Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a popular Vallam Kali held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha. Vallam Kali or Vallamkali literally means boat play/game, but can be translated to boat race in English. The most popular event of the race is the competition of Chundan Vallams (Snake Boats). Hence the race is also known as Snake Boat Race in English. Other types boats which participate in various events of the race are Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam.
History of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of Independent India visited Kerala in 1952. He was given a roaring reception by the people of Alleppey, escorted by the huge snake-boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the race. The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden abacus on which the following words are inscribed.
To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin. Raju Vadakathu 2004-2006 was a three time winner for the race. He is now retired from theis position as Captain.
The 100-120 feet long canoes made of a forest wood locally called “Aanjili thadi” carrying 90- 110 rowers which moves like a snake through the channels (hence the name), is an eye catching sight for any tourist. The Chundan Vallam also has the record as “the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose” .
Kaarichaal, Chambakulam, Nadubhagom, Paayipaadu, Kaavalam, Alapaatu, Aanari, Cheruthana, Aayaparambu, St.George, Jawahar thaayankari, Vallamkulangara, Valiya Divanji, Sri.Ganesh, Paarthasarathy, Ambedkar and Pattara are the name of popular snake boats who participate in the Chundan Vallam category.Palliyodam or Royal Canoe of Aranmula is the other type of Snake boat.
Time for celebrating the Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Each year the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held on the second Saturday of the month of August.
CHUNDAN VALLAM (SNAKE BOAT)
The boats of Kerala are categorised and named as per their shapes, sizes and purposes. The Chundaanvallam is so called because of its pointed prow. The term snake boat indicates the shape of the stern which resembles the raised hood of a snake. The front end of this type of boat will be tapering in shape and the rear end will be highly elevated from the water level. It has a length of about 60-65 meters and a capacity to carry over a hundred to hundred and ten people during a race. The stern is majestically caparisoned and decorated with a flag and brass ornaments. Silken parasols are arrayed along the entire length of the boat. There will be almost 95 oarsman, 5 Amarakkar (Controllers) and 10 ‘Nilakkar’ (persons supposed to enhance the vigour and enthusiasm of the participating oarsman). It has the semblance of a snake, while advancing in a competition and hence became popular as snake boats. These boats were the traditional battle vessels of Kerala.
CHURULAN VALLAM (RACE BOAT)
The Race Boats “churulan vallams” are boats having a capacity to acommodate about 45 persons and are designed as passenger boats.The ends of these types of boats are shaped as a Circular ring (Churul in Malayalam).
‘Vaipu’ vallams are boats having a passenger capacity of about 40-45 persons. One end of the boat is always higher than the other end. These boats were originally meant to prepare food for the other vessels during war.
Iruttukuthy or Odi type of boats are designed for transportation during the night. The shape of the boat is suitable for speedy journey. The width of the boat is so designed as to avoid friction with water while moving. In olden days these boats were supposed to be used for piracy works.
VANCHIPATTU (SONG OF THE BOATMAN)
These highly rhythmic songs were created to keep up the spirit of the boatman. These songs were so framed and sung as to keep pace with the movement of the oars and to keep alive their devotional, mythological and rustic life styles. Every snake boat has about twenty-five singers with their traditional percussion instruments.
We provide complete tour packages for enthusiastic travelers that include accommodation (house boats / hotels), air tickets, comfortable dedicated cars, sight seeing facilities etc at very competitive rates.
How to reach Nehru Trophy
Kochi Airport is 54kms away from the Alleppey and Trivandrum Airport is at 154kms distance from Alleppey. Travelling to Alleppey by Train is too easy, it is connected to major cities like Kottayam, Cochin, Chengannur and Changanassery. By road Alleppey is connected is interconnected by a number of roadways of South India. One can also reach Alleppey from Cochin by backwater.