The Houseboat and the overturned 'snake': Kerala

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Houseboats and snake boats fill up the canals in Allapuzha backwaters. An overturned Chundam Vallam or snakeboat awaits its fate with a string of village oarmen sitting on it.

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a popular Vallam Kali (Boat Game) held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, Kerala, India. Vallam Kali or Vallamkali literally means boat play/game, but can be translated to boat race in English. The most popular event of the race is the competition of Chundan Vallams (snake boats). Hence the race is also known as Snake Boat Race in English. Other types boats which participate in various events of the race are Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam.

The race conducted on the second Saturday of August every year is a major tourist attraction.

Constructed according to specifications taken from the Sthapathya Veda, an ancient treatise for the building of wooden boats, these boats vary from 100 to 138 ft in length. With the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft., and a long tapering front portion, it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide. Its a marvelous example of ancient Indians' prowess in Naval Architecture.

Source: Wikipedia


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