Nehru Boat Race on Aug 9 a big tourist draw

August 7th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Alappuzha (Kerala) Aug 7 (IANS) The combination of sports, scenic locations and a bit of history has ensured that the 56th edition of the Nehru Boat Race to be held here Saturday is the favoured destination for Indian and foreign tourists alike. The 1,360-metre race will see 16 snake boats and 42 smaller boats taking part in various events.

Making their third appearance is a seven member international team led by Julie Amor from Dubai who will row here in the Thekkinodi women’s section of the boat race competition.

“We are here to win like the previous years and we are all really excited,” said Amor.

The most keenly awaited event is the snake boat competition. The length of a snake boat varies from 120 to 140 feet.

There are about 120 rowers, with the captain and his associates giving directions.

Speaking to IANS, Tomy Pullikattil, member of the executive committee of the event, said that this time they are expecting a record number of spectators. Over 300,000 people are expected to witness the boating regatta.

“A large number of foreign tourists are already camping in resorts and on houseboats. Because of the event Alappuzha gets a major boost as a tourist destination,” said Pullikattil who owns more than a dozen houseboats.

For the first time the organisers have come out with around 10 tickets each priced at Rs.100,000 for the best seats.

The race is associated with former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the state in 1952.

There was an impromptu race conducted in Nehru’s honour. Nehru, who was thrilled by the performance of the rowers, climbed into the Nadubhagam Chundan (a snake boat) forgetting all security arrangements. The boat proceeded to the jetty with the then prime minister on board. On returning to Delhi, Nehru donated a silver trophy, a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus with an inscription and his signature.

This is the trophy that the winner in the snake boat category gets.

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