Nehru Trophy Boat Race is organized annually in the second week of August near the Punnamada Lake, Alappuzha (Kerala). 70th Nehru Trophy Boat Race will be celebrated on 13th August in 2022.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race 2022

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Alappuzha - The Nehru Boat Race is Kerala's most looked forward to sporting event, and attended by participants and tourists from across the state's borders. Held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on the second Saturday of August every year, the event took shape after such an affair was organised in honour of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his visit to Kerala in 1952. Prime Minister Nehru enjoyed the thrill of being part of the snake-boat race, and announced a rolling trophy to the winner.

The snake boat or 'chundan vallam' ploughs through the lake's waters, gaily decorated with flags and silk parasols. Traditionally, these snake boats were used in battle and measure between 60 to 65 metres. The snake-shaped boat has the capacity to carry more than a hundred passengers.

During the race, each snake boat has 95 oarsmen, five 'amarakkar' or controllers, and ten 'nilakkar' or cheerleaders. Vanchipattu, or songs with very catchy beats are sung by about ten singers on board, keep the boatmen's spirits high. These beats have devotional and mythological themes.

Apart from the snake boats, other country boats like the Iruttukuthy, Vaipu and Churulan also participate in the race. The Iruttukuthy boat is designed primarily for night transportation and speed. The Vaipu was designed as a service boat for other boats at war, with one end higher than the other, and a capacity of 40-45 persons only. The Churulan has a similar capacity, but stands out because of its circular shape.

The 4850 ft long Boat Race invites participation from women and children in equal measure. Preparations for the event start months in advance, commencing with lubrication of the vessel with sardine oil. Practice sessions for the participants begin months ahead, who also undertake certain vows before taking over the oars.