Thar Visits Thar

J.Ravi

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My Raging Red Thar celebrated the dawn of 2023 at Thar desert, RJ, where it did sand dune-bashing, off-roading and visited India-Pakistan border at Tanot, war memorials at Longewala & Jaisalmer, forts at Jaisalmer, Jodhpur & Chittorgarh, Bibi ka Maqbara, Ajanta & Ellora Caves and Gol Gumbaz before returning home.

For the first time in my life, I enjoyed sand dune-bashing and off-roading, thanks to my Raging Red Thar and Rajasthan Motorsports.


We four travelled with our luggage for 15 days without fixing roof-carrier. Raging Red Thar behaved fantastic throughout the trip. No breakdown. No puncture. No problem from cops/RTO. No challans.

More details, photos and videos later.

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J.Ravi

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On 16 Nov 2022, I brought home my all time favourite : Mahindra Thar LX Petrol AT Hardtop Red Rage. From my high school days, I was dreaming of driving/riding Willys Jeep and Royal Enfield Bullet; now, both have become a reality in my lifetime, assuming Thar has the same gene and DNA of the erstwhile Willys Jeep.


Thar is my
* first 4x4, A/T tyred, genuine automatic vehicle [not counting Nexon AMT]
* second Mahindra [after XUV 5OO]
* third SUV [counting XUV 5OO and Nexon as SUVs]
* fourth petrol [after Omni/Versa/Linea]

After bringing home Thar, I drove it to Shravanabelagola, Chennai, Kundadri Hill, Agumbe Ghat, Kundapura, Maravanthe Beach, Hattiangadi and Karkala, completing 2,000 km+. But, I did not use 4x4 anywhere. During these days, whenever I start my Raging Red Thar, it used to taunt me saying, '4x4 was not engaged in 2,000 km'! To put an end to these funny opening remarks, I used to engage 4H and drive from shed to portico of my home every now and then.

When I had owned Fiat Linea [2009-2014], I took her to its birth place, Fiat plant at Ranjangaon, MH in 2010 and 2012, both these plant visits were organised by Team Fiat India. Similarly, during my ownership of Mahindra XUV 5OO [2013-2018], I drove it to Mahindra Chakan plant, MH. For Thar, I wished to drive it to its name sake, Thar desert, RJ. So, I was planning an itinerary covering Sam sand dunes, where I could use 4x4, when I stumbled into Rajasthan Motorsports's New Year Escape Jaisalmer event scheduled during 29-31 December 2022. After discussing with my family, I contacted Mr Madan Choudhary and booked for four of us.

I drew up an itinerary of 15 days and selected Bangalore>Pune>Ahmedabad>Jaisalmer for the up journey and Jaisalmer>Jodhpur>Chittorgarh>Vijayapura>Bangalore for the return journey, covering ~5,000 km for the entire trip. I was thrilled to do this trip as I could not do any mega drives in 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to Covid-19 outbreak.
We started at 3:30 am on the Christmas day [25/12/2022] from Bangalore home and arrived at Ganesh Hotel, before Hubli [383 km] by 8:10 am for breakfast. The roads were fantastic 6-lane all along. My Bangalore-Chennai drive takes 6 hours for 350 km. The Bangalore-Hubli stretch beats Bangalore-Chennai by wide margin [383 km in less than 5 hours]. Ganesh Hotel had ample parking space with good food and clean toilets.

I refuelled at BP Kottur 2 COCO pump after Hubli-Dharwad bypass. Again, I refuelled at BP COCO pump at Kognolli just before crossing into MH border as petrol price was cheaper in KA by ₹ 3 plus. Thereafter, I continued non-stop to my favourite eatery, Sai Food Court, Yelur, ~30 km after Kolhapur. I had food at this place in 2017, when I was returning from GJ by my erstwhile Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500. After this, we drove straight to Ginger Hotels, Wakad, Pune, checked in at 5:30 pm and called it a day. We ordered food from outside.

Again on the next day [26/12/2022], we checked out at 3:30 am as we wanted to cross the notorious traffic jam at Fountain Hotel junction before 7 am. But, my NaviMaps decided to give me some off-roading experience even before I reached Sam sand dunes. It was a nightmare in the night to cross Thane amidst army of trucks parked on one full carriageway. Without knowing that, I too stopped behind a truck. After a few minutes, my wife alerted me about people using the wrong side on the other opposite carriage way. After half-hour or so, I managed to take a U-turn, drive on the shoulder to reach the other carriage way. A couple of truck drivers co-operated by moving their trucks a few metres to give me space to reach the other side. Few more cars and LCVs followed me. Off-roading continued for many stretches while driving on the wrong side. Later, I came to know that trucks would be allowed to ply after 6 am and till then, they would be parked on the road, blocking the entire road. Phew, at last we came out of that dreaded stretch only to enter another terrible Bhiwandi SH to reach Shree Datta Snacks at Manor for breakfast.

