This article is about the municipality in Kerala, India. For its namesake district, see Alappuzha district.
Not to be confused with Aleppo.
from left to right: Commercial canal, Alappuzha lighthouse, Government T D Medical College, Alappuzha, Backwaters of Alappuzha, Alleppey canal, Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Boating centre, Alappuzha Beach,
Nickname(s): "Venice of the East"
Coordinates: 9°29′N 76°20′E / 9.49°N 76.33°E / 9.49; 76.33Coordinates: 9°29′N 76°20′E / 9.49°N 76.33°E / 9.49; 76.33
Country  India
State Kerala
Region Central Travancore
District Alappuzha District
  District Collector R Girija IAS
  Total 46.18 km2 (17.83 sq mi)
Elevation 11 m (36 ft)
Population (2011)
  Total 174,164
  Rank 6th
  Density 4,466/km2 (11,570/sq mi)
  Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 688001
Telephone code 0477
Vehicle registration KL-04
Sex ratio 1079 /

Alappuzha ( pronunciation ), also known as Alleppey, is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. Alappuzha is a muncipality in Kerala with an urban population of 174,164[1] and third among the districts having highest literacy rate in Kerala. In 2016, Centre for Science and Environment rated Alappuzha as the top cleanest town in India followed by Panaji & Mysuru.[2] Alappuzha is considered to be the oldest planned city in this region and the lighthouse built on the coast of the city is the first of its kind along the Laccadive Sea coast (reference encyclopaedia of Kerala in Malayalam language).

Alappuzha is situated 28 km from Changanssery, 46 km from Kottayam and 53 from Kochi and 155 kilometres (96 mi) north of Trivandrum.[3] A town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons, it was described as the one of the places known as the "Venice of the East" by Lord Curzon. Hence, it is known as the "Venetian Capital" of Kerala. Malayalam is the most spoken language. Hindi, English and Tamil are also spoken in the town.

Alappuzha is an important tourist destination in India.[4] The Backwaters of Alappuzha are the most popular tourist attraction in Kerala. A houseboat cruise in these backwaters can be booked.[5] It connects Kumarakom and Cochin to the North and Quilon to the South.

Alappuzha is the access point for the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake, near Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August every year. This is the most competitive and popular of the boat races in India.[6] The mullackal chirap is also one of the attractions of Allapuzha which is the festive season held for ten days every year in December.

Other attractions in Alappuzha are Alappuzha Beach, offering a views of the Laccadive Sea, Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, St. Andrew's Basilica, Arthunkal, Mannarasala Temple, Chettikulangara Devi Temple, Haripad Sree Subrahmanya Swamy temple, Thakazhy Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, Mullakkal Temple, Edathua Church, Alappuzha CSI Christ Church (oldest Anglican church in Central Kerala) and Champakulam Valia Palli. Krishnapuram Palace Kalavam kodam temple where Sree Narayana Guru installed Mirror is at about 30 km north of Town.[7] also attracts many tourists. The tasty ambalappuzha payasam is a popular dessert.

Alappuzha is home to the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising against the British and also the revolt against the Feudal raj. Communist Party members were killed by the army of the diwan, 200 people at Punnapra on 24 October and more than 150 at Vayalar on 27 October. The total loss of life is allegedly estimated to be more than a thousand.[8] Coir is the most important commodity manufactured in Alappuzha.[9] The Coir Board was established by the Central Government under the provisions of the Coir Industry Act, 1955. A coir Research Institute is at Kalavoor.


Backwaters in Alappuzha

Carved out of the erstwhile Kottayam and Quilon districts, Alappuzha district was formed on 17 August 1957 and consisted initially of seven taluks, namely Cherthala, Ambalappuzha, Kuttanad, Thiruvalla, Chengannur, Karthikappally and Mavelikkara.[10]

The name Alappuzha is derived from the geographical position and physical features of the place. It means the land between the sea and network of rivers flowing into it. The district is bounded on the north by Kochi and Kanayannur taluks of Ernakulam district, on the east by Vaikom, Kottayam and Changanassery taluks of Kottayam district and Thiruvalla and Kozhencherry taluks of Pathanamthitta district, on the South by Kunnathur and Karunagappally taluks of Kollam district and on the west by Laccadive Sea.[11]

The present Alappuzha district comprises six taluks, namely Cherthala, Ambalappuzha, Kuttanad, Karthikappally, Chengannur and Mavelikkara.[12] The area of the district is The district headquarters is located at Alappuzha.


