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