The Venice of the East, Alappuzha (Alappey) in Kerala, is known for its boat race entitled Nehru Trophy Snakeboat Race. Every year many thousands of tourists come to Kerala just to watch out this awesome boat race which is unique for Kerala.
For the natives of Alappuzha, boat races are part and parcel of their land, the land of backwaters. The colorful Nehru Trophy Snakeboat Race and all other snakeboat races are not just a mere competition for them but a feeling that has crept deep into their hearts.
The Nehru Trophy Snakeboat Race is held on the second Saturday of August every year. Huge crowd gather on the banks as spectators to cheer the participants; over 100 rowers row each snakeboat with 130 ft. length.
'Kuttanadan punchayile, Kochu penne kuyilale...oh...thithithra thithithey' - the famous traditional song sung by the rowers in the past, has now become a rhythm for the rowers. The song is now sang by the spectators to cheer the participants. The spectacle of even tourists dancing along with this traditional song is really a wonderful sight for all tourists.
Though boats of different sizes compete in different events, the most prestigious and thrilling event is the boat race in which ‘chundan vallom’, (a typical Malayalam word for rowing boats which has become Kerala's pride) participates.
Boat races are held for different categories - women and students etc. Women from abroad also participate in these boat races. Boat races are held during other festive seasons like Onam, the national festival of Kerala and various other occasions.
Other prominent boat races are:
Pulinkunnu Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race (on the last Saturday of August).
Champakkulam Moolam Boat Race (on the Moolam day of Mithunam / July).
Payippad Jalotsavam (on the 4th Onam day August/September).
Neerettupuram Boat Race (Onam August/September).