Alappuzha also known as Alleppey, is a town in Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. Alappuzha is a Land Mark between the broad Arabian sea and a network of rivers flowing into it. A town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons, it was described as the List of places known as “Venice of the East” by Lord Curzon. It is the ministrative headquarters of Alappuzha District. Alleppey has a wonderful past.
Alappuzha, came into being as a district, in the political map of Kerala on the 27th of August, 1957. Before the formation of the district, a major part of this area was of Kollam district and the rest, of Kottayam district. Though Alappuzha, with its past glory has a historic tradition of its own, with its abundant trade activity.
Alappuzha is famous for the first labour upsurge against autocratic regime which is known as Punnapra-Vayalar agitation. The historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 stiffened the attitude of the people against Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, Diwan of Travancore, which ultimately led to his exit from the political scene of Travancore. After India became independent, a popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24th March, 1948 and on Ist July 1949 Travancore and Cochin states were integrated and the position continue till the formation of Kerala State on Ist November 1956 as per the States Reorganization Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on Ist August 1957 .
Though the present town owes its existence to the sagacious Diwan Raja Kesavadas in the second half of 18th century, district of Alappuzha figures in classical Literature. Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala with the unending stretch of paddy fields, small streams and canals with lush green coconut palms, was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age. History says Alappuzha had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome in B.C and in the Middle Ages, as well as with other parts of India. Alappuzha has a lighthouse, which is a major tourist attraction.
During the reign of Dharmaraja the district was improved by all means. Raja Kesava Das, the then Diwan of Travancore who was known as the ‘Maker of modern Alleppey’ made Alappuzha a premier port town of Travancore. He constructed several roads and canals to improve communications and built warehouses. He gave all facilities to merchants and traders from far and near. During the reign of Balaramavarma Maharaja, Velu Thampi Dalava took keen interest in the development of the town and port. He brought the whole area of the island Pathiramanal under coconut cultivation and large tracts under paddy cultivation. The role of Velu Thampi Dalava in the development of Alappuzha is worth mentioning. In the 19th century the district attained progress in all spheres. One of the five subordinate courts opened in the state in connection with the reorganization of the judicial system by Colonel Munro was located at Mavelikkara. The credit of having the first post office and first telegraph office in the erstwhile Travancore state goes to this district. The first modern factory for the manufacture of coir mats and mattings was also established in 1859 at Alappuzha. The town Improvement Committee was set up in 1894.
Kuttanad, a stretch of 75 km stands sandwiched between the vast serene sea & the magnificent hills. The bewildering labyrinth of shimmering waterways composed of lakes, canals, rivers & rivulets, is lined with dense tropical greenery and preserves rural Kerala life styles that are completely removed from the buzz of city life . The views change from narrow canals and dense vegetation to open vistas and dazzling green paddy fields.
The sweeping Network of canals honey-combing the town of Alappuzha has earned the sobriquet, “THE VENICE OF THE EAST”. Do not miss out on a ride into Kuttanad through shimmering, green paddy fields and tail-waging, head-bobbing groups of ducks. The Coir workers too present an interesting sight. Alleppey becomes the cynosure of all eyes in August-September, every year when the water regatta unfolds itself.
The district has a network of rivers,canals and backwaters. Manimala, Pampa and Achancovil are the major rivers.
Originates from Mothavara hills in Kottayam district enters the district at Thalavadi village in Kuttanad taluk and passes through Edathua and Champakulam villages and joins the Pamba river at Muttar.The villages of Manimala, Mallappally, Kaviyoor, Kalloppara, Thalavadi, Kozhimukku and Champakkulam lies in the course of the river Manimala. It has a length of 91.73 Km.
It is the third longest river in Kerala is formed by several streams originating from Peerumedu plateau in Idukki district, enters Alappuzha district at Chengannur and flows through Pandanad, Veeyapuram, Thakazhy, and Champakulam through a distance about 177.08 Km and plunges into vembanad lake through several branches such as Pallathuruthi Ar, Nedumudi Ar and Muttar. The river has a length of 117 Km. The main tributaries of the river are Pambayar, Kakki Ar, Arudai Ar, kakkad Ar and Kallar.
This river often known as Kulallada river, originates from Pasukida mettu, Ramakkal Theri and Rishimalai of Kollam district enters the district at Venmony and has a marginable length of 32.19 Km. Passes through Cheriyanad, Puliyoor and Chengannur villages, enters Mavelikkara Taluk at Chennithala, flows through Thriperumthura and pallippad villages and joins Pamba at Veeyapuram.
Places to see
He 18th century Krishnapuram Palace built during the reign of the Travancore monarch, Marthanda Varma, is a double storied structure which displays typical characteristics of Kerala architecture-gabled roofs, dormar windows, narrow corridors. It houses one of the largest mural paintings in Kerala called the Gajendra Moksham. It measures14 feet by 11 feet and is at the western end of the ground floor, a walking distance from the Palace Pool. Inside is also a museum of antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes. Situated 47 kms from Alappuzha on the way to Kollam, Krishnapuram is easily accessible by bus from either town
The Vijaya Beach Park
Picnic spot with children’s park & boating facilities (Open 1500 – 2000 hrs). Entrance fee: Rs. 2 per person; Free entrance for children below 5 years. Boating charge: Rs. 10 for 10 minutes. Other facilities for children: Toy train, bicycles. Video permit: Rs. 25, Camera permit: Rs. 5 respectively SEA VIEW PARK: The park offers boating facilities and a swimming pool. Boat rentals for 10 minutes: Round boat (4 seater) Pedal boat (2 seater), Pedal boat (4 seater) etc..
