Chundam Vallam race or the snake boat race is the single most mind blowing Indian sport I have witnessed! If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggested you kick up your dhoti’s, pick up your cameras and trek to Alappuzha (Alleppey).
Snake Boat race is typical to Kerala. The battling snake boats of Kerala have over 400 years of history associated with them. The history of the boats can be traced back to the kings of Alleppey (Alappuzha) and the surrounding areas, who used to fight with each other in boats along the canals. A regular snake boat is about 100-150 feet long and during the races it is dressed up in flowers and ornaments! The snake boat race attracts large crowds and Alleppey is swarming with tourists, media and film makers. The races however are so context specific that they haven’t managed to gain the recognition and the following of a national sport- though it is very worthy of it. There are a million amazing things to do in India and this one should be on everyone’s list.
Overall trip to Kerala, living on a house boat, swimming in the backwaters and watching a hundreds of men racing at neck breaking speed in large boats that look like snakes- priceless. And let me end by mentioning the mallu cuisine- restored my faith in God and allowed me to lovingly forgive all men who roll up their dhotis into mini skirts in full public view!