If you want to learn about the culture and heritage of Kerala, there’s no better way to do it than to be a part of its festivals. The most notable among them is the Champakulam Boat Race, happening on July 15 this year. The most awaited event in the calendar of Kerala, the race goes back centuries in time.
Champakulam Boat Race is a spectacular snake boat race that takes place on Pampa River on the day of the ‘moolam’, in accordance to the Malayalam month of Midhunam. The day is considered especially sacred because on this day centuries ago, the deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple was installed.
Legend goes that, the king of Chempakasseri – Raja Devanarayana, followed the instructions of his royal priest and erected a temple in his kingdom. However, just before the installation of the idol, he was told that it was inauspicious. The king then brought another idol of Sree Krishna from Karikulam Temple in Kurichi, which, according to the legends, was handed over to Arjun by Lord Krishna himself. On his way back, the king made a stop at Champakulam. The next morning, he saw thousands of colourful boats assembled at the site, in order to honour the sacred event and to escort the idol home.
It is this scene that is replicated every year and has come to be known as Champakulam Boat Race. Boat races are quite popular in Kerala; however, Champakulam is the most famous in God’s Own Country. It is also the oldest snake boat race and draws enormous crowds annually. This massive water carnival sees the most gorgeous show of the boats, accompanied with songs sung by the men in the boat, making it a vibrant affair.
The nearest railway station from here is in Alappuzha, about 15km away, while the nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, about 78km away.