Alleppey is the hub of Kerala's backwaters, home to a
vast network of canals and lagoons -- a greenery-fringed watery world of
villages, paddy fields, and over a thousand houseboats. Alleppey is one
of the most important tourist centers in the South, with a large network
of inland canals earning it the title "Venice of the East." This large
network of canals provide Alleppey its lifeline. Alleppey was one of the
busiest centers of trade in the past with one of the best known ports along
the malabar coast. Even today it retains its charm for locals and countless
tourists. The boat cruise along the backwaters of Alleppey give one first
hand experience of the life style; punted canoes, toddy tapping, fishing
for small fry, Coir carpet industries, prawn farming, etc.
We arrived in Alleppey, Greenpalm Homes for our homestay.
From the "mainland" we took a big canoe to cross over to the island. These
are man-made islands in the backwaters and delta deposits. Hundreds of
years ago, there were no villages here. When settlers arrived, they dove
into the water and pulled up buckets of silt to build the islands for their
homes. Dikes were also built to claim farm land. They grow a fluffy rice
here, two crops a year. It’s quite a process to "clean" the soil during
the monsoon so the salt from the backwater is cleaned off the soil before
they can plant the crop. The rice is indeed fluffy and long grain as opposed
The homestay was entirely different from the one we
had stayed at in Laos. This was a big house, well built, and we had the
same room arrangements as in hotels. We were surprised to have A/C, ensuite,
and lunch waiting for us. It was a south Indian meal with fish, nicely
prepared and served family style by homeowner Maria’s Mom. Dessert was
an unusal pudding with chunks of banana, cardamom, yogurt.
We’d been drinking bottled mineral water up until now.
Here, we were served rainwater that had been purified and cooled. It was
a lovely change! The water for the showers, washing face, etc. was
salty! It was a bit of a shock at first splash, but the purified rainwater
for drinking was great - pure without any added minerals. Because drinking
water is scarce for families who cannot afford the purification systems,
the government brings in large containers of water by canoe to distribute
to the people in the villages. They go down to the dikes with large containers
to take water back to their homes.