House Boat in Alappuzha
Walkway in Commercial Canal

In the early first decade of the 20th century the Viceroy of the Indian Empire, Lord Curzon made a visit in the State to Alleppey, now Alappuzha. Fascinated by the scenic beauty of the place, he exclaimed,

Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties. Alleppey, the Venice of the East.[13]

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, with its paddy fields, small streams and canals with lush green coconut palms, was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age.[14] History says Alappuzha had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages.

The early Cheras, who had their home in Kuttanad, were called `Kuttuvans`, so named after this place. Pliny and Ptolemy of the 1st and 2nd centuries had mentioned places like Purakkad or Barace in their classical works.

Literary works like "Unnuneeli Sandesam" give some insight into the ancient period of this district. Archaeological antiquities, such as the stone inscriptions, historical monuments found in the temples, churches, and rock-cut caves, also emphasise the historic importance of Alappuzha District. Christianity had a foothold in this district, even from the 1st century AD. The church located at Kokkamangalam was one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It is generally believed that he landed at Maliankara in Muziris Port, presently known as Cranganore or Kodungallur, in 52 AD and preached Christianity in South India.

The district flourished in religion and culture under the second Chera Empire, during 9th to 12th centuries AD. The literary work, `Ascharya Choodamani`, a Sanskrit drama written by Sakthibhadran, a scholar of Chengannur, enables us to know many pertinent facts. Further, the temple on Lord Ayyappan, in Mukkal vattam near Muhamma in Alappuzha District, is called Cheerappanchira, for the Kalari from which Lord Ayyappa learnt his martial arts. A recent album by P. Unni Krishnan on Lord Ayyappa, titled 'Sabarimalai Va Charanam Solli Va', has songs illustrating the history of this temple and Lord Ayyappa's stay here before he went to conquer the Mahishi Demon.[15]

Since landing in Calicut in 1498, the Portuguese started playing an influential role in Alappuzha. They began by spreading Catholicism and converting already existing Christians into Catholics. The famous St. Andrew's Basilica was built by them during this period.[16] In the 17th century, as the Portuguese power declined, the Dutch gained a predominant position in the principalities of this district. They built many factories and warehouses for storing pepper and ginger, relying on several treaties signed between the Dutch and the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram. In course of time they also delved into the political and cultural affairs of the district. At that time Maharaja Marthanda Varma (1706–1758), who was the 'Maker of modern Travancore', intervened in the political affairs of those princedoms.

Travancore Dewan Ramayyan Dalawa (d. 1756) resided in Mavelikkara where he had a palace built by Marthanda Varma. After the death of his wife, Ramayyan consorted with a Nair lady from Mavelikkara of the Edassery family (PGN Unnithan, a member of this family, later became the last Dewan of Travancore in 1947). After his death Ramayyan's descendants left Travancore to settle in Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu. His Nair consort was given gifts and presents and special allowances from the Travancore government in recognition of his services to the state while his own descendants were bestowed with the honorific title of Dalawa.

In the 19th century the district saw progress in many spheres. One of the five subordinate courts opened in the state in connection with the reorganisation of the judicial system by Colonel George Monro was located at Mavelikkara. The first post office and first telegraph office in the former Travancore state were established in this district. The first manufacturing factory for the coir mats was established in 1859. In 1894 the city Improvement Committee was set up.

The district played a role in the freedom struggle of the country. The struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 arrayed the people against Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who was Dewan of Travancore. This led to Ramaswami Iyer's exit from the political scene of Travancore. A popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24 March 1948 after India`s independence. Travancore and Cochin states were integrated on 1 July 1949. This arrangement continued until the formation of Kerala State on 1 November 1956, under the States Reorganization Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on 1 August 1957.

Geography and climate

Boating center in Sea view canal

Alappuzha is located at 9°32′N 76°24′E / 9.54°N 76.40°E / 9.54; 76.40.[17] The average elevation is 1 metre (3.3 ft)[18] Alappuzha covers an area of 1,414 square kilometres (546 sq mi) and is flanked by 2,195 square kilometres (847 sq mi) of Vembanad Lake, where six major rivers spread out before joining the 80 km coast line of the district. The city of Alappuzha is crisscrossed by a system of canals, which is a part of the National Waterway 3 (India).[19]

The district is a sandy strip of land intercepted by lagoons, rivers and canals. There are no mountains or hills in the district except some scattered hillocks lying between Bharanikkavu and Chengannur blocks in the eastern portion of the district. There are no forest area in this district.

