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Bewitching Boat Races of Kerala – 2015 dates
Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

It’s that time of the year again. Time to plan for a Kerala vacation, if you want to catch the drama and splendor of the famous Kerala boat races live-in-action.

Kerala snake boat races are perhaps the most vigorous, prestigious and community-oriented water sports that one can find in India. The sheer energy of the oarsmen, the loud cheering of the onlookers and tension in the air; the sound of oars cutting through water and the symphony-like rhythm of oarsmen rowing in tandem. One has to be there to truly experience the magic, and watching a snake boat race is definitely a must-do when visiting Kerala in monsoon months.

It’s also a good time to get some good deals on Kerala travel, given that it’s officially the off-season.  We have one such luxury package for you, covering the best of Kerala in 5 nights at truly value for money prices.

If you are planning to be in Kerala around August this year, you could also enjoy the Onam festivities. Onam is on August 28th 2015. And here’s a list of long weekends of 2015 - very handy to plan a quick trip if you happen to live in India.


Kerala boat race 2015 dates

Nehru Trophy Boat Race Punnamada – Alappuzha District, Kerala 8 Aug 2015
Payippad Boat Race Payippad – Alappuzha District, Kerala  30 Aug 2015
Kumarakom Boat Race Kumarakom – Kottayam District, Kerala 30 Aug 2015
Aranmula Boat Race Aranmula – Pathanamthitta District, Kerala 31 Aug 2015
*Actual dates are decided based on local (Malayalam) calendar, there might be some variations.


Click here to download the calendar for Kerala boat races 2015.

Did you know?

  • Despite the name, there are no real or live snakes involved in the event (phew!)
  • Snake boat history in years: 400 plus
  • Typical length of snake boats: 100-120 feet
  • Number of rowers per boat: around 100
  • How many villages own a snake-boat?: 1


Here’s a video of the Nehru trophy boat race:


This blog is an update to our last year’s blog on Kerala’s boat races. Naturally, some of the information still holds true, and that has been carried forward in this blog. Continue reading to know more about Kerala boat races, their role in local culture as well as tourism, and the boat songs that are unique to this region.  

Vallam Kali in Kerala

Vallam Kali

Image: Vallam Kali, Wikipedia

Kerala is known for celebrating with gusto a number of festivities but it is the boat races (Vallam Kali) that play an important role in attracting tourists from all over the world. The history of the sport spans back to almost 4 centuries and it is not only a visual spectacle, but also a testament to sportsmanship, team spirit and great partnership. Any group sport requires a degree of coordination between the team members for its successful completion and such synchronization can only be achieved when all members work in complete harmony with each other. Whilst such a trait is noteworthy in any sort of event, it becomes a critical component in a traditional boat race due to the sheer number of participants involved.

The usual components of the race are a long boat which is usually the snake boat (made in the style of a padded canoe), four helmsmen to man the boat along with 25 singers. Finally the driving forces behind the boat i.e. the 100 or 125 oarsmen who row both in complete unity and immense speed to the rhythm of the Vanchipattu. The Vanchipattu is the boat song, a Malayalam language based form of poetry that is usually performed at festivals like Vallam Kali.

Given the popularity of the sport there are a number of major and minor events associated with it. Some of the most talked about boat races of Kerala are:

  • The Aranmula Boat Race which is the oldest river boat fiesta, held annually as a part of the Onam festivities (August-September) on the Pampa River flowing through the Aranmula village and close to the Shree Parthasarathy Temple around 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Alleppey. Aranmula also has their own unique snake boats called Palliyodams which are held in great reverence by the devotees of the deity of Shree Parthasarathy temple, who consider it to be the deity’s divine vessel.
  • The President’s Trophy Boat Race is another major boat race from the region, which holds special significance as it was started to mark the birth of the state itself and is held on the Ashtamudi lake in Kollam (the cashew paradise) around 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Alleppey, on November 1 every year. The President of India personally attends the race and gives away the trophy and cash prize of a million rupees to the winning team. Further, Kollam is itself one of the more popular tourist destinations in the state, so the event is worthy enough to design one’s visit around.
  • Nehru Trophy Boat Race is another famous annual event taking place on the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha around 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Alleppey, on the second Saturday of August. This race witnesses a race of 16 boats with separate boats for women participants as well. Tickets are usually within the range of less than a dollar to $25.
Punnamada Boat Race

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Image: Nehru Trophy Boat Race,Matribhumi

There are many more boat races held throughout Kerala and each has something unique to offer. So if you plan to visit Kerala and experience the true essence of the state, watching a boat race should be on your travel itinerary.

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell


My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.


While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

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