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Taking place on the second weekend of August, the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most popular and competitive of all the boat races in Kerala and a victory here is a cause of great (and often long) celebrations.
The usually tranquil waters of Punnamda Lake are transformed into a hive of activity; thousands of spectators from all over the world line the waterways and the snake boats themselves contain well over a hundred men each.
The trophy was donated by the late Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru to the winners of the first boat race which was an impromptu event conducted in 1952 in his honour when he visited the area.
The Chundaanvallam, or snake boat, are named so because of their pointed prow, long sleek hull and raised stern resembling the hood of a snake and were the traditional battle vessels of Kerala. The stern is majestically decorated with a flag and brass ornaments. Silken parasols are spread along the entire length of the boat.
The typical length of a snake boat is about 60-65 meters and a capacity of 100-110 people - normally about 95 oarsmen, 5 Amarakkar (controllers) and 10 'Nilakkar', members of the team responsible for motivating the oarsmen, enhancing their vigour and enthusiasm!