Vallam kali

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Aranmula Boat in Uthrattathi Boat Race
Boat race witlh snake boats
Vallam Kulangara - Snake boats

Vallam kali (vaḷḷaṃ kaḷi, literally: boat game) is a traditional boat race in Kerala, India. It is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes. It is mainly conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in spring. Vallam kali includes races of many kinds of paddled longboats and 'snake boats'. Each team spends about 6 lakh rupees for the Nehru Trophy.

The race of chundan vallam ('snake boat', about 30-35 meter (100-120 feet) long with 64 or 128 paddlers aboard[1]) is the major event. Hence Vallam Kali is also known as the snake boat race and is a major tourist attraction. Other types of boats which do participate in various events in the race are churulan vallam, iruttukuthy vallam, odi vallam, veppu vallam, vadakkanody vallam and kochu vallam. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a popular vallam kali event held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, Kerala, India.



In Kerala, during an early 13th-century war between the feudal kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Chembakassery, King Devanarayana of Chembakassery commissioned the construction of a war boat named Chundan Vallam and he tasked a famous carpenter of the day with the responsibility of creating it.[2] Hence, the technical methods for creating these snake boats are around 8 centuries old. Of the snake boats still in use today, the Parthasarathi Chundan is the oldest model.[3]

Vallam kali has mainly been conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in Autumn. The race of chundan vallam is the major event. Vallam kali also includes races of many other kinds of traditional paddled longboats of Kerala, and is one of the major tourist attractions in the state.


Vanchipattu (lit. 'boatsong') is the form of poetry in Malayalam language commonly used during vallam kali and related festivals. During Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali, the vanchipattu is performed by the participants for its significance in the rituals. Ramapurathu Warrier is considered to be the pioneer of the vanchipattu.[4]

List of periodical vallam kali events[edit]

Major events[edit]

Map of Backwaters in Kerala where boat racing is conducted

Minor events[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Snake Boat Races (Vallam Kali)".
  2. ^ MS, Prasanth. "karichal chundan - Nehru Trophy Winner 2016, karichal, karichalchundan,,payipad boat race,kerala snake boat race,snake boat race in kerala". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Origin of Vallamkali (Boat Race)".
  4. ^ Pillai, R. Ramabhadran (8 August 2015). "A fusion twist to Vanchipattu". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Gothuruthu Boat Race, Gothuruth Boat race, Ernakulam, Muziris Heritage Site, Kerala, India - Kerala Tourism". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 2014-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b c "The Internationally famous Boat racing Festival of Kerala". Retrieved 20 December 2017.

External links[edit]