Where: Kerala, India
The state of Kerala comes alive for a few months every year during September’s monsoon season with colourful snake boat races.
Unlike the Samuel Jackson film, the snake boats get their name from their shape rather than anything to do with real snakes! A snake boat (or chundan vallam) is actually a long traditional canoe style boat used by the people of the Kuttanadu region, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. A snake boat is typically 100 to 120 feet long, and carries around 100 rowers. Each of the villages in the region has its own snake boat, with a great pride being bestowed in each. Every year the villagers get together and race the boats along the lakes and rivers.
The snake boats of Kerala have over 400 years of history associated with them. Their story can be traced back to the kings of Alleppey (Alappuzha) and the surrounding areas, who used to fight with each other in boats along the canals. One king, who suffered heavy losses, got boat architects to build him a better vessel and the snake boat was born, with much success. An opposing king sent a spy to learn the secret of how to make theses boats but was unsuccessful as the subtleties of the design are very hard to pick up. These days boat races are held with much excitement during various festivals.
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Here are some marketing images from Kerala Tourism: