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Alleppey or Alappuzha is an attractive tourist place in Kerala and is also known as ‘Venice of East’. There is a very interesting story behind this name (Venice of East). During the British period, Lord Curzon visited this place and seeing the beauty of Alleppey, he addressed Alleppey as ‘Venice of East’. Raja Kesavadas, who was an architect of modern-day Alleppey born at Kunnathur on March 17, 1745 as the son of a farmer woman and police constable. Poku Moosa, a rich and influential merchant, was impressed by the young boy’s intelligence and hard work and he employed him as a tally clerk in his firm. As time passes maharaja of Travancore, Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma promoted him as Valiya Divan in the year 1789. Raja Kesavadas was also a well-trained soldier and later he became army chief of Travancore and was credited for victory over Tippu Sultan in the battle of Kaladi. Raja Kesavadas found Alleppey is very suitable for transportation and navigation because of geographical and oceanic reasons. He was also aware of the importance of having a port town to trade with the western countries and became successful in materializing his dream and the first ship boarded at Alleppey in 1786. Alleppey is one of the most densely populated districts in Kerala, whereas the municipal headquarters is also known by the name Alleppey itself. The dock that extends into the sea here is around 137 years old. Alleppey is one of the busiest ports and developed with a system of canals to facilitate the transportation of goods from different parts of the town and to promote business.
Alleppey is famous for its boat races, old lighthouse, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. The density of the fisher population in relation to the rest of India is very high in Kerala. Another wonderful experience while in Alleppey is a boathouse cruise, however, this boathouse cruise is a reworked version of a small traditional boat of olden times. The waterways around Alleppey not only provide cruising on houseboats, but they are also home to an incredible diversity of birds and wildlife. The Alleppey district had a prominent role in the freedom fight of the country. T.K. Madhavan, a fearless journalist, organized the campaign for the eradication of untouchability much earlier in this district.
The boat race is one of the main attractions of Alleppey. Generally, Snake boats (Chundan Vallam) are used for boat racing. The snake boats of Kerala has over 400 years of history and the story can be traced back to the kings of Alleppey and the neighbouring areas, who used to fight with each other in boats along the canals. There are four main snake boat races are held every year, in and around Alleppey such as,
• Nehru Trophy Boat race on Alleppey’s Punnamda Lake.
• Champakkulam Moolam at Champakkulam which is around 25kilometers from Alleppey.
• Payippad Jalotsavam at Payippad Lake, 35 kilometers from Alleppey.
• Aranmula Boat Race is held at Pampa River at Aranmula, around 50kilometers south of Alleppey.
Boat racing is also a part of the tradition in Kerala. A number of teams from various districts participate in boat races, which are organized by a number of social and religious organizations. Whereas boat race is the highlight of the Onam festival, mainly the Aranmula Boat Race that takes place mid-way through the 10days celebrations.