Boat Race

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of Independent India visited Kerala in 1952. He was given a roaring reception by the people of Alleppey, escorted by the huge snake-boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the race. The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden abacus on which the following words are inscribed.

To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin.

The 100–120 foot long canoes made of a wood locally called "Aanjili thadi" carrying 90- 110 rowers which moves like a snake through the channels (hence the name), is an eye catching sight for any tourist. The Chundan Vallam also has the record as "the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose" .

Karichal, Kallooparamban, champakulam, Nadubhagom, Paayipaadu, Kaavalam, Alapaatu, Aanari, Cheruthana, Aayaparambu, St. George, Jawahar Thaayankari, Vallamkulangara, Valiya Divanji, Sri.Ganesh, Paarthasarathy, Ambedkar, Mutteal Kainakary, Ellikkulam, Vadakkeaattupuram and Deva's Chundan are the name of popular snake boats who participate in the Chundan Vallam category. Famous Karichal Chundan winning the Nehrutrophy Boat Race in 14 times.Karichal chundan is the Fastest chundan in NehruTrophy Boat Race Year 2011 Heats Time : 4m.30s

Palliyodam, or Royal Canoe of Aranmula, is the other type of snake boat. This year,the 60th Nehru Trophy Boat race is conducted as a three day program.The tranquil Alappuzha with its corduroy of canals undergoes a transformation in early August to a frenzy activity and enthusiasm which reaches it is summit on the second Saturday, the day on which the world famous ‘kuttanad’s Olympics on Water is held annually.

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race


In 1952 the honorable Prime Minister of India, late Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru called on Kerala and enjoyed a graceful cruise in the centre deck of the Marshal Boat from Kottayam to Alleppey. As part of the visit, the state government arranged a boat race of the Chundan boats with the co-operation and participation of the local community. Mr. Nehru was so fascinated by this spectacular event that he jumped on to the deck of the winner boat, which was the Nadubhagom Chundan and congratulated them.

On his return to New Delhi he send a rosewood Chundan replica adorned with silver trimming to the State and this trophy is being awarded to the winners of the boat race every year in the commemoration of India's first Prime minister. The first winner of this 'Prime Minister's' trophy was ‘ Kavalam Chundan' on its race at the Kinakari Vattakkayal. From 1955 onwards the boat races were held at the Punnamada Lake and the winner was Parthasarathi Chundan. Since then this boat race is being held at the Punnamada Lake on the 2 nd Saturday of August every year.

Chambakkulam Boat Race


The oldest and the most popular Chundan boat race in Kerala is held on the Chembakkulam Lake on the Moolam day of the Malayalam month Midhunam. This event is closely connected to Sri Krishna Temple at Ambalappuzha. Legends say that Maharaja Devanarayana of Chempakasseri built a temple at Ambalappuzha following the instruction of the Royal Priest. But just before the installation of the deity the King was informed that the idol was not auspicious. The king was disturbed, but his minister suggested an inspiring solution of placing in the newly constructed temple, the beautiful idol of Sree Krishna - presented to Arjuna by the Lord himself, from the Karikulam temple in Kurichi. The minister with a few others went to Kurichi, met the authorities there and returned with the idol. On the way back they stopped at Champakulam to spent the night and perform rituals or “pooja”. The next morning, boats from the entire region assembled to escort the idol in a colorful, ceremonial procession through the lake to the temple. 

In this little land where every event is made into festivals and celebrations, this event is also commemorated and celebrated every year as Champakulam Moolam Boat race. 

Aranmula Boat Race


The Aranmula Uthrattadi Boat Race conducted is during Onam . The event is a re-enacting of the legend involving a devoted Brahmin who made a votive offering of feeding one pilgrim a day. One day Sree Krishna himself appeared to him and the overjoyed Brahmin vowed to offer 51 measures of rice and all the provisions for the thiruvonam sadya (the sumptuous Onam feast) at the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. Once, the Thiruvonachilavuthoni (the boat carrying the offerings) was intercepted by rivals from another village, but the Brahmin's own villagers came to the rescue on snake boats. From then on, the offering was escorted by a fleet of palliyodams 
(large, luxurious snake boast used by gods and royalty).

This event is marked by a colorful water carnival and procession on the lake with children dressed as nymphs and princesses. On the second day of celebration, snake boats decorated with silken parasols, carrying helmsmen, oarsmen and singers assemble near the temple early in the morning and then move away in pairs, creating magnificent pageant. The boat race proper is held in the afternoon.

Payippad Boat Race


The Payippad boat race which lasts for three days commemorates the installation of the deity at the Subramanya Swamy Temple. The legend is that the people of the village decided to build a temple with Sree Ayyappa as the presiding deity. After the temple was ready, they had a vision directing them to a whirlpool in the Kayamkulam Lake from where found the idol and placed ceremoniously to the temple. Devotees from the entire region in colorfully decorated boats escorted the idol. This happend on the Thiruvonam day of the Malayalam month of Chingam. And every year this day boat race and spectacular water pageants are organized with water floats, decorated boats, performing arts, children in fancy attires etc.. Vanchipattu is a characteristic feature of these processions. The event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over.