allepy to kottayam

How to Take the Kerala Backwaters Ferry from Allepy to Kottayam

Our next backwater trip took in a trip from Allepy to Kottayam.  Allepy is the queen of the backwater towns, she’s also known as Alappuzha.


And many different spellings abound.

Today’s trip was a ferry. A regular old passenger service. Taken by locals and tourists alike, it would shift us through the heart of the backwaters from the ferry terminus on Boat Jetty Road to close to Kottayam we’d wait there for it to return a few hours later.

Allepy to Kottayam ferry map

Hopefully filling in time doing something interesting.  The internet was devoid of what we might be able to do as the boat stops some way short of Kottayam itself, at Kanjiram.

We’ve taken three different Kerala backwaters trips – there’s our no engine trip through the Kerala Backwaters, this one that I’m writing about and also our trip from Allepey to Kollam.

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We’re once again back to the boats looking barely seaworthy, not, of course, that we’re actually going to sea. There’s nothing so obvious as a sign on the ferry that indicates this is the one you need to take, So we confirm several times with other folks (there seem to be four other westerners taking this trip too) that this is the right ferry.

Allepy to Kottayam Ferry

It’s a bargain 15 INR each (GBP 15p, US$0.24)  and it will take us on the 3 hour trip through the backwaters, stopping at various small villages and what look simply like single dwellings, to Kanjiram – about 8km from Kottayam.

Allepy to Kottayam Ferry Cost
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None of the locals are very talkative, but they’re inquisitive. In fact the guy behind me can’t help himself. He seems to shift position all the time in an effort to catch my arm or my shoulder. It’s positively creepy and I end up hunched forward trying to avoid his touch. I’m early into my India experience, so and I’m trying very hard to be polite.  In factI should be very offended and take him to task.

Allepy to Kottayam Ferry

The kids are curious too. We pick up kids on their way to and from schools. They’re intrigued by the kindle Nigel is reading enough to come over and start trying to play with it. It’s a touch screen and is soon covered with grimy finger prints that make me shudder and consider buying more antiseptic wipes as soon as I can find them.

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They don’t seem to understand “careful” or “don’t touch my stuff because you’ll break it” as they stab away trying to hit the screen.

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The views are quite lovely.

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There’s green everywhere. Not just the trees, but also the plants in the water.

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In some places, we’re actually cutting through heavy, heavy growth.  Its so thick we have to reverse and take another run at it to get through.

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As we pass, the plants close up behind us as if we were never there.
Everywhere, though, is discarded garbage. Polystyrene plates. Cups. Plastic. Presumably all the biodegradable trash has sunk into the gloop under the greenery. How can the people of this area let it get like this I wonder? This isn’t what the tourist board promised. My answer comes as we leave a small stop, where kids and a few parents have joined us.

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Frantically opening potato chips and candies, they’re consumed quickly.  The plastic bags just dropped onto the floor of the ferry. At first I wonder if its accidental, but it continues to happen. The ferry crew use their feet to sweep the offending items into the water. At least the ferry is trash free.

Oh India, how can you do this to yourself?

We finally reach the end, as the canal narrows then stops.  There’s a school and a couple of shacks selling stationery and drinks and not much else.

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Our ferry will begin the return journey in two hours.  The Internet was correct.  There’s nothing to do here.  We walk down the dusty road towards civilization for 10 minutes or so and give up.  We return to a small cafe to consume samosa and cold drinks.

Then we head for a walk along the side of the canal.  There are rice fields and goodness knows what hiding in the long grass so we abandon that.  We head back to the ferry to wait out the remaining time until it heads back.

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And when it does, it’s a slow meander full of spurts of excitement when we stop to disgorge passengers.  It’s more on the way back, 18 INR each.. perhaps its rush hour..

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Dropped back at the ferry terminus we hail an auto-rickshaw and head for the beach, where we find cold beer and kite flyers. This is our second Kerala Backwaters experience, we also took an “engine free-experience” – there’s more on that here.

Our next Kerala Backwaters experience will take us south and out of the backwaters, leaving Allepy behind.


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