Its at 5 Kms from town. Referred to as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, it is famous for its boat races, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors.
According to mythology a young brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the 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 favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat.
Pandavan Rock gets its name from the Pandavas of Mahabharata who stayed in a cave here during the time of their exile. Pandavan Para, also known as the Rock of the Pandavas is an ideal picnic spot. It takes walking to get to this location, but it is not a hard climb. Most people that are in good health can easily manage the climb. There are several vantage points with terrific views along the trail. The panoramic view that can be seen when you reach the rocky outcrop at the top is exceptional.
It is the most important of the west coast canal system has a length of 84 Km and an average breadth of 3.1 Km. It covers an area of 204 Sq.Km. Stretching from Alappuzha to Kochi. Borders Cherthala, Ambalapuzha and Kuttanad Taluks of Alappuzha district, Kottayam, vaikom and Changanasserry taluks of Kottayam district and Kochi and Kanayannur Taluks of Ernakulam district. Pamba, Achankovil , Manimala, Meenachil and Muvattupuzha rivers discharge into this lake. Pathiramanal, often called the mysterious sand of midnight, having coconut palms and luxuriant vegetation is situated in the centre of this lake. Perumbalam and Pallippuram are the other islands in this lake. The Thannermukkom regulator constructed across Vembanad lake between Thannermukkom and Vechur is intended to prevent tidal action and intrusion of saline water into the lake. It is the largest mud regulator in India.
Stretching between Panmana and Karthikappally, Kayamkulam lake is a shallow lake which has an outlet to sea at Kayamkulam barrage. It has an area of 59.57 Sq.Km., a length of 30.5 Km and an average breadth of 2.4 Km. It connects Ashtamudi lake by the Chavara Panmana canal.
Alappuzha has a network of canals included in the west coast canal system which are used for navigation. The important canals are Vadai canal, Commercial canals and the link canals between these two canals. Apart from these, there are many inland canals which are mainly used for passenger navigation and commercial purposes.
The lakes are used for inland water transport of passengers and cargo. Inland fisheries have also been flourished in these regions.
Alappuzha has a flat unbroken sea coast of 82 Km length. An interesting phenomenon of this seacoast during the month of June is the periodic shifting of mud bank popularly known as “Chakara” within a range of 25 Km in Alappuzha-Purakkad coast due to hydrolic pressure when the level of backwater rises during south-west monsoon.
Places of Workship
Amabalappuzha Sreekrishna Temple on the Kollam-Alappuzha Highway is called the Dwaraka of the South. It is frequented by thousands of devotees especially during the annual festival which falls in April every year. ‘Ambalappuzha palpayasam’ the devotional delicacy of the temple, is renowned for its unique taste. Ambalappuzha is also famous for the traditional visual martial art of Kerala, Velakali.
Mannarasala near Haripad 32 Kms. south of Alappuzha is an important centre of pilgrimage in the district. The famous Mannarasala temple devoted to the serpent deity is a rare phenomenon of worship. The Ayilyam festival held in November every year is very famous.
Subrahmanya Swamy temple, Haripad
Sree Subrahmanya Swamy temple at Haripad is one among the three oldest temples of Kerala. Daily a number of devotees come to this holy shrine. It is believed that the temple was established even before the advert of ‘Kaliyuga‘. There are two legends connected with the origin of this temple. One is based on the story mentioned in the ‘Skandapurana‘ and the other is related to the payippad Snake-boat race.
Karumadi, three Kms. east of Ambalappuzha, has a statue of Budha called Karumadikuttan, a perennial source of interest for the tourists.
Arthumkal Church is famous for the St. Sebastian’s church which is situated south west of Cherthala town 22 Kms north of Alappuzha. The famous Arthumkal Perunal is held in January every year. Catholics from all parts of the state participate in the feast of St. Sebastian.
It is 24 km from Alappuzha, on the Alappuzha – Thiruvalla Road Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. It is believed that prayers and offerings at this church help to heal all mental disorders and other ailments.During the annual feast (5th, 6th and 7th of May) pilgrims from all parts of South India, irrespective of caste and creed, visit the church and seek the blessings of the saint.
Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara
The Kettukazhcha festival at this temple draws large crowds of devotees. Processions of tall decorated structures on chariots, brightly decorated effigies of horses and bullocks and cultural performances make a spectacular pageant. (Festival – February/March)
Chavara Bhavan is the ancestral home of the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara. It is now a holy shrine and spiritual resort where thousands of devotees gather for prayer, receive favours and feel amply gratified. Here, a 250 year old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form.