Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, Alappuzha is a captivating town in southern Kerala, India. Alappuzha offers a distinctive backwater tourism experience through its intricate networks of canals, lagoons, and lakes. Its lush green paddy fields, coconut groves, and traditional houseboats are quintessential snapshots of Alappuzha’s rural beauty. Visitors are captivated by its serene environment, soul-soothing boat rides, and vibrant local culture.
The Vega Boat Service, an enterprise of the government, has made the enchanting beauty of Alappuzha accessible to everyone, irrespective of their budget. Affordable fares start at Rs 400 for a non-A/C boat ride and Rs 600 for an A/C one. Vega Boat Service offers an immersive, five-hour journey through Alappuzha’s majestic backwaters, focusing on distinguished service and ease. Every passenger will mark it as an unforgettable journey. The boat service operates promptly and offers amenities such as onboard meals and refreshments, making it an ideal choice for those wishing to explore Alappuzha backwaters and lakes.
Ticket pricing and reservations
Tickets for the Vega Boat Service price are affordable for all budgets. A 5-hour journey on the non-air-conditioned boat costs Rs 400, making it an affordable option for those who enjoy the natural breeze of the backwaters. For individuals who prefer a more relaxed environment, the air-conditioned boat offers a comfortable ride at a slightly higher price of Rs 600.
It’s important to note that the boat has a seating capacity of 120, with 40 seats in the air-conditioned section and 80 in the non-air-conditioned section. Due to the popularity of this service, seats fill up quickly, so it’s highly recommended to make your bookings in advance. This strategy secures your place on the boat and averts any last-minute hassles.
For reservations, you can contact Vega Boat Service at the following numbers: 9400050322 and 9400050325. Remember that the individual making the reservation must be present on the day of the boat journey. This makes booking more secure and ensures all passengers have confirmed travel plans.
The journey begins.
As the clock strikes 11:00 am, the peaceful Alappuzha Boat Jetty bustles with energy. Passengers eagerly board the Vega Boat, anticipation lighting up their faces as they settle into their seats. The boat, a symbol of Kerala’s traditional craftsmanship, is a visual treat. Its sturdy wooden structure, painted in the cheerful hues of the sky and ocean, stands ready for its sojourn through the tranquil backwaters. The journey commences with the soft humming of the boat’s engine, and the palette of the surroundings starts to change as the boat eases away from the jetty. The view transitions from the urban landscape to the blissful serenity of nature, with the azure backwaters flanked by lush green coconut groves. For the next five hours, passengers are set to embark on a breathtaking exploration of Alappuzha’s natural beauty and discover the charming spectacle of life along the backwaters.
Around 1:00 pm, the Vega Boat stops at Pathiramanal, a captivating island on the backwaters. This boat service allows passengers to stretch their legs and explore the island’s diverse flora and fauna. They are referred to as the ‘Sands of Night,’ Pathiramanal houses a diverse array of over a hundred unique bird species, serving as an idyllic haven for bird watchers. The boat will wait an hour, during which passengers can take a short walk around the island or relax and soak in the beautiful surroundings. This stopover has a nominal boarding charge of Rs. 10 per person. Around this time, the staff of Kudumbashree, a local women’s initiative, will distribute meal coupons to the passengers. These meals, priced at Rs. 100 each, include a variety of traditional South Indian dishes such as fish curry, sambar, pulisseri, kakairachi, avial, thoran, and achar. After enjoying their meal and the island’s beauty, passengers reboard the boat as it resumes its journey through the scenic backwaters.
Providing a flavorful break during the journey, Vega Boat Service has partnered with Kudumbashree, a local women’s initiative, for meal arrangements. This initiative caters to the passengers’ culinary needs and supports the local community. As the boat reaches Pathiramanal, passengers are handed meal coupons for a nominal fee of Rs. 100.
The meal is a traditional South Indian thali, a wholesome and balanced combination of various dishes served on a single plate. The thali typically includes:
- Fish curry: a spicy and tangy curry made with local fish and Kerala spices.
- Sambar is a nutritious stew of lentils and vegetables seasoned with various spices and tangy tamarind.
- Pulisseri: a yoghurt-based curry with coconut and a hint of spices.
- Kakairachi is a traditional pickle made from bitter gourd.
