeping the bike for 2 days as the guy wasn’t available when we tried to return it at the end of the 1st day, but he charged us for just the day. In case you’re in the area looking to rent a bike, it’s a small unmarked garment store diagonally opposite the Pullikatil Handicrafts store, near the Ramada.
Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple
Dating back to AD 790, it is listed among the top few things to do on the likes of trip advisor, and also frequented by large number of locals on daily basis. And seemingly rather devout ones at that! The walls of the inner sanctum of the temple are covered with beautiful and vibrantly colored murals depicting Krishna’s life. Just these panels by themselves were worth the visit really. I had my own personal ‘Indian mythology expert’ who walked me thru panel by panel, so that was nice. 😊
The inner sanctum is however open only during ‘darshan’, which is usually about 12 noon, so you could plan your visit accordingly. If you happen to visit during a weekend, expect to wait in the que for a bit. Do note tho, where women with bare shoulders/knees are frowned upon, men are not allowed inside the main area with a shirt on! Huh. We also stood in a longish que for ‘payasam’ (the temple’s prasadam), but unfortunately were not able to eat any, because we forgot it in the carrier of the bike. 😔
Revi Karuna Karan Memorial Museum
What started off as someplace to spend time indoors on a hot and sunny afternoon, soon turned into us spending over 2 hrs looking at floors and cabinets full of eclectic collections! Set up as a memorial for the late coir baron, the museum houses a private collection ranging from antique furniture, to limited Swarovski and Llardo collections, to numerous ivory and jade items; and so much more! Not all from the collection is necessarily unique or of historical value, but it’s all very fascinating anyway! Do make time to drop in for a bit if you happen to visit Appelley.
Open all days from 9 am to 5 pm (except Monday), the tickets cost INR 150 per head. No photography is allowed inside tho – don’t bother trying either. The caretakers are quite watchful about that! 😊
What a lovely surprise this beach turned out to be! It was recommended to us by an auto driver when he saw us look rather dejected over the Alleppey beach. 😊 Insisting that it was a ‘international and foreign’ beach he wanted to take us there right away! Spoilsports us, we decided to wait till the next day tho.
12 kms from the Alleppey beach, it was a fun ride along the sea shore on our rental scooter. We were half expecting a Goa-like vibe, but not even close, and thank God for that! Clean, uncrowded and quite, there are a couple of fancy resorts and a few homestays along the beach. The only ‘shack’ selling prawns and the like decided he wanted to get a couple of drinks with his friends, so shut for the evening.😀We did however plant ourselves near a tiny stall that fed us awesome fresh ‘bhajji’ (veggies fried in chickpea batter) and ‘kattan chaya’ (black tea with sugar), and then spend the rest of the evening watching fishermen haul in their boats with a gorgeous sunset in the background.
For our next trip to Alleppey, we would probably just stay at Marari and rent a bike to get around. The thing however is that stay here is expensive! The cheapest rooms on this beach are about 3k a night, going upto 20k! The same standard stay in a place like Goa would be about 50% cheaper. But then, I guess it’s a tradeoff against a quiet, uncrowded beach.
The highlight of the trip! We kept this for day 3 as we needed to check out by 10 am, and our train wasn’t till 8 pm. Ramada has a left baggage room, so that helped. We checked out early, by 830 am and were ready for our adventure on the water by 9.
The backwaters of Kerala are amazing! In addition to being the primary source of tourism, it’s really a way of life! On the waters you will pass holiday makers, and in equal measure, locals going about their everyday life. Women on their way back from the temple, men headed to the mainland, even children headed to school! We saw them all.
I’ve shared a detailed write up on the entire backwater experience – what to expect, what to carry, have also included inputs on which kind of boat could be best suited for your trip! Do read thru that as well.😊
So that was my itinerary for a 3 day vacation in Alleppey. You could of course add, delete or simply re-arrange things based on your interests and time, but I hope you found it helpful to get started off with.
Do write in and let me know your thoughts. And also if there was something awesome we missed and should try the next time around! 😊
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