Kumarakom: With just nine days left for the prestigious Nehru Trophy Boat Race (NTBR) in Alappuzha, the pulsating uproars of mighty oarsmen have once again started reverberating around the shorelines of Kumarakom – a backwater village in Kottayam.
Boat race lovers are ushering in with great enthusiasm the Chundan Vallams (snake boats) racing past the placid waters of the Mutherimada River here, which has invariably turned into the practice venue for the boat clubs in the village. As many as five snake boats participating in the flagship event on August 12 are holding their practice sessions in the water body here during the mornings and evenings.
The five boat clubs in the fray this time are Chambakkulam Chundan, to be rowed by the Kumarakom Town Boat Club, Cheruthana Chundan by the Vembanad Boat Club, Niranom Chundan by Kaippuzhamuttu NCDC Boat Club, Payippad Chundan by Kumarakom Boat Club and Anaari Chundan by Samudra Boat Club.
Chambakkulam Puthiya Chundan
The snake boat will be paddled by oarsmen of the Kumarakom Town Boat Club. Launched in 2014, the boat won the Nehru Trophy the same year. The old Chambakkulam Chundan had won the coveted cup eight times. As the boat began to develop age-induced deteriorations, it was replaced with a new one.
The Town Boat club, established in 1998, won the Nehru trophy on board the Alappad Chundan in 1999, and on the Cheruthana in 2004, besides scoring a hat-trick of wins on board the Payippad Chundan in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The club won yet another race on the Jawahar Thayankari in 2010.
Launched in 2002, the snake boat scored a hat-trick of wins in 2005, 2006, and 2007. It won the cup once again in 2018. The boat will be rowed by Kumarakom Boat Club -- the first club of snake boat oarsmen from Kumarakom. The club has scored a unique double hat-trick of wins in the Nehru Trophy.
The Cheruthana Puthiya Chundan is being rowed by the Kumarakom Vembanad Boat Club. The old Cheruthana won the Nehru trophy in 2004 and finished runner-up on nine occasions. The Vembanad Boat Club, established in 2013, won the Nehru trophy in 2015 on the Jawahar Thayankari and Karichal Chundan in 2017.
Launched last year, it was rowed by the Niranom Boat Club in 2022. This time, however, it will be paddled by oarsmen of Kaippuzhamuttu NCDC Boat Club. Established in 2018, the NCDC Boat Club finished runner-up in the Nehru Trophy once. It also came second in the Champions Boat League last year.
The boat was launched in 2010 and finished first, second and third in the Nehru Trophy over the years. The boat, this time, is being rowed by the Samudra Boat Club. Established in 2016, the Boat club rowed for the Jawahar Thayankari in the Nehru Trophy last year.
It costs between Rs 45 lakhs to Rs 50 lakhs for each team to train and condition their team for the Nehru Trophy. The wages for the oarsmen for 17 days alone will come to around Rs 15 lakhs. The daily wage per head is Rs 1000. Each camp will comprise at least 120 oarsmen, who will be staying in the camps till the event is over. The cost of food is estimated to vary between Rs 9 lakhs to Rs 12 lakhs.
The oarsmen brought from other states will follow a separate menu. This time, around 90 oarsmen have been brought from states including Kashmir, Manipur, Uttarakhand, etc. The clubs are also required to meet their cost of travel. The costs, comprising the rent for camp and the boats, preparation of the snake boat, and the expense incurred on the match day will together add up to half a crore rupees. The overall cost of training for the clubs in Kumarakom will alone come to around Rs 2.5 crore.
Practice venue: The Mutherimada River -- 9 am and after 4 pm
Oarsmen: Each Chundan will have 85-90 oarsmen on board, besides five to steer the boat on the Amaram (rear deck), two for Idi (rhythm), and nine as Nilakkar (singers).
Mutherimada Pooram on August 6
The event, organized as an exhibition race, will line up all the snake boats from Kumarakom as well as the smaller boats called Kalivalloms. The event will start at 2 pm. To reach the venue, proceed through the Attipeedika road that begins from Kumarakom Junction and reach Mutherimada through the culvert in front of the Ardhanareeswara temple via Bazar and Asharisheri Road.
Where to purchase the passes for the Nehru Trophy
The passes for visitors are available at the office of the District Tourism Promotion Council. The passes, available the rates of Rs 1000, Rs 500, Rs 300, Rs 200, and Rs 100, can be purchased from 10 am to 5 pm. Ph: 0481 – 2560479.