These comparisons need to stop. Why do we look down upon our natural beauty? Why do we have to constantly evaluate the beauty of India with that of some other foreign location? Visit Kashmir, it's the Switzerland of India, visit Coorg, it's the Scotland of India, or visit Alleppey, it's the Venice of India. It's a different thing to draw similarities between two places and an altogether different thing to name it as the other.
We haven't visited Switzerland or Venice. We're sure they are as beautiful as the pictures say. We're also sure the memories people have of those places may get refreshed when they visit a similar location in their country, which is absolutely fine. But what we don't get is the fact that people say things that make our Indian counterparts look like shadows of these foreign locations. Kashmir is explicitly gorgeous and I wouldn't want it to be known as anything else other than that. The same thing goes for Alleppey.
When they say it's the Venice of India, what do they want to imply? The only possible similarity we could see is that between the backwaters of Alleppey and the canals of Venice. But is that the only thing Alleppey has to offer? Definitely not! Read on to see the things you can enjoy in Alleppey besides the backwaters.
1. The Stunning Beaches
Alleppey provides the best of both worlds. The beaches here are spectacular, super clean, and popular for some glorious sunset views. We visited two of them. The main Alleppey Beach is picturesque beyond words, and the pier makes for an amazing photo op. The Marari beach in Mararikulam is about 10 km from Alleppey and is a white-sand beach. It's also good for surfing, they say.
2. Beautiful Homestays
In Alleppey, we would highly recommend opting for homestays or small, cozy hotels so that you enjoy the most. You will get to interact with the locals and learn so much about their culture, first hand. They will also guide you on how to plan your days and get you the best deals for any activity. The other major plus is that you get to stay in an authentic local setting with all amenities.
3. Exploration of the local Kerala cuisine
We went bananas trying out a new fresh fish delicacy for each of our meals here. It was such a treat! The fresh catch coupled with those delicious ground masalas had us craving for more. Right from chicken, to fish, to vegetables, the authentic Kerala cuisine is a treat and should definitely be explored as much as possible. 'Nalla Aharam'
4. The astonishing beauty of the Backwaters
No wonder the backwaters are the main tourist attraction here. You will be at peace the moment your ride starts. We took a Shikara from Alleppey Shikara Boats for a duration of 3-hours. The cost was Rs. 500/- per hour. The Shikara took us from the main lake through the narrow passages, halted on the way so that we could try authentic lunch on the banana leaf, and again dropped us back through a different route. The drop-dead gorgeous views of the palm trees along the backwaters provided for an experience to remember for a lifetime!
5. The architectural grandeur of Churches & Temples
We saw some really chic and gorgeous churches in Alleppey. We also visited one temple which had such glorious architecture. You will come across so many such places here. A must-see, however, is the Arthunkal Church for its unmissable and grand Portuguese architecture.
6. Bird watching
You will come across so many varieties of birds in Alleppey. The most common local birds you may spot are the Cormorant (top) and the Eagle (bottom). The season to go looking for migratory birds like the Siberian Crane and the Lark is from December to February. The best places to go bird watching are the Alleppey Backwaters, the Vembanad Lake, and the Kumarakom bird sanctuary.
7. Supreme Relaxation with an Ayurveda massage
Indulge in a deep tissue massage towards the end of your trip. This will help you rejuvenate and go back glowing from the trip. These massages are so relaxing and carried out by experienced masseuses.
All this and so much more. We spent four beautiful days in Alleppey and felt those weren't enough. We would love to slow travel to this place someday. Come for maybe a month or so and live these experiences again and fetch some new ones too. Till then, these memories will stay with us as of Alleppey and just Alleppey. Someday when we visit Venice, we might be reminded of this place, but we surely wouldn't call it Alleppey of Italy. Every place is unique in its own right despite the similarities, and that should be recognized and respected.