Nadubhagom Chundan won the Rajapramukhan trophy at the Champakulam Moolam Boat Race held on the Pampa at Champakulam on Monday. St.Pious Chundan came second in the race in which six chundans took part. Kodikunnil Suresh, MP, presented the prizes to the winners.
The race was held smoothly though the organisers faced problems in raising funds. The finishing point did not invite controversy this year. The finals in the chundan category was abandoned last year owing to disputes over the results. The Champakulam boat race is the first in the season of snake-boat races in the State.
The snake boats, locally known as vallam kallis, were, more than 400 years ago, used during wars by armies that wanted to manoeuvre the meandering network of canals in the backwaters. The higher edge of the boat on the tail end worked as the captain’s spot to steer his army through. The legacy of this wondrous mode of travel continued in the form of races between villages
More than 150 years of history of the Syrian Christian family that owns the house, has been retained in the riverside homestay, Akkarakalam. The rooms have all the mod-cons you could ask for. The homestay lies very close to Champakulam. Book the Akkarakalam houseboat well in advance to watch the race from the confines of a shaded verandah and air-conditioned rooms. A constant supply of coffee is the added incentive.
- The boats are launched from their docks as early as 4 a.m., so that the entire team can go to a local temple to get it blessed. You will not find too many tourists trailing this activity, but go along if you want to get under the skin of this colourful event.
- The race starts post noon when the sun is overhead. Expect harsh light for photography –using a filter for the lens is recommended.
- Ask the homestay or hotel to arrange for a meeting with the team. This can be scheduled a couple of days before the race, when the teams are at practice. This is also a more peaceful time to photograph the boats.
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