DNCR Jeep Winter Trail 2021 – Ranthambhore

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 0

We are blessed to have owned this incredible powerhouse from the house of JEEP – our Jeep Compass. Taking it to challenging Mountain terrains, to Deserts, to Off-roadings, to Sea beaches or on long distance Road trips – solo or on trails, is perhaps the best way to enjoy and explore its tremendous potential of – “Go places, Do what you like”


Came a good opportunity for me (after a long break, courtesy C19 pandemic) to take part in the recently concluded Jeep DNCR TrailRaiders Ranthambhore Winter Trails 2021″.


Let me give a try jotting down some of my golden memories of this trip, that would stay for long…….


It was first week of December, Mohit Gupta, one of the prime founders of “DNCR TrailRaiders Jeep group” announced a Winter Trail to Ranthambhore, Sambhar Salt Lake and Jaipur for 4 days from 21-24th Dec, just before we finish the year 2021, shortly followed by detailed Trail itinerary. Slot for upto 10 Jeeps only was suggested due to a possible year-end rush of tourists.  Within next one week, confirmed list of 7 names came up.  All necessary stay arrangements were accordingly done by our main organizers Mohit Ji and Ayush Ji (another founder member), along with meals inclusions and Jungle Safari trip and all other trail related preparations.

The first 2 nights in Sawai Madhopur and the 3rd night in Jaipur. 
A new Whatsapp group of 7 Jeepers was formed.  Fever of excitement could clearly be felt through loads of Group messages, once the final itinerary was released !The first day being a flat drive to Sawai Madhopur, a last minute surprise addition of a detour to Sariska National Park with a “Jungle drive inside the Park in our own Jeeps” was announced.    This surprise addition in the itinerary was welcomed by all of us !


DAY 1

Drive to Sawai Madhopur

Our first assembly point was at McDonald’s, near Manesar on NH-48 around 9.30 in the morning on a fine sunny morning.  Some Jeepers were coming from as far as Noida, West Delhi, even one from Ambala.

As mine was the closest, 4 km only, both of us reached at 9.30 sharp (thinking to be the first one to report), only to find that Heena with her son Nikunj had already reached 10 mins earlier !

Since the assembly time was not very early morning, we already had our breakfast from home.  We chatted and waited for the rest to arrive.

By the time 6 of us finally assembled with families, trail-stickers pasted on all the Jeeps, Tees and trail logo printed ceramic tea/coffee Mugs distributed to all the members, it was past 12.15 that we finally started !  

Trail logo printed Coffee Mug.

       
The wait has been too long and we lost a good amount of time already 😌, when Mohit suggested not to wait for him anymore as he will catch up the convoy on way.  He was stuck for one last exam of his elder daughter Urshita.

The 154 km drive to Sariska via Bhiwadi and Alwar by-pass during mid-day was full of traffic, particularly whole of Bhiwadi.  We also needed to make a halt for Lunch in between.

It was close to 3 O’clock in the afternoon, Nipun managed to locate a good wayside restaurant SIGDI on Alwar by-pass.  All of us, including the children were already hungry for the day meal.

Stop over for lunch was much needed.

Neatly spread out garma-garam, tasty sumptuous lunch in the open under bright, cozy sunlight was a perfect break after a long drive.

Raesha looking happy taking her seat !

Mohit had already joined the convoy a little distance before this halt.  Looking here fully engrossed over his plate (must have been very hungry). It was here that we reconsidered going to Sariska, as we already fell short of time, well enough for the Park-Gate to close.  So we all agreed to skip Sariska this time and straightway head towards our final destination — Sawai Madhopur, a further drive of 220 km, that can easily take close to 4½ hours.

Time for sunset was not too far, forcing us to a non-stop drive in the dark on a single road State highway, new to all of us.  As for me, night driving has become increasing difficulty from the glares on the rear view mirror and on-coming vehicles driving on full beam.  But thank God, using Walkie-talkie sets in every Jeep was very helpful throughout !

