Puppetry: An Integral Part of Rajasthani Culture

The Rajasthani string puppetry is one of the most vibrant aspects of Indian culture. These handmade wooden puppets are much more than just plaything or decorative dolls. They are a part of the traditional performance of puppetry – narrating an event from history, myths, folklore or legend, complete with music and speech. The tribes of Rajasthan have been performing this art from the ancient times and it has become an eternal part of Rajasthani culture and tradition. No village fair, no religious festival and no social gathering in Rajasthan can be complete without the Kathputlis. They are the repository of traditional wisdom, knowledge and social mores. Within them are contained the oral history of the region.

It is said that puppetry of Rajasthan is more than a thousand years old but there is no written evidence of it. Mainly the ‘Bhat ‘community practices this art termed Kathputli (Kath meaning wood and Putli meaning doll). Their legend goes back to the times of the Great King Vikramaditya, of Ujjain whose throne ‘Simhasan Battisi ‘ had 32 decorative dolls dancing and doing acrobatic feats. The first Bhat produced a play with 32 puppets on the life and achievements of king Vikramaditya and his progeny performed it for hundreds of years.

Much later came Prithiraj Chauhan of Delhi who gave them money to produce a play on his life and achievements. Under the patronage of Amar Singh Rathod of Nagour kingdom, the Bhats produced plays on his reign and heroic death, which are still present today. Under The great Moghuls of Delhi ,The Kathputli Bhats were gradually reduced to great penury. The Moghuls loved glamorous and gorgeous entertainment and did not patronize puppets.

Rajasthani puppets have their own unique specialty. Puppeteers manipulate the puppets with a whistling, squeaking voice and are interpreted by a narrator who also provides the rhythms. The puppets have no legs and movements are free. A slight jerk of the string causes the puppets to produce movements of the hands, neck and shoulder. Many puppets hang on one rope: one string tied to the head and other to the waist. The puppeteer makes a loop around his fingers and manipulates the puppet. He takes ghungru (bells) in his hands and plays it according to rhythm. The stage is made by placing two cots together vertically and tying bamboo around them horizontally. A curtain, generally dark in colour, is at the back-stage and a colourful curtain with three arches hangs at the front .The puppets are tied with dark strings, which do not show against the dark backdrop, and dim lights are used.

A traditional Puppet show : http://youtu.be/rnbhP348Q20

In India, puppets or ‘Putlis’, have a life of their own. The word being derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Putta’, equivalent to Putra (son), the puppets are believed to be the articulation of life and thought. Especially for the artists of Rajasthan, the Bhats, puppets are a sort of divinity giving them livelihood, peace, activity and joy. For the rest of the world, this ancient performative art of Rajasthani puppetry is a source of pure joy, entertainment, cultural enrichment and artistic satisfaction.

The the modern version of the traditional show, http://youtu.be/Pg-pJd47dfQ    it clearly displays how the Puppets are manipulated.

Ref: Puppetindia.com

Advertisements

Luxury Trains of India

THE PALACE ON WHEELS

The Palace on Wheels was the first of four luxury trains of Indian Railways. It was launched to promote tourism in Rajasthan and has been highly popular since its launch. It is one of the top twenty luxury trains in the world.

The concept of the Palace on Wheels was derived from the royal coaches of the erstwhile rulers of the princely states of Rajputana, Gujarat, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India. The original Palace on Wheels consisted of the personal carriages of these rulers of India, but the current refurbished cabins of the train are the replicas of the original carriages that are technologically advanced. The cabins have been christened after the princely states of Rajasthan.

The train has 14 saloons , all named after the different Rajasthan provinces like , Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur etc. All saloons are equipped with Channel Music, Intercom, Mini Pantry, attached bathroom and a personal attendant.

The train includes two restaurants, each possessing a stylish décor. The guests aboard can savor sumptuous food of Indian and other popular world cuisine ,such as Continental and European. These restaurants also have in- house bars, serving a variety of, alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages of both Indian and International brands. A spa and a sitting lounge are also part of the train.

