In this blog, I am explaining about Nehru trophy boat race happening on the Punnamada Lake, near Alappuzha, held on the second Saturday of August every year. It is one of the most competitive and popular boat races in the world. The main participants in this boat race are the snake boats or Chundan vallams. Each and every person in the adjacent villages are going to see this race. Now it is a main tourism attraction of Kerala. Many tourists around the world coming Alappuzha to witness this breathtaking event.
As the name indicates, it is related to India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He visited in Kerala in the year 1952. He had a travel from Kottayam to Alappuzha by boat, through water logged Kuttanad. A series of boats accompanied him on the trip. In that race of snake boats, Nadubhagam Chundan came as victorious. Panditji, who was thrilled and excited in the performance of the boats, jumped into the Nadubhagam Chundan, forgetting all security arrangements. The boat proceeded to the boat jetty carrying the Prime Minister. On his return to Delhi in December 1952, Nehru donated a Silver Trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus. This trophy later came to be known as Nehru Trophy, and in memory of great Panditiji, the people of Alappuzha celebrate the Nehru Trophy Boat Race every year.
The snake boats
The chundan vallam or the snake boat will travel very fast through the water surface and it will decorate with silk parasols and different flags. In the history these boats were used in the battles between different kings in Kerala. Its measurement will be around 60 to 65 meters. The snake-shaped boat has the capacity to carry more than a hundred passengers.
The singers, with the strength of about ten will sing “Vanchppattu(boat song)”which will keep the spirit of boatmen’s. The beats of vanchippattu is very catchy and they will have themes of devotional and mythological stories about different place of Kerala. Normally there will be around 95 oarsmen,ten “nilakkar”or cheerleaders and five “amarakkar” or controllers.
There are other types of boats participating in the boat race.They are the Iruttukuthy, Vaipu and Churulan.The Iruttukuthy boat is using for night transportation and it is very fast one. The The Vaipu was designed as a service boat for other boats at war, with one end higher than the other, and a capacity of 40-45 persons only. The Churulan also used in war, but stands out because of its circular shape.
The track of boat race
The total length of the race track is 4850 feet or 1400 meter. The width of tracks is 10 meter and there are 4 tracks in Punnamada lake.
Prize money of the race
The price money for this prestigious boat race is five lakhs of Indian rupee. It will give for the four chundan vallams coming in the final. The winner will get the Silver ornamented Nehru trophy which has the signature of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
The 2019 Nehru trophy boat race is the 67th one and the officials decided to celebrate it with added enthusiasm.They decided to unveil the statue of Jawaharlal Nehru near the venue of boat race.
Kuttanad’s Olympics on water
The prestigious boat race was firstly known as Prime ministers boat race and later it was renamed as “Nehru Trophy Boat Race”.This boat race undoubtedly can call as “Kuttanad’s Olympics on water” and the national festival of the people of Kuttanad. It is celebrated each and every person of Kerala.