Snake boat race in Kerala India. Things to do in Kerala backwaters. When and where. August, September, October, November. Alleppey, Cochin, Munroe Island. Backpacking India travel blog

 

If you want an experience…

Only in India…

Only in Kerala…

Then one type of experience to have is going to see a snake boat race competition in Kerala!!

These are races in which there are tons of people rowing a single long canoe-type boat.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

 

The event is held in such a way that there’s a festival-like atmosphere with every race with people lining the waterway.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

 

And before the race begins, locals may take their own boats out on the river and possibly even try to entertain the crowd with very Kerala type dance moves. 😉

 

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

 

You may also see teams warming up before the race start time.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

 

Or you might even see people (local kids) swimming across the river. 

 

Snake boat races in Kerala - champions boat league - Kerala tourism - Kerala backwaters

 

For some races, it may be possible for you to rent a boat so you can enjoy the festivities directly on the water.

 

 

So…

When are snake boat races in Kerala?!

 

The first snake boat race of the year is in June or July

This is in Champakulam.

The 2019 date of the Champakulam snake boat race was July 15. 

 

 

THE biggest snake boat race in Kerala is in August

This is the Nehru Trophy boat race in Alleppey, and it’s typically held on the second Saturday of the month.

 

 

But what if you’re not going to be in Kerala on these specific weekends in June, July, or August?!

 

 

Champions League snake boat race

New to Kerala in 2019 is the Champions Boat League.

The concept is very great.

The plan for this champions boat league will give you a chance to see this unique Kerala (and India!) experience if you are in Kerala in August, September, October, or November!

 

In 2019…

This series starts with the Nehru Trophy boat race in Alleppey (that race that’s the biggest of the year), and then it ends with the President’s Trophy boat race in Kollam.

These are both in central and south Kerala, and on the main Kerala backpacker route that’s between Fort Cochin and Varkala.

 

The first race of the Champions Boat League is usually the second Saturday of August, with the big Nehru Trophy Alleppey race.

In 2019, because of bad weather in Kerala around this time, they moved the Alleppey snake boat race (and the start of the boat league series) to the end of August, to August 31.

The last race this year in 2019 was also shifted, to November 23. The original plan was to have the President’s Trophy Kollam snake boat race on the first Friday of November, on November 1.

 

And then there is a race scheduled nearly every Saturday between these two snake boat races. (The exception being September 21.) 

That means that if you’ll be in Kerala in September, October, or November, you’ll have the chance to see a snake boat race! (If you’re planning for future years, this would be more like August, September, or October, though! Since 2019 was a little different due to weather.) 

 

Or so goes the plan. 😉 

 

This is India, so… nothing is guaranteed. 😉 

Even the race calendar may change. 

Some races may get canceled.

The series may even be canceled as the series progresses.

 

So be sure to look at the latest calendar about dates and location on the Kerala tourism website.

 

As for the official timing of each event, it’s said to start at 2:30pm. You can likely expect it to take a couple of hours before you see the final boats race. 

 

 

So…

Where can you see a snake boat race in Kerala that’s a part of the Champions Boat League?!

 

Have a look at the map below for the locations of the CBL 2019 snake boat races!

 

 

IMPORTANT!
These locations of the boat races on the map below are approximate and not the exact location of the race.

 

 

This is intended as a guide to give you an idea of where in Kerala the races will be taking place.

Since snake boat races take place along a river or on the lake, there could be several good places along the race course that could be good for watching. 

Once you are in town, you can ask locally for the more exact location!

 

Also listed on the map are some of the more popular backpacker destinations in Kerala for reference.

 

See this boat race map in Google Maps.

 

 

Where to stay when you’re in town for the snake boat race

Snake boat races in Kerala. Where to stay - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

For most races, you can stay in one of the backpacker cities and then take a bus or auto rickshaw to get to the race site. 

 

 

Alleppey

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Alleppey backwaters - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

Many of the races take place in Alleppey district (THE hub of the Kerala backwaters), which means staying in Alleppey can be convenient.

You can choose to stay in town (okay), or you can choose to stay near the beach (better! ;)).

