'Karichal Chudan' won the 51st Nehru Trophy boat race held at the Vembanad lake in Alappuzha district of Kerala today in front of a massive crowd of spectators, including foreign tourists.
As many as 54 boats, including 19 snake boats, or chundan vallams as they are known, took part in the race that is considered the country's biggest watersport event and is held every year as part of efforts to boost tourism in the state.
A cultural procession exhibiting the folk arts of the state and a mass drill of all participating boats added colour to the event.
'Kalluparambu Chudan' was placed second in the race, which saw a splendid display of oarsmanship and physical prowess, bringing the Punnamada stretch of the Vembanad lake alive and sending the crowd into raptures.
The unique features and natural backdrop of the event have been attracting sports enthusiasts from afar. The trophy was instituted to commemorate the visit of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the area and his boat ride in the lake.
Kerala Legislative Assembly Speaker Vakkom Purushothaman distributed the prizes to the winners.
During the inaugural function, Union Minister of State for Law P C Thomas said the Centre would provide Rs 15 lakh [approximately US $32,500] for the boat race.
Kerala Tourism Minister K V Thomas said the state government had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh [US $21,600] for the event. Finance Minister K Sankaranarayanan inaugurated the event by lighting the traditional lamp.