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Payippad Boat Race, Kerala

If you are contemplating a trip to Kerala around August-September, you can plan to participate in the Payippad Boat Race of Kerala. Besides indulging in some fun, travelers will also have the opportunity to gain an insight into the cultural richness that Kerala can always boast. It is an occasion to interact with locals and make one’s travel experience an affair to remember for the rest of one’s life. Not only from all across Kerala and neighbouring places, but people from across the globe come to witness the enthusiasm that is shared by the people of Kerala. A snake boat packed with around 100 rowers is really a spectacle to behold. In addition to the boat race, you can also enjoy classical and folk art performances during the event.

Mythological Background
An interesting legend is said to be associated with the boat race event. It all began when the residents of the Haripad village decided to set up Sree Ayyappan Temple. Before they could actually install the idol, they had a perception of setting up the idol of Subrahmanya that would find under a whirlpool in the Kayamkulam River. As per the vision, the people escorted the idol back to the site, accompanied by other boats in a celebratory fashion. The three-day-long Payippad Boat Race is organized to commemorate the very event, referred to as Payippad Jalotsavam in Malayalam.

Venue and Time of the Year
The Payippad Jalotsavam or the Payippad Boat Race is held every year in the month of September. Hordes of snake boats are set afloat during the occasion along the Payippad Lake (Harippad), situated at 35 km from Alappuzha (Alleppey) in Kerala. The boat race continues for three consecutive days, highlights of the occasion being floats and cultural performance by local artists from across the state.

The venue of the boat race is easily accessible whether you are arriving here by rail, road or air. Harippad, at a distance of 5 km, is the closest railhead. Those who are coming to Kerala from outside can first fly to Cochin Airport (85 km).

Boat Types Participating in Race
Famously known as snake boats, the chundan vallam measure 100 ft in length. One snake boat has the capacity to accommodate as many as 100 rowers at a time. These boats are not only eye catching in shape but they attract attention even through their exclusive decoration. Local craftsmen adorn the chundan vallams beautifully to make them look elegant and attention grabbing. Villages that participate in this gala event have their own rower’s team and club. Participating villages include Karichal, Cheruthana, Pandi, Payipad and Anary among others.

While hordes of chundan vallams set sailing along the Payippad Lake, musicians and vocalists accompany the rowers to encourage the latter. Snake boats vying against one another amid all the excitement, music and singing are a real feast for all eyes.

Did you know?
The much popular chundan vallams or the snake boats of Kerala are shaped in Harippad at the very place. Every village that participates or contends in the boat race competition has their own oarsmen’s team and club. Up to 3-4 km on either side of the Payippad River is packed with spectators that include both locals as well as tourists.