The story of the district in the Paleolithic age is obscure. It is presumed that the coastal taluks of Cherthala, Ambalapuzha and Karthikapally might have been under water and these areas were formed by the accumulation of silt and sand, later than the other parts of the district. Kuttanadu, one of the taluks of the present Alappuzha district was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age. The early Cheras had their home in Kuttanadu and they were called 'Kuttuvans', named after t place. Christianity had a strong foothold in the area even from the Ist century A.D. The church located at Kokkomangalam or Kokkothamangalam in Cherthala is one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. During 9th to 12th century A.D, the district flourished in the field of religion and culture under the second Chera empire.
During the 16th century small principalities like Kayamkulam (presently Karthikappally and Mavelikkara taluks), Purakkad which was often called Ambalappuzha or Chempakasseri (present Ambalappuzha and part of Kuttanadu taluk) Karappuram comprising two principalities called Moothedath and Iledath (present Cherthala taluk) emerged into power.
Arrival of Europeans:
In the same period, the Portuguese came into prominence in the political scene of the district and they built several churches of which churches located at Purakkad and Arthungal are well known.
Birth of Modern Alappuzha:
In the 17th century the Portuguese power declined and the Dutch had a predominant position in the principalities of the district. As a result of several treaties signed between the Dutch and the kings of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram, the Dutch built factories and warehouses in various places of the district for storing pepper, ginger etc.
In course of time they interfered in the political and cultural affairs of the district. It was at that time Maharaja Marthandavarma, the 'Master of Modern Travancore' interfered on the political affairs of those principalities.
The annexation of the kingdoms of Kayamkulam, Ambalappuzha, Thekkumkur, Vadakkumkur and Karappuram to Travancore gave the Dutch a set back from the political scene of the district. Marthandavarma Maharaja had a remarkable role in the internal progress of the district. He gave special attention to the development of Mavelikkara as an administrative as well as a commercial centre. The Krishnapuram palace, which is now a protected monument of the State Archaeology Department was constructed during that period.
Contribution by Raja Kesavadasan (Architect Of Modern Alappuzha) :
When the town was founded by Raja Kesavadasan, the Diwan of Travancore in 1762, there was just one canal through the strip of sand between the backwaters and the sea. It soon grew into a bustling waterway, with shops, factories and commercial establishments springing up on either banks of the canal. This attracted merchants from other parts of the country.
Growth of Alappuzha:
By the mid 19th century the sea receded a mile offering more land along the sandstrip. Trading vessels soon began to call on Alappuzha. In 1859 the first organised coir factory was started here and began producing matting from coir yarn on a loom developed by an English Sea Captain. Soon other British owned weaving establishments followed. Meanwhile in 1816 the Church Missionary Society set up its local Headquarters in Alappuzha and three years later the first Anglican church was built. In 1851 Jalap had the honour of housing the first post office in the erstwhile Travancore State.
This district had a prominent role in the freedom struggle of the country. The campaign for the eradication of untouchability was organized much earlier in this district by T.K. Madhavan, a fearless journalist and in 1925 many of the temples, especially the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Swami temple were thrown open to the Hindus of all castes. The district also witnessed the 'Nivarthana' movement which was started as a protest against the constitutional repression of 1932. The first political strike in Kerala was held at Alappuzha in 1938.
The historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 stiffened the attitude of the people against Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, Diwan of Travancore, which ultimately led to his exit from the political scene of Travancore. After India became independent, a popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24th March, 1948 and on Ist July 1949 Travancore and Cochin states were integrated and this position continued till the formation of Kerala State on Ist November 1956 as per the States Reorganization Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on Ist August 1957 .
The climate is moist and hot in the coast and slightly cool and dry in the interior of the district. The average monthly temperature is 25 C. The district also gets the benefit of two outstanding monsoons as in the case of other parts of the state.
Hot season - March to May
South-west monsoon (Edavappathi) - June to September
North-east monsoon (Thulavarsham) - October to November
Dry weather - December to February
The district has 8 reporting rain gauge stations at Arookutty, Cherthala, Alappuzha, Ambalapuzha, Harippad, Kayamkulam, Mavelikkara and Chengannur as recorded in 1989. The average rainfall in the district is 2763 mm.
Alappuzha Backwaters is one of the exotic backwater sites of India's southern state Kerala. Washed by the Arabian Sea, interlocked by a number of canals and bridges, this tiny marketplace is also famous for its Nehru Trophy boat race held every year.
It is during the months of August and September that the moist, rain-drenched earth and the glorious ever flowing backwaters burst into a song together, as over a hundred thousand men and women gather on the banks to witness a spectacular water regatta - the SNAKE BOAT RACE. Boat race crew begin to practice for the race months before the great day. They live together, eat together, toil together to work themselves into a smooth, co-ordinated team.
A splendid procession unfolds with all types of 'Kali-Vallangal' or RACING BOATS, led by the largest and the most majestic of them, the 'Chundan'. Its rowers sing songs known as ' vanchi pattu ' to the rhythm of the oars - a feast for the eyes and the ears. The largest of the 'Chundan' boats, the length of which varies between a hundred and a hundred and thirty feet can seat a hundred and twenty rowers, sixty on each side. Like the neck of an angry snake it curves to a height of fifteen to twenty feet. The prow is pointed and stands four feet above the water with its glistening brass embellishments. The main steer man of the boat stands on the amaram with specially made long oars. The efficiency with which they handle the oar is what establishes the speed of the boat and its balance. They claim that a single strong plunge of the oar into the water can take the boat three leaps forward to a distance of thirty feet.
Air : The nearest airport is Cochin, 64 km to the North. Thiruvananthapuram International airport is 159 km to the south.
Rail : It has rail connections with Kochi, Chennai and Bokaro.
Road : Alappuzha lies on the NH 47 and is well connected by road with all important towns of the southern India.
Boat Services : Excellent boat services available through the backwaters to Kollam, Changanassery, Kottayam, Kochi, Kumarakom, Chengannur etc. Although the time taken by boat is more but it is an enchanting experience.
Where To Stay
Prince Hotel, A. S. Road, NH 47, Alappuzha
Komala, Opp. Boat Jetty, Alappuzha
KTDC Motel Aaram
PWD Rest House, near Reception Ground
Marari beach resort(Casino group of Hotels), Mararikulam
Prince Hotel, A. S. Road, NH 47, Alappuzha
Indian Coffee House, Mullackal, Alappuzha
Indian Coffee House, KSRTC stand, Cherthala
Hotel Apsara, Near X-ray junction, Cherthala
Hotel Way sidein, Near Civil station, Cherthala