Venice Of The East
|Nickname(s): "Venice of the East"|
|• Municipal Chairman||Smt. Mercy Teacher|
|• Density||4,466/km2 (11,570/sq mi)|
|• Official||Malayalam, English|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Sex ratio||1079 ♂/♀|
Alappuzha ( pronunciation (help·info)), also known as Alleppey, is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. Alappuzha is the sixth largest city in Kerala with an urban population of 177,029. 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 62 kilometres (39 mi) to the south of Kochi and 155 kilometres (96 mi) north of Trivandrum. A city 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 best known as the "Venetian Capital" of Kerala for the Vast backwaters present here. Malayalam is the most spoken language. Hindi, English and Tamil are also widely spoken in the city.
Alappuzha is an important tourist destination in India. The Backwaters of Alappuzha are the most popular tourist attraction in Kerala. A houseboat cruise in these backwaters is a delightful experience. It connects Kumarakom and Cochin to the North and Quilon to the South. Alappuzha 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 competitive and popular of the boat races in India. The mullackal chirap is also one of the attractions of Allapuzha which is the festive season held ten colourful days every year in the month of December.
Other attractions in Alappuzha are Alappuzha Beach, offering one of the most beautiful views of the Laccadive Sea, Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Arthunkal Basilica, Mannarasala Temple, Chettikulangara Devi Temple, Haripad Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Thakazhy Shree Dharmashastha Temple, Mullakkal Temple, Edathua Church, Alappuzha CSI Christ Church (oldest Anglican church in Kerala) and Champakulam Valia Palli. Krishnapuram Palace also attracts many tourists. The tasty ambalappuzha payasam is a popular dessert.
Coir is the most important commodity manufactured in Alappuzha. The Coir Board was established by the Central Government under the provisions of the Coir Industry Act, 1955. There is also a Coir Research Institute functioning at Kalavoor.
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.
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, Kozhencherry and Adoor taluks of Pathanamthitta district, on the South by Kunnathur and Karunagappally taluks of Kollam district and on the west by Laccadive Sea.
The present Alappuzha district comprises six taluks, namely Cherthala, Ambalappuzha, Kuttanad, Karthikappally, Chengannur and Mavelikkara. Total area of this district is 1414sq.km. The district headquarters is located at Alappuzha.
In the early first decade of the 20th century the then 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, in joy and amazement, he exclaimed,
Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties. Alleppey, the Venice of the East.
Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, with its unending stretch of 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 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 strong 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 famous 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 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 also established here in 1859. In 1894 the city Improvement Committee was set up.
The historians of Alappuzha District also record the prominent role the district played in the freedom struggle of the country. The historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 arrayed the people against Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who was Dewan of Travancore. And this ultimately 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
Alappuzha is located at  The average elevation is 1 metre (3.3 ft) 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 one can witness the magnificent union of six major rivers which spread out extensively 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)..
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 immense natural beauty with the Laccadive Sea on its west. The city has a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers. Due to their closeness to the sea it has developed an unparalleled destination in the maritime map of India.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. One of the major feature of this land 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.
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 also gets the benefit of two seasonal monsoons, as in other parts of the state. Alappuzha city 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.
|Climate data for Alappuzha|
|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|
According to 2011 census, Alappuzha district has a population of 21,21,943 with 10,10,252 men and 11,11,691 women with a population density of 1492 persons per km2. 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 and the urban agglomeration had a population of 282,675 in 2001.
The population is predominantly Hindu and Christian, and there are sizeable numbers of Muslims, too. The most widely spoken language is Malayalam, although there are many people speaking Tamil, and Konkani.
The standard dialect of Malayalam spoken is Central Travancore dialect. 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.
The economy of the district is predominantly 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.
The availability of plenty 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.
The Coir Board was established by the Central Government under the provisions of the Coir Industry Act, 1955. There is a Coir Research Institute functioning at Kalavoor. The National Coir Training and Designing Centre was also established at Alappuzha in 1965.
