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Crafting India’s 120-Foot-Long Snake Boats

Four hundred years ago, the snake boats of India were warships, used by battling kings along the backwaters of Kerala. Today, the long, canoe-like boats are used exclusively for racing. Reaching up to 120 feet in length, each snake boat can accommodate 100 rowers. In the town of Aranmula, snake boat racing takes on a special significance. The boats are known as Palliyodam and represent the snake upon which Lord Vishnu—the god of protection and preservation—rests. Creating these ornate works involves an intricate process. Master craftsman Santhosh Achari invites us into his workshop to see why it takes nine months—and a keen sense of rhythm—to handcraft one snake boat.

This Great Big Story was inspired by Genesis.

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Kerala, India

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