Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, is famous for its exhilarating snake boat races, locally known as “Vallam Kali.” These races attract a large number of spectators and are a major highlight of the region’s cultural and sporting events. Here are some prominent snake boat races held in Alleppey:
1. Nehru Trophy Boat Race: The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most famous and prestigious snake boat race in Alleppey. It takes place on the Punnamada Lake annually on the second Saturday of August. Named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who visited Alleppey and witnessed the race in 1952, this event draws massive crowds. Colorfully decorated snake boats, with around 100 rowers each, compete fiercely in various categories.
2. Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali: Held during the Onam festival season, the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali takes place on the Pampa River in Aranmula, near Alleppey. It is considered one of the oldest and most traditional snake boat races in Kerala. The event is associated with the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple and has religious and cultural significance.
3. Payippad Jalotsavam: Payippad Jalotsavam is a vibrant snake boat race held on the Payippad Lake, situated between Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. It is conducted annually during the months of August or September, coinciding with the Malayalam month of Chingam. The race is part of a legend associated with the installation of deities at the Subramanya Swamy Temple in Haripad.
4. Champakulam Moolam Boat Race: The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is one of the oldest snake boat races in Kerala. It commemorates the installation of the deity at the Champakulam Valia Palli (mosque). It takes place on the River Pamba in Champakulam, near Alleppey, during the Malayalam month of Mithunam (June/July).
These snake boat races are not only thrilling competitions but also cultural events showcasing the rich heritage, team spirit, and traditional boat-building craftsmanship of the region. They provide a unique opportunity to witness the spectacle of long, slender snake boats slicing through the water as rowers paddle to the rhythm of traditional songs and drums.