Champakulam Boat Race
About The Festival

The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is widely regarded as one of the oldest and famous in Kerala. The race is usually held on the River Pamba on Moolam day (according to the Malayalam Era M.E) of the Malayalam month of Midhunam – which is regarded as the day the deity is installed in the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple.

Back in the olden days, Maharaja Devanarayana of Chempakasseri was ordered by the priest to construct a temple at Ambalappuzha. However, he realized before installing the deity that it was not considered auspicious. The King wanted to find a solution to this problem. His minister offered a solution to this problem – he said that the Lord Krishna idol which was located at the temple in Kurichi, presented by Arjuna himself, should be brought to the temple. Thus, the minister went made the long trip and came back with the idol in tow.

During their journey back home, they stopped for a night at Champakkulam in order to perform a holy ceremony. The next morning, a colourful procession comprising of beautifully decorated boats assembled to bring the auspicious idol to the temple which was located on the other side of the shore. Today, the tradition is still upheld in the form of the Champakkulam boat race which is held in that honour. Spectators are treated to a spectacular show of water floats and decorated boats before the start of the race. It marks the beginning of celebrations.

Travel Tips

This famous boat race is observed roughly in the months of June and July. Therefore, that is the best time to visit Kerala. Also, in order to get a good view of the boat race, one must be adventurous enough to climb the trees in the area.

When to visit

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The Kerala boat races are famous in India and other parts of the world. It is also the largest team sport anywhere in the world. The season of boat races in beautiful Kerala begins with the famous Champakkulam Moolam Vallam Kali (vallam kali is ‘boat race’). The festival has its starting point at Champakkulam, a quaint and picturesque village located in the Alappuzha district. It usually takes place on the moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of mithunam (around June/July).

On the main day of the race, locals and travellers alike travel from far off destinations to gather at the river bank to enjoy the race. The boat racing enthusiasts will climb the nearby trees to get a better view of the race. The boats which comprise a number of categories like the chundan (snake boat), veppu, iruttu kuthichurulan, among others from surrounding areas assemble at the starting point. Among the many boats on display, the snake boats with their intricate and fascinating designs attract the visitors who are assembled at the location.

Considering it is the largest boat race in the world, the snake boat race is widely regarded as a test of endurance, skill and above all - speed.

Most Celebrated Places

The most celebrated place of the festival would have to be Alappuzha.

How to Reach

Time Period

It should be noted that in Kerala, the festival dates are decided in accordance with the Malayalam calendar as well as the local traditions and customs of the land. Hence, the festival usually takes place in the month of June or July.  The race lasts for that one day and usually marks the beginning of other boat races in surrounding areas.