Up Close: Wall of Death

The stuntmen of Allahabad, north India, risk their lives daily by riding motorbikes around vertical walls made from salvaged wood. Defying gravity through sheer momentum, they create a vertiginous, noisy whirl of action to enthrall the crowds.

  • Words + Photography: Sahil Lodha

This image is from a project on the wall of death riders in Allahabad, a city in north India, who every day risk life and limb to earn money at local fairs. It is extremely risky for both the performers and audience members, but always draws a huge crowd. The first time I saw it I was completely captivated, and I wanted to capture that experience in this series. Riding ancient bikes that look as if they haven’t been maintained since they left the factory, the stuntmen drive at breakneck speeds on vertical walls built from salvaged wood.

The stuntmen drive at breakneck speeds on vertical walls built from salvaged wood.

But as if these stunts weren’t crazy enough, and the walls not rickety enough, the stuntmen place themselves in even greater peril by driving cars around the walls as well. Everything is fast, loud and dangerous. It’s one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve ever had.

Sahil Lodha is a photographer based in London

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