Sahil Lodha - Well of Death Riders

Well of Death Riders

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 about 25 feet high and 30 feet across. The cars are held in the air by centripetal force and 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


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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.

Though originally performed all over the world, riding a bike on a vertical wall can now only be seen live in the “Land of contrasts” and it makes visiting the place even more tempting. The stunt is old so you’d imagine India’s bike riders have honed and perfected it to the highest level. Actually, the Well of Death – as the arena is referred to – isn’t just a marketing ploy.

Riding on incredibly old bikes that haven’t seen maintenance since they left the factory, the Indian bikers ride with absolutely no safety gear at break neck speeds. The walls on which they ride are vertical and built from salvaged wood.

he structure is far from strong, safe or reliable, but it doesn’t seem to be phasing the death defying stuntmen. 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 breathtaking experiences you can have as a spectator.

Django Django – WOR from Jim Demuth on Vimeo.







This image is a part of my photo series on the Well of Death riders who risk life and limb daily to earn money at local fairs by driving cars and motorcycles inside a temporary cylindrical structure about 25 feet high and 30 feet across. The cars are held in the air by centripetal force and needless to say there’s very little room for error.

The Well of Death is extremely risky for both performers and the audience, but regardless, it frequently draws a huge crowd. 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 breathtaking experiences you can have as a spectator.

I was perched dangerously close to these riders to get the perspective i needed.



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