Sunset somewhere near D7ausa on way to Sawai Madhopur.


Close to 9.00 we finally reached The Anuraga Palace Resort, Sawai Madhopur, near Ranthambhore – our first night of stay.  Needless to mention, a very nice property with lovely appointed rooms for the whole group was carefully arranged by our two main organizers, Mohit Ji and Ayush bhai.Thanks to these two fantastic ‘Gentlemen Jeepers’ 🙏.

Beautiful marble laid designed corridor took us to our rooms.
Spacious rooms with nice interior.

As it already stuck 9, we finished the check-ins quickly, took to our rooms in a row on the ground floor only and stood ready for the Dinner right away.  Nice, elaborate Buffet Dinner awaited us.

The Centre court garden in open.
The wooden glass door takes you to the Indoor sports room and to the Swimming pool

The first day ended with a happy note.  Our next day itinerary was to get ready early morning at 7 for a Jungle Safari in Ranthambhore National Park in an open Canter.

DAY 2 

Jungle Safari – RanthambhoreForest Off-roading Chambal river


Filled with all the excitements of going on a Jungle Safari, all of us managed to get ready.  The Canter reported at the Resort at sharp 7 in the morning.

The morning was expectedly chilly and very cold.  So, we were also prepared with sufficient warm outfits to brave the cold riding the open Canter.

The safari Canter with 19 of us started within next 15 minutes.  Parveen ji with her two children and my wifey stayed back at the Resort.

Our Canter was pre-booked for the Zone 4 safari.  After picking 3 more tourists from another hotel and necessary checking formalities at the Park Entry Gate, our safari took off with excitement and a natural expectation of sighting one Big Cat at least !

Canter at the Entry gate

Seated on the Canter

Vinod, our Canter driver and his Guide companion (not remembering his name) appeared quite sincere in making all efforts of a sighting, seriously expecting for one.The Zone 3 & 4 of Ranthambhore forest are known for their beautiful Landscapes, Lakes, Water bodies and also considered for better chances of Tiger sighting.

They took the safari on different routes and locations through beautiful spots and stunning landscapes.  But, despite their trying best, Vinod and his partner Guide were not able to spot any Tiger.  At one point, according to them, we were pretty close on a Tiger trail, as one male Tiger crossed over the path we were traveling on, to the other side, deep inside the jungle only a little ago, as was evident from its fresh Big Pugmarks.  Vinod drove the Canter slowly with intermittent stops, even switching off the engine at times waiting in total silence, in case….

We spent close to 3 hours on the Canter safari.  One male Tiger requires its territorial area of as big as 30 km², sharing with not more than 2 Tigresses, who also require 15-20 km².  Therefore, spotting a Tiger always is not easy, though have heard of many tourists spotting Tigers in Ranthambhore. It was just not our day 😌

Even Mohit Ji tried connecting the male Tiger Romeo T-6″ in Zone-4, but as phone network was very weak inside the forest, Mr. Romeo could not be connected. 😏Nevertheless, we did enjoy the pristine, dense, natural beauty of Ranthambhore Forest for sure.  Got to see some herbivores animals, Crocodiles, Peacocks and few resident birds and ducks in the lake.

    Spotted deers…
   An adult male Sambar grazing on dry leaves and fallen seeds…
Residents birds of Ranthambhore. 

This Tiger bird got attracted to baby Inaaya (the youngest, cutest Jeepher member of the group – 8 months only ❤) whilst being fed by her Mom in the Canter.  The bird also looking for her share !
शेर नहीं दिखा तो क्या हुआ, Tiger bird तो देखा ! 😆😆

Rufous Treepie, commonly known as Tigerbird, in two different shades of light.

