6 Boat Races of Kerala You Must Witness for a Breathtaking Experience


Image – Wikimedia

Ask anyone who has ever been to Kerala about their most exciting experience in the state and I’m sure that their answer absolutely would be the amazing boat races of Kerala. These will surely keep you on your edge and keep you questioning as to who will win till the very end. The colorful boats come in a variety of shapes and sizes and also form a major attraction of these races as well as the fanfare surrounding them only add to the overall entrancing nature of these. Throughout the state of Kerala, boat races are conducted in the mesmerizing backwaters with every race having its specialty. Let us know more about some of the most popular boat races of Kerala.

1. Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Boat races in Kerala- Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Image/Avinash Singh/Flickr

One of the most prominent boat races of Kerala, The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held on the second Saturday of August every single year and serves as a major tourist attraction of the state. People gather in large numbers to witness the nearly 30-meter-long boats competing with each other in groups, at Punnamada Lake, where participants line up to compete in this fascinating race. The history of this mesmerizing affair can be traced back to 1952 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Kerala. Upon perceiving these marvelous boats, he, in a surprising move, climbed onto one. Later that year, he made a generous donation of one silver snake boat in remembrance of his visit and that is how this competition derived its name. During the race season, majestic water parades and other activities are held in the area. This race remains an experience that you will never forget for this race is nothing short of art itself.

2. Champakulam Moolam (Snake) Boat Race

Boat-Races-of-Kerala-Champakulam Moolam Boat Race
Image – Rajesh_India/Flickr

Talking about the boat races of Kerala and not talking about the legendary race Champakulam is impossible for this is practically synonymous with the regatta of boat races, a significant part of Kerala’s heritage. This race is held every year and is one of the oldest races in the state. It is conducted at the river of Pampas customarily in June and July, located in a city in the Alappuzha region. This is a fascinating competition that is a must-see and is an amazing experience.

3. Aranmula Vallamkali Boat Race

Boat races in Kerala-Aranmula Vallamkali Boat Race

The Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali is one of the state’s most ancient and infamous boat races. Organized between August and September, or Chingam as per the Malayalam calendar, the race is an event that attracts tourists from all over the country. It features boats called palliyodams which are beautifully ornamented and a sight to see. They are in fact, dedicated to Lord Parthasarathy, which is why this race customarily occurs on the day of the installation of the namesake temple. Before the race, you can observe men with decorated parasols walking up to their boats with melodious traditional songs serving as the background music.

4. Payippad Boat Race

Image – Kannan Palayathil

The origin of this breathtaking boat race lies in legend. It is said that inhabitants of a distant town received instructions to reach a body of water in a dream. When they reached the place they were alluded to in the Kayamkulam Lake, what they found is something you’ll not believe, a truly exquisite idol of Hindu deity, Sri Subramanya. Today, among the myriad races that occur in the backwaters and lakes of Kerala, this boat race may just be perhaps the most anticipated. Organized at the river of Payippad located in Alappuzha, it occurs in the remembrance of the installation of the idol at the namesake temple. This boat race is surrounded by indescribable fanfare and a cheerfully lovely aura.

5. Uthradam Thirunal Pamba Boat Race

Boat races in Kerala-Uthradam Thirunal Pamba Boat Race
Image – Thirunal Pamba Boatrace

Another prominent boat race of God’s Own Country, this race is held during the auspicious festival of Onam (the state festival of Kerala) and that is why it observes large participation by locals. It is conducted at the river Pamba.

Any spectator of this marvelous boat race is filled with vigor and excitement which is why this race is characterized by large crowds of people, all enthusiastic to watch this delight. We can witness the majestic snake boats, synonymous with the identity of Kerala practically cutting the water in half as they sail ahead while people in the audience sing along to boat songs, which enhances the fervor associated with this race.

6. Karuvatta Boat Race

Image – Vinod Kumar M Nair

This might just be the most looked forward to race that occurs in the mighty waters of Kerala. This race is held at the Thottaappally Spillway with its highlight easily being the boats on which the participants spend weeks working and perfecting it right down to every carving. This race additionally serves as a major tourist attraction and was attended by 75,000 people in 2018. These races are a unique experience for everyone watching and are truly spectacular for there is nothing that they don’t possess. The artistic abilities of the local craftsmen are brought out by these competitions, the melodious songs are acting as the background music and of course, the ever so enthusiastic audience.

The thrill you achieve while merely witnessing from afar is unbelievable. It is rightly said, “The heights that remain unexplored, the unconventional wonders of the Earth that are left for us to see are what make it worthwhile” So pack your bags and set out on your journey to witness true thrill and adventure for in the world, everything and nothing is perfect at the same time. Let us know in the comments section below about the Kerala Boat Race that caught your eye!

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