Coir is the most important commodity manufactured in Alappuzha, Kayamkulam, Kokkothamangalam, Komalapuram, Mannancherry, Muhamma and Vayalar, Coir products in Cherthala and Mannancherry, Lime shell in Arookutty and Kodamthuruth, Plywood in Chengannur, Keltron controls in Aroor, Potassium Chloride in Mavelikkara and coconut in Thanneermukkom. The other important commodities manufactured in these towns are copra, coconut oil, glass, mats and matches.
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 city. Another reason is the proximity to other popular tourist spots like Munnar and Varkala.
Backwater Paddy Cultivation (Kayal Cultivation)
The major occupation in Alappuzha is farming. The Rice Bowl of Kerala, Kuttanadu is located in Alappuzha. Large farming areas near Vembanad Lake were actually reclaimed from the lake. The history of the paddy cultivation in Alappuzha can be traced back to centuries. The evolution of paddy cultivation in Kuttanad was correlated to the technological advancement and changes in the regulatory frame-work existed during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 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. There were robbery in kuttanadu at earlier days. It was prohibited by Sree Moolam Thirunal. Three distinct 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 to 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. These 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. 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 to think of venturing into the deeper parts of the lake. During the period between 1898 to 1903, reclamation activity was led by Pallithanam Luka Mathai (alias Pallithanathu Mathaichen) who reclaimed the Cherukara Kayal and Pallithanam Moovayiram Kayal. But 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, 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 English alphabet. 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 Grow More Food campaign and started providing incentives to encourage new reclamations. The advent of electric motors made the reclamations relatively 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.
The city 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 utilise this facility to reach Alappuzha. The other nearest airports are at Kozhikode (236 kilometres (147 mi)) and Coimbatore (254 kilometres (158 mi)). There is also a helipad in the city which however is reserved for government uses.
Alappuzha Railway Station is linked by rail to cities like Trivandrum, Quilon(Kollam), Cochin, Coimbatore, Chennai, Delhi, Bokaro and Mumbai.The railway station is about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) away from the center of the city. A total of four trains originate from Alappuzha to cities like Kannur, Chennai, Dhanbad, and Tatanagar. Since Alappuzha is a prime destination, many trains from important cities, like Banglore, Manglore, Kozhikode, and Amritsar, pass through this station.
Alappuzha is also well connected by road. The city service is served by white and brown coloured private buses with routes starting from Erattakulanagra Temple at Ambalappuzha till Kalavoor. These buses connect the city with the surrounding suburbs. National Highway NH 47 passes through the city connecting the city to other major cities like Coimbatore, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kollam, and Trivandrum. The state run KSRTC runs buses connecting Alappuzha to these cities.
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 regular boat services to major towns like Kottayam, Kollam and Changanassery besides to other small towns and jetties. Taking an SWTD boat is a cheaper alternative to houseboats for enjoying the scenic beauty of Alappuzha.
Administration and politics
|Alappuzha city officials|
|Municipal chairman||Smt.Mercy Diana Mazido (Mercy Teacher)|
|Superintendent of Police||Mr.E.Divakaran|
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, 6 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 5 statutory towns and development blocks consisting of 71 panchayats. It may be noted that the jurisdiction of a Development Block includes the areas falling in census towns also.
Education in Alappuzha got a boost with the development of many schools, computer institutes and colleges all over the district. Alappuzha holds a distinct position in Kerala in terms of literacy rate. Presently, this district has nine training schools, 405 lower primary schools, 105 high schools and 87 higher secondary schools.
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 currently 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.
Colleges in Alappuzha offer both graduate and post graduate courses for their students. Some of the colleges in Alappuzha are College of Engineering, Cherthala – IHRD, CUCEK[Cochin University College of Engineering Kuttanad],SD College, SN College, N.S.S. College, College of Engineering and Management(Punnapra), College of Engineering-IHRD(Chengannur), College of Applied Science(IHRD, Mavelikkara), TD Medical College, St. Joseph's College for Women, St. Michael's college, T.K Madhava Memorial college, and St. Aloysius college.
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