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Vallam Kali

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Title: Vallam Kali  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Kerala backwaters, Tourism in Kerala, Kovalam, Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Champakulam Moolam Boat Race
Collection: Boat Races in Kerala, Paddling, Tourism in Kerala, Traditional Sports of India
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Vallam Kali

Boat race snake boat
വെള്ളംകുളങ്ങര ചുണ്ടൻ വള്ളം

Vallam Kali (Malayalam: വള്ളംകളി, vaḷḷaṃ kaḷi, literally "boat game") is a traditional boat race in Kerala, India. It is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes. It is mainly conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in autumn. Vallam Kali includes races of many kinds of paddled longboats, the traditional boats of Kerala.

The race of Chundan Vallam (snake boat) is the major event. Hence Vallam Kali is also known as the Snake Boat Race and is a major tourist attraction. Other types of boats which do participate in various events in the race are Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam, Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a popular Vallam Kali event held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, Kerala, India.


  • History 1
    • Vanchipattu 1.1
  • List of periodical Vallam Kali events 2
    • Major events 2.1
    • Minor events 2.2
    • Outside Kerala 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



Vallam Kali originated in Assyria, on a New Year's Day in 300 BC. Vallam Kalli events were conducted by several ancient Indian states.

In Kerala, during an early 14th-century war between the feudal kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Chembakassery, King Devanarayana of Chembakassery commissioned the construction of a war boat called Chundan Vallam and he tasked a famous carpenter of the day with the responsibility of creating it.[1] Hence, the technical methods for creating these Snake Boats are around 650 years old. Of the snake boats still in use today, the Parthasarathi Chundan is the oldest model.

Vallam Kali has mainly been conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in Autumn. The race of Chundan Vallam is the major event. Vallam Kali also includes races of many other kinds of traditional paddled longboats of Kerala, and is one of the major tourist attractions in the state.


Vanchipattu (lit. boatsong) is the form of poetry in Malayalam language commonly using while Vallam Kali and related festivals. During Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali, the vanchipattu is performed by the participants for its significance in the rituals. Ramapurathu Warrier is considered to be the pioneer of the vanchipattu.

List of periodical Vallam Kali events

Major events

Map of Backwaters in Kerala where boat racing is conducted

Minor events

Outside Kerala

  • Canadian Nehru Trophy Boat Race, [4]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

  • Dates of the various races and other useful traveller information
  • Aranmula
  • Nehru Trophy Boat Race
  • Google video of Vallamkalli
  • Online game on Vallamkali at
  • Snake Boat Race
  • Gothuruth Boat Race since 1938 [2]
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