Alappuzha

Alappuzha , also known by its former name Alleppey, is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha District in the Indian State of Kerala. Alappuzha is a city and a municipality in Kerala with an urban population of 174,164 and ranks third among the districts in literacy rate in the State of Kerala. It is nearest district of ernakulam. In 2016, the Centre for Science and Environment rated Alappuzha as the cleanest town in India. 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.

The city is situated 28 km from Changanacherry, 46 km from Kottayam, 55 km from Kochi, 129.4 km from Thrissur and 155 km north of Trivandrum. A town with canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons, Alappuzha was described by George Curzon, a visiting diplomat of the time, as the "Venice of the East." Hence, it is known as the "Venetian Capital" of Kerala. In Alappuzha, Malayalam is the most spoken language.

It is an important tourist destination in India. The Backwaters of Alappuzha is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kerala which attracts millions of domestic and international tourists to the district and employs vast number of locals in the private sector. A houseboat cruise in these backwaters can be booked. It connects Kumarakom and Cochin to the North and Quilon to the South. Apart from houseboat services, the Kerala State Water Transport Department provides government boat services within the district and Quilon (Kollam) which considers the best and cheapest way to explore the Backwaters of Alleppey.

It is also 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 popular and competitive boat races in India. Mullackal Chirap is the major Temple Festival of Alapuzha which is held for ten days every year at end of December.
Source - Wikipedia [Feb,2021]

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. History says Alappuzha had trade relations with 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.

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. 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 reorganization 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 Reorganisation Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on 1 August 1957.

Road
National Highway 66 (India) is one of the longest national highway in India. It connects Panvel to Kanyakumari and criss-crosses through Alappuzha city centre. The construction of the Alappuzha Bypass, to route the national highway around city centers between Kommady and Kalarkode, is underway. NH 66 connects Alappuzha city to other major cities like Mumbai, Udupi, Mangalore, Kannur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kollam, and Trivandrum. There is a plan to upgrade SH 11 to national highway to help connect Alappuzha to Kodaikanal as part of promoting coastal-hill tourism project.
There are eight state highways in Alappuzha district, of which three of them originates from Alappuzha town. State Highway 11 (Kerala) starts from Kalarcode and ends at Perunna. This highway is locally known as AC road (Alappuzha-Changanassery road) and it covers a distance of 24.2 km. State Highway 11 (Kerala) is an important road which connects Alappuzha town with Kottayam district. State Highway 40 (Kerala) is an interstate highway in Alappuzha district which connects Alappuzha town with Madurai in Tamil Nadu. State Highway 40 (Kerala) is the only interstate highway in Alappuzha district. State Highway 66 (Kerala) originates from Alappuzha town and terminates at Thoppumpady.
There are two bus terminals are situated in Alappuzha town, one for KSRTC buses (situated near state water transport corporation headquarters, boat jetty road) and the municipal bus stand for private buses (situated near Vazhicherry). KSRTC buses connect Alappuzha with cities like Kochi, Trivandrum. City buses are green and white colored (formally white and brown). City buses connect Alappuzha with places like Mannancherry, Kalavoor, Erattakulangara, Kanjippadam, and Aspinwal. Some buses connects Alappuzha to Cherthala through coastal highway and Kanichukulangara route.


Water
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 a 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 other small towns and jetties. Availing an SWTD boat is a cheaper alternative to houseboats for visiting tourists.
Public water transport organised by Kerala State Transport Agency for long-distance transport within the back waters of Kerala (India)


Rail
Alappuzha is linked by Ernakulam–Kayamkulam coastal railway line and connects to cities like Trivandrum, Kollam, Cochin, Coimbatore, Chennai, Delhi, Bokaro and Mumbai. The railway station is about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the heart of the city. A total of four trains originate from Alappuzha to cities like Kannur, Chennai, Dhanbad and Tatanagar. There are a lot of local trains running throughout the day, which connect Alappuzha to other towns near by. Since Alappuzha is a prime destination, trains from important cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mangalore, Kozhikode and Amritsar pass through this station.


Air
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 these airports to reach Alappuzha. The other nearest airports are located at Kozhikode (236 kilometres (147 mi)) and Coimbatore (254 kilometres (158 mi)). A helipad in the town is reserved for government uses.

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