Tag Archives: backwater

Nehru Trophy Boat Race – Kerala’s Water Olympics!

It is indeed an Olympics of its own right… Not just a boat race, but sort of a mega sports event featuring gigantic boats alongwith a large team – unmatched in every respect in the whole world… That’s the Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race of Kerala, South India.

Kerala tours

A colourful sports carnival that takes place on the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha (Venice of the East), on Second Saturday of August every year, Nehru Trophy Boat Race is known for its thrilling competition and mass appeal.

The most striking feature of this event is the Snake Boat, locally known as ‘Chundan Vallam’ – A huge wooden boat over a 100 feet  in length and with a raised prow adding to its majestic appearance. A Snake Boat can carry around 100-120 rowers.

A little flashback…

Given the name ‘Snake Boat’ by the erstwhile colonial powers, perhaps due to its dazzling movement thro’ the waters like a snake; this wooden marvel has long been associated with the history of Kerala. During the medieval era when Navy ruled supreme, snake boats played a decisive role in the victory of many local kingdoms that existed in Southern Kerala region.

Origin of Nehru Trophy Boat Race…

In the palm-fringed, water-logged areas of Alappuzha and Kuttanad, various models of wooden boats were the prime vehicles of transportation since ancient times. The 1st Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Kerala (which was Thiru-Kochi State, then) in 1952. In the honour of Prime Minister, the first unofficial Snake Boat Race was conducted. Out of several contestants – each featuring a snake boat with 100 odd teams – a team named ‘Nadubhagom Chundan’ came first.

Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed by the fast paced boats and their oarsmen’s skills; that he insisted on a ride on the winning boat, soon after the race. He was given a rousing ceremonial farewell in the Snake Boat. Later, Nehru donated a Silver Trophy (a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus) with his signature. Thereafter, people of Alappuzha began to organize and conduct Snake Boat Race every year, in the fond memory of the then-Prime Minister. This soon came to be known as ‘Nehru Trophy Boat Race’.

Over the years, the Nehru Trophy race has grown to be the most competitive and popular of all the boat races in Kerala. For the people of Alappuzha / Kuttanad, this is more like their national festival. Organizing and conducting this event is a matter of pride and joy for them.

The preparations for this celebrated occasion begin several weeks in advance. Snake boats are smeared with sardine oil for smooth passage through water … Very best oarsmen are selected … Then, under the supervision of the senior-most oarsmen, vigorous practice sessions commence …

Each snake boat accommodates 100+ rowers sitting in two rows and 5 other oarsmen. There are other group of people standing in between; singing the ‘Vanchi-pattu’ (boat songs with hymns) which gives a rhythm for the rowers to charge forward, all-together.

This synchronized way of rowing needs long and devoted training and inherent aptitude. Team work is so important that even a silly neglected act of one participant can lead a boat to lose the race.

During the preparations, each ward in the village and rich individuals takes their turn in feeding the would-be participants, which each & everyone does proudly. All folks, whatever be their religion / status, stand as a single entity to make the approaching race a grand success.

On the day of the Snake Boat race, the venue ‘Punnamada Lake’ will be brimming with excitement. Hundred-Thousands of people, locals & tourists, assemble to watch the race.

The 1400+ meters long water-race-course is divided into various tracks for the conduct of this competition. As the race starts, these big water vessels rip through the tracks, resembling quick snakes… Oarsmen splash the oars in unison with the rhythmic chants of ‘Vanchi-pattu’ and drum beats… The backwaters get ‘electrified’ … Spectators go wild with frenzy …

As the boats race to finishing point, the atmosphere will be beyond words !!!

Unparalleled in thrills, Alappuzha’s (Kerala) most important sports event is now regarded as the greatest water sport show in the world.


____________________________________________________________________________________________

For those who want to witness this “largest team sports in the world”, here are a handful of tour packs to choose from …

..

For booking, please email to: booking@elatrip.com

.

.

Kovalam, Poovar – Pair of beach beauties

Kerala tour packages

Kerala the tiny south Indian state is blessed with abundant seashores. Of which the southernmost district Thiruvananthapuram is notable for its own share of beach beauties – particularly Kovalam and its neighbor Poovar.

A tiny fishing hamlet that rose to the ranks of an international beach destination, Kovalam is widely known not only in Kerala but also in the world tourism scenario. Rightly so because of its stunning geographic layout.

This is not just a plain barren seashore but a charming combination of three half-moon shaped beaches each separated by natural rock formations. On the southern end, the portion is known as ‘Lighthouse Beach’ as this shore is towered over by a colonial-style lighthouse. The middle portion is called ‘Howah Beach’ as it was once famous as the first topless-beach in the country (though that feature is now strictly confined to privately-owned shores). The northern portion is known by various names such as Leela Beach / Samudra Beach or Main Beach.

With groves of coconut trees shadowing one side and the gentle seawaters on the other, Kovalam’s seashores offer idyllic beach comforts. Unlike most of the seashores here, due to peculiar rock formations, the sea waters remain gentle & shallow – untroubled by high tides – literally forming a swimmer’s paradise.

With its shores catering to the needs of almost all types of travelers, many of the reputed Ayurveda (India’s ageless & time proven method of healing) treatment centers & saloons made Kovalam their second home, much to the attraction of International tourists.

Located about 30 minutes drive from Kovalam is Poovar, another beach beauty. Though laid-back in terms of fame, Poovar closely matches with its neighbor in natural charm.

Moreover this is one of the very rare locations where one can witness the confluence of Backwaters, River and Sea. It’s said that in olden times the river here was covered with a bed of flowers which regularly fell from both sides… a sight of sublime nature prompting the then-King Marthanda Varma (of Travancore) name this place as ‘Poov Aar’ (poov = flowers & aar = river, in local – ‘the river of flowers’) !

Flowing close-by the Beach, Poovar Backwaters are not that vast compared to Vembanadu and Ashtamudi (major backwaters in Kerala). But calm waters interlaced with mangroves and coconut trees make the backwater cruise here something to cherish.

Kovalam and Poovar together with their natural landscapes and beach-backwater-double-delights make get-away holidays truly memorable.

(Kovalam & Poovar – A pair of heavenly seashores in what’s dubbed as ‘the God’s own Country’…)