This weekend I have been in Kerala and seen the Nehru Trophy Boat Race! Kerala itself is a really fantastic place, but in this post it will be all about the boat race! This race has been held at Lake Punnamda in Alappuzha (also called the Venice of the East), since 1952. This is clearly the most important day of the year in that area. I arrived on Friday evening, without having done much planning up front. Initially I planned to try to get a ticket for the race and then go on a houseboat after. Luckily all tickets for the race were already sold out, so I had to see it from my very own private houseboat. That turned out to be not too bad at all!
Before the race started we did have a quick round of cruising around in the area. Everywhere you could see people partying in the “streets” or rather in the small islands around the channels. When we arrived at the place for the event, it was already a lot of other boats there. As you can see from the picture below, people really used all possible places to try to get a view of the event. Even if they had to sit in the water.
The race itself had four different classes of boats. Each of them was divided into four heats. The winner of each heat went to the final, second place to compete for places from 5-8 and so on. It was really cool to see it! Some heats were quite tight, and there was a lot of competition. Some boats even sunk during the race! How embarrassing isn’t that`? You’re preparing the whole year for this one day and then your boat sink. Luckily there were a lot of rescue boats on place, so all the unlucky people got up quite quickly and all boats were rescued.
When the daylight was about to disappear it was finally time for the grand finale. Four big dragon boats competing against each other. And it was a really close race. At least the first three boats were quite close, and the jury needed some time to decide the winner. In good Indian tradition, there were also some controversies. The team at the winning boat apparently had not been wearing the correct uniforms, so the team in second place protested and wanted them disqualified. But in the end, the result stood, and everyone could continue their party.
Over the year in India, I have seen a lot of different things. But this clearly stands out as something different from everything else. I have got the phone number to the persons on the boat, so that I can book the same boat even then. It would be really cool to go back there, and hope some more people have a chance to join me!
Talk to you soon!