October 3, 2015

After visiting Kochi (Cochin Sightseeing), 2 days experience at Vivanta by Taj - Kottayam, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Vembanad Lake visit in Kettuvallom (country boat), and overnight stay at Alleppey houseboat, I can certainly say that Kerala justifies the magical sayings - "God's own country". I would like to add that if you are visiting India, Kerala should be in the topmost list of the 'Best places to visit in India'. Let's go to our next and final stop - Alleppey beach and lighthouse, before we move to airport.

Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is referred to as the "Venice of the East" by travellers from across the world. After enjoying the fantastic Alleppey houseboat trip at Vembanad Lake, we planned the quick trip to Alleppey beach and nearby lighthouse. It is quite near to Alleppey houseboat jetty meeting point. Alleppey town is considered to be the oldest planned town in this region and the lighthouse built on the coast of the town is the first of its kind along the Arabian coast. We also purchased few snacks, sweets, banana chips, halwa and Kerala spices on our way.

Alleppey Beach is frequently referred to as Alappuzha Beach. I was amazed to know and see that there is an old character-filled pier located here that is over 137 years old. Remains of Alappuzha Sea Bridge, which is in ruins now. Alleppey Beach is one of the most popular beaches of the state of Kerala. One thing that draws people to this beach is the facilities at Vijaya Beach Park.


It was also good to see many dustbins all around beach to make the beach more cleaner. It seems like 'Swatcha Bharat Abhiyan' aka 'Clean India Campaign' is being educated and followed. With the beautiful sand contrasts beautifully with the color of the water, to make for a truly picturesque location and relaxing atmosphere. Picnicking at the beach is one of the best ways to spend the day here.

Alleppey lighthouse is just 5 minutes walk from the beach side. The lighthouse building has been open for public visits since 2007. Opening timings for lighthouse to reach at the top
is usually 10 am to 5 pm daily (as per last ticket we visited). Entry fee is 10 INR per person, and 20 INR was charged extra for camera. We were on time and stepped up till the top.

It was an over amazing feeling, like got something awarding, and the view looking to Alleppey beach is just amazing. We feel top of the world. We had few titanic poses as well. From the top, The picture perfect beach views with the Arabian Sea to the west as well as a large network of lakes, lagoons and several freshwater rivers nearby. We get to know that the lighthouse, which was painted plain white, was repainted in red and white bands in 2000. Sunset would be really amazing from this place. Marari beach is another nice beach nearby to explore.

Alappuzha is also the access point for the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race. It is held on the Punnamada Lake, near Alappuzha, held on the second Saturday of August every year. It is the most competitive and popular of the boat races in India. The mullackal chirap is also one of the attractions of Allapuzha which is the festive season held ten colorful days every year in the month of December.
Hope to plan and visit Munnar, Trivendrum, and other places in Kerala soon.

October 2, 2015

"The houseboat trip at the Vembanad lake at Alleppey is like a perfect gift for your loved ones for lifetime." - Quote about Houseboat trip to Alleppey in "God's own country - Kerala" - By Sachin Kumar Gupta.

Alappuzha also known as Alleppey, is a town in Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. Alleppey is situated 62 KM to the south of Kochi and 155 KM north of Trivandrum. Backwaters of Alleppey are world famous and is the most popular tourist attraction in Kerala.  A town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons, it was described as the one of the places known as "Venice of the East" by Lord Curzon.

The backwaters in Alleppey of Kerala is just another reason why thousands of people (both natives, and tourists) flock to this beautiful destination the whole year round. Kettuvalloms or Houseboats (Riceboats) are country boats that were used in the early days for the transport of goods from the isolated interior villages to the towns. Now these kettuvalloms are back again as a major tourist attraction.

A ride on a Kettuvallom is a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters. If you are planning for the wedding gift or on your honeymoon, This could be one of best places in India. You have to book a houseboat in advance since they are always in high demand. There are single-bedroom and even four to five-bedroom houseboats available, with living rooms, bathrooms, an equipped kitchenette and air-conditioning too. A well trained crew of a cook and a bearer along with two oarsmen will be at your service all through.

We had booked for overnight stay on Gokul houseboat in the Allepey backwaters. We booked for 2 bedroom Deluxe houseboat, which was upgraded to 4 bedroom houseboat by UdayaKumar (Gokul Cruise contact person). Two rooms were locked though, but bigger houseboat with sundeck terrace was simply cool. The houseboat was quite luxurious and equipped with all of the modern amenities we need.

