How to plan attending a Kambala buffalo race event? - eNidhi India Travel Blog

How to plan attending a Kambala buffalo race event?

If you have heard about the popular Kambala (buffalo race) events of coastal Karnataka and are wondering how to attend one, you are reading the right blogpost.

Kambala is held at several places all around coastal Karnataka -Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada districts between November and March. These events are of different types- few are harake Kambalas, not so serious  and conducted in open field for a few hours and some are major events held in dedicated kambala track with all the fanfare, commentary, lighting and so on. Most of the Kambala events start at evening like 4 PM onwards and go on till midnight.

How to find the upcoming Kambala event schedule?

With so many events happening, it is hard to find when and where is the next Kambala event. Below are the means to find Kambala schedule

  • Stay tuned to Kambala fans facebook page, most event updates are shared there
  • Physical banners are often put in towns about upcoming Kambala event. You may spot one while driving through or ask a local friend to keen an eye and update you
  • Locals always know. When you visit coastal Karnataka ask a few locals about next Kambala event and they might be able to guide you.
  • If you are willing to donate some money or sponsor any of the activities, organizers will be more than happy to keep you posted and also provide you some visibility and dedicated seating during the event.

Planning your visit to a Kambala race event

Once you find a date and venue of an upcoming Kamabala race that seem to work for you, you can proceed with further planning

  • Check if it is a minor or major event-search for previous year photos of the same event. If it is held in a well prepared two lane race track, if race track has an overhead ribbon (6.5 ft, 7.5 ft etc) on which water is sprayed then it is mostly a major event worth visiting. If the event photos are not impressive, the race track is just an open field then better skip that.
  • Plan your visit and stay. Most Kambala events begin in the evening and go on till late night. So you will need to plan such that you can reach by evening and go to some place to sleep post the event. Do you have a friend who can host you or would you need to book a hotel room nearby etc- plan accordingly. You don’t have to wait till late night, but the final rounds and most spectacular shows happen towards the end. You can always leave half way.
  • Keep an eye for change: Kambala event date may change due to various reasons such as covid restrictions etc. In case dates change you should have a plan B or be able to rearrange your plans

What to do and expect on the day of Kambala event?

Once you have identified the date & venue of the Kambala race, plan to reach the venue by around 5 PM. Most Kambala fields are listed on google maps so you can follow them. Once you reach the town or village where Kambala is happening, there could be banners and lighting guiding you to exact venue and anyone will guide you.

In many spots car parking can be tricky as the area is not designed to hold several cars. Either go early and find a spot or park somewhere away, take an auto for the last few kms. Many well organized Kambalas will have dedicated parking areas.

After you reach the Kambala venue you may want to find a right spot to sit, view and take photographs. This could be tricky but not impossible. The main stage is usually reserved for dignitaries. If you have high level contacts or if you are sponsoring the event in some way you may find a seat there.

The area where race ends is reserved for crew members to receive the buffaloes as they come out of race track. This area is best suited for photography but is also risky as there are lots of movements happening.

Kambala event will have multiple stages

  • Qualifiers- the initial hour or two may be spent in just qualifiers- each racing team does a trial run and time they take is counted. No race here
  • Race: Two teams race together and winner is identified
  • Finals: Best performing teams compete again for the title. Finals include splitting water to top at the ribbon and usually it will be late night by the time finals begin.

What else to expect at Kambala event other than race?

  • Some buffalo owners get their konas to the venue with grand music. You may witness their grand entry
  • There will be resting areas for the buffaloes- you may be able to pet them or take photo with them, but be careful not to do anything that aggravates them. Go closer only with consent from their caretakers.
  • Food and snacks: As thousands of people visit Kambala venue, several vendors set up stalls selling ice creams, fruits, juice and other items. You can explore them and taste a few as you please
  • Photo ops: Some photo spots could be there with fake bulls if organizers have arranged for one.
  • Photo contest: Some kambala organizers also run some competition for visitors- like best photograph may win as much as 30000 INR

Hope this helps you to plan your visit to the next Kambala event. Do ask your questions if any. My previous post on Moodubidire Kambala here. This season I have visited Ikala Bava, Manur and Yedthadi Kambalas.

Watch my Kambala video here (very close to a million views- watch on youtube)

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