Kerala is a favorite tourist destination in India. It is an enthralling land occupying a part of south India which is world famous for Ayurvedic spa, Yoga, Kathakali dance form & not to forget the captivating boat race. Boat racing is a prominent sport & a traditional competition which is generally conducted in the monsoon in the backwaters or some predominant lakes. There are numerous boat races in Alleppey each has its own story clubbed together with fabled & mythological tales. You will come across some interesting facts about the Alleppey boat race as you go through this post:
1. Unusual site of snake Boats
Don’t get scared by the word, of course, there is nothing to do with live snake! The boats get their name from the shape of the snake, nothing else! A snake boat typically looks like a narrow boat which is pointed at both ends also known as canoe. It is a historic boat which is used by a community from the Kuttanadu region. What is so exciting about this boat is that it has traditional roots in the history and is huge. They can go up to 120 feet long which accommodates 100-120 rowers, so can imagine how huge it is! Every village has its own snake boat which every villager is equally proud of as they all participate in the boat competition around. Boat races take place annually & each village contributes the best to win the race.
2. Boat race championship dedicates to India’s 1st PM
This is a historic event in the lives of people of Kerala, especially Alleppey. The first prime minister had visited Kerala in 1952 and had received rambunctious vibes from the people of Alleppey. He was ushered with massive snake boats. His treatment & memorable voyage had impressed Nehruji to the extent that he donated a rolling trophy as an award to be given to the winner of this super race. The trophy is a ditto copy of snake boat placed on a wooden abacus in silver. The words inscribed on the trophy are: “To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin.” This is why the Alleppey boat race is called as Nehru trophy boat race.
3. 90-128 rowers in a boat
The boat race here is tough since it has cut throat competition from villagers. Around 90 to 128 rowers are all set together in one snake boat to fight with each other for the magnificent victory.
4. 13 other boat races in Alleppey
To name a few among them are the Nehru trophy boat race, Payippad Jalotsavam, Champakkulam Moolam, Aranmula Snake boat race. These snake boat competitions are held in the July to September window. The only exception being the Nehru boat race which is held on the 2nd Saturday of August month. Races which take place in the month of July/September give a tweak of Onam festival especially the Aranmula boat race which happens to be in the midway through the Onam 10 day festival.
5. The history of Snakeboats and Kings of Alleppey
If you turn the pages of history you will be stunned by the fact of presence of these snake boats over 400 years back. There are legendary tales that tell how the Kings of Alleppey fought with each other in their boats along the narrow lanes. Snake boats architecture was taken form from the king who had drooped great losses and wanted to kiss success with a strong boat which could withstand the extreme attacks. Another competitive king sent his spy to check on the making of the boat, but the boat possessed such contrivance that it could not be remade to perfection. Today it is a watchful site to see the boat races with a flock of people gathering to get into this competitive spirit.
6. Hymns of Vanchipattu/Vallapattu(Boat Song) during boat race
There are hymns and songs which are extraordinary & exclusively composed for being sung amidst the cheering crowd of boat race. 25 singers will be ther in the middle in between the oarsmen. Cantor along with 8 people will lead the song in the middle portion of the boat. These singers represent the Ashtadikpalakas (the Devas or Gods who guard the eight directions). There are diverse boat songs compiled of classical trait and musical bewitchery. These community songs are famous and have the right blend of variety, cadence having beautiful lyrics and behold legendary stories, mythological drama sequences and witticisms all which imbibe utmost simplicity.
7. Jillions of tourists from different parts of the world gather to watch the mystic Nehru Boat trophy
It is known fact that there are jillions of tourists who flock up to watch out the immensely famous Nehru Boat race in Alleppey. Off late, it has attracted the foreign media due to its cultural significance. The overwhelming response this race gets has definitely promoted the tourism industry of Kerala.