Annual Snake Boat Race in Alappuzha fascinates tourists

Sunday, August 15, 2010

ALAPPUZHA - The annual boat race conducted in Kerala’s Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha town is a major draw among local residents and tourists from different parts of the world.

On Saturday, hundreds of national and international tourists converged at Punnamada Lake to witness the famed annual boat race.

In this 58th edition of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, 16 snake boats and around 40 small boats participated this year.

The snake boat race is the main tourist attraction. The length of a snake boat varies from 120 to 140 feet and has about 120 oarsmen.

“It was a great experience. It’s great to be here because it’s like something that you cannot find in Italy and something really special. So many people saw this incredible race with this boat. We had a really good time,” said Manuel, a tourist from Italy.

It takes over a year to design and prepare a snake boat. The boat carries 100 to 150 people onboard, which include oarsmen and a group of musicians to cheer the team on when they try to propel their boat ahead of competitors.

“This is my first time in India and I like to see these races, this boat race. It’s wonderful,” said Katrina, another tourist from Italy.

Locals came out in large numbers to rally support for their favourite teams, as the rowers rolled their exquisitely crafted snake boats into the backwaters.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was among the dignitaries present.

The Kumarakom Town Boat Club, rowing the Jawahar Thayankary snake-boat, won the prestigious Nehru Trophy.

The Nehru Trophy boat race, popularly known as Vallam Kali, is an annual event organised at the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha for the past 57 years.

The first boat race was held in 1952 to honour the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was on a trip to the state.

Impressed by the vibrant sport, he donated a rolling trophy for the winner and since then this competition has gained popularity with each passing year. By Juan Samuel (ANI)

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