Monsoon Exclusive: Snake Boat Races, Kerala

As everybody waits extremely for monsoon, one state has already got its portion of rain. Any guesses for which state I’m talking about? It is none other than KERALA- “God’s own country”. Offering a view of the swaying palm groves, lakes, rivers, serenity surrounding and diverse aquatic life in a completely different way, this state will begin your monsoon with much fun, pomp and show by  “Snake Boat Races” festival.  So if you are planning a trip to Kerala, hold out a bit, as monsoon gala festive celebration time is a great time to be visiting the place.

Know More : Top Travel Destination of Kerala

Have a glance on one of the biggest and most eagerly awaited sporting events of Kerala and let’s know more interesting things about these exciting boat races:

What’s a Snake Boat?

Don’t be scared! As there are no snakes in the boat, it just got this name because of its shape. A Snake Boat (or Chundanvallams) is actually a long traditional canoe style boat, 100 to 120 feet long is covered by 4 navigators, 25 singers and 100-125 rowers who row in unison with the fast rhythm of the Vanchipattu (song of the boatman). Every year each of the villages in Kerala has raced their own snake boat for special prize and no doubt they get huge pride to participate in.

Also Read : Top Fair and Festival in Kerala

History behind the Snake Boat Races:

Having 400 years back history, there is a famous legend about Snake Boat Races, according to that, the kings of Alleppey (Alappuzha) and the neighboring areas are used to fight with each other in boats on waterways. Once upon a time, the king suffered huge losses and called boat architect to build him in a better way and the “Snake Boat” was born which offered success in every war.  It is also believed that an opposed king sent a spy to learn the secret of how to make these boats but was unsuccessful as the perception of the design was very difficult to pick up.

And then years later “Snake Boat Races” were started by the natives as a cultural celebration but the rowers /boatmen’s are treated with respect and no doubt it’s a special festivity for them.

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Where and When Races are Held?

Boat Races are held only in and around Alleppey from July to September month, the exact dates differing each year depending on the phase of the moon. Among as many as small one there are four main Snake Boat Races, so let’s have a look:

1. Champakulam Boat Race:
Champakulam Boat Race

One of the ancient and most popular “Champakkulam Boat Race” celebrates on the pride of the installation of idol Lord Krishna in Shri Krishna Temple, Ambalappuzha.

Where:This race is held on the river at Champakkulam (Changanassery), around 25 kilometers from Alleppey.

When:Champakkulam race is held in June/July.

Attractions:Exotic water floats, Colorful Parasols and Performing artists.

2. Nehru Trophy Boat Race :

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

As the name suggests, this race got its name from the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru when he visited Kerala in 1952 is no doubt one of the major tourist attractions of Kerala.

Where:This race is held on the Punnamada Lake atAlappuzha (Alleppey).

When:Nehru race is held on the second Saturday of August every year.

Attractions:Synchronized rowing traditional 30 metre long snake boats, Nehru trophy (a silver model of a snake boat) that is awarded to the winning team.

3. Aranmula Boat Race:

Aranmula Boat Race is a two day, predominantly religious occasion of Lord Krishna in Aranmula Parthasarthy Temple.

Where:This race is held onPampa River at Aranmula, near Chengannur, around 50 kilometers south of Alleppey.

When: Aranmula race is heldon the mid-way through the 10 day celebrations of Onam Festival in August/September

Attractions:Spectacular snake boats accompanied by traditionally dressed rowers and groups of singers, Grand procession flaunt an impressive statue of Shri Krishna with children dressed as fairy and princesses.


4.Payippad Jalotsavam:
Payippad Jalotsavam

One of the oldest “Payippad Boat Race” is celebrates on the honor of the installation of the deity in Subramanya Swami Temple.

Where:Payippad Jalotsavam is held on Payippad Lake, 35 kilometers from Alleppey.

When:Payippad race is held in September.

Attractions: 3 days celebration, Colorful snake boats

{ Must Know  : Top 10 Reasons to Visit Kerala }

 How to Reach There:

Most of these places can be reached via Kochi, which has an airport, as well as good bus and railway connections. Other than private or public vehicles are the most convenient way to reach the boat race villages.

For Alleppey, the closest airport is “Kochi International Airport”  which is 90 km away and a short distance south west centernestled own Alleppey railway stationis easily accessible from Ernakulum (near Kochi)

ForAranmula,the nearest railway station is Chengannur which is 10 kilometers away and you can easily reach Chengannurfrom Ernakulum.

For Chengannur, all major trains between Kochi and Trivandrum stop at Chengannur, so you can easily reach here.

Where to Stay:

For accommodation we recommended Alleppey town, as it offers a complete range from decent/ luxury to resorts.Alternatively, you can also stay on a traditional houseboat and cruise along the canals. Also Read Top backwater destinations of Kerala


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