The Palace on wheels takes a seven night journey through the major heritage locations of Rajasthan and Agra, the home to TAJ MAHAL. October to March is the prime season to take this exquisite journey and feel like royalty.

Contact Road2Travel for more..

palaceonwheels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAHARAJA EXPRESS

Suffused with nostalgia and drenched in luxury, Maharajas Express rail tours transport you back into an era of elegant traveling reminiscent of the romance of Indian Maharajas. The train is considered to be the India’s answer to the Orient Express of the West. Flagged off in 2010, Maharajas Express offers 5 pan-Indian itineraries crisscrossing across some of the most fascinating terrains in India and covering some of the most prominent tourist destinations across country.

Maharajas Express can carry a total of 84 passengers in elegantly appointed cabins which include a lavish presidential suite spanning over an entire carriage. There are 2 restaurants, a lounge bar equipped with library and souvenir shop to indulge the guests during their journeys.  Maharajas Express comprises of 14 guest carriages. There are 20 Deluxe Cabins, 18 Junior Suites, 4 Suites and a plush Presidential Suite offering elegant living comparable to a 5 star hotel.

Some of the amenities that set Maharaja Express apart are the Wi-Fi internet, LCD TVs and direct dial phones in each cabin. Besides, spacious en-suite bathrooms with showers, private butler and 24×7 room service ensure that your journey never fall short of the high standards set by the train.

Gourmet dining on board the maharaja train is arranged in 2 dining cars which are named Rang Mahal (Color Palace) and Mayur Mahal (Peacock Palace). The plates are fine Limoges, edged with gold, the glasses Swarovski hand-cut crystal and the cutlery monogrammed with the letter M. Variety of cuisine are served on board. Impeccable interiors and gracious hospitality ensures that you get to dine like a royalty on board Maharajas Express.

Guests could engage in recreational activities inside the Rajah Club – Lounge Car. Rajah Club has a well stocked library with general books and pictorial guidebooks offering glimpses of Indian Maharajas who used rule their kingdom before India became democracy. Board games and card games could also be enjoyed in Rajah Club over sip of your favorite wine. At one end stands the bar and at the other stands a souvenir shop named Treasure Chest from where you could buy mementos of this royal train journey.

With the itineraries consisting of tasteful blend of heritage, culture and exclusive insider experiences, a journey on board Maharajas Express is one of the most fulfilling rail journeys in the world. From desert kingdom of Rajasthan to the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and from the holy Ghats of Varanasi to the Classical Khajuraho temples, each of the signature journeys offered by Maharajas Express is a treat to undertake.

The winter months of October to March are is the ideal for a royal journey on board Maharajas Express.  Contact Road2Travel for more..

maharaja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOLDEN CHARIOT

The Golden Chariot train journey is the best way to experience the major and also offbeat tourism destinations of South India. It is named after the Stone Chariot in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi (World heritage site). It has recently been awarded the ‘Asia’s leading luxury train’ award at the World Travel Awards, 2013

This Indian luxury train comes equipped with state of the art amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi internet, live television, wardrobe, vanity desk and en-suite washrooms having 5 star accessories. The total 44 Air Conditioned cabins in 11 inter-connected saloons are combination of 26 Twin Bedded Cabins,17 Double bedded Cabins & One Cabin for Physically Challenged. The train also comes with 2 dining cars, a bar & a lounge and fitness center and spa. The 19 coaches on the train are colored purple and gold, and sport the logo of a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion . With interior decor inspired from the Hoyasala and Mysore tradition of architecture, this luxury train transports the guest into a bygone era of elegant train traveling.

The Golden Chariot offers 2 tastefully crafted luxury train tours in South India. An adventure in comfort, a romance on rail tracks, with heritage & cultural destinations waiting for you to discover them. Very unique, customized itineraries have been developed that leave a resonance of the amalgam of culture of South India. World Heritage sites, Temples, palaces, relaxed beaches, a wildlife sanctuary, backwaters, there is something for everyone.

Embark on a voyage through the sand of times as you travel in style aboard this luxury train in South India. October to March is the running season for this train and you may contact Road2Travel for more..

goldenchariot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECCAN ODYSSEY

Pack your bags and get all set to experience and witness the grandeur of the erstwhile Maratha Kingdom by going on-board another of India’s luxury trains, Deccan Odyssey.