Alappuzha is gifted with great natural beauty with the Laccadive Sea on its west. The town has a network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers. The richness of the coastal Alappuzha waters is expressed annually in the blooming and consequent deposit of a huge quantity of fishes and prawns on the Alappuzha coast called ‘Chakara’. This annual shifting of sandbank appears during the post-monsoon period and contributes to the local economy and is a festive season for the people of Kerala. The annual floods rejuvenate and cleanse the soil and water due to which there is abundance of marine life like prawns, lobsters, fishes, turtles,and other flora in the sea.

The backwaters and wetlands host thousands of migrant common teal, ducks and cormorants every year who reach here from long distances. A major feature of the area is the region called Kuttanad, the 'granary of Kerala'. Kuttanad is also known as the rice bowl of Kerala and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The paddy fields lie about 0.6 to 2 m below mean sea level.[20]

Owing to its proximity to the sea, the climate of Alappuzha is humid and hot during the summer, although it remains fairly cool and pleasant during the months of October and November. The average monthly temperature is 27C. The district gets the benefit of two seasonal monsoons, as in other parts of the state. Alappuzha town experiences a long monsoon season with heavy showers as both the Southwest monsoon and Northeast monsoon influences the weather of Alappuzha. The South-west monsoon affects the climate in the months from June to September. On the other hand, the North-east monsoon brings rain from October to November. The average rainfall received by the region is 2763 mm.[21]

Climate data for Alappuzha
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32
Average low °C (°F) 23
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 1 2 3 7 11 22 21 18 13 13 8 3 122
Source #1: Weather2Travel[22]
Source #2: IMD[23]


Religion in Alappuzha
Religion Percent

According to 2011 census, Alappuzha district has a population of 21,21,943 with 10,10,252 men and 11,11,691 women[26] with a population density of 1492 persons per km2.[27] There are 1,86,022 persons under six years of age in Alappuzha district. The literacy rate of Alappuzha stands at 96.26% out of which 8,95,476 are males and 9,68,082 are females. Alappuzha has a decadal population growth of 0.61%. Alappuzha has a sex ratio of 1100[28] and the urban agglomeration had a population of 282,675 in 2001.[25]

The population is predominantly Hindu and Christian, and there are sizeable numbers of Muslims. The most widely spoken language is Malayalam, although many people speak Tamil, and Konkani.

The standard dialect of Malayalam spoken is Central Travancore dialect.[29] Konkani is a language that is spoken in the Konkan region. During the Portuguese and Dutch invasions of the 16th and 18th centuries, many konkanis migrated southwards to Thuravoor, Cherthala and Alappuzha in the state of Travancore as well as other places in Kerala like Cochin, Kodungalloor, Kollam etc. A majority of these people settled in Alappuzha.[30][31][32]


Commercial canal walkway in Alleppey west

The economy of the district is based on agriculture and marine products. The agricultural activities predominantly revolve around Kuttanad region, the rice bowl of Kerala. Though the district is industrially backward, some traditional industries based on coir and coir products, marine products, handlooms, different types of handicrafts, toddy tapping, have been active from the very early times. The district is known as the traditional home of coir industry in Kerala.[33]

The availability of raw materials and the existence of backwaters and canals suitable for the getting of green husk and accessibility of transportation are the main factors of the development of this industry. Arabs had carried on trade in coir products from very ancient period. The manufacture of mats and mattings was first introduced in 1859 by Mr. James Durragh.[34]

The Coir Board was established by the Central Government under the provisions of the Coir Industry Act, 1955.[35] A coir research institute functions at Kalavoor.[36] The National Coir Training and Designing Centre was established at Alappuzha in 1965.[37]

Coir is the most important commodity manufactured in Alappuzha, Kayamkulam, Kokkothamangalam, Komalapuram, Mannancherry, Muhamma and Vayalar,[38] Coir products in Cherthala and Mannancherry, Lime shell in Arookutty and Kodamthuruth, Plywood in Chengannur, Keltron controls in Aroor,[39] Potassium Chloride in Mavelikkara and coconut in Thanneermukkom. The other important commodities manufactured in these towns are copra, coconut oil, glass, mats and matches.[40]

In recent times, tourism has become a major source of revenue. This is mainly due to the presence of houseboats that provide the tourists a view of the scenic backwaters of the town. Another reason is the proximity to other popular tourist spots like Munnar and Varkala.

Backwater paddy cultivation (Kayal cultivation)

Paddy fields in Kuttanad

The major occupation in Alappuzha is farming. The Rice Bowl of Kerala, Kuttanadu is located in Alappuzha. Large farming areas near Vembanad Lake were reclaimed from the lake. In earlier times, the reclamation was done mainly from the shallow part of the Vembanad Lake or from the periphery of river Pamba. These reclamations constituted small areas of paddy fields called Padsekharam. The bailing out of water from those fields were done manually using water wheels (Chakram). Gradually the manual method used for bailing out of water gave way to steam engines.

