Boat Race in Kerala
Trophy Boat Race :
Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most famous of the boat races of Kerala.
This annual regatta is held on the Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha
district on the second Saturday of August.
The event is a commemoration of the visit to this place by the late
Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1952.
On the great waterways of Kerala, fierce Vallom
Kallies (boat races) and water carnivals erupt every year in a
dramatic spectacle and hold tens of thousands of people spell-bound,
cheering the action, laying bets, goading the boatmen to row faster.
At Aranmula on the Pamba River in the Kuttanad region, at Papiyad near
Quilon, at Thayathangadi near Kottayam, the water carnivals and snake
boat races herald the week of the great harvest festival of Onam. It
is Kerala's most important celebration and in scores of villages
spread across central Kerala, competitive races featuring the smaller
churulans, oadis, and irrutukuthies provide expression to the spirit
of an intrepid, athletic people, born and bread near water.
Over the years, roads, railways and aircraft have stifled the romance
of river traffic and inland water warfare has passed into the annals
of history. But for the boatmen of Kerala, the romance of the boat
races during the boat festivals is still alive and they think in
nostalgic term as their boats glide to some favorite shrine in the
soft, muted light of the morning.
The stately snake boats of Aranmula form part of a hoary temple
ritual. In days gone by, it is said, bandits once plundered a small
boat carrying offerings to a Krishna temple. Lord Krishna, goes the
legend, appeared before the distraught devotee in a dream and advised
him to build larger boats which, when rowed by a hundred to hundred
and fifty oarsmen, could glide swiftly and outstrip any pirate, and so
the speedy chundan or snake boat was designed. This legend forms the
basis for the snake boat races and boat festivals of Kerala.
The snake boats take shape in the skilled hands of inspired
shipwrights or master boat builders - proud guardians of time honored
boat-building techniques conscientiously passed on from father to son.
Everything is handmade and crafted with great care by the shipwrights.
Volunteers from the community are willing assistants and thousands
throng the water's edge to watch the first critical trial run of a new
For both the spectators and the boat crews of the snake boat races
during the boat festivals of Kerala, the finishing moment of the boat
race in Kerala is supreme. The snake boats, their pennants whipped by
the wind, cut a shimmering swathe through.
It houses elephants, tigers, panthers, jungle cats, civet cats,
monkeys, wild dogs, bisons, deer, bears, Monitor lizards and a variety
of snakes are seen.
Indira Gandhi Boat Race :
Indira Gandhi Boat Race is a grand fest on the rolling backwaters of
Kochi. Conducted in the last week of December, it is a fitting finale
to the Tourism Fair, which attracts travellers from all parts of the
The sixteen majestic snake boats racing neck to neck in gaiety and
competition to the sky-rending cheers of the multitudes, is a unique
sight. The coveted trophy of the race was instituted in memory of
Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India.
Champakulam Moolam Boat Race :
The festive season of boat races commences with the event of
Champakulam Moolam Boat Race held every year in the first week of
July. It is the oldest and one of the most popular snake boat races in
Boat Race :
The Aranmula Boat Race is a two-day festive event rather than a sports
competition. It is held in strict adherence to traditions during the
festival of Onam