Shillong, Oct 2: The Megha Kayak Fest is returning this month for its sixth edition on the challenging Umtrew River in Ri-Bhoi from 12th to 14th October.
The international white water kayaking competition will be held near Umtham village and is being organised by the Ri-Bhoi Water Sports & Tourism Cooperative Society in collaboration with the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs and Meghalaya Tourism.
The MKF began in 2016 and has only grown since then, though it was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic before returning last year. In this time it has become one of the biggest adventure sports festivals in the country and has made Ri-Bhoi a popular destination for kayakers from all over the world, helped by the publication of the Meghalaya Rivers Guidebook as well as many spectacular video reels on social media.
The festival will comprise two events – Downriver Sprint, and the Indian National Championship for Canoe Slalom Cross, which is open for all international paddlers to compete in.
Prize money is around Rs 16 lakh this year and a large number of whitewater kayakers from around the world are expected to participate; last year there were around 100 participants in total.
This year the organisers have collaborated with the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association, which is recognised by the International Canoe Federation for kayaking, whitewater rafting and slalom events in India.
The competition will feature events for professional and intermediate kayakers and with a special category of prizes for the best paddlers of the Indian subcontinent.
Addressing a press conference today, Ian Vincent of Shillong Whitewater Village said that there are 15 young kayakers from Meghalaya who have picked up the sport in a short amount of time and such an event will increase their exposure and develop them in the sport.
The aim of this festival is to promote adventure tourism and help establish Meghalaya as one of the major water sports destinations in the world. Earlier this year, the Chief Minister launched the ‘Meghalaya Rafting’ initiative to promote the sport in the state.