By Ken Hegan for MSN

This video gave me chills.

At Indian fun fairs, some ferris wheels are powered by the sweat of human daredevils.


No gas. No electricity.

Just young male wallahs (let’s call them carnies) who take turns climbing up the rickety old ferris wheel. Then they leap and grab onto a bar, using their weight to whip the ferris wheel around and deposit them back on Earth. Repeat, over and over again, until night falls or they do.

If you missed the video posted on MSN last week, see it here. Seriously, check this video out.

It was shot at a fun fair in New Delhi and it’s fascinating, hypnotic, and kind of nerve-wracking to watch.



Now, you might think these carnivals are green, eco-friendly operations that hate to waste fossil fuels. Or maybe you think they’re low-dough shows that can’t afford to waste fossil fuels.

The truth is that India is often plagued with massive power failures and blackouts. So it’s no surprise to see them demonstrate a ‘The show must go on’ mentality. According to Oddity Central, some fairs in India and Asia “use generators or even car batteries to power ferris wheels, but the simplest and most cost-effective way to keep people entertained is to hire a couple of daredevils to climb a manual ferris wheel and dangle from its metal bars to keep it spinning.”


I like how Adam Hodge describes the Indian acrobats in the Gadling:

“They say you can reach a meditative state through repetition. Who is to say if that’s the case here, but the white-shirted gentleman certainly appears to be in the zone.”


The acrobatic wallahs are definitely impressive. But I’d really be wowed if they inspired North American carnies to follow suit.

Here’s one example: a plumber named Paul Cesewski unveiled aa 907 kilogram, 6-meter-tall human-powered ferris wheel at Burning Man (of course).

So it’s not out of the question to wonder if we could get ALL RIDES at North American amusement parks to be powered only by human muscles and sweat.

Bumper cars would be a helluva lot more fun if your car was powered by a scared little guy sprinting beside you. Or picture a sweat-powered Hellevator at the PNE Playland in Vancouver. What if the Hellevator was powered by a hundred employees chained to a turbine in an underground mineshaft?

How about a human-powered rollercoaster?! What if the Leviathan, Canada’s longest wooden coaster, was powered by hundreds of teenagers hanging off tall scaffolding, who leapt at your rollercoaster and kicked it down the track and then fell down, down, down to the (hopefully padded) fairground below.

That would be INCREDIBLE. I bet people would pay a premium just to watch the inevitable mistakes.

What do you think about the high-flying Indian carnies?

— Ken Hegan

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan