When in Alappuzha Alleppey for Nehru Trophy Boat Race
When in Alappuzha Alleppey for Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Kerala is undoubtedly God’s own country! with its serene greenery, backwaters and lavish boathouses. It is situated on the Malabar coast with almost 600km of glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches. With different places to explore in Kerela I chose to start with Alappuzha romantically termed as Alleppey. To watch the famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race conducted there in August ever year.
Allapuzha (Alleppey) – Venice of the East
Alleppey is the hub of Kerela’s Backwaters which connects a vast network of waterways with more than thousands of boats. While at Alleppey and exploring grid of canals you will surely tag the city as ‘Venice of the East’. Here instead of hotels you can also hire a lavish houseboat to spend your night at the backwaters. Its better for groups to choose packages depending on the number of people which comes around 5-10k/night.
The race was scheduled for 13th August which was a long weekend as on Monday we were celebrating Independence Day. As everyone had an extra day they travelled to their hometown and tourists crowding the place for the race. You won’t get any tickets at this time so its better to book in advance. I too had to faced the same but managed to get a ticket in Kochuveli Exp to reach Alleppey. If you want to fly to Alleppey you can reach Kochi Airport and travel to Allepey which is 50kms from there.
My train was on time and reached early morning at Alleppey. So I walked and went to the place of my stay. After convincing the manager I was able to check-in early which gave me time to get ready for the race.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
When Jawaharlal Nehru visited Alleppey he was given a grand welcome escorting him with Snake Boats. He donated a trophy with a replica of snake-boat in silver to the winner of the race. Thats when they started organizing the race every year. I reached early so I had a buffer for reaching the venue. But I Immediately got ready and took an auto to reach at Alleppey Boat Jetty. Where we verified our tickets and boarded the boat to reach the Punnamada Lake the venue of the race.
To book your tickets you can do it online or buy one directly at the Boat Jetty ticket counter. Its managed by the State Government so you won’t face any problem or get fooled by paying any extra money. The best time to reach the Jetty is 11AM as the first round of boats take you to the lake. Where you can grab the seats in front row. Or you would have to wait as I saw the second round of crowd reaching late at the lake.
About the race
There are different categories of boats which participate in the race. But the most popular being the Chundan Vallams aka Snake Boats from which the name was taken as Snake Boat Race. Before the race hosts narrate the history and how it started and what it meant for the people of Kerela. And different teams keep rowing in between showing their charm and the crowd cheer them up. The race started at 2PM after introducing the people in the organizing of the event. The race starts with smaller boats in groups of 5 which is covered on a large display at the finish line where the crowd awaits the boats and cheers them.
From the finish line you can see the boats growing large in full speed. With participants in colorful dresses rowing as fast as they can to win the race which looks amazing. Rowers on their beautiful snake boats and men in the end rowing with larger oars to move it ahead and cheer them to give it all they have.
In one of the rounds the boat completely goes down into the waters but the participants don’t stop and complete which is a great feeling that nothing could stop you if you are determined to do something. The race continues till 5:30PM with different teams completing the rounds to get a position in the finals. Before the finals all the teams gather at the finish line which you can see in the photo above. Where the team names are announced and different skill performance with their oars in hand on the boat.
The teams cheer when there names are called out and the crowd join them in the same. Then the race course is cleared to start the speedboat race with one man and woman in the boats. Trying to be the fastest and showing their skills turning around the water blowing it towards the crowd in speed.
The final happens with four teams and seeing them row was a view you can’t forget. All of them finish with crazy speeds tearing the Punnamada Lake Water to get the Trophy. In the end we have our winners of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race 2016, the Karichal team which also holds many records and 13 winnings in total.
After the race was complete I rushed back to the Boat Jetty in one of the boats so I can explore some more before ending the day. I had some food at a restaurant near the end point with Kerela Parathas and fish curry and a must have as you are in Kerela. Without wasting any time I headed directly to Alleppey Beach.
I was planning to cover the lighthouse and beach together in a day but the lighthouse had a closing time at 5PM which was already up. So i went to the Alleppey Beach which was 4kms from the Boat Jetty. The locals and tourists gather there in the evening time to end the day. There are food joints and hawkers selling toys and different item. Families and kids playing on the beach and the beautiful evening sky gives a feel you wont get anywhere else. Being in Bengaluru I miss the need for beaches in a city so you can chill your evenings which was my favorite pastime while in Mumbai. Sitting on the sand and watching the day fall is great which everyone would love even daily.
As the day ended I walked back to the my hotel to plan my next day to explore the backwaters and then the Alleppey Lighthouse. So I had my dinner and after spending time looking for how to travel the backwaters to capture moments of Alleppey which you won’t get anywhere else. I slept early that night to start exploring the place in morning.
To visit the Backwaters of Alleppey you can choose from traveling on a Houseboat or a Shikara whichever suits you. The rides start from 8AM everyday and you have to reach the Boat Jetty where you get the boats. There are different packages depending on the time you want to spend on the backwaters from 4/6/8 hours. Or you can also choose from different routes from Alleppey to Kumarakom, Kottayam, Thottappally, Mankotta, Alumkadavu.
In the hourly packages you get to see the villages, local life of the people, temples and churches situated on the backwaters, the paddy fields with so much greenery you just can’t imagine. With the 8hr package the Shikara guy takes you to visit their village to see the plantation and also have a lunch cooked at his house which is a must try.
While in the backwaters you will see thousands of boats and people traveling on them chilling and partying on their water ride. It feels if the roads have been converted to waterways like you travel in different cities with your vehicles but this time its your boat accompanied with the others. There are also boats managed by government which stops at a boat stop just like a bus stop where people wait to board the boat to travel the neighbouring cities around Alleppey. After my backwaters trip and capturing the beauty in water it was time to reach the sky to capture the city from top of the Alleppey Lighthouse. But before that I had to try out the famous Biryani from Halais Restaurant which everyone talks about.
Halais Restaurant is put up at 2kms from the Boat Jetty so you can take an auto to reach there. Where i met this female auto driver who has been driving it from 17 years and I thought of mentioning this because you won’t see in any city a female driving an auto. It feels proud to meet such ladies who take up their decisions to live life as they want. We discussed about Alleppey and quickly reached the place to fill my hunger to continue with the day. I paid the fare and bade goodbye to her and went inside the restaurant which had a small store at the entrance where you can buy sweets and candies.
You can grab Kgs of candies home as they have offers like if you buy half kg you get another half for free and same with 1kg you get another free. The restaurant was neatly maintained and was full with people having their meal. There were no places so the waiter guided me to a table with 1 chair available. I sat there and ordered their famous Chicken Biryani which you should definitely try as its really worth. You can accompany it with a Lime Soda drink which was also good compared to others I have had at different restaurants. After the awesome meal I headed to the Lighthouse.
Near the Alleppey Beach is situated the 150+ year old Lighthouse which was built in 1862. Its 92 feet high which gives you a beautiful view of the city accompanied with the beach. After 2007 it was publicly allowed for anyone to visit paying a small fee. Again you will need to pay a fee to take pictures with your camera if needed. They have also setup a small museum where you can learn about the history and has showcased lamps which were used in the Lighthouse. The actual lamp which they are using is not allowed to be seen so they cover it and after closing the lighthouse a manager goes and starts the same which adds a beautiful effect to the whole area in night.
In the end
Alleppey doesn’t end with these attractions there are more places which add up to the beauty of the city. Which include temples, churches, parks and the Krishnapuram Palace which you must visit while your visit to the city. Would love to grab what you did on your vacations at Alleppey you can use the comment box below or write me @ [email protected]
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