A journey aboard Deccan Odyssey-The Blue Limousine on Rolling Wheels- is a superlative experience, with 10 meticulously designed itineraries at the disposal of tourists. Where else would you find a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an excellent vineyard, a palatial residence, lions & tigers basking in the glory of sun, sun-kissed beaches, tranquil backwaters and the holy abode of Sai Baba …… Each of the aforementioned destinations is traversed by this luxury tourist train. The luxury train journey aboard Deccan Odyssey is one of the most exciting and grand ways marked by sheer opulence and pomp. All the 10 journeys speak volumes about the ancient architecture, royal living and religious destinations among others.

Deccan Odyssey comprises of 21 luxuriously appointed coaches. Out of these 21 coaches, 11 are to accommodate guests and the rest are used for different purposes such as dining, lounge, conference car and health spa. Echoing the penchant of the erstwhile Maharajas, all the 11 guest accommodation coaches of Deccan Odyssey is outfitted with cozy furniture and personalized guest amenities. All the cabins are spacious enough where guests can roam freely. The decoration of each coach reflects a particular era of the Deccan milieu and is creatively outfitted with facilities like personal safe, telephone, attached bathroom, air-conditioning and a personal attendant, on the round the clock service of the guests. Complemented by the very best of personal services, traveling on the private cabins of this deluxe rail is a unique rail tour experience in India.

The ten thought fully prepared itineraries range from 2N/3D to 7N/8D and the train runs throughout the year on a fixed schedule. For more on schedule, itineraries and prices contact Road2Travel.

deccanodyssey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROYAL RAJASTHAN ON WHEELS

The luxurious Royal Rajasthan on Wheels takes you through a seven day exploration of the vibrant Rajasthan. The magic of the splendid journey begins at New Delhi and prepares you to weave the fabric of delightful imagination becoming reality over the next seven days. Your royal journey begins from Delhi and takes you through various erstwhile princely states of Rajasthan like Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittor, Swai-Madhopur, and Jaipur. After experiencing multifaced Rajasthan you will visit Khajuraho temples unique gift to the world and then Varanasi, The holy city and city of temples and ghats,. In the end, The Taj Mahal, at Agra. This journey will come to an end at Delhi.

Each of the 13 luxury train cabins of the train has an amazing décor and is adorned with contemporary services and amenities such as channel music, attached bathroom with plush toiletries, in-room safe, Wi-fi connectivity, temperature control remote, upholstery and more.

The salons of the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels  have been segregated into Bravura Suites and Extraordinary Suites. As the passenger capacity is limited, you can enjoy a comfortable stay while on-board. The train has a common lounge where the guests can interact with each other. This lounge also has Wi-fi connectivity. There is also a Spa aboard the train where the guests can relax their tired senses. Get your hands on some amazing gifts and knick-knacks for the loved-ones back home from the Souvenir shop.

The train has two restro bars- Swarn Mahal and Sheesh Mahal, serving cookery delights of Indian and popular world cuisines. You relish dishes of Rajasthani, Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisines. Both the restaurants have a great ambience. Rest assured that the modern amenities on board, gracious hospitality and sumptuous cuisine will leave you pampered, impressed and yet wanting.

The running season for Royal Rajasthan on Wheels is from October to March. For more information contact Road2Travel

royalrajasthan

MTB Himalaya – Mountain Biking Event

Himachal Pradesh is riding high on a popularity wave among mountain bikers – both Indians and foreigners. More and more of them are negotiating sharp bends on inhospitable off-road tracks of the lower Himalayas for their slice of glory.

Canadian National Champion Cory Wallace, also the three-time champion of the Mongolia Bike Challenge, and Sonia Lopes, the first woman cyclist to conquer the non-stop 500-km Portugal Bike Race, will be among 70 foreign and Indian intrepid riders in the Hero MTB Himalaya, the 10th in series, from Sep 27 to Oct 3.

“The mighty Himalayas, breathtaking routes and the vibrancy of India is what attract me to this race,” Cory said in a communication to Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Promotion Association (HASTPA), the Shimla-based club organising the race.