Three stages can be identified in the reclamation of lands from the Vembanad Lake. In the first stage it was carried out by private entrepreneurs without any financial support from the part of the government. The Pattom Proclamation, made by the Travancore Kingdom in the year 1865, gave a great boost to the reclamation activities between 1865 and 1890. During this period de-watering of the polders were done manually, using waterwheels, restricting large-scale reclamations. Only about 250 hectares of land were reclaimed during this period. Venadu Lake and Madathil Lake that were reclaimed during this period are considered as the first Kayal Nilam (lake-reclaimed land) which were reclaimed from Vembanad Lake.[41] The pioneering reclamation activity of lake-reclamation and cultivation was made by two brothers Mathai Luka Pallithanam and Ouseph Luka Pallithanam belonging to Kainady village in Kuttanadu.[42] The period between 1865 and 1890 is usually considered as the first phase of lake-cultivation.

The introduction of kerosene engines for dewatering resulted in the reclamation of wider areas of the lake for cultivation. It made the farmers consider venturing into the deeper parts of the lake. During the period between 1898 and 1903, reclamation activity was led by Pallithanam Luka Mathai (alias Pallithanathu Mathaichen) who reclaimed the Cherukara Kayal and Pallithanam Moovayiram Kayal. Houseboat is one among the main attraction of Alappuzha.[43]

The second phase (1890 to 1903) of reclamation activities came to a halt because of the ban on lake reclamation imposed by the Madras Government in 1903. Cherukali Kayal, Rama Rajapuram Kayal, Aarupanku Kayal, Pantharndu Panku kayal and Mathi Kayal were the other major reclamations during this period.

In 1912, the Madras Government approved a proposal from the Travencore Government for further reclamations in three stages. Under this reclamation scheme areas were notified for reclamation in blocks each named by an alphabet letter. Out of the total area of 19,500 acres of reclaimed land 12,000 acres were reclaimed between 1913 and 1920. The reclamations between 1914 and 1920 are known as new reclamations, which were carried out in three periods. In the first period Blocks A to G measuring an 6300 Acres were reclaimed. C Block, D Block (Attumukham Aarayiram (Attumuttu Kayal), Thekke Aarayiram and Vadakke Aarayiram) and E Block (Erupathinalayiram Kayal) F Block (Judge's Aarayiram Kayal) and G Block (Kochu Kayal) are the major reclamations during this period.

During the second period of new reclamation, blocks H to N measuring 3600 acres were reclaimed. During the third period of new reclamation, R Block measuring 1,400 acres were reclaimed.

Due to the steep decline in the price of rice during 1920 to 1940, the reclamation activities became sluggish, but they gained momentum again in the early 1940s. During this period, in order to increase the agricultural output, government initiated a Grow More Food campaign and provided incentives to encourage new reclamations. The advent of electric motors made the reclamation easier, cheaper and less risky as compared to the earlier periods. The last tract of the reclamations namely Q, S and T block were made during this period.



National Highways

National Highway 66 (India) is one of the longest national highway in India. It connects Panvel to Kanyakumari passes through the town and allow to connect other major cities like Mumbai, Udupi, Mangalore, Kannur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kollam, and Trivandrum. Alappuzha is also well connected by road. There is a plan to upgrade State Highway 11 (Kerala) to national highway status which helps to connect Alappuzha to Kodaikanal as part of promoting coastal-hill tourism project.[44]

State Highways

There are eight state highways in Alappuzha district and three of them originates from Alappuzha town. State Highway 11 (Kerala) is a state Highway that starts in Kalarcode, Alappuzha and ends in Perunnai, Changanassery. The road is popularly known as AC road (Alappuzha Changanassery) road and it has 24.2 km length. It's an important busy road which connects Alappuzha town with Kottayam district. State Highway 40 (Kerala) is an interstate state highway in Alappuzha district which connects with Alappuzha town to Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It's the only interstate state highway in Alappuzha district. State Highway 66 (Kerala) is a state highway which originates from Alappuzha town and terminates at Thoppumpady, Ernakulam.[45]

City Transport

The city service is served by white and brown colored private buses. Alappuzha has a private bus stand named after V.K Soman, who was the municipal chairman of town during the period 1979 to 1984. Private bus operators run bus routes starting from Erattakulanagra Temple at Ambalappuzha till Kalavoor through National Highway 66 (India). Also they run bus routes that connects V.K Soman memorial private bus stand, Alappuzha with Cherthala through State Highway 66 (Kerala). These bus routes connect the city with the suburbs.The state run KSRTC also run buses connecting Alappuzha to other major cities.[46]


The presence of a lot of backwaters and canals makes water transport a popular means of transport. National Waterway-3 passes through Alappuzha. There is an SWTD boat jetty in the city that lies opposite to the KSRTC bus stand. It is served by boat services to Changanassery town and Kottayam, Kollam cities besides to other small towns and jetties. Taking an SWTD boat is a cheaper alternative to houseboats for enjoying the scenic beauty of Alappuzha.


