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Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Nehru Trophy boat race is one of the very popular boat race events held in the state of Kerala in the district of Alapphuza. Punnamada Lake is the lake on which the boat race is organised annually with Chundan Vallams or snake boats, which are rowed for some distance in competition known as Vallam Kali. Although very popular, the race can also include boats made of other shapes, apart from the snake shaped boats. This even to of boat race is organised every year in the month of August, with this event being established as a major tourist attraction. More specifically, this is held in the second Saturday of the month of August. This occasion is unique in the sense that the race is organised for the sake of racing of different boats. People train for the event for the entire year and then participate with their particular boats, which have been very carefully designed.


Although there are many boat races at different locations of Kerala, which are conducted with much fanfare and reverence to local gods, the Nehru Trophy boat race is simply conducted for the sake of racing on one particular day in august every year. The show is simply demonstrating the artistic fineness of the people in boat making. There boats of different sizes, with the Chundan Vallams having the best attractive features. These boats have been likened to many war boats in various other countries and they are quite fast, which cover long distances in very short time. Ancient historic rulers in Travancore region had this boat as their favourite transportation medium. Nehru Trophy boat race is supposedly started in 1952, when the then Prime Minister of India, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru came visiting Kerala. In this honour, local people decided to conduct a boat race on the lake of Punnamada, which highly impressed Nehru. He donated a Silver Trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat made in silver and placed on the wooden abacus, where there was an inscription “To the winner of the boat race which is a unique feature of the community life in Travancore-Cochin”, and this trophy is rolled on among the winner every year.


Snake boats or Chundan Vallams, which are the most attractive boats in the competition, on the occasion of Vallam Kali, are uniquely designed. They need expertise to be oared on the waters and a single mistake can prove defeating for the team of 100 people, which is required to drive the boat across the lake. The boats usually measure from 30 to 60 mtrs, where the prow is raised and can have about 100 rowers simultaneously handling the long oars. Apart from these oarsmen, there are about 4 helmsmen who handle the navigation and 25 more people, cheering others. A number of local communities prepare their boats for this special event and take the prestigious Nehru Trophy. On the day of the boat race, lots of tourists arrive here from nearby towns and buy tickets to watch the boats in action.

Reaching There

The location of the lake is about 5 kms from Alapphuza railway station and very close to the bus stand in Alapphuza.

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