HASTPA president Mohit Sood told IANS the rally route, through the lesser explored interiors of the lower Himalayas, would climb the Jalori Pass (3,223 metres) in Kullu district, the toughest point of the rally.

Wolf Gang Krenn from Austria, John Funk from Canada, Andreas Hartman from Germany and Aayman Tamang from Nepal are other prominent international riders, besides a 14-member team from the Indian Army’s adventure wing.

Last year, World No.9 Luis Leao Pinto was among the internationally-acclaimed riders at the event.

Pinto, the MTB Himalaya champion in 2013, had said he had captured ranges from 2,000 metres to 2,300 metres in Europe but the mighty hills of Himachal Pradesh were quite a challenge for him.

Billed as the third toughest mountain biking event in the world after the Trans-Alps Challenge (Europe) and the Trans-Rockies (Canada), the Hero MTB Himalaya will be flagged off from the state capital Sep 27.

The participants, both men and women, will pass through forest trails and unmetalled rural roads, winding through Shimla and Kullu districts.

The length of the rally is 550 km. On an average, a cyclist will pedal 80-90 km every day with one day of rest and have to ascend 2,000-2,500 metres each day. The highest point of the rally will be the Jalori Pass.

The slopes of Jalori Pass are one of the finest in the world, said Cycling Federation of India member Rakesh Mohindra.

Sood said 85 percent of the total track of the rally passes through terrain riddled with obstacles such as trees and boulders.

“Such kind of a single and muddy track at this altitude is rarely available across the world. The international cyclists are opting for the lower Himalayas for high-altitude training,” he said.

He said initially this rally used to see mostly foreigners. But for the past three-four years, it’s also getting popular among Indians.

“It has always been our objective to involve more women in the sport. Unfortunately, not too many women in India have taken to mountain biking. Lopes’ presence will definitely inspire a lot of young women to follow and take up this great sport,” HASTPA general secretary Akhil Puri said.

Portuguese rider Luis Canto Moniz, Ferrari’s general manager based in Bangkok, told IANS: “I am happy that such events are picking up speed in India. It’s quite popular in Europe, North America and Canada. Himachal’s terrain offers the most challenging environment in the Himalayas.”

There are separate categories for men and women in the race.

The rally will pass through Shimla, Narkanda, Ani, Jibbi, Ghadagushaini, Chatri to Luhri, then back to Narkanda and finally culminate in the state capital Oct 3.

Courtsey : The Indian Express

Worlds Largest Stepwell: Chand Baori

Building stepwells (Baori in Rajasthan) has been a necessity under northern India’s hot summers. These wells acted as rainwater harvesting systems and they were a cool oasis in the parched hot summer of this area. The temperature difference between the surface and the lowest depths of these wells could be 5 to 6 degrees. The earliest were made around 550 AD, but famous ones like Chand Baori were made during medieval times. And from those times, over 3,000 stepwells were built in India’s two northern states. Rajasthan and Gujarat.

chand baori 02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chand Baori in Abhaneri, near Jaipur, Rajasthan is propbabaly the largest step well in the world and perhaps the most visually spectacular stepwell. Chand Baori is an incredibly geometric sight; it is a deep four-sided structure with an immense temple on one face. 3,500 terraced steps march down the other three sides, 13 stories, to a depth of 100 feet. The construction dates to the tenth century, and is dedicated to Harshat Mata, goddess of joy and happiness and is believed to have been built by King Chand, ruler of Abhaneri and a Rajput from the Chahamana dynasty.

darkmanrises

 

 

 

Chand Baori is also well known for being the location where Batman gets imprisoned in the “ The Dark Knight Rises” and for the movie “The Fall”. A version of the game “Minecraft” is also based on the Chand Baori.

thefall

 

The fall

 

 

 

minecraft

 

Chand Baori Minecraft

Thailand’s hidden gems: Phimai, Khao Yai National Park and Lamtakong Dam

WHEN you tell people you’re going on holiday to Thailand, the immediate assumption is that you’re off to one of the islands to sip cocktails on golden sands, dance under full moons or enjoy massages by the sea.