An adult Crocodile besides the lake taking energy from Sunlight
Capturing a contrasting reflection of a dried tree on Malik Lake in the early morning sunlight

   The Canter crossing a rivulet…

   An adult male Spotted Deer got attracted to its visitors 😃
A brief stopover inside the Park


Roughly at about 10.45 we were back to the Resort, where our breakfast was waiting.  Not wasting any more time, we headed straight for a well arranged Breakfast. 

It was time for a little rest and getting fresh from the early morning Safari.  Angels, Inaaya and Jenni deserved some rest.  The late breakfast was heavy enough to skip a full fledged lunch.

Forest Off-roading drive

At 2 in the afternoon, everyone was ready to move for a Forest Off-roading experience in a near-by forest area, followed by a further drive of some 15 km to ‘Palighat Chambal Safari point’ on Chambal River.    But before that, we took some photographs to showcase our Trail tour at the Resort 🙂

Our two youngest Jeephers – Inaaya and Jennisha – pucca “Born Travellers”! 🥰🥰
And the Guptas – essentially a Jeep family. 💜💙💜💜
Our Doctor sahab with family and Harpreet’s nice filmy pose behind We Two !

By the way, जंगल मे Maharaj Ji ka darshan nahi mila, but didn’t miss to collect these ‘Fridge Magnets’ at least. 

😀😀😀😀😀😀😀

The drive was of about 45 minutes on a narrow single carriage hilly forest road by-passing the boundaries of Ranthambhore Zone 9&10.  The road was largely in a good condition and we breezed past.
The first Jeep (I think of Harpreet or Mohit) took a 90° right turn, leaving the tarmac road on to a bumpy, dusty and stoney curly pathway, slightly hilly, cutting thru thick thorny bushes on both sides and big trees in between.  Looked like doing a perfect Off-roading on a totally unknown rough terrain.

With the pilot Jeep in front, rest of the six Jeeps followed, without having the slightest idea of where we were heading to !!

On the Forest Off-roading road…

After a drive of approx 4 km over rough forest road, we seemed to hit a dead end, right below a huge wall of a perpendicular rocky cliff.

A large number of wild Langurs suddenly engulfed staring at us and some even started jumping over the roofs, presumably in search of food.  None of us even dared to roll down our window panes.

That perpendicular rock looked to be a huge Waterfall, that would look gorgeous in rainy season.  I am not sure if this was the site of Sitamata Falls !

Water catchment at the foot of the Waterfall. Here we came across 3/4 local people in a hutment kind of construction, who told us to return, as there was no motorable road beyond this point.  So, without stepping out (for the Langurs), one by one we turned back our vehicles with utmost care and started back to the point till the tarmac road we turned.That was good fun doing some Off-roading !  

Chambal River side

Once back on the main road, we turned right for another 15 km of scenic drive thru Mustard fields and other crops on both sides to “Palighat Chambal Safari point” on Rajasthan side of Chambal River.

A small stopover on the way for photoshoots.Another half an hour from here, we all finally reached The Palighat safari point on the banks of Chambal river.  It was 4.30 in the afternoon with bright sunlight and clear weather.Lovely, scenic spot – overlooking green patches of MP on the other side of the flowing Chambal in between bordering the two States.

We didn’t have enough time for a boat-safari, but small activities and adventures by few of us added to some lovely moments !

Action youngman Nikunj !
Eedha and Raesha had a nice time collecting seashells from riverside sands.
Heena on a balancing binge.  With her son Nikunj in the river, the water was very cold.
Jennisha & Raesha seem to be Maggie lovers !  Look so sweet 💖❤
Time for a tryst with “बचपन की यादें” 😌

These three dare-devils standing over the submerged cement sacks with fearless smiles on their faces, despite being warned the river had Crocodiles. 🐊 🐊

The lively gathering grew so engrossing, that the beautiful Orange Sunset gradient, almost went un-noticed !  But we were lucky to get to watch some mesmerizing moments of the beautiful Sunset hues.

Capturing the glow on natural layout of still water on rocky banks of Chambal river.  Tents on sandy river bed.

