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Experience the rich tradition, diverse culture at Kerala Boat Festival

Kerala Boat Festival brings out the rich tradition and diverse culture of Kerala. September is the time to be spent in Kerala. The fantastic and magnificent snake boat racing transforms the backwaters of Kerala, entrancing both the boatmen and spectators alike in their vibrant spirits. People participate according to their districts in the boat race for the Nehru trophy. The Kerala boat festival showcases the culture and brings out the team spirit, integration and good relations of the people.


The name snake boat derived from the shape of the boat. These boats are also called chundan vallam. It is the traditional war boat of Kerala, made in Kuttanadu region in south of kerala. A typical snake boat is 100-120 feet long and can carry 100 rowers at a time.

In Kerala, every district owns a snake boats to compete in the prestigious boat racing. It is known that these boats have a history of 400 years, when Allepey king innovated this fighter boat. It is said that the disputes between king and chefs were settled by boat racing.

You can witness the most awaited festival of Kerala, by attending any of the four main boat race that takes place every year. The spectacular Nehru Trophy is held on Alleppey’s Punnamda Lake. The oldest race, the Champakkulam Moolam, is held along the river at Champakkulam (Changanassery), around 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Alleppey. The Payippad Jalotsavam is held on Payippad Lake, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Alleppey. The Aranmula Boat Race is held along the Pampa River at Aranmula, near Chengannur, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Alleppey.

Cover Boat

Snake boat races take place from July to September and the dates generally depend upon the phases of moon. During Onam, snake boats are the major highlight of the festival. It lasts for 10 days in the backwaters of Kottayam, Payippad and Champakkulam.

Allepey is the closest airport if you want to get there and witness the adventure first hand. Alleppey has its own railway station, located a short distance south west of the town center, and is readily accessible from Ernakulum (near Kochi). The nearest railway station to Aranmula is Chengannur, 10 kilometers (6 miles) away. It’s easy to get a train there from Ernakulum, and likewise all major trains between Kochi and Trivandrum stop at Chengannur. What are you waiting for, plan a nice weekend getaway with your loved ones and participate in this amazing snake boat festival.