The 66th Nehru Trophy Boat Race was inaugurated today by Kerala Governor P Sathasivam at the Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Alappuzha.
The event’s special guest was Tollywood star Allu Arjun, who came with his wife Sneha Reddy. Members of Kerala Blasters football side were also special invitees at the annual showcase.
As of now, the heats or preliminary competition of the cheru vallam (smaller boats) are complete, and the heats contest of the chundan vallam (snake boats) have begun. Once the heats are over, the finals will commence.
Earlier today, Allu Arjun and his wife Sneha Reddy arrived in Kochi, and got a grand welcome from the star's many fans in Kerala. The Kerala Blasters team also arrived, bringing a lot of joy to fans in a place that had gone through a lot of suffering in the last few months, following a bout of heavy rainfall and floods.
Kuttanad in Alappuzha was one of the worst-hit areas. This, in turn, affected the state’s tourism industry, which depended heavily on the houseboat business in these parts.
In their attempts to rebuild the place and revive tourism, district authorities recently conducted a houseboat tour called ‘Back To Backwaters’. Those who took part in the event were asked to spread the word on social media.
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the next big event, had to be pushed from August to November due to the floods.
There are 81 boats taking part in the race -- 25 chundan and 56 cheru boats among them. The chundan will carry more than a hundred oarsmen while the smaller ones carry 40 to 50 people. The NTBR is expected to send out a message that tourism is back in Kerala.
(This article was first published in The News Minute and has been republished here with due permission.)