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Olympic in Alleppey backwaters – The famous Snake Boat Race

Jun 12, 2018

Olympic in Alleppey backwaters – The famous Snake Boat Race
Olympic in Alleppey backwaters – The famous Snake Boat Race | Credit: Lonelyplanet

Kerala, popularly known as the God’s Own country is famous for its scenic beauty surrounded by green lush trees and backwaters. The people of Kerala have immense love towards mother-nature, they worship the god of nature and bring in nature in their entertainment too.

Snake boat races, locally called as Vallomkali or Vallamkali, is one such competition held in the Punnamada Lake in the Alleppey. 

It is a famous sporting activity which gathers a huge number of domestic and tourist crowd. 

This boat race is also called as the Nehru trophy boat race and it got this name because it was first conducted on the occasion of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visiting Kerala. The Prime Minister was very impressed with the performance and this was conducted every year as a boat race. 

It is held on the second Saturday in the month of August. The traditional snake boat is of 135 feet length. Over 100 - 120 rovers, drummers, singers are boarded in a single boat. There are totally 20 boats like this from each village that will participate in the competition. So, it is overall 2,200 people who participate in this competition every year. 

The boats are traditional types which are called as the Chundan Vallams. The main rovers stand in the front with specially designed long oars. They sing their traditional songs called the Vanchipattu while rowing the boat. 

The speed and the efficiency on how the boat is rowed are very important. The pleasant climate, the backwaters, the sound of the drums and the cheer of the crowd is truly a wonderful moment to enjoy. People participating in the competition keep practicing the entire year in order to keep themselves fit and also maintain the boat properly with special care. The day of the competition is like a festival for them and a large number of people from different states and countries gather to watch and enjoy this event. The boat that comes first in the race is awarded the Nehru Trophy that looks similar to the snake boat made in silver. It is also considered to be the pride of Kerala as it’s a friendly race held between people from various districts of Kerala.

Credit: Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

Other Boat races held in Kerala

Presidents Trophy Boat Race – The President’s Trophy boat race is conducted as a start to the Onam celebrations in Kerala. It is held on the Ashtamudi Lake of the Kollam district of Kerala and on the Atham day.

Credit: India
Credit: India

Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali – The Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali is also a famous boat race conducted during the Onam Festival. This is conducted at Aranmula which is famous for a temple of Lord Krishna who is the deity of the occasion of Onam.

Credit: Rajesh Kalapura
Credit: Rajesh Kalapura

Kallada Boat race – This boat race is held every year on the 28th day after Onam. It is held on the Kallada River and hence got this name.

Credit: India
Credit: India

Chamapkulam Mollam Boat race – The Champakulam Moolam boat race is the oldest boat race that is being practiced for many years. This is held at the Pamba River on the day of Moolam Star that comes on the Malayalam month Midhunam. 

Credit: Caper Travel
Credit: Caper Travel

Indira Gandhi Boat Race – It is an annual boat race conducted on the Kochi Lake in the last week of December. This is also a famous snake boat race held in Kerala.

Credit: Wikipedia
Credit: Wikipedia

Payippad Jalatosavam – Payippad Jalotsavam is a three-day festival that is held in the Payippad Lake near Alappuzha.

Out of these many Boat races held annually in various districts of Kerala, the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the best and that has still not been commercialized. It has a huge fan crowd because it still follows the traditional aspects.