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The legends of boat racing in India

July 10, 2014

Kerala Boat Race

Kerala is popular for its backwaters, Ayurveda, tea plantations, wildlife and much more. Due to its slow-pace of lifestyle, Kerala is one of the favourite de-stressing destinations among modern travellers. But did you know the state which teaches us the approach of ‘take-it-easy’ also has its own crazy side full of speed and adrenaline? Witness one of the oldest events in the history of boat racing in India this July. Yes, I'm indeed talking about the most famed snake boat race - The Champakulam Boat Race. Watch the elaborately-decorated chundans or ‘snake boats’ gliding down the waters at an incredible speed. The most praiseworthy feature of this event is the depiction of great team spirit. Even a minute mistake by one person can lead to imbalance. The cheering crowds in tune with the rhythmic chanting of the oarsmen combine to make the boat race a mesmerising spectacle. So hop on a trip to Kerala and encounter one of the best ways to experience the backwaters in God’s own country.

Legends behind Champakulam Boat Race

If you have not yet satisfied your curiosity, then here is a very popular legend about the inception of Champakulam boat race festival. Centuries ago, King Devanarayana of Chempakasseri was instructed by a priest of high order to build a temple in honour of Lord Krishna in his kingdom, Ambalappuzha. The King embarked on a voyage to the Karikulam temple in Kurichi to bring Lord Krishna's idol which was supposed to be gifted to Arjuna by Lord Krishna himself. On the way back from Kurichi, the King and his men paused at Champakulam during the night. The next morning they saw to their surprise that hundreds of colourfully decorated boats appeared from nowhere to escort the idol to the kingdom.

The day became part of the age-old Kerala history. Thus the Champakulam boat race which was initiated to commemorate the sacred day every year evolved into a festive tourist attraction. The festival is inaugurated with the traditional performing arts of Kerala. Being one of the prime highlights of Kerala tourism, this year, this grand water festival is scheduled to be held on July 11, 2014.

Getting there:

Nearest Railway station: Alappuzha, 26 kms away from the boat race venue.

Nearest Airport: Cochin, 85 kms from Alappuzha.

Other popular boat races in Kerala

However, if you miss out on the popular Champakulam boat race, worry not! There are multiple other boat races organised in Kerala. Though not as big as the Champakulam race, these races will however cheer you up.

1. Aranmula Boat Race Aranmula

2. Payippad Boat Race.

3. Nehru Trophy Boat Race

4. ATDC Boat Race, Alappuzha

5. Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race, Pilinkunnu

6. Neerettupuram Boat Race

7. Kumarakom Boat Race

8. Kumarakom Arpookara Vanitha Jalamela

9. Kottayam Mahatma Boat Race, Mannar

10. The Indira Gandhi Boat Race

Author : Anita Jain