अपने डाः साहब चल दिए किसी और ही मूड मे…  अपनी मैडम को लिए…🎶🎼🎵  ❤💙

Taking back silent whisper of Nature at Palighat, leaving nothing but footprints only. 👣 🙂
With the Sun going down fast, it was becoming dark.  The 40 km drive back to our Resort was good, but as expected, I started experiencing discomfort and intermittent stressful driving at night, especially on single carriage road.Some of you know, that I had a narrow escape from hitting straight onto a high divider edge at a poorly lit busy road crossing at night, but still suffered a nasty bump in my front right wheel on some big size stone lying close to the divider with a huge Bang, which I couldn’t see due to glares from front and on rear-view mirror !  I thought, something terrible must have happened with the wheel/tyre.  It was dark outside, I pulled down on left but didn’t step out to check any damage.  Heena’s Jeep was right behind mine, she noticed the bang and jerk and immediately checked with me over phone.  Thank you Heena for being so kind.😌Apparently no damage occurred and all of us reached the Resort safely around 8.I however experienced nothing abnormal throughout rest of the trail, but still got the vehicle checked at the Service Centre first thing upon my return home.  Luckily, nothing reported for any repair !  A sense of relief flooded me.

Jeep Compass – yet again, proved to be a “great resilient vehicle”, at that point of time for me at least !  

Love you Jeep ❤

I am afraid, I am heading towards a potential non-participant member in major trails involving night drivings 🤔😑, but would definitely continue to enjoy all such trips thru Your eyes. 🙂


Washed up and changed for the Dinner, but not before enjoying a cozy sit out in the open central court garden at the Resort, nicely arranged for us with two small size bonfires, lot of snacks and rounds of Scotch (a treat from Doctor sahab, हमारे दिल्ली के लालाजी) and choices of non-alcoholic drinks for the ladies.  A special Cake-cutting was the highlight of the Day 2 evening. 

The surprise cake was nice 👍

Enjoying the party 🥂🍹🥃  followed by once again, a nicely arranged Buffet Dinner.Retire for the day and a good sleep for the next day’s action…😴😴


Day 3

Drive to Sambhar Salt Lake

A leisurely morning and reporting for a late Breakfast.  Nothing much to do in the morning, for this was the day of check out from The Resort and head towards first to Sambhar Salt Lake and then to Jaipur for the night halt.Generally being an early riser, it was difficult for me being in the room for long.  Instead, got ready, came out and had a nice self tour of the nice Property taking few pictures around.

The Resort’s classic Palace style main entrance and driveway – impressive, very well maintained.
Our another member Minati (from Assam), a little less interactive, but sweet to talk to, posed for the camera.
Garden flowers besides the Swimming pool

Watching a Gujrati Dhol-Baja-Dance-Barat at the Resort that same morning was fun to watch, looked like a destination wedding at Ranthambhore.  Enjoyed their खुल्लर वाला मसाला चाय  with Besan ka Laddoo – “बेगाने की शादी मे अब्दुल्ला दीवाना” type 😜😜

Dulha in the centre. 🥁🎷💃
Jeep line-up ready to leave

After a relaxed heavy breakfast, we started for our next destination Sambhar Lake at 12.15 in the afternoon from Sawai Madhopur.  Another bright day, drive to Sambhar was about 250 km.    First thing we all had, was fuel top up.  Here, the Petrol rate was as high as close to 106 a litre (6 less for Diesel) as compared to DelhiNCR at 95.70 for petrol !  The drive was smooth, starting with NH-12, then NH-16A which finally connected us to NH-48 on Jaipur-Ajmer highway.

Nipun with Big Brother at a brief halt on NH-16A.

Drive on NH-48 was straight and fast until a sudden cut towards Right ➡️ to Riico Indstrial Area with no signage, was supposed to be the road to Sambhar.  The Walkie-talkie set with me either didn’t work or I may have missed the alert, I overshot the turning.  Nipun and Heena must have spotted me pass by, a phone call from Nipun helped me take the next U-turn on the highway to join them already at the Riico turning.  We were now three of us waiting for the others to join.  Deepak and Harpreet also missed the turning.


