OR­ANGE FES­TI­VAL

Ever thought a lit­tle known place, cut off from the main­lands for six months of the year could host one of the best ad­ven­ture and mu­sic fes­ti­vals? Wel­come to Dam­buk!

Evo India - - CONTENTS - WORDS by AJINKYA NAIR PHO­TOG­RA­PHY by JK Tyre

All the ac­tion from JK Tyre Or­ange Fury 4x4 and

Or­ange Fes­ti­val of Ad­ven­ture and Mu­sic

DDAMBUK. A PLACE SO iso­lated get­ting there is an ad­ven­ture in it­self. Sit­u­ated in the Lower Dibang Val­ley, the dis­tance from Guwa­hati air­port is 650 odd kilo­me­tres but can eas­ily take more than 19 hours ow­ing to the gru­elling ter­rain, river cross­ings and non-ex­is­tent tar­mac in many places. But luck­ily for us, we could skip all this as eas­ily as skip­ping an ad­ver­tise­ment on YouTube, what with a he­li­copter wait­ing to fly us over the spec­tac­u­lar (from the air!) land­scape in to Dam­buk.

Dam­buk lies dor­mant for the most part of the year but when the JK Tyre Or­ange 4x4 Fury, run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the Or­ange Fes­ti­val of Ad­ven­ture & Mu­sic (OFAM) rocks into town, it makes sure all wave­lengths of the sound spec­trum are ex­er­cised. From the grunt­ing of of­froad ve­hi­cles stuck half­way be­tween the lengths of the river to the sweet rock mu­sic ring­ing in your ears from the artist stage, the event made sure that bore­dom was con­tained miles away. The dense rain for­est that rings Dam­buk and the many trib­u­taries of the iconic Brahma­pu­tra river make the re­gion al­most in­ac­ces­si­ble dur­ing the mon­soon. So much so, the lo­cals use ele­phants for trans­port dur­ing that time. “For six months, the area be­comes al­most in­ac­ces­si­ble. But we de­cided to turn that into a good thing and host such an event,” said Lhakpa Tser­ing, pres­i­dent of Mo­tor Sports Club of Arunachal.

Now, mo­tor­sport isn’t the first thing that pops into mind when the North-East is men­tioned, is it? But when you visit this part of In­dia you re­alise that it’s like the cre­ator him­self hand­built this vast piece of land ren­der­ing an off-road en­thu­si­asts’ wet dream. From the chilly rivers to the roads snaking through the hills and to no roads at all, there’s miles of un­charted ter­ri­tory and un­ex­plored ter­rain in this won­der­land. I chat­ted with Aditya Mein and Uj­jal Namshom, mem­bers of the Man­ab­hum Off-Road Club of Arunachal (MOCA), who gave me an in­sight into the off-road­ing scene in the North-East. These lo­cal lads have been brav­ing this spec­tac­u­lar yet in­hos­pitable ter­rain for as long as they can re­mem­ber. They started off by ex­plor­ing trails and found places where their ve­hi­cles wouldn’t reach. That’s how they started mod­i­fy­ing them. The boys were never into rac­ing but Lhakpa pushed the lo­cal lads into com­pet­i­tive sport. The best part is that all the mem­bers of MOCA are cousins so it’s all brotherly com­pe­ti­tion be­tween them. They swear by the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy and have gone through crazy lengths to make it race-ready. Since the parts re­quired for mod­i­fi­ca­tions aren’t eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble they have to source them from far­away places and mod­i­fy­ing a ve­hi­cle to in­sane-specs can cost up­wards of 25 lakh ru­pees. “The scene is grow­ing sig­nif­i­cantly, all thanks to Lhakpa, Abu Tayeng, and of course JK Tyre. If they wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be here,” says a grate­ful Aditya.

This was the fourth edi­tion of the Or­ange Fes­ti­val of Ad­ven­ture & Mu­sic and the flag off for the JK Tyre Or­ange 4x4 Fury was the high­light of day one. Also on show was a breath­tak­ing stunt per­for­mance by Gau­rav Kha­tri on his dirt bike.

This ul­ti­mate nat­u­ral of­froad­ing event took place in the dense rain forests of Arunachal

Held over a span of three days from De­cem­ber 1517, the event took par­tic­i­pants into the dense rain forests of Arunachal Pradesh and top clubs from across the coun­try were brought in to com­pete in this pun­ish­ing event.

