The thrilling snake boat race during Onam at the Aranmulla temple has become one of the icons of Kerala tourism industry and attracts thousands of tourists or visitors to the region. This Aranmulla temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna and is constructed on the shores of river Pamba, where the much-hyped event takes place. The magnificent snakeboats or “chundan vallams” are nearly thirty in number and are owned by the villagers living besides the river.
The stretch of the race extends from the hills to the low lying plains that measure about forty kilometers. The oarsmen are dressed in white dhotis and turbans and steer the boats while singing traditional boat songs to the rhythm of their splashing oars in the water.
The boat has a golden lace at the head and the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center and forms an important part of this visual extravaganza.
Throughout the festival days till the eve of Thiru Onam, the boat known as Palliodam sails from Katoormana and is accompanied by the music of drum beating and blowing of conch shells. Such an event happens to memorize the day when the boat could not move because of the hunger and pain of the poor widow and her children and started moving only after they were given enough food to satisfy their hunger. The prized snake boats accompany the main boat and torches are lit to give it a godly look. This colorful boat festival is held on the fifth day after Thiru Onam. The villagers worship each boat like a deity and only men can touch it and that too barefooted. The boats are always kept in excellent conditions and are oiled with fish oil, coconut shell and carbon mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and boat slippery in water.