The backwaters of Kerala apart from being a major tourist attraction are also venues for yet another splendid, unparalleled attraction of God’s Own Country – Boat Races. The boat festivals of Kerala are one of the chief and popular festivals of Kerala that tourist must experience during their Kerala travel and tour. Kerala boat races are an event that is as much part of the land’s ethos and is a sport that signifies the excellent team spirit, integration and amity of the people.
The vibrant fiestas that bring alive the tranquil Kerala backwaters, when fierce Vallom Kallies (boat races) and water carnivals erupt every year in a dramatic spectacle and hold tens of thousands of people spell-bound, cheering the action, laying bets, goading the boatmen to row faster.
At Aranmula on the Pamba River in the Kuttanad region, at Papiyad near Quilon, at Thayathangadi near Kottayam, the water carnivals and snake boat races herald the week of the great harvest festival of Onam. It is Kerala’s most important celebration and in scores of villages spread across central Kerala, competitive races featuring the smaller churulans, oadis, and irrutukuthies provide expression to the spirit of an intrepid, athletic people, born and bread near water.
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is one of those events, which the people of Kerala look forward to with excitement. Thousands of Keralites – men, women and children – throng the watersides of Alappuzha to witness the spectacle. Pavilions are set up for spectators on the banks and in the middle of the Punnamada Lake – the venue of the race.
The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is the oldest and most popular snake boat race in Kerala, and is closely connected to the Sree Krishna Temple at Ambalappuzha. The race is held on the Champakulam Lake on the moolam day of the Malayalam month Midhunam, the day of the installation of the deity at the temple.
For both the spectators and the boat crews of the snake boat races during the boat festivals of Kerala, the finishing moment of the boat race in Kerala is supreme. The snake boats, their pennants whipped by the wind, cut a shimmering swathe through. Kerala boat races are a must-see for tourists on holiday in Kerala.
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