It’s the midst of Kerala monsoons. It’s the festive time of Onam, our very own Harvest festival. And, it’s also the time of Vallam Kali, aka boat races. Kerala is listed in the `50 destinations of a lifetime' by National Geographic Traveler not for nothing. Festivities rain high and dear visitors, you are in for a treat!
A series of boat races happen during this season involving the local villages and clubs and with the entire state as spectators. Vallam Kali is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes. Many sorts of paddled longboats participate in the race, but the chief race is that of Chundan Valloms, also known as snake boats.
Theses undisputed king of boats have a history of 650 years and the construction techniques go back to the reign of King Devanarayana of Chembakassery. Typical snake boats are about 100 to 120 feet long, and hold around 100 rowers. Most of the villages in the region have their own snake boats, which they take great pride in. The Chundan Vallam also holds the record for the biggest water vessel used for sports purpose.
Snake boat races are mostly held from July to September, with the exact dates varying each year depending on the phase of the moon. The exception is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, which is always held on the second Saturday of August.
A feast to your senses. A dip in the native culture. Make it a must watch!