After the main event in the backwaters of Kerela you might take a day or two to have a look around Alleppey and Fort Kochi, about an hour and a half north. Read on for my quick suggestions on what to enjoy in these cities.
Pre/post houseboating: Alleppey
Also known as Alapuzha, this smaller city is really just a good start and end point for your house boating experience. We visited the beach here, which had potential, but like many Indian beaches was very dirty and certainly nothing to write home about. Still if you want to have a look just take a rickshaw, you should be able to haggle down to ₹50-60.
It might be convenient for you to stay a night in Alleppey as houseboats tend to depart around 11am. We stayed at Monkey Republic Homestay, which was cheap and very convenient for starting the houseboat – it’s just a few minutes walk to the Finishing Point. The rooms here are basic and they have an extensive food menu.
Makkani Restaurant: This restaurant has a big M like McDonalds, but thankfully the food is nothing like the logo. They serve a load of meat and vegetarian options. The Mutton Makkani was delicious, but very rich and creamy. The meals are reasonably priced and it’s in a good location if you’re staying near the Finishing Point.
Cafe Paradiso Espresso Cafe: This is a good place for breakfast next to the canal. They do real coffee and the omelettes are nice and big if you’re looking for a gluten free breakfast. I enjoyed sipping my ice espresso next to the water.
Moving north: Fort Kochi
Unless you are going South, Kochi will probably be an easier base from which to organise onward travel. It is therefore worth spending an afternoon and night in Fort Kochi, which is actually a very peaceful place to walk around. We were here in mid-late August and the monsoon rain did not affect us at all, so I would suggest it is a safe place to add to your tail end of monsoon itinerary.
In Fort Kochi there are some great food options, which is not the case in all Indian cities. Once you’ve strolled along the water and seen the Chinese fishing nets there are a few nice cafes, which also double as art galleries. There are some expensive souvenir shops and a rather disappointed cathedral you can stick your head into. After that there’s not a huge amount else so one night here should be plenty.
We took a local bus from the Alleppey bus station because it was walking distance from the houseboat Finishing Point. Just ask which bus to get on at the station. The bus will drop you at Thonburry, which is just before the bridge that goes over to Kochi city/ Ernakulam. You can then get a rickshaw to your accommodation.
Accommodation in Fort Kochi
Nichoo’s Inn: Run by a lovely family, this is a cheap and convenient place to stay. They have two guesthouses in close proximity to one another. Our room was basic with just a fan and private bathroom, but everything we needed for a comfortable night. The family will help you with anything you need.
Food in Fort Kochi
Oceanos Restaurant: An extensive menu of mainly seafood, which is famous in Kochi. This restaurant serves a huge range of delicious curries and sides with fish, meat and of course vegetarian. The rice pancakes here are light and fluffy – definitely worth a try if you fancy a gluten free treat. They are quite sweet but that is part of their appeal.
Oy’s café: Down the road from the most recommended Kashi Art Café, but here you will be able to get a gluten free meal. The omelettes are really good as are the ice ginger and lime drinks, which are not full of sugar! Both Oy’s and Kashi Art Café have lovely decor and are a good place to escape the heat.
Kerela Café: A cheaper food option in a little roadside restaurant. Run by a group of really friendly young men, the breakfast Dosa here was delicious. Dosa is made with rice flour so it’s a great gluten free option if you fancy a starchy snack!
We found a fantastic, genuine and very helpful Rickshaw driver that helped us out with everything we needed. Haris was full of recommendations on places to eat and drink and was very fair with what he asked us to pay. On our last day he took us out to a great local restaurant that there is no way we could have found without him. Here we got to try Toddy Palm, Kerela’s speciality liquor, which is made of fermented coconut.
Get in touch with him if you plan on visiting Fort Kochi and he will look after you very well. His details: +91 904 878 5775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that this article and my suggestions on how to find a great houseboating experience in Kerela have proved useful. My next recommendation for activities during the tail end of the Indian monsoon are in Panaji (Panjim), the capital of Goa.