Or perhaps you might be spending the weekend exploring the lights of Bangkok, taking tuktuk rides and rifling for treasures at one of the many, many street markets.

Aficionados might even guess you’re taking a trip to Chiang Mai up in the far north, where you can take hikes up into the mountains and go for treks on elephants.

But no one would guess you are heading inland and northeast from Bangkok — and that’s what makes a trip there all the more special. Exploring this ancient region makes you feel like you are uncovering some of the last hidden gems of Thailand.

They include the Khmer ruins of Phimai — as old and breathtaking as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat — together with the lush dense jungle of the Khao Yai national park and the grand Lamtakong Dam. Korat — or Nakhon Ratchasima, as it is locally known — is a little over three hours drive from Bangkok, but couldn’t be more different. While it is still a bustling town, there is little to no English spoken and few white faces spotted, so you are left feeling like you are having a truly Thai experience.

A trip to the nightly flea markets will confirm this — we were coached in hand signals before we entered the markets, to make sure we would be able to haggle over the prices despite the language barrier.

But I was still wary walking in, adopting my usual market-shopping demeanour — head down, no eye contact unless you intend to buy, move along quickly — for fear of being harassed and hounded, as is the norm in every other Thai market I’ve ever visited.

Not so, in Korat. There was no pushiness, no heavy-handed hawkers — just friendly curiosity.

And some really good deals.

There are not many souvenir-type items on offer but everything is so cheap, I had to purchase a second bag before my return flight to hold all my purchases.

Our visits to the ceramics village of Dan Kwian and the Pak Thong Chai silk weaving village didn’t help my excess baggage concerns either. But aside from satisfying my shopaholic urges, these visits opened my eyes to the ancient cottage industries still well established in rural Thailand.

Some of the methods employed in these villages have not changed in generations — and despite the language barrier, the locals are more than happy to show you how they operate the looms in their front rooms, or where they collect the clay for their pottery. Exploring new areas of Thailand, off the well-beaten track, also opens you up to new culinary experiences.

Instead of the western-friendly menus seen in the tourist-friendly hot spots, we are introduced to the special roasted ducks of Korat, the grilled fish prepared metres from the vast Lamtakong Dam, the fried fish served in betel leaves and the coconut milk pancakes sold absolutely everywhere.

One of my favourite discoveries of the holiday are the Thai doughnuts served at breakfast at the Dusit Princess Korat. These look like two miniature conjoined churros — served with condensed milk and a dubiously green but delicious pandan syrup.

The Dusit Princess is certainly not an uber flash hotel by international standards, but it feels as though it once was. It is clean and spacious with an impressive breakfast (did I mention the doughnuts?) and a beautiful, cool pool — perfect to refresh yourself in after a day exploring the nearby Phimai ruins. But if you are looking for glamorous accommodation, you don’t have to go far.

Nestled in the foothills of the Khao Yai National Park is Botanica Resort — a brand new five-star resort which offers all the luxury even the most discerning traveller could hope for, at a fraction of the cost of equivalent resorts in more popular tourist hot spots.

A quick two-and-a-half hours from downtown Bangkok, Botanica is a true retreat — in every sense of the word.

There is plenty to keep you entertained — an excellent restaurant, a pool bar, infinity pool, gym and library — but even though the hotel is one of five in a small area, guests feel like they have escaped to a tropical haven.

The resort abuts jungle and it was this bank of lush green that greeted me every morning and surrounded me when I enjoyed an outdoor bath on my balcony at twilight.

Botanica is a great base for more sightseeing in the vicinity — try a hike to the Haew Narok waterfall, a night-time safari, or be impressed (and perhaps surprised) by a tasting at the PB Valley Khao Yai Winery.

If all that seems like too much hard work, how about a two-hour Thai massage . This area of Thailand is a gem, but it won’t stay hidden for long.

