The exciting snake boat races ( Vallam Kali) of Kerala have a long history. They are 400 years old traditional water sports conducted during the season of Onam festival. It goes back to the kings of Alleppey ( Alappuzha) who used to fight through these boats.
Snake boats (Chundan Vallam) gets the name from their canoe shape which can hold up to 100 people in a boat. Different boat races are conducted during the festivals of Kerala.They begin from August and goes on till September.
Each boat race is conducted in different places of Kerala; has its own history and traditions. It's interesting to watch colourful boats rowing their way to win in the amazing backwaters of Kerala. Boat races along with other wonders of God's Own country attracts large audience from around the world.
Get set for a season of battling snake boat races !
Photo Courtesy: Manojk
A sight from the Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Nehru Trophy Boat Race - Punnamada Lake
It is one of the famous snake boat races in Kerala conducted on the 2nd Saturday of August every year.The story is that when the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Kerala, the people of Alleppey conducted an impromptu boat race. Impressed by their performance, he awarded a trophy for the winners. Hence, the name Nehru Trophy Boat Race. On August 8th Nehru Trophy Boat Race is marking the beginning of this year's boat races of Kerala.
Kumarakom Boat Race - Kumarakom
The Kumarakom Boat race is conducted to celebrate the visit of the Sree Narayana Guru. Unlike other boat races, here Iruttukuthy boats (fighter boats) are used for the race. Snake boats are not given importance in this race. Around 50 men row each boat on the day of Sri Narayana Jayanthi, hence the name Sree Narayana Jayanthi Vallam Kali.
Photo Courtesy: Arun Sinha
Racers rowing towards the finishing point
The Aranmula Boat Race - Aranmula
The Aranmula Boat race is the oldest race in Kerala. Aranmula city conducts this two day religious event. More than a race, it's a tradition to race the boats to the Aranmula Parathasarathy Temple. A speciality is that the oarsmen sing songs and move the boat along with the rhythm. This boat race in Kerala draws a large audience to the banks of river Pampa.
President's Trophy Boat Race - Ashtamudi Lake , Kollam
President's Trophy Boat Race takes place in Ashtamudi lake at Kollam , a miniature Kerala. Conducted on November 1st every year, this boat race of Kerala marks the birthday of Kerala state. The President of India will witness this event and the trophy is rolled out in the name of the President. Different type of boats participate in this event.
Photo Courtesy: Kerala Tourism Official Website
Oarsmen ending the race with triumph
Champakkulam Moolam Boat Race - Ambalappuzha
Champakkulam Moolam is an ancient boat ( Vallam Kali) race in Kerala. The legend says that Krishna idol which was getting installed was considered inauspicious. So, they sailed back with another Krishna idol from Karikulam temple and installed it in the temple of Aranmula. Champakkulam Moolam boat race is conducted during Onam festival in Kerala.
Kallada Boat Race - Kallada river
The Kallada Jalotsavam is yet another popular boat race in Kerala. This event takes place on the river Kallada at Munroe Thuruthu and is performed on the 28th day after Onam.
Boat races of Kerala are famous around the world. Boat races are nothing less than a festival in Kerala. The boat owners are known by the name of their boat and its a pride for them to participate in these races. The winners are given prizes and awards. Boat races are the integral part of Kerala.