Major Boat Races, Types, Structure and Ownership of Snake Boats

Major Boat Races in Kerala : There are many popular boat races in Kerala. They are :

* Nehru Trophy Boat Race, in Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, on the 2nd Saturday of August every year

* Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, which is the oldest and most popular. This race is held in River Pampa on the Moolam day in the Malayalam month Midhunam (June-July), the day of the installation of the deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple.

* Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali, also held in river Pampa in Aranmula, near the Aranmula Sri Krishna Temple, on the Uthrattadi day in the month of Chingam (August-September)

* Payippad Jalotsavam is a 3 day festival which is conducted in the Paippad Lake, about 35 km from Alapuzha

* Indira Gandhi Boat Race is a boat race festival celebrated in the last week of December in the backwaters of Kochi

There are many other boat races also like Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race, Pulinkunnu, Kumarakom Boat Race, Neerettupuram Pampa Boat Race, Mahatma Boat Race, Mannar, Thazhathangadi Boat Race, Kottayam, Kodungallur and Kumaranasan Smaraka Jalotsavam, Pallana, Kallada Boat Race, Kollam and many more.

Types of Boats in the Race :

There are different types of boats participating in the boat races like Chundan Vallams (Snake Boats), Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam) and Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam. The most popular race is the Snake Boat race in any Boat Race, including Nehru Trophy Race. In Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the trophy is presented to the winners of the Snake Boat Race.

Structure of Snake Boats or Chundan Vallams :

The snake boats are about 100 feet in length, with a raised stern(about 15 feet) decorated with a flag and brass ornaments.Silken parasols are arrayed along the entire length of the boat. The boat has the resemblence of a snake and thus the name. There will be about 95 oarsmen, 5 Amarakkar (Controllers) and 10 'Nilakkar' (persons supposed to enhance the vigour and enthusiasm of the articipating oarsman). These boats are made from a single tree trunks, usually Kadampu and Anjili.

Ownership of the Boats :

Most of the race boats belong to the people of the locality. Even single owner boats are hired by people of a locality to participate in the boat races. They spend lakhs of rupees for participating in the boat races. It is considered as a matter of pride to the people of the locality to win a boat race for their land (referred to as 'Kara'). The rowing of the snake boats require a good amount of talent, training and team work. In the boat races the oarsmen should row according to the rhythm of 'Vanchi Pattu' (songs). This is not an easy task.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race Logo :

Every year, Nehru Trophy Boat Race logo is selected from entries received from the public by a committee. The winner is presented with a cash prize of Rs.2000/- and free pass for the race.

Tickets for the Nehru Trophy Boat Race :

Tickets are available from various Govt. Offices of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kottayam District and from the Office of the District Tourism Promotion Council and Tourism Office Alappuzha. The tickets are available at various rates like Rs.1000, Rs. 500, Rs. 200, Rs. 100, Rs. 75, Rs. 50 and Rs. 20.