Punnamada lake, the venue of the fabled Nehru Trophy boat race has been a beehive of activities for the last few days as snake boats, each rowed by over 100 oarsmen in quick unison started their practice sessions, ahead of the grand competition on Aug 13. The last few days marked a surge in the number of tourists arriving at the Punnamada lake to witness this unique water sport.
The snake boat race is something exceptional to Kerala and the length of a snake boat varies from 120 feet to 140 feet and will have about 120 oarsmen, who will display a marvelous spectacle of rowing in unison well complemented by high pitched songs and resonant drum beats to add up to the mood. 16 snake boats and around 40 small boats will be participating this year in the 59th edition of the race, which is being sponsored by a single sponsor for over 2.50 Crore, which incidentally is the highest ever. Another highlight of this year’s event is that one of the snake boats of United Boat Club, Kainakary has roped in a group of 51 soldiers from the Madras Engineering Group in its team of oarsmen.
The boat race, which dates back to 1952 was held as an impromptu race in honour of the then Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru who visited the state. Nehru, who was thrilled by the performance of the oarsmen had suggested to make it an annual event. On returning to Delhi, Nehru donated a silver trophy, a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature, which is awarded to the winners in the snake boat race.
Preparations are in full swing and Alappuzha is getting braced up for the event, which is one of the most popular events in Kerala itinerary among tourists, including foreigners. So, make sure to be there to be part of this excepting spectacle, which is not seen anywhere else in India. It is interesting to note that it was featured in the online creative venture of the New Zealand community, the big idea, which shows its universal appeal and popularity.
As Onam, Kerala’s own cultural celebration is on the threshold of each and every Malayalee, Alappuzha gets ready to welcome Onam with the grand water Olympics on August 14 2010. Kerala is going to witness the 58th Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Punnamada Lake. Honourable President, Prathibha Patil will be the chief Guest of the event. The cultural events will start today at 2 pm with a spectacular cultural procession in Alappuzha town.
This time there are 60 boats including 19 snake boats for the boat race. The race will be conducted in four heats with 16 snake boats and in the B grade section three Snake Boats will mark their participation. The races will commence at 3.15pm on August 14. Activities by Navy and a spectacular cultural float will take place during intervals. Women from foreign countries will not take part in this year’s procession.
The ticket charges start from 2000(Tourist Gold), 1000(Tourist Silver), 500, 300, 200, 150, 100, 50 accordingly. Ticket charges that are less than 500 will have a separate pavilion in the west side of the lake. If you wish to watch this historical event, get tickets from R.T.O Office, and Village offices that have ticket counters from morning 10 till evening 5. On the day of the race there will be separate ticket counters at DTPC Office, RTO Office and Boat Jetty.
Last year Champakulam Chundan won the Nehru Trophy. This year, the captain of the winning boat will receive a certificate signed by the President.
A brief history about the Nehru Trophy Boat race:
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race on the Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, is held on the second Saturday of August every year, and is the most competitive and popular of the boat races. On the day of this fiercely fought boat race, the tranquil lake front is transformed into a sea of humanity with an estimated two lakh people, including tourists from abroad, present only to watch this spectacular event. For the people of each village in Kuttanad, a victory at this race for their village boat is something to be celebrated for months to come.
The major attraction of the boat race is the competition of chundanvallams or snake boats. Chundans (snake boats) are an impressive sight, measuring over 100 feet in length, with a raised prow. The main highlight of this electrifying boat race is the 100 feet long boats that are decorated beautifully by the local craftsmen especially for this event. These boats can accommodate 100 people at a time. Usually the musicians and singers accompany the oarsmen to keep the participants with high spirits.
Alleppey: The fabled backwaters of Kerala are in news once again. This time, it is for playing the gracious host for the shooting of Tamil film, “Kuselan”. Starring the Tamil superstar Rajnikant apart from an array of stars including Natyanthara, a song sequence of this block buster movie is being shot here these days. The best part is that it also happens to be a remake of an original Malayalam movie.
The shooting, which is taking place in the Punnamada backwaters in two snake-boats has attracted a huge fan following. Though a stringent security cordon has been thrown around the superstar, he was enthusiastically mingling with people, waving and talking to them. The die- hard aficionados of Rajnikant even boarded hired boats to catch a glimpse of their matinee idol from a close quarter. The fans shouted slogans for Rajnikant, who was all smiles as he waved to the surging crowd of fans. The film crew will spend the next two days here to complete the shooting of the song sequence.