All of us then started from this point towards Sambhar with roughly 20-25 km to go.  Initially the single carriage road looked good, which eventually turned up narrow and bad.  After two major turns on left, two underpasses and by-passing another road to Sambhar Town, we stopped at a point, overlooking the Sambhar Lake on the other side to assess, how far more we needed to travel to reach the Dry Salt bed – an area good for Off-roading ?    This was our first sighting of the majestic Salt Lake !

This British time Narrow Guage track passes through the lake to transport filtered natural harvested Salt, where roads could not be constructed.

Upon checking on Google map and few locals, we were suggested to travel another 8 km or so towards the West.  Time was not left much for the Sunset.      Crossing a Dam like barrage over the huge Lake, we crossed over to the otherside of the Lake, and after a little more drive, our Pilot Jeep finally took a narrow dusty path on right down on to the White Salt bed.

Hurray !!! we finally hit the right spot we were struggling to locate !

The vast White land with a lovely Aravali range on Left (West) and a  skyline of bushes and possibly the Sambhar Town beyond on Right, the all White Salt bed in front looked awesome with, something none of us haven’t seen before !  The unending designs of Car-Tyre tracks – some circle, some 8 shaped, some straight appeared like melting into the distant Horizon !  The alluring view of the glowing Orange Sun slowly setting down behind the Aravalis on one side, and the Adrenaline rush within us going for ‘Fast and Drift-driving experience on the Salt bed’ before it was darkwith “NO speed cameras around to catch” was something unexplainable !😅😅

Once there, all 7 of us slowly drove in a line further inside.  We stopped at a point over the vast White pan totally captivated for some time, enjoying and admiring the topography of the place never seen before !

It was now time for doing some fun Off-roading with our JCs.  Some did wonderful driving doing Circles, some drove straight at very high speed over the Salt leaving clouds of white salt dust experiencing classic fun of Drifting !  Few of us just wandered anywhere they wished, making new tracks.    However, Mohit warned us to avoid venturing too much away from the tracks, as the soil could be marshy at places we would not know and might get stuck !

Looks like Nipun’s ❤ got a nice Salt bath
Drift-driving by Nikunj…

Mohit performing a perfect Reverse circling.On the whole, Jeep Compass proved its worth performing excellently under varied conditions of driving !


Five of us drove further deep into the White Salt pan upto a point from where the famous Maa Shakambari Devi Templeon a rocky outcrop could be seen from a distance.  I and Harpreet stayed back.

Maa Shakambari Devi Temple in the background.

A timeless beauty, this “hidden Jewel of Rajasthan”, Sambhar Salt Lake with a surface area of more than 200 km² approx is a Ramsar Wetland designated as a ” World Heritage Site” in 1990.    Sambhar Lake is not a real lake, but has shallow water at most places and is actually a Saline Wetland.  A walk on it feels like a never-ending land of Silver, especially on a clear full moon night.

This vast lake with maximum length of 35½ km taps from 4 seasonal rivers – the Mendha, Rupangarh, Kharian and the Khandel besides numerous streams & rivulets.    Their water reacts with the lake sediments and becomes Brine, which takes about 50 days to evaporate to form “Natural Crystalised Salt” giving it an exotic white look.  We however didn’t get to see the actual Salt harvesting, such is the vastness of this Wetland. 

Sambhar Lake is a very popular site for film-making.  Location shootings were done here for films like Jodha Akbar, Delhi 6, Ram-Leela, Highway to name few. The famous scene of Aamir Khan landing on earth in PK was also shot here on the Salt-train rail track.  Remember that scene ? 🙂

This time, Nikunj on a location shooting ! 😀😀
धड़क-धड़क, धड़क-धड़क, धुआं उड़ाए रे….🎶 🎼.
Fun of speed driving…

It has been a while we enjoyed to our fullest with never-before kind of an unique place to be at.  With the complete Sunset behind the Aravalis, the whole ambience suddenly started getting dark.


