Children of the Chinar Season 2, Special series on young achievers of Kashmir, off-road warriors
This is the fourth in our second series of stories about young Kashmiri achievers. This one is on a unique Kashmiri off-roading company. For a terror-ridden region for more than two decades, these companies are a breath of fresh air and the reason why the region got 16 million tourists in the last one year.
A convoy of off-roaders as part of a trip organised by Kashmir Off Road.
Kashmir Off Road is Kashmir’s first ever motor-sport outfit and off-road adventure, developing and promoting motorsport and overland travel in Jammu and Kashmir. The founder of this company is a couple, Ali Sajid and Farah Zaidi, who created this company to help adventure lovers travel to the remotest, most exciting parts of the Himalayan region, blending sports and tourism.
Since its establishment in 2017, Kashmir Off Road has been successful in establishing a strong social network of motorsport and off-road enthusiasts in India and throughout the world, which is constantly growing.
While also giving young individuals a place to start their sports careers, Kashmir Off Road is having a positive impact on the valley. Many young individuals from the region have been introduced to and trained by Kashmir Off Road to participate in motorsports. Women are also encouraged to join the community. Several young men have competed and won in national and international motorsports events. The events are a huge success and receive widespread international, national, and regional attention.
As the goal of motor-sport events is to introduce the youth to this sport, organizing events on a budget has been difficult. While obtaining sponsorships has also been difficult, receiving funds from the government to train young individuals has equally been difficult. Despite the odds, Kashmir Off Road has successfully had 50 large and minor events since 2017.
Farha Zaidi defines the purpose of the company in this manner, “We would like to see the youth getting engaged in competitive motor-sport which we are also promoting. Many youngsters are taking part in competition events not only in Kashmir but participating in events outside Kashmir.”
Kashmir Off Road hosts several events and overland adventures, including bespoke overland expeditions to the Western Himalayas and the most remote regions, motor-sport events, and a car and bike show in Kashmir. The events also include a vintage car show.
Kashmir Off Road's events are supported by the Jammu and Kashmir government, police, and army, which work closely with them. Additionally, it collaborates closely with J&K Tourism to promote lesser-known tourist attractions in Kashmir, thereby generating sustainable tourism opportunities and a means of support for the locals.
Kashmir Off Road adheres completely to the Tread Lightly guidelines. Their off-road driving events are environmentally friendly and adhere to rigorous rules. They observe ethical off-road practices and leave no traces behind.
They also have their merchandise where there are products like cups, t-shirts, hoodies and caps.
Ali Sajid's main purpose was to equate off-road travel with overland travel, which includes off-road travel. Overlanding is self-sufficient travel to remote locations where the journey is the primary goal. These journeys frequently include travel on rough and gravel roads. Such trips are designed to involve visitors in a location's culture, people, beauty, and distinctiveness.
Sajid said they we started in 2017 with the aim to introduce 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 to provide 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. We 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,” added Sajid.
According to the co-founder of Kashmir Off Road, Farha Zaidi, Kashmir is a paradise for overlanding and off-roading. She stated that there are a lot of isolated areas that can only be traveled through by road. Since these locations lack paved or metalized roads, making the use of 4 x 4s and off-road vehicles necessary. A wonderful example of such a location ready for exploration by the adventure traveler is Chakwali in the Gurez region of Kashmir, said the founders of Kashmir Off Road.
Overlanding and off-roading require traveling to remote and unseen destinations. Kashmir Off Road’s endeavor to visit off-beat places in Kashmir is with an intention to create 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.