Five weird and wacky races in India

By: Virgin Atlantic

March 1, 2016

In India, anything can happen when you set off on an unmarked route in a rickety rickshaw or a sturdy Ambassador. Hurtling through untamed back roads and little known villages is about endless discovery and insane thrills. But not all routes are made equal. Here are our top five weird and wacky races in India. Remember, the trick is always to “Horn OK, please”.

The Adventurists Rickshaw Run

Five weird and wacky races in India

The no fixed route Rickshaw Run leads to surreal adventures only India can offer ©

The crazy folk at The Adventurists describe the rickshaw run aptly: “A 3,500km pan-Indian adventure in a 7 horsepower glorified lawnmower”. The rickshaw (or tuk-tuk, as it’s known in some parts of the world) driver goes off on a rather hazy “un-route”, which provides only a starting point and a finish line.

The rickshaw run is a brilliant concept for it embraces the fact that you should expect the unexpected in India and nothing will go to plan. There are three runs at different times of the year: Jaisalmer to Shillong, Shillong to Cochin and Cochin to Jaisalmer. It’s every adventurist’s dream (and potentially also their worst nightmare) come true.

India’s Cup Ambassador Car Rally

Five weird and wacky races in India

A ride through colourful India deserves an equally colourful Ambassador © The Travel Scientists 

Another fantastic way to explore India is through the India’s Cup in a trusty old Ambassador (known as the Queen of the Indian roads). The route is from Goa to Chennai, so prepare yourself for merciless country roads where cows and livestock will decide if you’re worthy of crossing their territory. The rewards are sublime views over the Western ghats and along the coast, steaming cups of chai and perhaps some dodgy alcoholic concoctions made by the locals. Pimp your ride and gear up for one of the most exhilarating wacky races in India.

The team also organizes the Rickshaw Challenge, with five routes and several runs taking place over the year. Desert, palaces, coast, jungle; it’s all part of their thrilling, colourful runs.

Kila Raipur Sports Festival – India’s Rural Olympics

Five weird and wacky races in India

The Rural Olympics held in Punjab attract millions for its crazy races and endurance competitions ©

The Kila Raipur Sports Festival is the single largest sporting extravaganza in Punjab. With a stadium capacity of 40,000 this three-day rural Olympics event attracts throngs who want to witness crazy competitions like bull races and endurance tests (tractors drive over a sportsman, men carry a pile of bricks with their teeth and someone has even lifted a bike with their teeth). Sprightly 80-year-olds race across the finishing line, and tractors, dogs and mules also compete at this logic-defying event.

Snake Boat Race in Kerala

Five weird and wacky races in India

The grandeur of the Aranmula boat race can be witnessed during the Onam Festiva ©

In the backwaters of Kerala, the snake boat race is a spectacle worth travelling for. In August, Punnamada Lake blazes with colourful boats making their way across the water for the coveted Nehru Trophy. The Nehru Trophy boat race commemorates the visit of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to Alappuzha. The traditional war boats are 100-120 feet long and can hold 100 rowers. The synchronized rowing and brightly painted boats make for incredible photos!

The Deccan Cliffhanger Experience

Five weird and wacky races in India

The Deccan Cliffhanger is a hugely challenging bicycle race that tests every rider’s limit © Subhankar Dey

The Deccan Cliffhanger, an annual 640-km Ultra race from Pune to Goa on a bicycle, will test your mettle and then some. Solo racers who manage the feat within the time limit qualify for the world’s toughest bicycle race, Race Across America.

The two team categories are solo and relay. This year, The Deccan Cliffhanger will be held from 5th – 6th November 2016, starting in Pune and ending in Goa. Set on the Deccan Plateau, the route includes traversing the Sahyadri Range, dense forests that cover the cliffs of the Escarpment, and into the Konkan as it heads to the Indian Ocean. Would you dare take on this race on?

Header image ©

Book your trip to India with Virgin Atlantic to take part in one of these wacky races.

Written by Namrata Bhawnani

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic

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