DUSSHERA, DHALPUR, KULLU, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.

High risk manoeuvres.

Some 15 feet above the ground, a rickety semi oval platform made entirely out of riveted metal wire mesh blocks shake, vibrate and threaten to break apart as a daredevil on a motorcycle thrills the crowd with a series of death defying moves with apparent ease. The well of death (in Hindi: Maut ka Kuan) is a popular attraction during the Dusshera festival held in Kullu Town’s Dhalpur grounds, and has been around longer than anyone can remember.

The event begins with three motorcyclists circling up the inner wall of an ancient amphitheater style arena at high speed to perform a variety of stunts, and ends with a Maruti 800 following in close pursuit as the grand finale – sometimes with the driver popping his head, arms and torso out of the window. Dressed in casual clothes and slippers, none of the performers use any kind of safety gear including padded jackets, helmets and shin guards – lending the event its deathly name.