Ger­rari Of­froad­ers were the hot favourites, hav­ing won the first edi­tion of the 4x4 Fury in 2015. Kabir Waraich, win­ner of the last Ul­ti­mate Desert Chal­lenge and Gurmeet Virdi, over­all win­ner in the Force Gurkha RFC In­dia 2017, made for a men­ac­ing pair. The lo­cal team, MOCA, led by Tseng Ts­ing Mein, Su­nima Mein, Meoseng Namshoom, were all set to give their best, af­ter com­ing in third last year. “They have been work­ing on their ve­hi­cles and their skills all through the year and have emerged as a force to reckon with,” said San­jay Sharma, head of JK Mo­tor­sport. The KTM JEEPERS from Kot­tayam, with vet­eran off-roader Sam Kurien at the helm, were present as well, ar­riv­ing in Dam­buk af­ter a wild 4,000km drive. And oth­ers too.

An in­ter­est­ing set of stages – Show Man, Bizari by the Swamp, Dance of the Sis­ari, Dibang Fury, Horn of Zak­tum, Dam­buk Fury and Or­ange Fury – had been laid out for the teams, with one tougher than the other.

But hard core off-road­ers weren’t the only ones hav­ing fun. For us less ad­ven­tur­ous peo­ple, there were other ac­tiv­i­ties like river raft­ing, dirt bik­ing, ATV rides in the for­est and zip-lin­ing too. Lo­cal tribal sports like archery and darts, fish­ing or cy­cling around the beau­ti­ful and serene val­ley was also on the menu, just like or­ange plucking (the best or­anges in In­dia come from these parts, hence the Or­ange Fes­ti­val) and other for­est food.

Ad­ven­ture wasn’t the only piece of the pie here. Af­ter all, it’s called the Or­ange Fes­ti­val of Ad­ven­ture and Mu­sic. And when they say mu­sic, they make sure it’s not just for name­sake. A mas­sive line up of world-known and tal­ented artists made sure that the crowds never stopped tap­ping their feet to the beat. Head­lin­ing the OFAM 2017 was the leg­endary Richie Kotzen who played in iconic bands like Poi­son, Mr Big and

They had to tackle a man-made gra­di­ent that

was twelve feet high

Win­ery Dogs in a pro­lific ca­reer. This truly re­sults in a unique fes­ti­val which amal­ga­mates mu­sic along with hard­core ad­ven­ture, and is the first of its kind in In­dia.

There is some­thing you need to know though. I hadn’t been to any­thing like this ever be­fore and the 4x4 Fury had me run­ning around fran­ti­cally to get a good look at the stages. The crowd-roar­ing, en­gine-growl­ing, oil sump-break­ing ac­tion did a num­ber on my adrenal glands and had me feel­ing like a sugar high kid in a candy store. Ger­rari Of­froad­ers proved to be the most ac­com­plished team, clinch­ing the cov­eted ti­tle and the win­ners’ purse of `2.5 lakh. Kabir Waraich and Gurmeet Singh proved to be in a dif­fer­ent league, ex­celling on each of the three days to amass 514.5 points to win the ti­tle. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Off-road­ers from Na­ga­land (AON) mus­tered 398.5 points to take sec­ond place while the home team MOCA grabbed the third po­si­tion to round off an amaz­ing show for the North-Eastern teams.

And with that, the JK Tyre Or­ange 4x4 Fury came to an end, mark­ing also the end of our stay in this place we had never heard of be­fore, but yet some­how etched it­self onto our hearts. But the thing is, there’s noth­ing es­pe­cially ex­tra­or­di­nary about Dam­buk. Just gru­elling ter­rain, river cross­ings and non-ex­is­tent tar­mac. And that’s ex­actly where the beauty of Dam­buk lies. In its rugged iso­la­tion. ⌧

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8: How hard can it be, you ask? Very hard. 9: Even the nights were spent in the dirt. 10: Vikram Mal­ho­tra of JK Tyre and fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Abu Tayeng, en­joy­ing the spec­tac­u­lar show put on by Gau­rav Kha­tri 9

3: Stand­ing too close for com­fort. 4: Gau­rav Kha­tri do­ing what he does best. 5: Slip­pery sec­tions like these de­mand ut­most con­cen­tra­tion. 6: Some­times even the best found it tough to claw their way out. 7: A by­stander watches as the Gypsy runs over the...

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1 1: I had to tilt my head side­ways to come up with a cap­tion. 2: Some­one bring me a large pro­trac­tor!

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11: Slow and steady does the job. 12: Guid­ing the driver rock-by-rock. 13: The lo­cal lads of MOCA. 14: The vic­to­ri­ous Ger­rari Of­froad­ers from Chandigarh. 11

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