64Th Nehru Trophy Boat Race
There is a buzz of excitement around the palm-fringed Punnamada Lake in Alleppey, southern Kerala as dozens of houseboats packed with spectators gather patiently waiting and wanting to get the perfect view. This is the scenario every year at the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
Every year the event is held on Saturday of August and the lake transforms in to a scene of wild, fiercely competitive paddle-boat races. The tradition originally started after a visit to the area in 1952 by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s then prime minister. Locals held an impromptu boat race in honor of his visit and he donated a silver trophy for the winners: Ever since, the competition has been known by his name.
There are other boat races in Kerala throughout the year, but the Nehru Trophy is widely regarded as the most popular.
It attracts dozens of teams from across the states that train for months in advance to achieve that silver trophy as it is marked as a sign of prestige and fame, not only for the team but for their villages as well. The villagers show 100% support to the participants by raising money and through sponsorships for the boat and other race expenditures. The grand finale of the event is the race among the snake boats, locally known as Chundan Vallam. Snake boats can be as long as 36 to 42 meters in length and require over 100 oarsmen to pull it into the water.
A true celebration in its form, the boat race consists of music and dance along with food and alcohol to keep the spirits high. Biryani is said to be a special dish at the event. Every team has a different colour uniform so you can see shades of reds, yellow, purples etc racing against each other. Only 16 snake boats can compete in the race.
The showstoppers of the event are the ladies teams, which have their own contest. They are mainly petite women wearing sparkling white saris with blue or red blouses and strands of fresh jasmine flowers in their hair.
If you happen to be in Alleppey on 13th August 2016, this is something that you shouldn’t miss. It will give you a dive straight into the culture and get to experience it first hand!
If this doesn’t interest you, don’t forget Alleppey is also a booming tourist destination. The lush greens and the soothing backwaters make the perfect romantic getaway. Alleppey is year around destination. For a chilly vacation, November to February is the best time. March to May are off season as the it can be as hot as 37 degrees. But if you love the sun, go all out here and save a buck too. For a touch of monsoon madness, visit during June to September!
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