• The idea was to organise an offroading event for the first time in the foothills of the Shivaliks in which even the first-timers driving 4X4 wheel drive SUVs could participate without much hesitation, just to make them experience the adrenaline rush. The response to the two-day event, ‘Shivalik Adventure Drive’, organised by the Punjab Forest Development Corporation and state Tourism Department in association with a professional group Gerrari Offroaders from July 8-9, surpassed the expectations. As against a cap of 50 participants, the organisers had to squeeze in three more on persistent demand.

Among the 53 teams of drivers and co-drivers which participated at least 40 percent were first-timers ranging from 18 years (students) to 60 years. Most of the rest were not regulars, but those who had a past experience of doing dirt tracks. There were just a couple of professionals, including a retired colonel. Two of the drivers were women, though a few more women took the co-driver’s seat. Four vehicles had differently abled – hearing and speech impaired – participants. The adventurers came from as far as Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Delhi, Ellanabad in Haryana and Jalandhar.

Photo Credits : Bhavna Sharma

Padamjit Singh Chauhan, founder member of Gerrari Offroaders, told lifeinchandigarh.com, that barring 3-4 breakdowns, the event passed off remarkably smoothly, with no injuries whatsoever. Out of the breakdowns two were tyre bursts, which were repaired and the teams continued on the track,  but one vehicle had to be towed away. Barring this one vehicle all the other completed the adventure, he added.

The food on both days was sumptuous Punjabi with typical ghee-shakkar, makhani dal, and all. The hospitality of the Forest Department was excellent. Five lucky winners, decided purely by a draw of lots, won free trips abroad. Ishwinder Singh from Nawanshahr won a Dubai trip, Sumit Katyal from Delhi will be off to Bali, Deepak Bagga from Yamunanagar will take a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Jaspal Tiwana will enjoy a Dubai sojourn, and Karanjot Singh from Mohali will get to visit Malaysia.

Padamjit felt that for a first time, the event could be termed as a big success. The track was good enough. Most part of it was deliberately kept simple with the first timers in mind, but it had a fair share of tricky points as well ... some could negotiate it, others couldn’t and had to find another way up, he shared.

“Now that we have made a successful start, with the fullest involvement and cooperation from the forest and tourism departments, we would like to explore the possibility of organising bigger and more challenging events moving forward. There are a lot of untapped areas in the state which can be identified and developed as offroading tracks, Ropar, Talwara and Harike areas being some of them. There could be another event coming up in Winters,” informed Padamjit.

Allaying the apprehensions of environmentalists, he said the tracks will be fianlised with care to ensure that the offroading activity does not harm the flora and fauna of the area.

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