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Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Alleppey - Fairs & Festivals in India

Every year, the famous Snake Boats of Kerala compete in the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Held at Lake Punnamda in Alappuzha (also called the Venice of the East), the Race is organised on the second Saturday of August. Each village in the Kuttanad region enters a boat in the competition and the Boat Race is the occasion for a grand festival along the lake shore.

The first boat race was held in 1952. It was an impromptu affair, held in honour of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the region. Snake boats or chundanvallams are native boats of Kerala. They have been adapted from the navy boats of the Chempakasserry kings. Measuring about a 100 feet in length, they can accommodate upto 150 rowers on board.

Winning the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a matter of enormous prestige for the village – a triumph which is celebrated for months. A grand parade showcasing Kerala culture precedes the race. Visitors are encouraged to take part in the traditional Kathakali and theyyam performances. This is the occasion to sample the famous traditional Malayali cuisine - fresh sea food, appams, meat curries and more.

There are only a couple of days before the Nehru Trophy Boat Race begins, and boat clubs in Kottayam and Allapuzha are off to a good start with preparations.

The boat race is the most popular of all races. When the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited the region in 1952, he was so impressed by the sport that he donated a rolling trophy for the winner. Since then the race’s popularity has risen.

Snake boat Illikulam Chundan was launched recently at tourist hotspot Kumarakom, some 46 kilometers from Kochi city. Designing and building it took more than one year, and it will carry 111 people, including 95 oarsmen and 16 musicians to keep their spirits up.

The 132 feet marvel was built by ace boat builder Uma Maheswaran. His father, Kozhimukku Narayanan Asari, has built some of the greatest snake boats in history.

 

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