The writer was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Courtsey : www.news.com.au

The art of slow travel

I am a big fan of slow travel. Of taking my time and not rushing, of wandering through small lanes and not zipping through and of staying to linger in a little village I’ve just fallen in love with.
But why would anyone take their time while travelling? Isn’t it better to travel as fast as you can, to as many places as you can and be the envy of everyone else?
If there is one thing that travelling slowly allows you to do, it enables you to immerse yourself in a country. When you spend more time in a place, you absorb more of what the country can offer through your interactions with the people, the food you eat and the way of life. You end up not just travelling or stopping by. If you linger in a place long enough you actually live in that place, and what is the purpose of travelling but to absorb and experience the wonders of life on this amazing planet.
Long trips are a wonderful way to mark a change or new stage in your life. In my first year of university, I spent a month travelling through Europe. After I quit one of my earlier jobs a few years ago, I bought a ticket to New Zealand and explored the country for five weeks. When I left full-time employment two years ago, I celebrated by flying to Russia and spent two months travelling overland, taking only trains and buses through six countries until I reached home. I could have flown home from Russia, but that was never the idea. I wanted to take as much time as I could to explore the region.
Two months of travel, of course, is no big deal. I have met many travellers who took time off from work to travel around the world. Scores more have taken an entire year off to explore continents like South America and Africa.
For many of us, the challenge of travelling for an extended period is taking time off from work. Very few employers would be willing to let their people disappear for more than a week, let alone a few months, but that’s not to say they won’t allow it if you don’t ask.
If you can’t take a year or a month off, settle for half a month and concentrate on a smaller area. Two or three weeks in Tasmania, in New Zealand’s South Island or in Italy, for instance, would be enough to allow you to learn more about the culture, the history and the people in those places.
I have never been able to fathom those whirlwind European tours that travel agencies are so famous for. You might know what I mean- the 12-day tours through 10 European countries, which would invariably include a frenetic, one-day city tour in Paris and one day speeding through Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
If 12 days is all you have, why not spend the entire time in France, strolling through the streets of Paris and enjoying Bordeaux, Lyon and maybe the French Riviera.
If you prefer Italy instead, Rome and Tuscany can be enjoyed in 12 days, although it would be better to set aside three weeks to explore the whole country. What an expert you would be on the food, the culture, even the language after three weeks. Imagine the stories you would have after three weeks in Italy- your stories would go into layers and layers of detail- surely that is what travel is all about.
A deep appreciation of a country or region cannot be gained from those zip in-zip out 12-day multi-country tours. Neither does it make any sense to fly within regions such as the Baltics, the Balkans, Central America or Indochina. Countries within regions such as these have a shared and overlapping history and ideally, should be explored slowly by land.
Assuming that we travel to learn more about the world we live in, taking your time and travelling slowly is the best way to benefit from your travels. And if you write, draw or paint for a living, you don’t need anyone telling you that you’ll get more material and inspiration in three weeks than two days.
At the end of the day, the operative word should be ‘time’. If you don’t have the time to travel extensively, concentrate on a smaller area. Don’t be obsessed about covering a lot of countries if you have limited time.

By : Anis Ibrahim (sg.news.yahoo.com)

Snake boat races of Kerala, India

Snake boats are traditional boats of Kerala and are so called because of the huge sterns of these boats that looks like a hood of a cobra raised in anger . The local populace call these boats “Chundan Vallam”, which literally means beaked boat, for it has a pointed prow which stands four feet above the water and gives the impression of a beak. Designed by an architect named Devanarayana, the snake boats were originally conceived as war boats. Though the wars were resolved later, people wanted to keep up the spirit of this wondrous multipurpose boat. Hence started the spectacular sport of snake boat race.

In the centre of the snake boat, which was earlier the place of the canon , stand two people who beat the odithatta (fire platforms) with poles and sing the vanchippattu (songs of the boatmen) to maintain the rowing rhythm. While the strongest oarsmen sit at the front to set the pace, the back is managed by six hefty helmsmen who stand and help steer the boat. The person at the highest point of the boat is the chief oarsman. A single snake boat is over 100 feet long and can occupy 100 oarsmen and thus a snake boat race is the largest team sport in the world. Being the largest team sporting events in the world, snake boat races are often considered to be the ultimate test of endurance, speed , skill and coordination.

