One of the oldest traditions of Kerala, Champakulam Boat festival started in the state sometime in the 1500s. Fondly referred to as Champakulam Moolam Vallamkali, the race uses the traditional snake boats or Vallam Kalis. These Chundan Vallams are a symbol of Kerala’s centuries old expertise in Naval architecture. Used by kings and warriors more than 500 years ago, these expert pieces of wooden craftsmanship can accommodate more than 100 men in one go.
Held every year on the tides of the Pampa river in Alappuzha, the festival is a symbol of a long held naval tradition. The day the boat race is held marks the auspicious day of the moolam nakshatra of the Malayalam calendar called Madhunam. It is the day when the 17th century Ambalapuzha Temple welcomed its head deity-Lord Krishna in the premises.
The religious sanctity of the festival lies in the history of its origin. It is said the 15th century ruler Chembakassery revisited his naval strength and directed his naval fleet to design robust boats which would challenge their opponents at the time of war. Little did he know what he started as a war strategy would stand today as amark his naval legacy.
Each year, this festival is organized by the Champakulam Boat Race Society. Different categories of boats are lined up for the festival. The prominent ones are Chundan, Veppu, Iruttu and Churulan. Out of these Chundan boats are the ones which are decorated in the most regal ways. And this is something which also grabs the attention of the tourists and people who come here to witness this festival.
It is exhilarating to see the number of people who come to witness the grand cultural fiesta. Massive boats are seen dissecting the water in half and speeding against one another in their swift yet wispy movements. It is a great sight to see the boatmen rowing in perfect symphony putting in all their strength in each pull and push. Amid the cheers and echo of noises from people cheering, the boats cruise through the water at great speeds.
The festival is a centuries old tradition of the Kuttanad region in Alappuzha district. Held every year in the months of June-July, witnessing this festival is quite an endearing experience for tourists and locals alike.
15 July 2019
Champakulam Water Stadium - Moolam Boat Race
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