Snake Boat Races
The snake boat (Chundan Vallam) races are special sports of only Kerala. The races attract thousands of people from various parts of the state. The main race is the Nehru Trophy Race. To witness this event people from all over the state, Country and world come over. There are several races in the Alappuzha, Kottyam and Cochin districts conducted on various occasions under various sponsorships.
Names of the most snake boat races
Champakkulam Moolam Boat Race; Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali; Payippad Jalotsavam; Indira Gandhi Boat Race of Kochi; Kumarakom Boat Race.
Nehru Trophy snake Boat Race
But the most famous of the snake boat races is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race of Alappuzha held on the 2nd Saturday of August every year. This race is associated with the 1st Prime Minister of India, late Jawaharlal Nehru. During Nehru's visit of Alappuzha, in 1952, the local people gave him a rousing reception and welcomed him with all grandeur befitting his popularity. During his visit, he was escorted amidst snake boats. Nehru was very much excited. He was inspired to institute a trophy on the spot for the winning team. The trophy is a small replica of a snake boat in Silver with the inscription "To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin". This was because of the fact that at that time the areas under the rulers of Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi was known by the name Thirukochi.
Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race - an Annual Event
Since the time of Nehru's visit the boat race has become a major attraction of Alappuzha. Around 16 snake boats and numerous other smaller boats participate in the race to win the prestigious silver trophy. Races for various categories are held. There is one even for women. The extravaganza of this race is witnessed by thousands of Keralites and tourists from other parts of India and abroad.
The Snake Boats
The special boats of various sizes and shapes are made out of wood. They vary in length from 100 to 150 feet. There will be about 100 to 120 rowmen to row the boats. There will be some extras to guide the boats during the race.
Because of the length of the boats and the resemblances of snake, when moving fast, seen from a distance it is termed as snake boats.