Inaugural Tawangchu Tides International Kayaking Championship in Arunachal enthralls locals

The event was held from February 6-9


The spirit of Sir Edmund Hillary, who had a special connection with India, would be smiling from the heavens, even as more than 50 kayakers from across the globe put up an enthralling show at the first-ever world kayaking championship held in Arunachal Pradesh from February 6-9. The many manoeuvres through the unforgiving rapids of Tanwanchu River in Dongshengmang put the locals in awe.

The inaugural Tawangchu Tides International Kayaking Championship is another feather in the cap of India’s rapid strides in the realm of sports adventures. A first-of-its-kind, the idea of the festival originated a few months ago, when the founders Gaurav, Smita, Manishankar and Charanjiv were on a birding trip to Hanle, Ladhak. “We pitched the idea first to close friends and some known marketing experts. Then we found a way to Union minister Kiren Rijiju. He was so enthused by the idea that he insisted we conduct the inaugural in the current season itself,” said one of the founders.

The way to Dongshengmang is tough. One has to go through the snow-covered Sela Pass to reach the remote village of Bongleng. The tough terrain was an added challenge to the organisers in terms of getting equipment and coordinating the entire affair. Despite the difficulties, more than 50 participants from across the world made it to the championship which started on February 6.

Posting a welcome message on social media, Kiren Rijiju, Union minister for earth sciences said, “With immense pride, I extend a warm welcome to all participants taking part in the inaugural international kayaking festival in the enchanting land of Arunachal Pradesh. Known for being a land of many adventures, I wish you all a new and exciting journey at the first Kayaking Championship – Tawangchu Tides. May your time here be filled with exhilarating adventures and unforgettable experiences.”

The championship began with a traditional prayer by monks from the Tawang Monastery in the presence of the local deputy commissioner. Race director Charanjiv Kalha noted that the event was not merely a competition but a vision. “The goal is to not only promote kayaking locally but also position Arunachal Pradesh as a global hub for kayaking with aspirations to host future world championships.”

He thanked the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu for supporting the championship. “His endorsement adds a layer of prestige, firmly establishing the championship in the heart of Arunachal Pradesh,” Kalha said.

The championship consisted of three races – the Down River Sprint, Giant Slalom, and Boater Cross races. As many as 16 kayakers made it to the final round, Boater Cross, on day 3 of the competition.

To promote the sport, a special section was carved out for amateur kayakers. “The amateurs were happy to be part of an event of this level. After some last-minute coaching and mentoring tips on how to navigate the amateur section, the amateurs really came out all guns blazing and surprised the participants with their skills,” said one of the organisers.

After the completion of the amateur race came the last round. “The Boater Cross was a high-energy race that pitted kayakers against each other in a thrilling battle downstream. This race combined the speed of a sprint with the chaos of a cross-country obstacle course,” said one of the participants.

“Multiple kayakers navigated the tumultuous waters simultaneously, jostling for position and maneuvering through strategically placed gates.”

At the end of the highly competitive final round, Daria Kuzishcheva from Russia became the 2024 Women Champion and Elizabeth Vincent was awarded the top woman Indian kayaker. Devi Dada from Arunachal won the local kayaking championship. Among men, Amity Thapa from Uttarakhand did a complete sweep of the top awards and was crowned the Champion Kayaker 2024 Tawangchu Tides.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp