Massive turnout at Kerala boat race
Posted on Aug 10 2014 | IANS
Alappuzha (Kerala), Aug 9 : On the second Saturday of every August, all roads here lead to the famed Punnamada lake for Kerala's signature event, the Nehru Trophy boat race. As in the past, the venue overflowed with thousands of people Saturday.
The 62nd edition of the boat race was inaugurated by Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit.
Billed as the curtain raiser for the commencement of the tourism season, Alappuzha has been abuzz with activity as this event brings thousands of foreign and domestic tourists to the lake to witness the snake boat race.
This time, of the 72 boats of various shapes and sizes that took part, there were 16 snake boats.
The snake boat race was won by Champakulam who took the prestigious Nehru trophy.
The silver trophy was donated by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It is in the form of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature.
"This is superb... all these years, I have heard and read about this event but this is the first time I am experiencing it," said British national G. Gordon.
"I enjoyed every bit, and never saw such participation of the people. People here speak and breathe only about this great event," he said.
Rain this time did not play spoilsport.
The event dates back to 1952, when Nehru visited the state and a pageantry of boats accompanied him from Kottayam to Alappuzha.
The event's origin was an impromptu race conducted in Nehru's honour.
Nehru was said to be thrilled by the performance of the oarsmen and he himself jumped onto a snake boat. On returning to Delhi, the then prime minister donated the trophy.