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Kambala-fest

Kambala

  /  Kambala

Kambala is a buffalo race event popular in Coastal Karnataka districts. Kambala is a spectacular sport and entertainment event for villagers and is equally popular with tourists and photographers. A recent news of a Kambala Buffalo Race Jockey Srinivasa Gowda. Check out this interesting news here https://www.thehindu.com/sport/karnatakas-kambala-buffalo-jockey-srinivas-gowdas-run-draws-comparison-to-usain-bolt/article30828501.ece

The setup and Race: 

  • Race track: Kambala is performed on two parallel race tracks, filled with slushy water.
  • The buffaloes: Buffalo owners and farmers in the region take great care of their buffalos and best of them are well fed, oiled and nurtured for a race in Kambala. Buffaloes are usually raced in pairs during a Kambala buffalo race event, held together with ploughs and ropes. The best of Kambala Buffaloes can cover a 140-meter race track in less than 12 seconds. The Honorable Supreme Court of India has issued several guidelines to ensure Kambala buffaloes are not harmed, tortured or ill-treated.
  • The rider: The jockey or Kambala runner is the man commanding the buffaloes and races along with them. Only most athletic youth can handle massive beasts. The runner stands on a wooden plank (known as halage) supported to the setup that holds two buffaloes together (called Negilu). The Kambala runner controls the buffaloes with a whip or ropes. Runner also entertains spectators by splashing water as high as possible during the race. Kambala venue will be home to hundreds of buffaloes and their caretaker teams, just like how automotive races consist of race cars and their crew.
  • The race: Two teams of buffaloes along with their jockeys race towards the finish line on the two parallel race tracks. Race goes on all day and winners qualify for next rounds. Besides reaching the finish line first, prizes are also given for splashing water high till a target set above (known as kolu). 

Season: Kambala events begin after the paddy harvest is done, which is usually during the month of October. Kambala events are held in various parts of Tulu nadu (Tulu speaking regions in South Canara districts) between November and March.

Major Kambala Events:

Over 45 different villages in coastal Karnataka celebrate Kambala race every year. A few popular venues are:

  • Kadri & Pilikula, Mangaluru
  • Moodubidire & Puttur
  • Kakkepadavu
  • Kuluru & Surathkal
  • Uppinangadi
  • Venur

Where to witness Kambala:

Kambala schedule will be available in local media and certain private websites. When you visit coastal Karnataka towns of Mangaluru, Udupi, Moodabidire during winter and summer months check with your local hosts/hotel staff to help you find the nearest or next Kambala event that you can visit. Most Kambala events are free to visit and run for several hours/overnight.