Kerala's Nehru Boat Race enthrals thousands

Alappuzha (Kerala) Aug 10 : Thousands of boat race lovers, including hundreds of foreign tourists, went home delighted Saturday evening after witnessing the famed Nehru Boat Race here in God's Own Country.

The boat race is the curtain-raiser for a fresh tourist season.

The most keenly awaited event of the day was the finals of the snake boat race. Sree Ganeshan, the snake boat owned by St. Francis Boat Club, beat the Jawahar Thayengiri snake boat in a nail biting final. The length of a snake boat varies from 120 feet to 140 feet with about 120 oarsmen.

"This is my first visit to this magnificent venue and even though I have been to other boat races across the world, this is something marvellous. I am still feeling the reverberations of the excitement of the final race. I will come back," said Thomasan Johans, a tourist from Sweden.

Tomy Pullikattil, one of the organisers of race, told IANS that even though the initial trends showed a lukewarm response in ticket sales, in picked up over the past two days. "This shows the passion that the lovers of this event have. They came in large numbers," said Pullikattil.

The history of the boat race dates back to 1952, when the then prime minister late Jawaharlal Nehru visited the state and a pageantry of boats accompanied him from Kottayam to Alappuzha.

The race's origin was an impromptu race conducted in Nehru's honour.

Nehru, who was thrilled by the performance of the oarsmen, jumped into a snake boat.

On returning to Delhi, Nehru donated a silver trophy, a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature.

This is the trophy that the winner in the snake boat category is awarded. The trophy was handed over to the captain of the winning team by Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar.

--IANS (Posted on 10-08-2013)

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