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Nehru Trophy Vallam Kali

Nehru Trophy Boat Race is one the famous Vallam Kali held in Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha district of Kerala state in south India. Vallam Kali (or Vallamkali) literally means boat play/game, but can be translated to boat race in Malayalam.

This race is conducted on the second saturday of every August.

Vallam Kali include races of many kinds of traditional boats of Kerala. The race of Chundan Vallam (snake boat) is the major item. Hence Vallam Kali is also know in English as Snake Boat Race and a major tourist attraction. Other types boats which do participate in various events in the race are Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam, Kochu Vallam.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of Independent India visited Kerala in 1952
How this boat race got the name
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of Independent India visited Kerala in 1952. He was given a roaring reception by the people of Alleppey, escorted by the huge snake-boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the race.

The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden abacus on which the following words are inscribed.

"To the winner of the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin".

The 100 - 120 feet long boats made of a forest wood locally called "Aanjili thadi" and is being moving like a snake through the channels , carrrying 90- 110 sailors is an eye catching sight for any tourist landing on to alapuzha for experiancing the boat race. The "Chundan Vallam" also has the record as "the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose" .

Kaarichaal, Chambakulam, Paayipaadu, Kaavalam, Alapaatu, Aanari, Cheruthana, Aayaparambu, St.George,Jawahar thaayankari, Vallamkulangara,Sri.Ganesh,Paarthasarathy are the knights of backwaters (Chundan vallam) .

Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the most colourful water sport in Kerala, is conducted at PUNNAMADA LAKE in Alappuzha on the second saturday of every August. This prestigious cultural event of Kerala has been attracting people from all over the world. Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a festival for the people of Alleppey the main attraction of which is the sportive sprits among the participants of the race.

This trophy named as NEHRU TROPHY was donated by the late Prime Minister of INDIA Jawaharlal Nehru to the winners of the first boat race which was an impromptu one conducted in 1952 in honour of Panditji who visited Alappuzha

This aquatic festival fosters a sense of unity and fraternity and sports man spirit event and attaching foreign tourists also.
In the year 1952, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin. On his way to Alleppey from Kottayam he was given a roaring reception by the people of Alleppey, escorted by the huge snake-boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat popularly known as Chundan, Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner.
The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden abacus on which the following words of Panditji are inscribed above his signature
Kerala, especially Alappuzha is famous for Snake Boats or locally cally Chundan Vallams. Snake boat races (chundan vallam kali) is normally conducted during Kerala's main festival (Onam) season.

Snake boats are constructed in wood with a lenght of 100 to 160ft and the rear portion towering to a height of 20ft. Normally a snake boat can contain up to 128 oarsmen including 4 main orsmen holding pankayam and who directs the boat. There will be few singers and a capain.

Main boat races in kerala are Nehru Trophy boat race, Payippad vallam kali, Chambakkulam moolam vallam kali, Karuvatta leading channel boat race etc

Types of boats

Chundan Vallam

Chundan Vallam (Chundan boat) known to outside world as Kerala snake boats is one of the icons of Kerala culture used in Vallamkali (boat race).

Constructed according to specifications taken from the Sthap Athya Veda, an ancient treatise for the building of wooden boats. These boats are about 100 to 158 ft in length, with the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft. and a long tapering front portion. It resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide.

It is decorated with golden lace. And there will be a flag and two or there ornamental umbrella.

Traditionally each boat belongs to a village and the villagers worship that boat like a deity. Only men are allowed to touch the boat and to show respect they should be barefooted. To make the boat slippery while in water it is oiled with a mixture of fish oil, coconut shell carbon and eggs. Repair works are done annually is done by the village carpenter.

Capacity and Usage
Traditionally it will be commanded by a Kaarnavan / Karanaadhan Village leader)with 'First Adanayampu' and under him there will be three main oarsmen, symbolize the four Vedas who control the movement of the boat with 12 feet long main rudder-oar (Adanayampu). Sitting two in row along the length of the Boat there will be 64 oarsmen, representing 64 art forms (or sometimes there will be 128 oarsmen). They row in rhythm of the vanchipattu (boatman's song). There will be around 25 singers in a row at the middle between the oresmen. And in the middle of the second half of the boat is a platform for eight people to stand from where the main singer will lead the song.They represent the Ashtadikpalakas(the Devas or Gods who guard the eight directions).A colourful and decorated umbrella also will be there.Sreerenganathan 06:04, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

The boats of Kerala are known after their shapes, sizes or purposes. The Chundaanvallam is so called because of its pointed prow. The term snake boat comes from its stern, which represents the raised, the hood of a snake and its length . The front end of this type of boat will be tapering in shape and the rear end will be very high from the water level. They have a length of about 60-65 meters and a capacity carrying hundred to hundred and ten people during the race time. The stern is majestically caparisoned and decorated with a flag and brass ornaments. Silken parasols are arrayed along the entire length of the boat. There will be almost 95 oarsman, 5 Amarakkar (Controllers) and 10 'Nilakkar' (persons supposed to enhance the vigour and enthusiasm of the articipating oarsman). It has got a resemblance to the shape of a snake, when it advances in a competition and hence became popular as snake boats. Snake boats are the traditional battle vessels of Kerala known as Chundan vallams . They were originally designed as a naval vessel used for battle.

The Race Boats "churulan vallams" are boats having a capacity for about 45 persons . They are designed as a passenger boat. But the end of these types of boats will be shaped as a Circular ring (Churul in Malayalam).

'Vaipu' vallams are boats having a passenger capacity of about 40-45 person . One end of the boat will higher than the level of the other end. These boats are originally designed as boats for preparing food while they accompany the battle vessels in olden days.

Iruttukuthy or Odi type of boats are designed for transportation during the night . The shape of the boat is suitable for speedy journey. The width of the boat is so designed to avoid friction with water while moving. In olden days these boats were supposed to be used for piracy works.

These massive boats once used for transportation of goods are now converted as house boats

These highly rhythmic songs were created to keep up the spirits of the boatsmen . The rhythm of these songs blend perfectly with the movement of the oars and to keep up devotional, mythological or relating to rustic life styles. Every snake boat has about twenty-five singers keeping time with traditional percussion instruments.

Payippad Jalotsavam , Alappuzha
The three day annual fiesta on the Payippad Lake, 35 km from Alappuzha, commemorates the installation of the deity at the Subramanya Swamy Temple, Haripad. The story is that the people of the village decided to build a temple with Sree Ayyappa as the presiding deity. After the temple was ready, they had a vision directing them to a whirlpool in Kayamkulam Lake where they would find the idol of Sree Subramanya which was to be installed at the temple. Accordingly, the elders of the village with divers and swimmers rowed to the spot and found the idol which was escorted back ceremoniously by devotees from the entire region in colourfully

Boat races held during Onam (August/September):
ATDC Boat Race, Alappuzha
Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race, Pulinkunnu
Neerettupuram Boat Race
Kumarakom Boat Race
Karuvatta Boat Race
Kavanattinkara Boat Race,
Kumarakom Arpookara Vanitha Jalamela,
Kottayam Mahatma Boat Race, Mannar
Thazhathangadi Boat Race,Kottayam
Kottapuram Boat Race,
Kodungallur and Kumaranasan Smaraka Jalotsavam, Pallana



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