Treading Unexplored Destinations

Kashmir Magazine

Sajad Lone

Treading through steep inclines, sand and mud, a couple carrying India's premier off-road adventure, motor-sport outfit “Kashmir Off Road” gives riders a real thrill as they manoeuvre over unpaved ground to promote sport and tourism together.

Established in 2017, “Kashmir Off Road” started to develop and promote motor-sport and overland travel in Jammu and Kashmir and beyond. Kashmir Off Road is making a positive difference in the valley, and at the same time providing a platform for youngsters to take up the sport.

Since its inception in early 2017, Kashmir Off Road has successfully established a strong social community of motor-sport and off-road enthusiasts in India and abroad which is growing by the day.

The signature events include FrozenRush, Mudzilla, Evolution —vintage car show, regional and international overland expeditions have been a great success garnering extensive international, national and regional coverage.

Off Road works closely with J&K government, police, army and all the events are facilitated by these agencies and organizations.

It also works closely with J&K Tourism in promoting unknown tourist destinations of Kashmir, hence creating sustainable tourism opportunities and livelihood for the locals.

As part of their endeavour to empower the youth of J&K, Kashmir Off Road members are setting examples as role models in the local communities.

It has introduced and trained many youngsters to take up motor-sport in the region. They also encourage women in the region to be part of the community as well. Some of the boys have participated and won national and international motor-sporting competitions

Ali Sajid, founder of Kashmir Off Road, says they would like to connote off-road to overland travel and off-road is a part of it.

“Over landing is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal which is mostly accomplished with mechanized off-road capable vehicles. Such journeys usually involve driving on non-paved and dirt roads. The idea behind such journeys is to explore the culture, its people, landscape and uniqueness of that place.”

While narrating the journey, Sajid said that they started back in 2017 with the aim of introducing overland travel in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have conducted many overland expeditions in and around Kashmir. We have also organized motor-sport events with the aim of providing a platform for youngsters to take up the sport and also provided an opportunity to enthusiasts to compete in national and international events. Our club members have competed and won in international motor-sport events too.”

He added that they also conduct the Kashmir car and bike show, which offers a platform to petrol heads, car and bike enthusiasts and build on an automotive culture in the region.

Farah Zaidi, director PR and co-founder Kashmir Off Road explains Kashmir a haven for over landing and off-roading.

She said that there are many remote places which can only be explored by road. “Such destinations may not have metalled or paved roads, hence the use of 4x4 and off-road vehicles become inevitable. A destination like Chakwali in Gurez is a good example of such destination waiting to be explored by an adventure traveller.”

She added that with regards to motor-sport events, the idea is to provide a platform for the sport and introduce youngsters to it.

“Conducting events on tight budgets has been challenging. Getting sponsorships has been challenging. Funding to train youngsters for motor-sport and getting governments attention has been a challenge. In spite of the odds we have successfully conducted close to 50 big and small events since 2017,” she said.

Off-road adventure and overlanding involves travelling to remote and unseen destinations.

She said that their endeavour to visit off-beat places in Kashmir is with an intention of creating awareness about sustainable tourism practices by involving local communities and encouraging home stays.

“This not only paves way for responsible tourism and at the same time is a source of livelihood for locals.”

She added that they would like to see the youth getting engaged in competitive motor-sport which they are also promoting.

“Many youngsters are talking part in competition events not only in Kashmir but participating in events outside Kashmir too,” she said.