With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha) is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travelers from across the world, this area is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. The Backwaters of Alleppey are world famous and the houseboat excursions are the most popular tourist attraction in Kerala. The backwaters connect Kumarakom and Cochin to the north, and Quilon to the South. Alleppey is also the access point for the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake each August. It is the most competitive and popular of the boat races in India.