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Alappuzha

Referred to as the 'Venice of the East', by travelers across the world, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Caressed by Arabian sea in the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers crisscrossing it, this backwater country shelters some unique animal and bird life. Famous for its boat races, marine products and coir industry, the singularity of this land is the region called "Kuttanad" - called the Rice Bowl of Kerala and one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.

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Places to Visit

Kuttanad:

Kuttanad, called the 'Rice Bowl of Kerala' because of its wealth of paddy crops, is at the very heart of the backwaters. The scenic countryside of Kuttanad with its shimmering waterways also has a rich crop of banana, cassava and yam. This is perhaps the only region in the world where farming is done 1.5 to 2 m below sea level. lnland waterways which Row above land level are an amazing feature of this region.

Alappuzha Beach:

This is one of the most popular picnic spots in Alappuzha. The pier here, which extends into the sea, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attractions of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse which is greatly fascinating to visitors.

The Vijaya Beach Park:

(Open 1500 -2000 hrs) Picnic spot with children's park & boating facilities. 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.

Alappuzha Canal:

The vast network of canals and its promenades lined with eateries, shops selling ethnic artefacts and so on are a major tourist attraction.

Sea View Park:

The park offers boating facilities and a swimming pool. Boat rentals for 10 minutes: • Round boat (4 seater): Rs. 10 • Pedal boat (2 seater): Rs, 15 • Pedal boat (4 seater): Rs. 25 • Video permit: Rs. 15 • Camera permit: Rs, 100 respectively.

Pathiramanal:

(1 1/2hrs by motorboat/30 min. by speedboat from Alappuzha) According to mythology a young brahmin dived into the vernbanad 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).

Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple:

(30 km southeast oj'Alappuzba near Neereuupuram. Open 0500 -1300 brs, 1630-2000 brs) Situated on the border of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts, the famous rivers Pamba and Manimala flow on either side of the temple. Ph: 0477-2213550

Champakulam Church:

Among the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary's Church is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas in AD 427. The annual feast of this church falls on the 3rd Sunday of October every year. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th. Nearby is a place that makes wooden statues of Christ for export around the world.

Q, S, T and R Block Kayal:

These regions are wonders of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how of Kerala and remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland. Extensive areas of land have been reclaimed from the backwaters and are protected by dikes built all around, a process that started 100 years ago. Here, cultivation and habitation are made possible four to ten feet below sea level. R Block, at nearly 850 acres, is the largest reclaimed area. A leisurely cruise along the canals that surround these kayals is a memorable experience.

Chavara Bhavan:

(6 km from Alappuzha. Accessible only by boat) 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 prayers and receive favours. Here, a 250-year-old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form that continues to burn even today.

Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple:

(15 km from south of Alappuzha) Built in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous all over India for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge. It is also in this temple that Pallipana is performed by velans (sorcerers) once in every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are on display on the inner walls of the Chuttambalam. Ottanthullal, a satiric art form created by  the poet Kunchan Narnbiar, was first performed on the premises of this temple.

Arthunkal Church:

(22km north of Alappuzha) The St. Sebastian's Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. The annual festival, Arthunkal Perunnal is celebrated in january,

Edathua Church:

(24km/romAlappuzha, on the Alappuzha - Thiruvalla Road). Open 0400-2000 brs, Prayer timings: 0600 and 0700 hrs -Fridays 1600brs as well, Sundays
0600,0800, 1000 and 1600 hrs) Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. Ph: 0477-2212234

Thakazhi Museum and Smritimandapam:

(22 km from Alappuzha. Open 0930 - 1630 brs except on Mondays) This museum-cum-memorial hall is dedicated to the memory of the late Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai (1912-1999), the famous writer who won the] nanpeeth award in 1984, and whose writings include 35 novels and 600 short stories. Ph: 0479-2274243

Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple:

(32 hm south of Alappuzha) Situated near Harippacl, this is a serpent shrine under the patronage of a Brahmin tamily headed by a priestess. The ancient shrine is an internationally renowned pilgrim centre dedicated to the Serpent God Nagaraja. Sarpa Yakshi and Naga Yaksbi are the beloved  consorts of Nagaraja. It is believed that Nagaraja, as the installed deity, is endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva.  Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a fiveheaded snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family. At Mannarasala, barren women are believed to be blessed with children and a special turmeric paste available at the shrine is credited with powers to cure even leprosy.

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- Februarylstarcb}. The one-day annual Bharani festival at the temple is also a popular event. In front of the sanctum sanctorum is the 11f t-high, 13-tiered stone lamp capable of holding a thousand wicks, said to be the largest and most elaborate lamp in India.

Krishnapuram Palace:

(47 km from Alappuzha) Built by Marthanda Varma, this palace at Karrhikapally in Kayamkulam is famous for its three-metre high mural depicting the story of Gajendramoksham. Dating back to the 18th century, this exquisite piece of art is one of the largest murals in Kerala, The palace which is a  museum now, houses antique sculptures, paintings and bronze artefacts.

Karumadi Kuttan:

(3 km east of Ambalapuzha) Many fascinating legends are associated with this 11th century statue of Lord Buddha, protected by the State Archaeological Department. The locals regard the Kuttan with affection and he is credited with many healing powers.