 

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Alleppey backwaters. Where to stay near Alleppey Beach - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Alleppey backwaters. Where to stay near Alleppey Beach - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Alleppey backwaters. Where to stay near Alleppey Beach - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

When you’re in Alleppey, there are some very Kerala things you can do.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Alleppey backwaters. champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

 

There is also a race in Kottayam district.

There is an Alleppey to Kottayam ferry.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Kottayam - Alleppey to Kottayam ferry - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

This is another very Kerala experience, so it could be good to stay in Alleppey for the Kottayam race too.

Then once you arrive at the Kottayam ferry station, maybe take a rickshaw the rest of the way. After the race, you can take the bus back to Alleppey from Kottayam.

 

 

Dates of races in Alleppey district as of end of August 2019:
  • August 31 (Nehru Trophy boat race, Alleppey)
  • November 2 (Pulikunnu)
  • October 26 (Kainakary)
  • September 14 (Karuvatta)
  • November 9 (Kayamkulam)

 

Date of race in Kottayam district as of end of August 2019:
  • September 7 (Thazhathangadi)

 

 

Fort Cochin

Snake boat races in Kerala, near Fort Cochin, in Ernakulam backwaters - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

Another notable location is a race in Ernakulam district, which is the same district that the popular Fort Cochin is located.

Going from Fort Cochin to Alleppey is a popular route (as is the opposite direction), and you can easily travel by local bus or general class train.

 

 

Dates of races in Ernakulam district as of end of August 2019:
  • September 28 (Piravom)
  • October 5 (Marine Drive)

 

 

Munroe Island

Snake boat races in Kerala, near Munroe Island backwaters, in Kollam - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

And then another notable location are the races in Kollam district, which is near where you can have a Munroe Island backwaters homestay experience.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala, near Munroe Island backwaters, in Kollam - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

There is also a ferry from Alleppey to Kollam, although this is an all-day ferry.

 

Snake boat races in Kerala, in Kollam - Alleppey to Kollam ferry - champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

Dates of races in Kollam district as of end of August 2019:
  • November 16 (Kallada)
  • November 23 (President’s Trophy boat race, Kollam)

 

 

So take your pick for a snake boat race to attend when you’re in India! 

 

Welcome to Kerala!!

 

Snake boat races in Kerala. Best things to do in Kerala. champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

And welcome to the Kerala backwaters!!

 

Snake boat races in Kerala. Best things to do in Kerala backwaters. champions boat league - Kerala tourism

 

And…

 

Snake boat races in Kerala. Best things to do in Kerala. champions boat league - Backpacking Kerala India travel blog

 

HAPPY WATCHING A SNAKE BOAT RACE IN KERALA!

 

The need-to-know India travel tips!
If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train!

There are affiliate links on this page that lead to partner websites.

How to book India train tickets online as a foreigner
If you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!

India tourist visa tip!
Access to India as a foreigner seems to be getting friendlier! There's an e-visa now and this visa fee is far less than it was before. See the current cost of an e-visa by selecting your country. That's a partner website to make the evisa application process less stressful - it's possible to apply on your own too. See about your options on how to get an e-visa for India.

Travel insurance for India - just in case!
You get travel insurance hoping that you'll never have to use it. But if you do end up needing to use it, chances are that you will be VERY happy that you did get it! See how to figure out the cost of travel insurance for India.

Where to stay on the backpacker trail in Kerala
See more places to stay in Kerala

  Backpacking India travel guide, South India travel blog: Best places to visit in India itinerary - one month, 3 weeks. India travel blog with best places to visit in India Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best places to visit in Kerala itinerary - one week, 7 days, 10 days. Cochin, Alleppey, Varkala, Munnar. Kerala India travel blog with top Kerala tourism destinations. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best things to do in Kerala backwaters. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best things to do in Kerala backwaters activities - canoe, kayaking. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Public transportation in Kerala backwaters ferry. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best things to do in Kerala tea plantations. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best beach yoga in Kerala. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best hostels in Kerala. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Bus in Kerala. Train in Kerala. Public transportation. Kerala India travel blog. Backpacking Kerala travel guide, India: Best yoga retreats in Kerala. Ayurveda retreats in Kerala. Kerala India travel blog.   Backpacking India to Japan. Backpacking Asia   Backpacking India to Hawaii. Backpacking Asia to US