The full packages includes with approx. below timings:
Cruise time 12:00 PM - 5:30 PM (45 - 60 minutes break during lunch)
All meals inclusive (welcome drink, lunch, evening snacks, dinner, next morning breakfast)
Kerala traditional dishes including pre-booked veg food & Fruit Basket
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM tea and snacks
5:30 PM - 8:00 AM houseboat halting at riverside with overnight stay
AC Switch on in bedrooms only during 9:00 PM - 6:00 AM (If full time AC require, inform in advance with additional cost.)
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM cruise back to checkout point
Note: Non-veg can also have fresh meal direct from the Vembanad Lake on prior booking. Flower Decoration, Candle light dinner, Wedding Cake on board are also available on
prior demand.

Feeling from the top of the terrace was just soothing. The gentle breeze from the Vembanad Lake has made us refreshing. We experience the serenity and calm of this alluring lake, famous for its backwater tourism. With coconut trees lining the pellucid lake waters for kilometers at a stretch.
The backwaters of Alleppey offer one of the most enchanting sights to tourists. There were paddy fields, few churches also along the backwaters route. After 5:30 PM you can also enjoy Shikkara cruise or small boat trip including lake side village walk. The most exciting feature of a shikkara is that it can go even into very small canals and inner areas of village, where houseboat and motorboat cannot travel. Though we opted for closer village walk and buy fresh coconut water and snacks.
We saw the rural life of the water borne villages of Kerala including men fishing in canoes. After that we relaxed at houseboat, had music, fun and food during night. Early in the morning it started drizzling, It was very nice to enjoy rain from the houseboat window.
We can say that if you are really looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones, gift your loved ones House boating experience, it's the most memorable experience one can receive. For a wonderful wedding or an anniversary gift to share together, charming backwaters combined with backwater ripples, really makes for an unforgettable experience. After breakfast, next morning, we moved to Alleppey beach and lighthouse trip.
"Whatever the occasion be, honeymoon, wedding, birthday, anniversary, leisure, or just a big 'Thank You', a truly memorable holiday destination that makes the perfect gift for any occasion." - Quote about Kumarakom, Kottayam in "God's own country - Kerala" - By Sachin Kumar Gupta.

Kumarakom Kottayam Sightseeing
Kumarakom is a serene, emerald green peninsula set in the backdrop of Vembanad Lake which is dotted with numerous traditional houseboats, rice boats, rafts and canoes. This backwater spot is abundant with flora and fauna, being especially rich in marine life. It took us 2 hours to reach Kumarakom after Kochi sightseeing. A wide variety of places to visit in Kumarakom spanning genres as diverse as nature, religious, and historic attractions make Kumarakom tourist places really memorable. Popular well known attractions include Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall, and Juma Masjid, Vembanad Lake and Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple.

We had our amazing stay at Vivanta by Taj for 2 days, which was the small world in itself with lots of events and activities. We also enjoyed Thiruvathira and Bharathanatyam
dances and instrumental Karnatic music on the Baker's house lagoon front. During our stay we also had short houseboat trip next day. Boating through Vembanad lake is the main sightseeing activity for a tourist to kumarakom. Vembanad lake ( Kayal/Kol) is the longest lakes in India and the largest in Kerala. It is connected to Arabian sea. This lake is known in many names according to its location, In Alleppey area it is known as Punnamada lake in Alleppey-Kuttanad, Kochi lake in Kochi. Pathiramanal Island is a small island in Vembanad Lake, easily reachable through boat.

At Kumarakom Government Jetty point, People can book a houseboat for a day cruise from 11am to 5 pm which includes a welcome drink, lunch and evening tea and snacks. Day cruise is better for the family, groups & those who don't like to stay in the houseboat compared to overnight stay package at less cost. We booked a overnight stay at backwaters of Alleppey for next day. Different types of boats offers different services at Kumarakom Government Jetty and nearby places.

Houseboats are good for a relaxing vacation for a day or two.
Motor boats are fast, cheaper, and can accommodate up to 80 persons.
Shikkara boats are traditional open canoe like country boat, the maximum capacity is 6 prersons.
Speed boats are for short faster trip but little expensive as per trip-time.

Kumarakom Bird Santuary: sometimes referred as Vembanad Bird Sanctuary.
Entry fee: 50 INR per person for Indian, 100 INR for foreigners.
Timings: All days of the week 6:30 AM - 5:00 PM
We had morning walk to this place which was just next to Taj Kumarakom, Kottayam. This sanctuary is situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake. It is a heavenly place for the travelling birds like Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. We were welcomed by many beautiful butterfly at entry garden. During the time when we visited, there were only few types of birds specially sea-crows and few other unknown. The overall walk is approx 2 KM one way.

You have to reach the watch towers for bird watching before you drop the plan to move further. As from watch towers only you would be able to watch the adobe of birds. It takes 2-3 hours to visit this place. Beyond the sanctuary, one can take a boat ride in Vembanad Lake or along the Kavanar River. Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, (KTDC) which owns the largest chain of hotels in Kerala, including a resort in the middle of the bird sanctuary at Kumarakom, has opened an interpretation center in the bird sanctuary for the visitors.

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