Nehru Boat Race
9 August 2014

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of Independent India once visited Kerala in 1952, where he was given a memorable and a roaring reception by the local populace of Alleppey, while being escorted by the huge distinctively classifiable snake-boats. Having gone through the phenomenal elation of sailing in a snake-boat, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy aimed at the winner of this boat race. The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in pure silver, perched on a wooden abacus, with the following words duly engraved:

‘To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore – Cochin’
Venue: Punnamada Backwaters
Location: Punnamada
District: Alappuzha

The Nehru Boat Race, named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru finds its place on the Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, each year on the second Saturday of August. This world famous race is a competition between the Chundan Vallams, most popularly known as Snake Boat. On this day which witnesses a fiercely fought boat race, the tranquility of the placid lake in front gets transmuted into a sea of mortality with an estimated two lakh souls, including foreign tourists enjoying this delightful sight. For the people of Kuttanad, a victory in this race for their village boat is something to be celebrated for months to come. There are more varieties of boats which participate in this race, namely Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam. Vallamkali literally means boat game, but can be translated in English to boat race. The rhythmic and the synchronized way of rowing these majestic snake boats make a rare pageant.

Each of these 100–120 foot long canoes is made of a special wood locally called "Aanjilithadi", and carries close to 110 rowers. The movement of these boats is very much serpentine while traversing through the channels and is hence an eye catching sight for any tourist. The Chundan Vallam has earned a position in the Guinness Book of World records for being classified as "the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose".

The year 2014, will witness the 60th anniversary of this annual carnival, and would be held on 09th August.

It’s quite conveniently placed on the map as the nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, approximately 85 km from Alappuzha which incidentally hosts the nearest railway station.

It would be unfair if Alappuzha is not given its due importance as a major destination for tourists.

Alappuzha also known as Alleppey, is a city situated in the Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. Alleppey is considered to be the oldest planned town in this region and the iconic lighthouse built on the coast of the town is the first of its kind along the Laccadive Sea coast. Situated at a mere distance of 62 km to the south of Kochi and 155 km north of Trivandrum, this historic town is a true amalgamation of picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons. The Beauty is such that this location got highly acclaimed for its beauty and earned itself an idiom “Venice of the East" bestowed by Lord Curzon. Common languages spoken here are Malayalam, Tamil, English, and Hindi.

A houseboat cruise in these backwaters is a delightful experience, as it connects Kumarakom and Cochin to the North and Quilon to the South. Alappuzha is also the access point for the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race.

Owing to its proximity to the sea, the climate of Alappuzha is humid and hot during the summer, although it remains fairly cool and pleasant during the months of October and November. The average monthly temperature is 27 Degrees Celsius. Alappuzha city experiences a long monsoon season with heavy showers as both the Southwest monsoon and Northeast monsoon influences the weather of Alappuzha. The South-west monsoon affects the climate in the months from June to September. On the other hand, the North-east monsoon brings rain from October to November.

Come….Enjoy the beauty of this region…..and don’t miss the Mighty oars at the Nehru Trophy Boat Race….!