As you drive into the picturesque city of Alleppey complete with canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons, there is a certain energy and a ‘feeling of being one with nature’ that comes to you. Situated at a distance of 62 km south of Kochi, Alleppey is a popular tourist destination during the monsoon season. The day cruise in backwaters of Aleppey take you through canals connects Kumarakom and Kochi in the north and is the main centre for the Nehru Trophy Boat Race where you find 50 people seated in the boat rowing hard to win the race.
But the most important thing that strikes you about the backwaters here is the serene, calm environ with the monsoon water slowly coming down on the lake. There are many resorts situated on the backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom in Kerala but the Lake Palace Resort situated on the banks of the Vembanadu lake is worth visiting for its food and luxurious cottages. Each cottage is just 5 steps away from the lake and as raindrops come falling, you find just a boat or two with fishermen dressed in their umbrella caps trying to spread their nets far as possible. It is quite a contrasting view of life as you find fishermen on one hand trying to find their daily bread hunting for fish in the monsoon rains and on the other hand you have the high flying tourists enjoying a walk under the almond trees by the lake or indulging in a lavish brunch early morning.
A ride into the interiors of Alleppey in the shikara is something that you should not miss. Clearly called the Venice of the East, the shikara takes you through the narrow canals where you find small villages situated on the banks of the lake and village tourism in Kerala. While it is a beautiful experience for the tourists, on the other hand you find the villagers washing clothes, and enjoying a peaceful coexistence living in the small houses. The houseboats cannot go through the narrow canals. There is a vast area of paddy fields that makes a green cover besides the lake. So much so, that the coconut trees on either side, the green paddy fields make the water also look green! As you make your journey slowly, it is a sight to watch so many houseboats cruising through the waters, people happily enjoying a dish of onion vadas with coffee and a variety of birds enjoying their flight over the sea.
Another important sight and pleasure hobby here is fishing. Just anybody is happy waiting for a fish to get onto the hook as they wait eagerly on the banks of the lake. Catching fish is like an all time favourite here and one should not miss the Karimeen Fry. It is made spicy and tasty in Kerala style. Just be careful if you don’t know how to eat fish with the bones. Other worth sampling delicacies could be Elai Ara, (idli sandwich filled with cardamom, saffron and dry fruits), Puttu, and the Kerala fish curry.
The place is called backwaters because the lake water is actually fresh river water that comes down from the river and is then used for the paddy fields whenever the need be, and later the lake water as it goes ahead, merges with the ocean in Kochi.If you really like chasing the monsoon season, then backwaters in Kerala is the place to be. The people are definitely polite and helpful and the ‘date’ with monsoon season lives up its best as you see water, clouds, fog and the lake merge together.