Another feather in the plume of God’s own Paradise is perhaps The President’s Trophy Boat Race. Founded in 2011, it has become one of the most popular boat-races held in Kerala during the auspicious occasion of Onam.
It is held annually on the Ashtamudi Kayal in the Kollam District of Kerala to mark the Atham Day of Onam. The race starts from Thevally Bridge, across Ashtamudi Lake, to the Kollam boat jetty, near the Kollam Kerala State Road Transport Corporation KSRTC bus depot which is a stretch of around 1.2 km.
There are five categories in the regatta, namely the Chundan Vallam (snake-boats), two grades of Veppu Vallam, and two grades of Iruttukuthi Vallam. The length of these boats range from approximately 56 feet to 97 feet; Chundan Vallam being the longest accommodates approximately 80-100 rowers. Fully concordant with the extravaganza spirit is the gold-plated trophy worth around Rs. 10 lakh and cash prizes of the same amount.
Worth around Rs 2 crore, the event features 16 snake-boats competing in four heats on a racecourse divided into 4 tracks of 10-metre width.
It is the only regatta in the country instituted in the name of the President of India; also the largest team sport in the world.
Reflecting the ethos of the backwaters, the oarsmen row oars in unison to the fast paced rhythm of the vanchipattu (Song of the Boatmen) as hundreds of spectators from around the globe throng the Lake to watch this spectacular event. It is pleasant movements to witness this boat race live in water.