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‘Expedition India Will Be A Game Changer For Kashmir’

Expedition India Adventure Race Opening Ceremony which will take place in Srinagar at the Sher-I-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) is the racing marathon to look for this September. The expedition is located along the boulevard that encircles the World Famous Dal Lake.

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The concept of the expedition racing is simple. Teams will participate in a prologue on the local “Shikara boats” ensuring lots of local attraction and interaction with the local community. Thereafter, teams will be transported over the most incredible Himalayan Mountains to Leh, Ladakh.

Leh is hinged on a 3200 metres plateau along the Indus valley and by the time teams reach this altitude they would be acclimatized. Disciplines include: mountain biking, trekking, river rafting, rope work and orienteering. Teams are expected to navigate using a map and landmarks and must be able to operate in harsh remote environments in all weather conditions. They travel through day and night, they can decide if, when and where to rest. Teams are also required to complete the entire expedition distance together (always within hearing and visual distance of each other), helping and assisting each other. The first team to complete all the Expedition legs and visiting all the control points will be declared the winner.

In an exclusive interview with BW Applause Sandeep Kalia, President Bharitya Adventure Racing Federation Of India talks about the idea, concept and the outcomes of the first ever such race in India. Edited excerpts from his interview.

What kind of an event are you expecting from a partnership between Kinetic and BARFI and Rimo expedition?

This is the first time in India that there is a collaboration between an international adventure racing company Kinetic and Barfi (Bhartiya Adventure Racing Federation of India) and Rimo expedition which is the best adventure company in India and based out of Ladakh and they will give logistic support. This will be a mega event where teams from over 20 countries are likely to participate.

Jammu and Kashmir being the troubled state that it is at the moment, what are the safety precautions for the participants?

It is the perception of people living out of the valley that it is a troubled state. The people of Kashmir and Ladakh are wonderful hosts and are waiting to welcome us all. But the state government is making all necessary arrangements for the teams and officials to be safe and well secured by the army police and central security forces as there are going to be two teams from the Indian armed forces likely to participate vis a vis, BSF team and the marine commandos team of Indian navy.

What sort of experience are you looking forward to create with this for India?

We would like to take this race around India and have a world championship in India in 2022. The event will be widely telecasted around the world promoting Indian heritage and culture along with the adventure racing event which will surely become a great tourism promoter in the coming years since the race will cover various aspects of Indian geography, culture, flora and fauna covering the mighty Himalayas, the lively rivers in the north, deserts in the west, wild life and national parks in the east and oceanic adventures down south.

Will you in anyway promote the upcoming travel industry in India especially in the state of J&K? Any specific boost for women travelers?

The international race director is a lady and we have international media and team women members and as stated above the event will mark a special day in tourism promotion in India.

What kind of support and assurance have you received from J&K government?

The Jammu and Kashmir government J&K tourism and J&K bank have agreed to support this mega event. In fact the J&K government is the official partner for the event and we are extremely thankful, grateful to the Hon’ble Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Jammu and Kashmir administration along with the Jammu and Kashmir bank for their whole hearted support to make this event a mega success.

Why did you choose J&K for the expedition given the troubled conditions in the state?

This race will be a game changer in terms of letting the world know that Kashmir is a safe place to travel. What can be more adventurous than being in Kashmir? An expedition will witness the trek amongst the highest terrains in the world, rafting at the mighty Indus River, cycling on the highest motor able roads in the world by the snowcapped mountains.

How many winners will be there and what is in store for winners?

There will be first, second and third position and the team that wins will get a free entry to expedition; Africa in May next year along with the annual trophy starting from this event called the Incredible India cup along with prize money.

What is the idea behind “Expedition India”?

To replicate expedition Africa and bringing other adventure racing events across the world at short intervals making India the adventure racing expedition hub of the world.

Those who did not participate this year, why should they be a part of it next year or the years to come?

The grand success of this event will surely make those envy who could not make it this year.

Any message for the participants or the potential participants next year?

I believe India is the soul of earth and who has missed it they can never know what adventure really is. Who make it they would surely say what an amazing adventure it is, Jai Bharat.


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