12th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Well of death riders
This photo project is about
Allahabad’s Well of Death riders who risk life and limb daily to earn money at local melas (fairs) by driving cars and motorcycles inside a temporary cylindrical structure. Needless to say, there’s very little room for error. The Well of Death is extremely risky for both performers and audience members, but regardless, it frequently draws a huge crowd.
The show involves a temporary cylindrical structure about 25 feet high and 30 feet in diameter, or wider when cars are to be involved, built of hardwood planks. The audience stands upon the platform built around the circumference of the structure and gaze down into the well where the motorcyclists or cars drive.
Riding on incredibly old bikes that haven’t seen maintenance since they left the factory, the bikers ride with absolutely no safety gear at break neck speeds. The walls on which they ride are vertical and built from salvaged wood.
The “Well of Death” showmen ride their bikes in tandem, sideways, with no hands and other such dangerous feats. And as if those stunts weren’t crazy enough and the wall not rickety enough, the stuntmen have managed to include cars in the show. Everything is fast, loud and incredibly dangerous. This simply makes the show one of the most breathtaking experiences you can have as a spectator.
© Sahil Lodha.
All rights reserved.
||Nov. 20, 2014, 12:59 p.m.
||Canon EOS 50D