ALLP/Alappuzha (Alleppey) is linked by Ernakulam–Kayamkulam coastal railway line and connects to cities like Trivandrum, Quilon(Kollam), Cochin, Vellore, Katpadi, Coimbatore, Chennai, Delhi, Bokaro and Mumbai.The railway station is about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) away from the center of the city.[47] Including 22639/Chennai - Alappuzha SF Express total of four trains originate from Alappuzha to cities like Kannur, Katpadi, Chennai, Dhanbad, and Tatanagar. Since Alappuzha is a prime destination, trains from important cities, like Banglore, Manglore, Kozhikode, and Amritsar, pass through this station.[48]


The town is accessible by air, rail, road and water. Cochin International Airport, which is 78 kilometres (48 mi) to the North, is the closest airport. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, 159 kilometres (99 mi) to the South, is the other airport that links the district with other countries. International tourists use this facility to reach Alappuzha. The other nearest airports are at Kozhikode (236 kilometres (147 mi)) and Coimbatore (254 kilometres (158 mi)). A helipad in the town is reserved for government uses.


Alappuzha is internationally famous for snake boat races, especially Nehru Trophy Boat Race held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha. In 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of India visited Kerala. People of Alleppey decided to give a special entertainment for their prestigious guest and conducted a snake boat race. Jawaharlal Nehru was so excited by this event and he jumped into 'Nadubhagam Chundan'(a snake boat), ignoring the security officials. By this excitement of sailing in a snake boat he donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the race. Other than Snake boat race Cricket, football and basketball are among the most popular sports in town. In 2015, Kerala Cricket Association inaugurated KCA Cricket Stadium Alappuzha which is an A-class cricket stadium in Sanatana Dharma College.[49] Another stadium named as EMS Stadium or municipal stadium is under construction in Alappuzha.

Notable people

Administration and politics

Alappuzha city officials
Municipal chairman Mr.Thomas Joseph[50]
Superintendent of Police Mr.E.Divakaran[51]
Alleppey Bar Association

The two administrative systems prevailing in the district are revenue and local self-government. Under the revenue system, the district is divided into two revenue divisions, six taluks and 91 villages. The two revenue divisions are Alappuzha division comprising Cherthala, Ambalapuzha and Kuttanad taluks consisting of 47 villages and Chengannur division comprising Karthikapally, Chengannur and Mavelikkara taluks consisting of 44 villages. For census purposes, Aroor, Arookutty, Kodamthuruth, Thanneermukkom Vadakku, Thaneermukkam Thekku, Vayalar East and Kokkothamangalam village, except the portions included in Cherthala municipality are treated in the 1981 census as census towns based on the threefold criteria adopted for treating a place as census town.

Under the local self-government system, the district is divided into five statutory towns and development blocks consisting of 71 panchayats. The jurisdiction of a Development Block includes the areas falling in census towns also.[52]

There were nine legislative assembly segments in Alappuzha district for the 2011 Assembly elections. They are Aroor, Cherthala, Alappuzha, Kuttanad, Haripad, Kayamkulam, Mavelikkara and Chengannur.[53]

Alappuzha assembly constituency is part of Alappuzha (Lok Sabha constituency). The other Lok Sabha constituency of the district is Mavelikkara[54]


There are schools, computer institutes and colleges all over the district, with nine training schools, 405 lower primary schools, 105 high schools and 87 higher secondary schools.[55]

The first school in Alappuzha, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) School, was established in 1816. The school was established by the Rev. Thomas Norton, the first CMS missionary to India. The school is run by the CSI Christ Church, Alappuzha. The first higher secondary school in Alappuzha was the Leo XIIIth Higher Secondary School, which was opened on June 1, 1889 by Portuguese Bishop John Gomes Pereira of Cochin.[56]

Colleges in Alappuzha offer both graduate and postgraduate courses for their students.[57]

Major College Institutes

See also


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