After breakfasting, we continued our drive to GJ and refuelled at BP Luvara COCO pump, wherein my erstwhile Linea had petrol twice in the past. Petrol price was the lowest in GJ, competing with Pondicherry.

After lunching at Hotel Girnar, Vadodara, we entered Ahmedabad during peak hours and checked in at Fortune Landmark ITC at 6 pm and called it a day. We ordered food from outside as usual for dinner.

We visited Sabarmati Ashram on the next day [27/01/2022]. I visited this place in 2017 by my erstwhile Thunderbird 500. Here is the link:
https://www.facebook.com/ravi.jayavijayan/posts/1700109473349589
My Classic 350 Motorcycle Diaries

We left Ahmedabad on 28/12/2022 at 9 am and arrived at Hotel Fifu, Jaisalmer at 6:15 pm. We had visited Jaisalmer and stayed at the same hotel twice earlier. The next day, we visited the fort.

We arrived at Desert Glamping at Sam shortly after 4 pm.

More to come.

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J.Ravi

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THAR VISITS THAR

30 DECEMBER 2022, FRIDAY

This day was the red-lettered day for both me and my Raging Red Thar. On this day, we explored the Thar desert. We did sand dune-bashing and off-roading from morning to evening, first time for both of us [i.e., me and my Thar!].

After bellyful breakfast buffet, we drove deep into the Thar desert, far away from other tourists and motorists. Rajasthan Motorsports had taken prior permission from BSF for our exclusive drive. We were given walkie-talkie through which Mr Madan Choudhary of Rajasthan Motorsports gave instructions and guidance at regular intervals. Added to that, Rajasthan Motorsports made excellent arrangement in providing delicious, mouth-watering buffet lunch under a tree [oasis?].

Rajasthan Motorsports team took care of everything: communication, photography, food, support vehicle for rescue, and what-not. In one instance, when I was driving in 4L on a sharp bend slowly, my Thar got stuck. I tried in vain reversing, steering left and right, but nothing worked. Then, Mr Madan Choudhary and his team tried their best pushing, shaking, even that did not make my Thar come out. Finally, their rescue team winched out my Thar in few seconds! From then onwards, I drove in 4H, D-mode, maintaining momentum all along. I learnt the first lesson of off-roading in the Thar desert.


We returned to Desert Glamping for a well-earned superb buffet dinner. Yes, we were pampered with well-spread buffet of breakfast, lunch and dinner on all the days.

Now, let the pictures speak.

More to come.

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J.Ravi

100% Petrol Powered
30 DECEMBER 2022, FRIDAY [Contd.]

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31 DECEMBER 2022, SATURDAY

Another memorable day. On this day, we drove in convoy to Tanot India-Pakistan border and visited Longewala War Memorial on our way back.

The beautiful, scenic two-lane NH to Longewala and Tanot is part of Bharatmala Project https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharatmala . It was pleasure to drive on this excellent road. At Tanot, Rajasthan Motorsports arranged for our passes from BSF to visit the border. After visiting the border, we had late lunch. Rajasthan Motorsports arranged buffet at the road side. Later, we visited Longewala War Memorial https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Longewala . We returned to Desert Glamping in the night, just in time for the new year celebrations, comprising bon fire, fire works, DJ party, cake-cutting and grand dinner, which we all enjoyed in biting cold.

This was how we bade farewell to 2022 and welcomed 2023.

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More to come.
 
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J.Ravi

100% Petrol Powered
THAR VISITS THAR

1 JANUARY 2023, SUNDAY

After a sumptuous breakfast, I made my Raging Red Thar ready for yet another drive to Jodhpur. I removed some stickers from the front and rear windshields, rear windows and loaded it with our luggage. We left Desert Glamping at 11:15 am, refueled at Jaisalmer and visited Jaisalmer War Museum enroute. After a couple of hours, we continued our drive to Jodhpur and arrived at our destination Mandore Guest House at 6:15 pm. We stayed at the very same place in 2010 during our earlier visit to Jodhpur. Details are here.

We had dinner at our guest house and enjoyed the bonfire. Next day [2 Jan 2023], we checked out after excellent buffet breakfast and visited Mehrangarh Fort.

More to come.

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