We were to reach Jaipur, about 90 km from here through the same rural road we came from.  Children were hungry by then and the adults needed some Tea/ Coffee at least.  A short stopover at a nice Kiosk somewhere in Sambhar Municipality area on way was a good break.


It was now getting dark fast.  I thought of starting alone little early till NH-48 at a slower pace, preferring to avoid too much risk of night driving.  अरे भाई — one should live to tell the tale and sometimes write few lines on it too !Wild Nilgais (one with her two Calves) crossing on multiple spots were a delight to watch in the headlight that came as a reminder to drive cautiously in these kind of open rural areas.  Others also spotted few on their way.

I waited at the junction for others to reach.  Must mention here, just as when Heena came to know from Nikunj of my leaving alone early, she immediately started, tracking me several times of my position and safety over phone till the junction.


Once again it reminded me, how caring, concerned and so well integrated our Jeepers Family is !
Once on NH-48, the next 70 km drive to Jaipur was good despite movements of Trucks.  As already planned to have our Dinner outside rather than having at the Hotel itself (main attraction was Daal Baati Choorma), we all headed for the famous ‘Sharma Dhaba’ in Jaipur, not very far from our Hotel.

Alacartē orderings were good and sufficient, we all enjoyed the food.  Reaching there at 9 was a good time for a timely sumptuous dinner.
At “ITC Rajputana Sheraton”, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Jaipur, we finished the check-in formalities at a dedicated Reception Desk arranged for us.  Great support from the Hotel as well as our fellow main organizers 🤝.  It struck close to 11, we settled in our respective rooms for the night. 

Fancy Hotel, spick & span nice rooms 👍Another day of happy sleeping at night


Day 4


Jaipur,

Drive back to home

One more leisurely morning, looked like, many of us were not interested in waking up and get ready to go home!  ‘Check-out and Disperse’ was the last day’s itinerary 😆😆.  However, everyone was free to either join the convoy back home or hang out in the City for sometime shopping.

But then, every good thing has to come to an end.  Got ready and for the last time in the Trail, we all assembled at the Hotel’s beautiful, spacious designated Breakfast-Lounge.    As expected, the massive layout of Breakfast lived well to the name of this signature property with multiple well managed ‘Live Counters’, besides a plethora of fresh fruit juices, soups, Indian & Continental choices of food and many more !    The whipped up Cheese Omelette, Stuffed Parathas and Waffle with Maple/Chocolate syrup topping were just favourites for me. Lemon tarts were delicious. 🙂🙂

Our little children having a play-time at the Hotel’s play area.  Happiness can be seen on their faces !
Aur ye hain हमारे बड़े लालाजी, on a Big Boy’s Toy – a Jonga.

It was finally time for check-out, bidding Adieu to our great JeepTrail until the next one.

Reception area of ITC Rajputana Sheraton

Nipun with family were staying back in Jaipur with their relative, while Heena and Nikunj thought of seeing Jaipur for another day and stayed back.  Harpreet I think, also stayed back.


Rest four of us Mohit, Deepak, Ayush and me were going back home.


While they were spending some more time with their children playing, we two checked out, filled up fuel first and went to Johri Bazar for Gazak, Churan and scented Supari shopping. Pyaaj Kachodi and Imarti from LMB was anyway not to miss ! Thanks to Nipun giving me the lead to pick up Jaipur’s famous “Gud Malai Gazak” from Narayanji’s (since 1953).

A small time shopping at Johri Bazar, Jaipur

Our “Not to miss shoppings” from Johri Bazar 😄 loaded, we were ready to move.  Didn’t get to meet others till then. 

Glimpse of symbols of Pink City on way, without which being in Jaipur is incomplete!


