|A boat race near Alappuzha/Alleppey
||[Jul. 5th, 2007|05:17 pm]
House number: walking in old town Alappuzha/Alleppey.
The Champakulam boat race is the first boat race that happens in a year in the backwaters of Kerala and it was on June 30 this year.
The last time I had been to Alappuzha, I had just stayed a night before moving on to Kanyakumari; this time, we were there for a day and got to walk around the place in the evening through some small roads in the old town. Cycles are still a common means of transport and you can see adults and kids using them to get around. Once we left the small road and were on the main road, it looked busy with lots of shops and vehicular traffic, but still subdued compared to any bigger city.
Champakulam Boat Race:
A small town next to a canal and 15kms from Alappuzha is Champakulam. The boat race itself is a crowd attractor with people settling on the banks of the canal much before the start of the race. TV cameras being setup, billboard ads and loud boats with either music or advertisements precede the start of the race along the police patrol boats keeping an eye on things. There are also practice runs by the teams in their long boats going up and down the race path; a few 100 man boats, a few 50 man boats and a few women only boats, all of them with a majority of rowers, a few rudder men and a few more rhythm-keepers with either whistles or drums egging on the oarsmen to row at a constant pace.
The race officially starts with all the teams assembling at the finish line and rowing back to the starting point to the cheer of the crowds. The heats were with 3 boats racing at one time: at the finish line, most of the heats ended with a clear winner, the other boats being tens of meters away. The finals had a close finish and for the first time they did not announce the results: a good idea, with lots of drunk people around it could have easily turned into a mess. We came back to Alappuzha and had excellent home-cooked food served by our hosts
My camera had started behaving strangely the previous evening and refused to work this day; so no photos.
A brief stopover at Fort Kochi:
We took a fast passenger bus to Eranakulam late in the morning on Sunday. It was raining heavily in a couple of places on the way, the window shutters on the bus came down immediately and they went up as quickly when it stopped raining. At Eranakulam we took a ferry to fort Kochi, had lunch at a restaurant there and then took another ferry back and then we were off to the railway station; with our train being at 5pm, that is all we got time for.
My camera started working this day, took a few photos on the ferry.