Champakulam Moolam Boat Race

In Kerala, the season of boat races starts with the renowned Champakkulam Moolam Vallam Kali (vallam kali means boat race). Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is one of the ancient and most popular boat races in Kerala. The race is organized on the river Pampa at Champakkulam, a serene village in Alappuzha district, on the moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of mithunam (roughly June/July).

The legend has that the Raja of Chempakasseri, Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan, built a temple at Ambalappuzha as suggested by the royal astrologers. It was discovered that the idol which was being placed at the temple was unfit. Therefore, a new idol was brought to this place from Karikulam Temple in Kurichi. As this idol was brought to the temple on a boat, the king declared that watersports will be organized on this particular date every year, to commemorate this event.

On the day of the race, people, both locals and travellers from far off places, flock the river bank to enjoy the race. As the sun comes straight on top of all gathered, boats in various categories like the chundan (snake boat), veppu, iruttu kuthi, churulan and others from nearby regions assemble at the starting point of the race. Among these boats, the snake boats with its fascinating design catch the attention of all.

Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali

Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali or the Aranmula Boat Race is the oldest known boat race event which takes place in Kerala. The boat race takes place during the festival of Onam, which occurs during the Malayalam month Chingam (August – September). The boat race is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The traditional snake boats which are especially used here for racing are called ‘Palliyodams’ by the natives. Each boat is decorated with a golden lace. Along with these decorations every boat has a flag and two or three ornamental umbrellas. The boat race held annually on the Uthrittathi asterism (as per the local Malayalam calendar) during the Onam festival is one the cultural hallmarks of this land. Teeming with rich tradition and rituals immersed in splendor, the Aranmula Uthrittathi boat race is considered more of a ritual than a race.

Legend has it that a devout Brahmin vowed to offer all the requirements for the Thiruvona sadya (the grand traditional feast on the day of Thiruvonam) at the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. Once, the boat known as Thiruvona Thoni carrying these offerings was attacked by enemies. In order to protect the Thiruvona Thoni people from neighbouring areas sent their snake boats. Later on, this practice evolved into an offering to Lord Parthasarathy in the form of a snake boat race, held on the Uthrittathi day, which eventually became popular as the Aranmula Boat Race.

Payippad Jalotsavam

Payippad Jalotsavam is Held annually in the month of September on the Payippad River, this boat race is noted for the largest participation of snake boats after the Nehru Trophy boat race. The boat race is organized in a span of three days on the lake Payippad, which is located 35km from the district of Alappuzha. As per the legend , people of the Haripad village decided to build a Sree Ayyappan temple in accordance with a vision that they should install the idol of Subrahmanya, which they would find in the Kayamkulam River under a whirlpool. Finding the idol, the people brought back Subrahmanya vigraha in a boat, escorted by the devotees in other boats ceremoniously. In remembrance of this event a three day water festival is conducted each year.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

The annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race takes place on the backwaters of Punnamada in Alappuzha of Kerala in the month of August. The race is a rowing competition, which takes place between numerous teams who participate in this event to contend for the Nehru Trophy. The history behind the event is that, a snake boat race was conducted when Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru visited this place. He was so impressed by the enthusiasm of the rowers that he awarded the Nehru Trophy to the winners. Since then the Nehru Trophy bears a silver model of a snake boat and is awarded to the winning team of the boat race.

People from far & near swarm the banks of these lakes/rivers to enjoy these annual water regattas. Apart from the races of chundan valloms (snake boats) and of smaller country crafts, the events have in store many fascinating moments like the ceremonial water processions, spectacular floats and decorated boats.

Kerala, “Gods own Country is located with the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats towering to the east . Networked by 44 rivers,Kerala, enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. An equable climate. A long shoreline with serene beaches. Tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters. Lush hill stations and exotic wildlife. Waterfalls. Sprawling plantations and paddy fields. Ayurvedic health holidays. Enchanting art forms. Magical festivals. Historic and cultural monuments. An exotic cuisine… All of which offer you a unique experience. And what’s more, each of these charming destinations is only a two hour drive from the other – a singular advantage no other destination offers.

Kerala season starts October to March… interested contact Road2Travel