- Avial: a rich blend of vegetables and coconut, flavoured with curry leaves and a splash of coconut oil.
- Thoran is a simple and healthy dish prepared from various vegetables and lentils.
- Achar is a spicy pickle usually made from mango or lemon.
This hearty meal, rich in flavours and local ingredients, gives passengers an authentic taste of Kerala’s culinary heritage while they enjoy the picturesque surroundings. Despite being affordable, the quality and quantity of the food are still maintained, making it a perfect mid-journey feast for the passengers.
Resuming the Journey Towards Kumarakom Lake
The journey towards the mesmerising Kumarakom Lake unfolds as the Vega Boat Service departs from Pathiramanal. The boat glides effortlessly through the shimmering backwaters, passing through scenic waterways lined with verdant foliage and traditional Kerala homes. The lush paddy fields, swaying coconut groves, and quaint houseboats provide a captivating spectacle that adds to the visceral experience.
Onboard, the guests can use well-maintained facilities such as clean restrooms and comfortable seating arrangements. Traditional folk and classical Kerala music is played over the boat’s sound system for entertainment. This calming music deepens the tranquillity, enabling travellers to engage wholly with their voyage.
A prominent feature of this leg of the trip is the awe-inspiring sunset vista over Kumarakom Lake. The sight of the setting sun painting the sky in orange, pink, and purple hues and its reflection dancing on the lake’s surface is enough to leave the passengers spellbound. This magical experience brings the voyage to a beautiful end, leaving the passengers with unforgettable memories of their journey through the heart of Kerala’s backwaters.
Bird-watching and Less-Travelled Routes
The Vega Boat Journey offers many opportunities to observe the avian life that thrives in these tranquil backwaters. The area is a paradise for avian enthusiasts, housing more than a hundred bird species, from local to migratory, contributing to the region’s rich biodiversity. Among the species that can be spotted are the Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Indian Roller, Hornbill, and the highly elusive Black Drongo. The captivating spectacle of these majestic beings gliding across the sky or resting atop verdant foliage offers an enchanting sight to onlookers.
The Vega Boat journey is not confined to the main waterways; it also explores less-travelled routes, offering an authentic taste of Kerala’s backwater life. The boat navigates through narrow canals lined with local houses, providing a close-up view of rural life and the region’s rustic charm. It routes through the beautiful R Block, an artificial island reclaimed from the Vembanad Lake, enveloped by paddy fields and coconut plantations. This route is preferred as it offers a peaceful escape from the regular tourist tracks, creating a truly immersive and unique experience for the passengers.
Return to Alappuzha.
As the sun dips below the horizon, the Vega Boat Service begins its return voyage to Alappuzha. This part of the journey offers a unique perspective as the landscape is bathed in dusk’s soft, fading light, casting an ethereal glow over the tranquil backwaters. The return route mirrors the earlier journey, retracing the waterways the boat had previously navigated.
While listening to the calming sounds of traditional Kerala music, passengers can reflect on the beautiful sights they have seen and the incredible experiences they have had as the boat heads back. The calm waters, the silhouette of the palm trees against the twilight sky, and the distant lights flickering from the shoreline all contribute to an atmosphere of peace and serenity.
During this leg of the journey, the boat passes through the beautiful R Block again, offering passengers another opportunity to witness the region’s rustic charm under the moonlit sky. The trip concludes as the boat docks back at the Alappuzha jetty, marking the end of an unforgettable voyage through the captivating backwaters of Kerala. Passengers exit, their minds brimming with the unique and enriching moments they’ve experienced.
End of the Journey
The journey concludes at approximately 4 pm at the Alappuzha boat jetty, where the Vega Boat Service first embarked. As passengers disembark, they are greeted by the bustling activity of the jetty, a stark contrast to the tranquillity of the backwaters. The docked houseboats, the evening market, and the aroma of local seafood grilled nearby all contribute to the lively atmosphere. Despite the journey’s end, the memories of the enchanting backwaters, the exceptional hospitality on board, and the unique insights gained into Kerala’s rich cultural and natural heritage would continue to linger in the passengers’ hearts. In a nutshell, Vega Boat Service not only offers a voyage through the mesmerising backwaters but also a journey into the soul of Kerala itself.