Vallam Kali - Kerala’s Ancient War Vessels Become Modern Racing Boats

Alappuzha is a quaint city, known for its expansive backwaters that surround several small islands. Inspired by its labyrinth of canals and waterways, Lord Curzon, then Viceroy of India, christened the city as the ‘Venice of the East’ in the early 1900’s.

The city is also host to one of India’s greatest traditional races.

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the annual fiesta that celebrates history, culture, heritage and athleticism, is held at the beautiful Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha. Held on the second Saturday of August, this was the 65th edition of a race that began in 1952, and held every year except for one.

During an official visit to Alappuzha in 1952, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was escorted around the city and its backwaters on boats. Buoyed by his presence, the residents of Alappuzha cobbled together an impromptu race with the boats that were part of his entourage. Nehru was so blown away by the energy at the race he broke security protocol and jumped aboard the winning boat, the Nadubhagam Chundan, for a victory lap!

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