Champakulam Boat Race

The first in the season of snake-boat races (Vallam Kali) in the State, the Champakulam “Moolam” Boat Race is a tradition that is more than 500 years old and is held on the Pampa river at Champakkulam. The race is organized by the Champakulam boat race society and headed by the district collector. Different categories of boats are used in this race. Some of the most well known categories are the chundan (snake boat), which is the most decorated and attention grabbing. The veppu, iruttu kuthi, churulan  and Odi are a few others.

Legend has it that during 1545 A.D., Maharaja Devanarayana of Chempakasseri built a temple for Lord Krishna at Ambalapuzha as per the suggestions of his astrologers. But at the last moment, the deity meant for the temple was found to be inauspicious. The priests therefore identified another idol of Lord Krishna at the Karinkulam temple at Kurichi. This idol was believed to have been given to Arjuna by Lord Krishna himself.  On the way back from Kurichi, night had set in and the King’s men stayed at a Christian household in Champakulam. This was the home of Mappilassery Itty Thommen, a loyal subject and a confidant of the king.  The next day, the king along with his entourage came to Champakulam and respectfully took the idol in a flotilla to the Ambalapuzha temple.

Pleased with the love and affection shown by the Christian subjects and to commemorate the event and to strengthen the ties of the Hindu-Christian community, the King declared that henceforth a water festival would be held annually at Champakulam and thus  began the Champakulam Snake Boat Race which continues even today.

On the day of the race, both the locals and visitors from far off places, flock to the river bank to enjoy the scenes of the race. This race is often considered as the ultimate test of endurance, speed and skill. As the oarsmen set the pace of their boats with oars striking the placid water, the river becomes a track on fire and becomes a real feast for the eyes and minds of the spectators.