Aranmula Boat Race
To be held on August 31, 2015 the Aranmula Boat Race takes place on the Pamba River in the Pathanamthitta district. There are several legends associated with the race. According to one, it marks the day when the villagers of the area went out in their snake boats to save the looting of a boat carrying a Brahmin’s offerings (thiruvona sadya) to the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. Aranmula is known for its unique metal-mirror manufacturing and has been declared as a Global Heritage Village by Unesco. Nearest aiport: Thiruvananthapuram, about 100km away; nearest railway station: Chengannur, 25km away.
Champakulam Boat Race
To be held on July 1, 2015, the Champulam Boat Race is usually the first traditional boat race of the season. It takes place on the river Pamba in the Alappuzha district. Champaulam, part of Kerala’s Kuttand region, is surrounded by acres of paddy fields. Nearest airport: Kochi, 85km away; nearest railway station: Alappuzha, 26km away.
Kumarakom Boat Race
To be held on August 30, 2015, the Kumarakom Boat Race, also known as the Sree Narayana Jayanthi Boat Race, is held in Kottathodu. It is held in honour of social reformer Sree Narayan Guru, who visited Kumarakom in 1903 and established the Kumaramangalam temple here. The temple is the starting point of a grand procession of country boats carrying the portrait of Sree Narayana Guru. The procession terminates at Kottathodu. Nearest airport: Kochi, 85km away; nearest railway station: Kottayam, 16km away.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
To be held on August 8, 2015, the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most popular boat race of Kerala and attracts participants and spectators from around the globe. You need to book accommodation and viewing gallery tickets in advance as there is quite a rush. There are separate sections for all the traditional boats (veppu, iruttukuthy, churulan, etc.) but the star attraction is the chundan category of boats, popularly known as the snake boats.
The race, held at the Punnamada Lake of Alappuzha, was initially organised in honour of India’s first prime minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. He was so impressed by the skills of the oarsmen that he donated a trophy to the winning team and the event became a permanent fixture on Kerala’s boat racing calendar. It is held on the second Saturday of August. Nearest airport: Kochi, 80km away; nearest rail station: Alappuzha station (within city limits).
Payippad Boat Race
To be held on August 30, 2015, the Payippad Boat Race is held in the Payippad river of Alappuzha. It is held to mark the installation of the idol of Lord Subrhamanya Swamy in the temple in Haripad. Apart from the snake boat races, the event is also known for its water pageant. Nearest airport: Kochi, 85km away; nearest railway station: Haripad.
General information: The boat races are held during the monsoon season. So be prepared for heavy rains. In most places, accommodation is available in hotels and home stays. For lists of accredited service providers and other details, check www.keralatourism.org