Vallam Kali

Vallam Kali, also known as Kerala Boat Race, is one of southern India's most picturesque and traditional festivals. Every year the Vallam Kali festival is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Chingam, which generally falls in the calendar months of August and September. Vallam Kali is world-famous for its enthusiasm, postcard-perfect moments, and grandeur. Vallam Kali is a form of canoe racing where many longboats compete with each other along the river.


Origin, History, and Significance of Vallam Kali


In 13th-century Kerala, the feudal kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Chembakassery declared war on each other, which led to the construction of Chundan Vallam, a war boat. The boat's construction required special skills, and a famous city carpenter was assigned the task. Thus, he created a snake boat, an amalgamation of technical features and aesthetic beauty. The snake boats can still be seen in Kerala, while the oldest was Parthasarathi Chundan.


At present, Vallam Kali also involves races of different kinds of paddled longboats. However, the Chundan Vallam boat race is Kerala's most significant and famous tourist attraction. The Vallam Kali event is also held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, Kerala, where it is known as Nehru Trophy Boat Race. The team winning the race wins the Nehru Trophy and a prize of 6 lac rupees.


When is Vallam Kali Celebrated


Vallam Kali, or Kerala Boat Race, is mainly conducted during the harvest month of Onam, which generally falls in August and September. In Kerala, four boat races are held between July and September. All of these races happened in and around the beautiful town of Alleppey. The races are:


  • Nehru Trophy Race
  • Payippad Jalotsavam
  • Aranmula Boat Race
  • Champakulam Moolam


The dates of these boat races differ based on the lunar month of harvest. However, this snake boat race is organized annually in Kerala when the monsoon is at its peak. According to the legends, Vallam Kali also marks the day when Lord Krishna brought a boat to the famous Ambalapuzha temple.


How is Vallam Kali Celebrated and Where to Go?


Vallam Kali is celebrated with several festivities and fervor. Hundreds of bright and colorful boats gather at the river with energetic men rowing them. The boats are also decorated with vibrant-colored umbrellas and flags. While this snake boat race itself is a spectacular event, another thing that adds more to its charm is Vachipattu, a form of poetry in the Malayalam language sung in chorus during Vallam Kali. More than a ritual, Vallam Kali is a ritual in remembrance of Kerala's grandeur centuries ago. If you would like to participate in the Vallam Kali festivities, you can book a bus ticket online through redBus to one of the Kerala towns and celebrate. Different colors of Vallam Kali can be enjoyed at the following places:


  • The Aranmula boat race is one of Kerala's ancient snake boat races. It is held in the heritage village of Aranmula at the banks of the river Pampa in the Pathanamthitta district.
  • The three-day festival of Payippad Vallaarattu, popularly known as Jalotsavam, is held in Payippad Lake, which is only 6 kilometers from Haripad, Kerala.
  • The famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in Alappuzha in Punnamada Lake. Here, it is celebrated to mark the installation of the Lord Subramanian idol in the Subramanya Temple.
  • Held at Kallada River, the Kallada Jalotsavam is another spectacular event. It is celebrated on the 28th day after Onam. The winner gets the Kallada Rolling Trophy and the prize of one lac rupees.
  • Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is also one of the ancient forms of a snake boat race near Alappuzha, where one can witness the enthusiasm of the festival.
  • If you're looking forward to visiting one of the places mentioned above to celebrate the Vallam Kali or Kerala Boat Race festival, book your bus tickets online and reach in time. Since most of these places are small towns in Kerala, buses are the most convenient and affordable transportation mode to reach.

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