Boat races are immensely popular in Kerala and are organized during various festivals & occasions. They are major tourist attractions of Kerala apart from the Alleppey houseboats, waterfalls, beaches and the wildlife. Here is a list of the top 5 boat races in Kerala.
1. Snake Boat Race:
When the topic of boat race comes up, the snake boat race is the one that comes to the minds of many. Have you ever seen hundreds of men rowing the boats to reach the winning destination with perseverance? The Chandanvallams or the snake boats tear the water as the teams row the boat, and this race is all about carrying the idols of Gods in the temples, as the participants and the audience cheer up with cries and songs. The boats are called snake boats because they resemble the hoods of the snake, long hulls and the steep sterns. Every boat carries 100 boatmen, 14 musicians and they row furiously aided by the war music. This is held during the Onam festival.
2. Champakulam Boat Race:
Popularly known as the Nehru boat race, this takes place during the Malayalam month of Midhunam, which roughly falls between June and July. This race celebrates the arrival of the idol of Lord Krishna at the Ambalapuzha temple. The name Nehru boat race comes because the first Prime Minister of India, Nehru was enthralled by the Punnamada boat ride in Alleppey and jumped into the boat that won the race. Like the winners of the snake boat race, the successful boatmen get silver medal engraved on wooden pedestal. Additionally the words of Jawahar Lal Nehru are engraved, which are “To the winner of the boat race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore – Cochin”.
3. Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali:
This is one of the prominent boat races that take place in this region, during the festival of Onam. Dedicated to the Lord Krishna, and Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, huge boats that house 100 rowers and singers in 25 numbers, and 15 helmsmen, this race makes use of the Palliyodam, which is of the natives. The ornamental umbrellas and the flags are the unique features of this boat race.
4. Payippad Jalotsavam:
One of the best and finest boat races of the entire world, this Jalotsavam has been taking place for 3 days in Allappuzha’s Payipaad, which is 35 Km away from Allappuzha. The Haripad Subramanya Swamy temple and this boat race share a unique and strong bond. The people of Haripad had a dream that the Subramanya statue that is found under the Kayamkulam temple should be installed here before the construction of a temple for Lord Ayyappa. In fact, all the inhabitants had the same dream, and idol was in the whirlpool. They used a boat to bring it to the temple and this is what celebrated with the boat race every year.
5. Indira Gandhi Boat Race
Named after former Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi, this boat race is held annually in Kochi during the month of December. The race is organized by the Department of Tourism of Kerala in the Kochi Lake.