Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Here’s All You Need To Know About Kerala’s Iconic Battle On The Waters

by Mallika Khurana
Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Here’s All You Need To Know About Kerala’s Iconic Battle On The Waters

On August 12, Kerala’s cherished “Olympics on water,” the Nehru Trophy Boat Race (NTBR), will hold its 69th edition. With a rich history spanning more than 400 years, the race takes place at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha. This vibrant and thrilling boat race attracts thousands of spectators, both from India and around the world. The race is named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who visited the region in 1952 and was greeted with a spectacular snake boat race by the local boatmen. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of this competition.

The Grandeur Of Nehru Trophy Boat Race

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race has its origins in a friendly snake boat race that was organised to welcome Jawaharlal Nehru during his visit to Alappuzha. Impressed by the enthusiasm and spirit of the boatmen, Nehru donated a silver trophy to be awarded to the winner of the annual race. Since then, the event has grown in size and popularity, becoming a symbol of Kerala’s cultural heritage and a major tourist attraction.

The highlight of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the snake boat race, locally known as “Vallam Kali.” These boats are often around 100 feet in length and can accommodate over a hundred rowers. The race features different categories of boats, including chundan vallams (snake boats), iruttukuthi vallams (rowing boats), and others. Each boat is colourfully adorned and has a distinct design, often representing different villages or regions. 

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Kerala’s Thrilling Snake Boat Races

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is not just a sporting event; it’s a grand celebration of Kerala’s culture and traditions. The ambiance is festive, with vibrant decorations, traditional music performances, and cultural programs. The snake boats are beautifully decorated, and rowers don traditional attire. The racecourse itself is a sight to behold, with cheering crowds lining the shores to witness the thrilling spectacle.

The boat race season acts as a unifying force, bringing individuals back to their native villages and rekindling familial bonds. Each boat race becomes a festival, creating a sense of nostalgia and unity among those who return from distant places to participate. This social aspect enhances the cultural significance of boat races in Kuttanadu.

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a significant event in Kerala’s cultural calendar. This boat race showcases the impressive skills of rowers. It also serves as a celebration of tradition, camaraderie, and the unique cultural identity of the region.

Where: Punnamada Lake, Alappuzha
When: 12-08-2023, 2 pm onwards

Cover Image Courtesy: Website/Nehru Trophy Boat Race