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Contestants practising on Punnamada Lake, a day before the race. Photo: Anoop Krishnan
Contestants practising on Punnamada Lake, a day before the race. Photo: Anoop Krishnan

Alleppey, Kerala | The big splash

During the annual snake boat races, oars and boats chop up the usually placid backwaters here

Every monsoon, the backwaters of Kerala come alive with the splashing of the oars—as the chundan vallam (snake boat) races get underway in Alleppey. The annual event, also called Nehru Trophy Boat Race, is held on the second Saturday of August.

In this event, 100-120ft-long canoes are pitted against each other in a race across the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, or Alleppey, to compete for the Nehru Trophy. The boats, made of wood which is locally called aanjilithadi, carry 90-110 rowers—and get their name because they move like snakes through the channels.

Getting there

Go

The nearest airport, Cochin International Airport in Kochi, is well-connected with major Indian cities; and Alappuzha railway station is connected with Delhi and Mumbai. From there, take a taxi or bus. Kochi to Alleppey takes about an hour by road.

STAY

In Alleppey, check in at Lake Palace (rooms start at 9,000, double occupancy for a night; +91-477-2239701) or at Arcadia Regency (4,000, double occupancy for a night; +91-477-2230414).

DO

Take a houseboat ride. Sip the local fermented drink toddy. Eat the local ‘karimeen’ (pearl spot fish) delicacy. Visit the beaches on the west coast of Kerala. Take boat rides, or stay in the houseboats, on the backwaters.

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