A bumpy cacophonous ride, and still smiling in Zariwada, village of Mangrol block, Junagadh district, Gujarat: atop a contraption called the chakada. This vehicle is often seen in rural Saurashtra or in the Kachchh region of Gujarat. It's a unique low-cost ride that is vital to the socioeconomic life of the people of rural parts of the state.

Built locally with the engine of a diesel-run Bullet, it resembles the motorcycle from the front. And at the back, mounted on two wheels, is a cart.

This local patchwork or jugaad , despite its peculiar shape and size, does many things: it carries commuters, facilitates marketing and the procurement of farm and non-farm produce, and, of course, drops and fetches children from school.

Want to transport something? The chakada is ready with a kick start or rope start, and it comes with its own loud and distinctive sound.

Till the 1980s, rural transportation in Saurashtra mainly relied on traditional cattle carts. Then a local innovator is said to have recast the golf carts scrapped by the Maharaja of Jamnagar. And thus the chakada appeared on the roads of rural Saurashtra.

The chakada is perfect for people who cannot afford the luxury of expensive trucks or other goods vehicles, especially when their produce is small in size and quantity. But chakada s also manage to carry large loads of coconut, hay, fertilisers, vegetables – and commuters. So much so that it makes you wonder what is the maximum load that the contraption can carry...

chakada ride costs a commuter-friendly Rs. 5 to Rs. 20. So the next time you are in Saurashtra, do look out  for this vehicle. It's in vogue, and a part of the local commuting culture. Besides, you must not miss out on that terrific and long-lasting hangover from the chakada 's booming 'silencer'.

Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh works at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme on projects related to sustainable agriculture and conservation of natural resources, in Mangrol town of Junagadh district.

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