TechnoparkToday(Feb, 2024) : Ten years ago, amidst the tranquil backwaters of Alappuzha, a legendary vessel made its final journey. The Champakulam Chundan, revered as the epitome of speed, focus, and excellence in Kerala’s snake boat races, found its new home at the picturesque UST campus in Thiruvananthapuram. This historic relocation marked not just the end of an era but also the beginning of a new chapter in preserving Kerala’s rich maritime heritage.
The Champakulam Chundan had an illustrious career, dominating the waters and clinching the prestigious Nehru Trophy a remarkable nine times between 1989 and 2013. Crafted from wood, the 120-foot-long canoe with its towering rear and sleek tapering front symbolized the pinnacle of traditional boat craftsmanship. Manned by a dedicated team of 110 oarsmen, it represented the essence of Kerala’s snake boat races, renowned for their camaraderie, skill, and competitive spirit.
The significance of the Champakulam Chundan transcended mere sporting glory. As the largest water vessel used for sports purposes, it embodied a cultural heritage deeply ingrained in Kerala’s collective consciousness. Its acquisition by UST was not merely an act of preservation but a testament to the institution’s commitment to honoring tradition and fostering community pride.
The journey of the Champakulam Chundan from Alappuzha to UST Thiruvananthapuram was a spectacle in itself, spanning over 150 kilometers of waterways and roads. Crowds gathered along the route, cheering and celebrating the arrival of the beloved boat. As it docked at its new abode on the UST campus, the Champakulam Chundan received a rousing welcome, affirming its status as a cherished cultural relic.
Over the years, the bond between the old Champakulam Chundan and its successor grew stronger. Last year, following its victory at the Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, the present-day oarsmen paid homage to their esteemed predecessor at UST Thiruvananthapuram. This symbolic gesture of reverence underscored the continuity of tradition and the enduring legacy of Kerala’s snake boat races.
As we reflect on the journey of the Champakulam Chundan over the past decade, it serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. Through initiatives like UST’s embrace of the revered snake boat, we ensure that future generations continue to be inspired by the legacy of our forebears. The Champakulam Chundan stands not just as a boat but as a timeless symbol of Kerala’s resilience, spirit, and unwavering commitment to excellence.