Alleppey Backwaters, popularly known as – Venice of the East, is a popular tourist destination of India. In fact, Kerala tourism thrives on Munnar & Alleppey.
Since the time I first heard the word ‘backwaters’, I imagined it was something of a miracle. When I were a kid, I almost believed that Alleppey Backwaters would have healing properties. Last year, I booked my tickets for Alleppey thinking – a mere stay in a house boat of Alleppey will cure my prolonged illness from the numerous board presentations that I made. I believed that it will fill me with creative ideas which I can incorporate in the newsletter that was sitting on my desk for weeks. Sadly, the backwaters were neither magical nor healing. They were just backwaters (water bordered by coconut trees alongside a few homes).
Before you plan a trip to Alleppey backwaters, have a look at these five things that no one tells you about:
1. A Shikara is as good as a houseboat.
There is nothing exceptional about a houseboat. It’s like an airplane ride. You are excited till the time you experience it. Once you board a plane, all you can think of is the congested leg space & the right moment to ask your neighbor to make some way so that you can visit the loo. Plus a Shikara costs you INR 600- INR 700 for an hour while a houseboat costs you INR 6000- INR 7000 for a day. Your call!
2. The backwaters are beautiful but in patches.
Don’t think that the entire sky will conspire to create an emerald green color for you to enjoy the backwaters & have an experience of a lifetime. The weather doesn’t care whether you are a localite or have travelled all the way from North India just to experience the magic of ‘Venice of the East’. So, if you are really lucky & carefully choose your stay to coincide with good weather, you might love it a great deal. If not, Alleppey is certainly beautiful, but in patches.
Moreover, you see glimpses of why we all should support ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) campaign. You will be in the middle of adjusting your DSLR to capture a wonderful click & out of nowhere, a papaya would pop up next to your Shikara & bomb your ‘could-have-been-beautiful-pic’.
3. Time stops in Alleppey.
Long back, I read this book by great writer, Ruskin Bond, titled “Time Stops at Shamli”. I read the story & forgot about it. But it all came back to me when I were there in the Shikara. It never picks up the pace. Once you are in a Shikara, you can eat, dance, sleep, exercise or do it all. And you will still be in the Shikara because it doesn’t really move (It was really slow).
4. You can do some bird watching.
Alleppey backwaters are home to a few, cool birds. In an ultra slow Shikara or a house boat where time nearly stops, spotting a few birds can give you adrenaline rush. 😉 Seriously, these birds are pretty. Got a good camera? Click a few pictures.
5. Backwaters make you hungry.
There is just something in the air. And there is definitely fish in the water. Both of which will make you hungry. No matter how much stuffed you were in the beginning of the ride, you will get hunger pangs. There are a few places around where you can get good coastal food.
Vegetarians – fret not! These restaurants serve good rice meals too.
Alleppey backwaters is definitely worth a visit for many other reasons not mentioned here. Want to know about them? Stay tuned! A post on that coming up soon.