‘Kerala’s Olympics’ Nehru Trophy Boat Race thrills spectators
Kariachal snake boat owned by the Kumarakom Boat Club won the 64th edition of the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race, often called “Kerala’s Olympics”, held here on Saturday evening at the Punnamada Lake.
Since Saturday morning all canals led to the Punnamada Lake and by the afternoon most of the vantage positions, especially at the finishing point, were overflowing with spectators.
The event has unofficially been termed as the curtain-raiser for the commencement of a new tourism season as the event attracts hundreds of foreign tourists as well as tourists from the other parts of the country.
“Wow, this is something amazing and I never ever believed this event was this good. I have only heard about this event from my parents who came here a decade ago and they were so excited when I told them that I plan to be here today (Saturday). They are now old, but still they wished to travel with me,” said Canadian national Ruban, on his first visit to Kerala.
Even though the event sees races of various types of boats, the 1,775-metre-long race of snake boats is the main attraction. The winner of this race gets the coveted silver trophy donated by the first Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru.
The trophy is a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and Nehru’s signature.
“This is the second time we are here and the last time we came here was eight years ago. We believe this is one event which you can never witness anywhere else in the world as the ambience and the setting is something unique to this place,” said a German tourist Mortiz Jurgen.
The history of the event dates back to 1952, when Nehru visited the state. An impromptu race conducted in his honour marked the beginning of the event.
The event over the years has become the signature event of Kerala and has become one of the most popular events on the itinerary of many foreign tourists.