Down the rapids: Malabar River Festival and International Kayaking Championship begins in Kerala

Hitting the rapids
The inaugural Canoe Slalom event of the International Kayaking Championship that began in Kodenchery, Kerala, on August 12 | Video Credit: Mithosh Joseph

The 8th edition of the Malabar River Festival, jointly organised by the Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society, District Tourism Promotion Council, Kozhikode district panchayat, and Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association, kick-started at Kodenchery in Kozhikode district.

Held after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is South India’s only white-water kayaking competition, and more than 60 kayakers are participating this time around. “The past editions of the competition has featured kayakers from all around the world. However, this time around, there are only three participants outside India as there has been a two-year pandemic break,“ said Paulson Arakkal, the coordinator of the event. The last edition of the festival was in 2019.

Also read: Kerala Tourism to promote ‘Conscious Travel’ in State

Indian kayakers dominate

Khrawbor Mawnai from Meghalaya greets fans ahead of his splash-down into Chalippuzha for the Canoe Slalom event

Khrawbor Mawnai from Meghalaya greets fans ahead of his splash-down into Chalippuzha for the Canoe Slalom event | Photo Credit: MITHOSH JOSEPH

The opening Canoe Slalom event on Chalippuzha (Chali river) saw the participation of renowned Indian kayakers such as Amit Thappa, Nidhi Bharadwaj, Hitesh Kewat and Kuldip Singh. Rupesh Shrestha and Keshab Gharti from Nepal also tested the rapids of Chalippuzha today. Lucky Verma(15) from Indore is the youngest participant this year. Meanwhile, 60-year-old Ian Vincent, an Australian kayaking trainer living in Meghalaya, is the oldest participant.

How to get to Kodenchery
Airports nearby: Calicut International Airport (46 km), Kannur International Airport (109 km)
Railway stations: Calicut (41 km), Koyilandy (42 km)
By road: Kochi (215 km), Bangalore (via Mysore, Wayanad: 313 km)

All events are held on Chalippuzha and Iravazhinjippuzha, the two tributaries of Chaliyar river that flows through Kozhikode. Flowing down from the Western Ghats on the east of Kozhikode district, the two rivers wind down rapidly through the pristine and lush terrains of the hilly villages in Kodenchery and Thiruvambady panchayats, making them the perfect venue for white-water kayaking events. It was a point echoed by Bharadwaj, a professional canoe polo athlete representing India in international competitions. “This is one of the bestest rivers here and I am enjoying it a lot”, she said.

Events and prize

In this year’s festival, competitions will be held in events such as Kayak Slalom, Boater Cross, and Down River race, and the overall champions in male and female categories get the titles of Rapid Raja and Rapid Rani respectively. The winners of each competition will receive a cash prize of ₹ 1,00,000. The past seven editions of the festival have been huge successes in terms of public participation. This year, the organisers have made arrangements for river rafting for the public as well, to give them a taste of the rapids. The festival will conclude on Sunday, August 14.

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Printable version | Aug 27, 2022 1:51:03 am |