The journey of the 5thleg of Maruti Suzuki National Super League TSD Rally Championship 2016(MS-NStrdRC) – Rally of Arunachal concluded in Dambuk with Jagmeet Gill and Chandan Sen emerging as champions. The ceremony was graced by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Pema Khandu at the Orange festival, Dambuk.
Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Vinay Pant, Asst. Vice President, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said, “The adrenaline-charged TSD rally championship has witnessed some extremely enthusiastic rallyists, exuding zest and passion. This is the first time that North East India was chosen for any Maruti Suzuki motorsports activity and we are overwhelmed with the response. We are extremely glad that the rally coincided with the Orange Festival of Adventure and Music adding to the excitement of the participants.”
Cherishing his win, Mr. Jagmeet Gill said, “It was one of the quaintest destinations I have been to. We are glad to have conquered the undulating terrain and witnessed the music festival on the side-lines too. We are looking forward to the final leg in Gujarat and maintain the winning streak.”
Final results with total penalties:
- First – Jagmeet Gill & Chandan Sen– 00:07:18
- Second – Ali Ajgar & MustafaMohd– 00:08:41
- Third – Sachin Singh & M Prakash– 00:12:48
Covering a distance of over 700kms from Itanagar to Dambuk, the rally saw over 40 participants competing for the title. The route’s mix of well paved tarmac, dirt trails and stone festooned river beds snaked through the beautiful countryside of Arunachal Pradesh, with the Himalayan foothills always in the backdrop. We were proud to be a part of the media entourage, so here’s a pictorial report that sums up this incredible event:
But first, here’s the itinerary of the small format TSD rally championship (3 days rally), specially designed to encourage young and new motorsports enthusiasts.
The journey began with a flight from Mumbai to Guwahati, with a stopover in Kolkata.
Our trusty steed for the entire journey posing before the 8+ hour ride from Guwahati Airport to Itanagar.
Catching the sunset on the outskirts of Guwahati.
Food at a dhaba after crossing Tezpur (Assam); note distinct Bengali influence in the cuisine.
Blurry. En route to Itanagar from Guwahati in the dead of night.
Waiting for the permit to get validated at the Assam-Arunachal border; yes you need one to get into AP.
Waking up to beautiful Itanagar.
Digging into a bunch of pork momos in Itanagar before the rally was flagged off.
The cars waiting to be flagged off at the Arunachal Pradesh Secretariat in Itanagar.
This DC Avanti stopped by, and needless to say, attracted the most eyeballs.
..along with this stretched DC Design Toyota Fortuner. (This modified Toyota Fortuner stretch will set you back by a whopping INR 70 lakh!)
The ceremonial flag-off from Arunachal Pradesh Secretariat.. (Read more about it here – Official: Maruti Suzuki Rally of Arunachal flagged off from Itanagar)
..where Hon’ble Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Pema Khandu was present.
That’s one brave little Alto.
With the ceremonial flag-off done, we paid a quick visit to the enchanting Gompa Monastery in Itanagar..
..with its Buddhist mural enveloped walls and..
..its cute Chorten.
We caught the sunset from Gompa Monastery, and trudged down from the hill into the final Itanagar night.
All the participants, officials, organisers and media representatives round up for the press conference and briefing session at the Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok in Itanagar
Early next morning, the rally actually commenced from Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok, and thus began Day 1.
Meanwhile, we followed them at our own pace, entering Assam (again) and gorging on some luchi and omlettes for breakfast.
Assamese roads are great; but not this one.
A Gypsy from Meghalaya negotiating a rough stretch on Day 1.
As mentioned before, Assamese roads are great (en route to Dambuk, Arunachal Pradesh on Day 1).
Entering Arunachal again (this time via Pasighat), only to be greeted with scenes like these.
With Dambuk in our sights, we gallop towards Orange County (more on that later).
Right before Dambuk we make our way over a dirt road through tall ferns…
..that opened up into this massive, dry river bed over which the road trudged on.
Here’s more of that river bed.
And here’s the actual river, gurgling with water that’s cleaner that your Aquaguard’s output.
These orchards prove that Dambuk is indeed ‘Orange County’.
Stopping for a quick bite just before Dambuk..
..where this cherub posed as his little brother got a haircut.
Night falls early in this part of the country. This was at 4.30 PM in the evening.
Before we headed to our camping site in Dambuk and called it a day, we passed the Orange Festival gates.
Wakey wakey! These tents were our home for the next two days (at the Artists’ Village set up by the organisers of Orange Festival).
The view from our camp site blew me away the next morning (Day 2).
Day 2 involved rallying in and around Dambuk itself, a route of 120 KM.
The cars lined up in Dambuk on Day 2, the final day.
After Day 2’s action we paid a visit to Orange Festival’s venue that has be one of the best settings for a music festival.
Gorging on some pork noodles during soundcheck.
Before the festival began for the day, we headed to explore the river bed that had fascinated us earlier.
Mad scenes: Locals enjoying a picnic with a bonfire, some chicken and some brew..
..as our brew chilled in the river.
As the sun started to dip, we lit up our own fire, with some chicken to go along with it.
One of the best meals I’ve ever had..
..and one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The fire continued unfazed, fuelled by the relentless, crisp breeze.
Bidding goodbye to the sun, we left for the Orange Festival.
The Orange Festival in its second day – with Shubangi Joshi and Collective from Mumbai opening the act, and Frisky Pints from New Delhi ending it.
The next day, Mr. Pema Khandu arrived at the camp/Artists’ Village in Dambuk, and held discussions with Mr. Vinay Pant, Asst. Vice President, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
And I must say, he’s one of the coolest Chief Ministers you’ll ever see.
At the Orange Festival later in the evening, he was felicitated ahead of the prize distribution ceremony.
Champions Jagmeet Gill and Chandan Sen being awarded during the the prize distribution ceremony.
And here’s Team Maruti posing, marking the end of the Maruti Suzuki Rally of Arunachal.
Finally, here’s Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen plucking at his guitar’s strings and sending the metal-crazy crowd into a frenzy.
With Malmsteen doing his thing along with his band, we headed back to the camp, and thus ended our final day in Dambuk.
We left for Dibugarh airport early next morning, and here’s the final sunrise we see in the North East.
We arrive at the mighty Brahmaputra River, and since the Bogibeel bridge (in the backdrop) is yet to be completed, our convoy had to be transported via ferry.
The Bogibeel bridge, a combined road and rail bridge in the Dibrugarh district of Assam, is expected to be completed in 2017.
Upon completion, the Bogibeel bridge will be almost 5 KM long, thus becoming the third longest bridge in the country.
Finally, we arrive at Dibugarh airport in Assam, and take our respective flights back home. I’ve tried to covey as much as I could of the entire experience through these images, but I’m afraid they’ve fallen short. Sadly, they don’t convey the bonfires we lit at the camp and the amazing people we encountered as they came to warm themselves, or the beautiful music that still ring in my ears, or the lovely camaraderie between the participants. They don’t convey the incessant gurgle of the rivers that bear crystal clear waters, or the calm of wilderness untarnished by civilisation. Arunachal, Maruti Suzuki Rally, and Orange Festival – you were amazing, and here’s to next time!
The Maruti Suzuki National Super League TSD Rally Championship moves to Gujarat next, with the Desert Storm in January 2017.