Alappuzha,the Venice of the East

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The sensational pop star Britney Spears is reportedly spending her New Year eve 2009/2010 at Alleppey, Kerala, India. She has left instructions to keep her visit strictly private as she wants to have a real break/holiday in the serene backwaters of Alleppey. As a result, even the very curious and inquisitive local media is silent on this trip to their small place by a world famous celebrity.

Alleppey is one of the most beautiful places in the world with backwaters and houseboats moored on them. This small beautiful city used to be called the Venice of the East, in the past, by many travel writers and European visitors. Resembling Venice, it has also got canals crisscrossing the city spread as well as lagoons and lakes.

Alleppey, also called as Alappuzha in the local Malayalam language, is situated along the Kerala coastline about 60 km south of Kochi (Nedumbassery International airport). Both rail and road transport facilities are easily available to Alappuzha from the airports in Kerala. Some of the resorts and houseboats around Alleppey have now become quite famous due to a profusion of international visitors to these places in the recent past.

Historically the city of Alleppey was established in 1762. At that time, there was a canal through the city centre, with the city itself being a tiny tract of land between the beautiful backwaters and the Arabian Sea. The small place gradually developed into a centre of trading with numerous shops and other places of trade, on both banks of the canal. Traders started arriving from various parts of India as well as from Europe, soon giving an important place to Alleppey in the travel destinations of the world.

never-to-be-missed sight in Alleppey is the annual ceremony of boat races, now named the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. This has become an important yearly festival and is held on the second Saturday of every August .Here you can see and ride later in famous snake-boats of Kerala.

Today the Boat Race has morphed into Alleppey’s most important tourist event, with several boats, one each from a separate village, taking part. Competition to win the race is very intense, as the long snake boats, with about 120 men in each with their long oars, race to reach the finishing point as fast as possible. The hectic battle of oarsmanship is also accompanied by rhythmic and enchanting music having a tune in synchronization with the manual rowing.

For western as well as local tourists and visitors Alleppey has become a focus of attention. From here, they can have the privilege of having fantastic boat trips through the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. These trips pass through lagoons and lakes. There are some very enchantingly and breathtakingly beautiful sceneries of palm-fringed river banks spread along the route from Quilon in the south to Kottayam towards the east of Alappuzha.The famous Kumarakom resort is located in the vicinity.

There are also quite a few local villages whose inhabitants carry on their daily activities along their numerous and canals and waterways. Everything is lush, green, plentiful and enchanting around Alappuzha. The famous expression,” God’s own country” was coined here by the writer Arundhati Roy in her award winning book,” The God of Small Things” She wrote that book with Alappuzha, her birthplace, in her mind. giving her all the inspiration she ever needed

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