Champakulam Boat Race In Kerala
‘God’s Own Country’! That’s how Kerala is referred to……owing to a great mix of beautiful green landscape, exciting wildlife, rich cultural heritage and time-honoured traditions. This is one destination that can offer you so much, all at once.
The festivals of Kerala best showcase the customs, rituals and beliefs that have passed down from generation to generation.. The festival, which is one of the most-awaited events in the calendar of Kerala, is the Champakulam Boat Race which dates back to centuries ago. The season of boat races, in Kerala begins with the well-known Champakulam Moolam Vallam Kali. This is the oldest snake boat race ever known with extremely long country boats and is the main attraction. The festival takes place at Champakulam, a village in Alappuzha district which mostly has a farming community and the race is carried out on the Moolam day in the Malayalam month Midhunam, The day is considered to be especially sacred as it is the day when the deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple was installed.
This spectacular snake boat race is held along the course of the River Pampa. The banks of this river get over-crowded with the local people as well as tourists from far-away places to witness this spectacular race. The atmosphere is charged and there is a lot of cheering and egging on the oarsmen to a resounding finish. These snake boats slice through the calm waters, propelled by hundreds of oarsmen splashing and beating their oars about in the waters in a synchronized motion, accompanied with a rhythmic chanting of boat songs and create a grand visual spectacle. The calm waters practically transform into a race-track. Boats such as chundan, veppu, iruttu kuthi, churulan and others from nearby regions line up to participate in this fun and challenging water sport. Chundans are a type of boat that are over 100 feet long with elevated prows. They were first referred to as snake boats by foreign rulers. Five hundred years since, the pageant is still carried out with the same enthusiasm.
Before the race, spectators are treated to a grand display of magnificent water floats and decorated boats with vibrant parasols, performing arts and the songs of the oarsmen called Vanchipattu. Thereafter, the race is held in a variety of stages for different categories of boats. This race is considered as the ultimate test of endurance, speed and skill and oarsmen undergo rigorous training for several days before participating in the race.
The nearest railway station to Champakulam is Thrissur which lies about 24 km from the village, and the nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, 77 km away. You can also travel to Alappuzha from Thrissur by road. AbhiBus offers bus services along this route and so quickly book your bus tickets online at abhibus.com and take the opportunity to be a part of this spectacular festival.
In Kerala, festival dates are decided in accordance with the Malayalam calendar and the local traditions and customs. So there can be changes in the dates according to the customs and rituals associated with each place of worship.
Picture Credit : Sneha Shetty – india.com