The annual Nehru Snake boat race on the Punnamada Lake near Alleppey is held on the second Saturday of August every year. This is one of the most competitive and popular boat races held in “God’s Own Country” and is is the best time to book Alleppey tour packages.
This year 14th August marks the dawn of the 58th Nehru Trophy Boar races, one of the biggest annual calendar events in Kerala. This event draws a large number of tourists each year, to witness the speed and synchronizing effort by every member of each of the teams racing to the finish line.
There are many unique aspects to this event, apart from the race itself. The number of people who make up a team is like no other sport in the world and so is the water festival of Kuttanad which is one of a kind.
Tracing its routes one finds that the boat race itself evolved much later, which initially began when large number of people gathering in boats like “Chundan, Oadi and Veppu” displayed a vibrant and musical procession. Only later did the sporting spirit come about and boat races in Kerala were in full swing. Of all the races across the state, the Chambakulam Moolam Boat Race is considered to be one of the most ancient.
As intriguing as the evolution of boat races, so goes the story behind the beautifully crafted boats themselves. Going back 400 years when the kings of the erstwhile Chempakasseri (Ambalappuzha), Kayamkulam ,Thekkumkoor (Changanacherry) and Vadakkumkoor (Kottayam) in the old Travancore area, frequently crossed swords on the backwaters of Kuttanad. On loosing the battle it soon dawned on Chempakasserry Raja that his real defect was his war boats, which were sluggish. This gave birth to the desire for better and faster boats, which was designed by a boat architect after many days of hard labor. The new boat was now faster, capacity to carry 100 people and was ideal for ward too.
The legacy continues to this day, and whenever a village decides to build a new snake boat, the whole community pitches in to raise the 6 lakhs needed for constructing this master piece to cruise through the back waters on Kerala tour packages.
In its race to the finish line, an entry into the Guinness Book of Records was on the cards for the Nedumbhagom snake boat, when it made it as the longest rowing boat in the world, now taken over by the Vellankulangara snake boat, which is 140 feet long.
The Race Boats in use in Kerala have been known to have a lot in common with the war canoes of the old American Indian, the Maoris of New Zealand and some of the indigenous tribes of the Tropical countries, especially in regard to the shape and build, and the manner and set-up of impulsion.