Driving past Hawa Mahal, took a quick halt at Jal Mahal, the 18th Century Red-stone Water Palace in the middle of Man Sagar Lake on Amer road – an architectural marvel of the Rajput period.

Jal Mahal


We originally had an inclusion in the itinerary for a drive to Nahargarh Fort yesterday evening.  But due to reaching Jaipur late in the evening, Nahargarh Fort got dropped.    Continuing driving on Amer Road, the diversion-signage of Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort left me thinking, if I should still go up to the Fort we missed yesterday !    12 km from there, a steep hill drive on a narrow road to Nahargarh OR about 5 km uphill drive to Jaigarh Fort.  Risking further delay and again driving in the dark, decided to skip Nahargarh this time, but visit Jaigarh Fort, never seen before.

Happy to cover at least a Fort in our itinerary !


Although a quick visit, enjoyed taking a short walk around the Jaigarh Fort,built in 1726 by Maharaja Jai Singh on the ‘चील का टिला’ to protect the adjoining Amer Fort and its Palace complex.

A collage of Jaigarh Fort
A pair of stairs and a part of massive solid fencing wall in a perfect geometrical design
Apparently a Durbar Hall as you enter the big darwaza leading to the main Fort complex.
Mansingh sarovar (gets filled up during monsoon)

It’s prime attraction is the “Jaivan Cannon”, the then ‘world’s largest cannon on wheels’, was manufactured inside the Fort’s Cannon Foundry.  Popularly known as “बड़ी तोप”, it is 31.3 ft in length, weighing a massive 50 tons of Iron.Didn’t get to see this तोप, as cars going up there to Dungar Darwaza were not allowed due to heavy rush of tourists with a long uphill walkway.  Was running out of time also.īNext time — putting it in my इच्छा की टोकरी।
4 O’clock in the afternoon, time to leave.  A long way to home of about 220 km drive. It was also Teatime.  So, made sure to have “खुल्लर वालि चाय” first and then start.  The tea at the day end was refreshing !

जयवान टी स्टाल inside the outer Fort complex

Once finished the tea with one Pyaaj Kathcori (from LMB), rightaway started driving the downhill for Gurgaon.  The road was through Amer Road joining NH-48 at Chandbaji.

Jaigarh Fort on चील का टिला as seen from Amer Fort Jheel
Passing the famous Amer Fort overlooking the Jheel

Rest of the solo drive straight home with only one stop at Mannat for tea was smooth, with no hassle. Safely reached home at a reasonable good time 8.30 pm. with loads of lovely memories of happy moments, quality time we all spent together over the last four days of travelling 1150 km together !  Everyone reached home safely.

ALL IS WELL THAT ENDS WELL !

Chitra & Abhay Mittra

Jan 2022, Gurugram.

JEEP is an emotion – shall always live in my heart !

                       ~~~ o ~~~  

Upgrade from stock tires on my Jeep Compass Trailhawk

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 5

When I buy new pair of shoes, there is an itch to wear them immediately and run a cross country.

Similar was the case when I got hold of new AT tires (Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus 235/65/17) for my Jeep Compass TrailHawk. Got them delivered day before yesterday at home thru courier service. I couldn’t step out for fixing the same day as I got late from work. Next morning, lowered the back seat, loaded all 5 tires inside the extended boot and took along to work.

Padamdeep Singh Handa

Had to wait till the clock turned and ticked EOD bells. Immediately rushed to my favourite tire shop, Tyre Empire for change.

Padamdeep Singh Handa - Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus 235/65/17) for Jeep Compass TrailHawk
Padamdeep Singh Handa - Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus 235/65/17) for Jeep Compass TrailHawk
Padamdeep Singh Handa - Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus 235/65/17) for Jeep Compass TrailHawk

Looks gigantic on TrailHawk.

Drove a bit (100 kms) before I returned back home. So far haven’t faced any issues.

What next?

