The Nehru Boat Race (NBR), also known as the Snake Boat Race, or simply Vallam Kali (boat race in Malayalam), is one of those spectacularly Indian festivals, right up there with Holi in Mathura-Vrindavan or Dussehra in Mysore. On the second Saturday of August every year, hundreds of oarsmen, representing various villages of the Kuttanad region, power their way through the Punnamada lake, near Alappuzha, for the Nehru Trophy. Supporters line the 1,400m stretch, cheering on their respective teams.
The NBR, like most of the other big boat races that take place in Kerala in August and September, is a feast for the senses—the sight of the rippling muscles on the lithe oarsmen, the songs rising above the din and the narrow boats slicing through the placid backwaters—but if it’s visual splendour that you are looking to capture, sign up for Get Off Your Ass’ On The Move Photography Workshop.
Making a splash: The Nehru Boat Race in Alappuzha. Get Off Your Ass
It runs from 6-9 August to coincide with the most celebrated of Kerala’s races. Participants will be housed at the BambooStix Island Resort, located in the middle of the gigantic Lake Vembanad and surrounded by monsoon-drenched paddy fields. Get Off Your Ass (www.getoffurass.com) has special access to the Kumarakom boat—even the novice can be guaranteed amazing shots with regular digital cameras, but Germany-born photographer and trainer Helmut Conz will be at hand to show you how to raise your photography skills several notches higher.
If that sounds like a good way to spend four days in August, email Santosh at email@example.com or call him at 09845442224 or 080-26722750. The four-day package costs Rs14,500 per person, inclusive of all food, camping facilities and workshop fees. It does not include travel fare to and from Kochi.