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Meeting and Events

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Punnamada - Alappuzha Dist 10 Aug 2013

Nehru Trophy Boat race at Punnamada, Alappuzha is one of the most significant and colourful boat races in Kerala. It is a world renowned event, held annually on the second Saturday of the month of August in the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha. Boats of all sizes compete in different events in the boat race and . Kerala is celebrating its 61st Nehru Trophy Boat Race on 10th August 2013.

The most prestigious and interesting event among the races is the competition of the "Chundan Vallam" or the snake boats. These majestic boats measuring a length of 30 to 60 metres (over 100 ft) with a raised prow, are quite impressive and can accommodate around 100 rowers, 4 helmsmen and 25 cheer leaders. The boats are well decorated with colourful trimmings and umbrellas during the race. Champakulam, Kavalam, Karichal, Jawahar Thayangari, Kallooparamban, Pacha, Pulincunnu, Nedubhagam, Cheruthana, Kandangari and Paippad are the chief competitors for the trophy. The huge boats racing through the blue backwaters is a spectacular sight. The venue is 5kms from Alappuzha railway station and a walk able distance from Alappuzha bus stand.

This race became a regular annual event after the visit of India's 1st prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 to Alappuzha. He was so impressed with the impromptu race conducted on his behalf that he donated a Silver Trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus, with the words "To the winner of the boat race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore - Cochin" inscribed on it.

Payippad Boat Race

Payippad - Alappuzha Dist 18 Sep 2013

Held during the festival of Onam, the Payippad Boat Race is one of the oldest boat races in Kerala. Held at the small village of Payippad situated at the confluence of rivers Pampa and Achalkoil, the boat race is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kerala after the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.

The boat race takes place on the Payippad River and similar to other boats races such as Nehru Boat Race and the Aranmula Boat Race, this race too involves snake boats operated by villagers competing to win the top prize. However, unlike other races, this event is a three-day festival. The event is organised with the funds that are pooled in by all villagers and with donations and funds from various sources.

Tourists can visit the banks of the river to view the spectacle, which includes not just the boat race but water pageants and folk performances. To reach Payippad, the nearest town is Haripad, 35 km from Alleppey.

Kumarakom Boat Race

Kumarakom - Kottayam Dist 18 Sep 2013.

Also known as the Sree Narayana Jayanti Boat Race, the Kumarakom Boat Race is conducted during the festival of Onam. The small village of Kottathodu bustles with tourists and locals who visit the destination to watch this sporting event.

The history of the race dates back to the early 1900s when social activist Sree Narayana Guru consecrated the Kumaramangalam Temple here. He visited the village by boat and since then, event is celebrated and organised in his honour.

And the boat race is not the only attraction during this festival. In addition to the boat race, pujas are conducted at the temple and a procession is conducted through the streets of Kottathodu, which includes musical and dance performances by villagers and professional dance troupes.

The highlight of the festival is the boat race and the snake boats that glide on the waters with oarsmen competing to win the Sree Narayana Ever Rolling Trophy.

To reach the village of Kottathodu, tourists can reach Kottayam, close to 15 km away.

Aranmula Boat Race

Aranmula - Pathanamthitta Dist 20 Sep 2013

The Snake Boat Race festivities during the Onam festival. Aranmula Snake Boat Race or Aranmula Vallamkali is an annual boat race held in Aranmula district, Kerala during the Onam festival in the month of August-September. The snake boats assemble near the Parthasarathy Temple before the race begins as its origin is attached with this temple. Festivities take over the whole town as well as the waters. The boat race is famous worldwide and has become an icon of Kerala, attracting thousands of tourists every year during the festival of Onam.

This annual boat race during Onam attracts tourists from all over India and the world. The snake boats are called Palliyodams and their structures resemble snakes. These boats are around 100 ft in length, have narrow fronts with raised hoods and rear portions towering at a height of around 20 ft. The people take much pride in the boat which represents their village. Each year the village carpenter performs repairs to the boat and oils it with fish oil, coconut oil, carbon, etc to keep the wood tough and the boat slippery on water.

Around 40 boats participate in this annual event and each boat accommodates about 120 people including helmsmen, oarsmen and singers. Colorful and vivid flags are set on the boat's head and colorful parasol in the center offers a beautiful spectacle. The race begins in the afternoon after the morning prayers and rituals. Songs called Vanchipattu"" are sung during the races. Groups of men and singers who sing stridently in a rhythmic manner gather along the banks of the rivers and in snake boats. The speed and the graceful rhythmic movements of the boat offer an amazing show

Indira Gandhi Boat Race

Kochi - Ernakulam Dist 28 Dec 2013

The trophy of this race was commenced in memory of the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. An eye-catching water festival of Kerala, Indira Gandhi Boat Race is held to boost tourism in the state. Enthusiastic oarsmen rowing in unison to the rhythm of the "Vanchipattu" (the song of boatman) create a spectacular sight. People in huge crowd along the waters can be seen cheering the participants of the event. Cochin Backwaters serve as the centre of activity during the event. Conducted to promote Kerala tourism, the competition enjoys the participation of several snake boats among which only few are selected in the final round.

The preparations for this unique festival of Kerala start several week in advance. The sportive spirit of the contestants makes the competition unique. Around 150 oarsmen vow to observe stringent rules during the game. Each one of them represents a different village. Villagers and well-to-do people often take the responsibility of feeding them during practice sessions.

Packed with energy, the boat races beckon tourists from all around the world. The boats are stream lined in order to make them run faster. These are smeared with sardine oil to ensure a smooth passage through the water. Backed by around 125 oarsmen, 25 singers and four helmsmen, the spectacle casts a spell on the beholders. The boats used for racing are traditionally made. The winner of the race is complimented by a trophy in the name of Indira Gandhi. The heart throbbing rhythm of music coupled with pushing of snake boat by Oarsmen leave the beholders mesmerised.