Chief Minister PInarayi Vijayan inaugurated the 69th edition of Nehru Trophy Boat Race at Punnamada Lake in Kerala's Alappuzha district.
72 boats, including 19 Chundan Valloms or Snake Boats vying for the coveted trophy, will be participating in the boat race, held every year on the second Saturday of August.
Women participating in the race have been provided tracksuits, as wearing traditional sarees has been found disadvantageous to swimming, in the event of a boat capsize.
About Nehru Trophy Boat Race
- The history of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is associated with the visit of late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India to Alappuzha. He chanced a trip from Kottayam to Alappuzha by boat, through water logged Kuttanad. A pageantry of boats accompanied him on the trip.
- The first race was an impromptu once conducted in 1952 in honor of Panditji who visited Alappuzha.In that race of snake boats, Nadubhagam Chundan stood first. Panditji, who was thrilled and excited by the performance of the oarsmen, jumped into the Nadubhagam Chundan, forgetting all security arrangements.
- The boat proceeded to the boat jetty carrying the Prime Minister.On his return to Delhi in December 1952, Nehru donated a Silver Trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus.
- This trophy later came to be known as the Nehru Trophy, and in fond memory of great Panditiji, the people of Alappuzha celebrate the Nehru Trophy Boat Race every year.
- Since 1955, the Boat Race has been conducted at Punnamada Kayal.
- Punnamada Lake (also called Punnamada Kayal) is a part of the Vembanad Lake, which is the biggest lake in Kerala. Vembanad Lake spans to a number of districts in Kerala. Hence, it is called by different names in different parts of Kerala.
- When the lake reaches Kuttanad, it is called Punnamada Lake or Punnamada Kayal. The Port of Kochi is located around two islands the Willingdon Island and Vallarpadam which lie in this lake.
- The lake is called Kochi Lake in this part of Kerala. The famous Annual Nehru Trophy Race of Kerala is also conducted on parts of Punnamada Lake. The Kochi Lake is a portion of the Vembanad Lake, which is located in and around the Kochi Mainland.
- Kayal/Backwaters are the shallow inlet of the sea in rivers lying parallel to the coastline. Backwater is water turned back in its course by an obstruction or the force of tides.
- In Kerala, these backwaters are locally known as kayals.