  • when can I be able to drive on highway
  • when can I take them off the road
  • where will I find rocks

And opportunity knocked the door, unexpectedly. I had to plan a trip to Chennai for some urgent work engagement. No better timing than this, I was literally happy to drive.

After a good 600+ kms behind the wheel in almost 11 hours of journey time, sharing my observations with you all.

PS: My comparison will be with Michelin as last 30k kms I drove on them and they were an upsize as well (235/60/17).

1st impressions from my journey and a short review for fellow enthusiasts. Drove 630 kms on highway with a lot of undulations, Unpaved Road, mud / slush, rain & water fording. (Chennai highway and factory visits offered all what I could ask for).

Tire Looks: Gigantic and robust, adds an umph factor to the Beast.

Mileage: Remained unchanged, or may be minor impact, not noticeable. Speedometer error definitely will be approx. 6-7%, so servicing will be done earlier than what ODO will reflect.

Braking: Quite accurate and shorter, stopping quicker than stock tires.

Wet Handling: Better than Michelin (HT Tires), especially in rainy slippery road and in Mud puddle. Not right to compare HT with AT, but from user prospective, just to have an idea for HT users that breaking will improve.

Road Noise: Higher than Michelin, even higher than stock tires (Falken) – but then ATs are known to be noisy. Especially around 50-60 kmph noisier than at 90+ speeds.

Tire Touching / Hitting: Didn’t find any mark on tire or body line for touching / hitting any fender lining, due to an upsize. It was clear in TrailHawk.

Speed Error: 100 on ODO is 106 in actual, so need to learn new ways of maintaining accurate speed.

Noticeable change: Minutely bumpier drive, noticeable as ground clearance increases by 18mm over stock. Tires are much smoother over undulations, pot holes and speed breakers. Some of the speed breaker especially the small white line one/s are not even felt inside the cabin.Conclusion: I found it worth an upgrade. I am more than happy to share my tires to try on their JCs for a 1st hand experience.

– Padamdeep Singh Handa

A trip long time coming – Stay at outskirts of Chikmagalur and a drive to Devi Gudda peak

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 1

It’s been close to 2 years since we went on a trip to any touristy location. So, when the second wave passed by and the lockdown was relaxed after the covid numbers started going down, we started looking for a window to plan a trip to some place far from the madding crowd. Early July, it was decided that we’d go on a trip to a quiet place with two other families of friends. The hunt for the place and the dates began.

Keeping the current situation in mind, the task was to find a homestay where it will be only us who will be staying and we also decided to avoid any trips to crowded locations during the stay. The whole idea was to disconnect from the civilization while spending time with close friends.

As usual, the search started from team-bhp travelogue section and my friends were collecting information from their known sources as well. Team-bhpian @hemanth.anand suggested that we stay at Bean Aroma Homestay in the outskirts of Chikmagalur. We discussed with the home stay owner and they confirmed that 4 families can stay at their place. They agreed to book the whole place for our group even though we were only 3 families for the stay, which was nice because we had the whole place to ourselves.

 

Day 1:

Plan was to start at 5:00 am in the morning, however there was a slight delay and we started around 5:15am. Considering the pandemic situation, we didn’t want stop anywhere for breakfast. The homestay owner had agreed to prepare breakfast for us to be available whenever we reach. We had taken some snacks to munch on the way in case we got unusually delayed.

There was not much traffic on the road all the way till we reached the Chickmagalur.

We reached A2B by 7:45 am and stopped for a quick restroom break.

It was a 20-minutes stop and we resumed the journey towards Chickmagalur.
Arun Chickmagalur
Our friend’s pooch (Max), enjoying the scenes
After entering the 2-lane Hassan highway, we took random breaks along the way as Max needed breaks. We took the Belur-Gabbalagodu-Malahalli route. I had checked with Parag on the previous day who said that we can take this route, the other option being via Chikmagalur.
Arun Chickmagalur
Scenic 2-lane roads towards Chikmagalur
There was a small stretch of about 3kms which was in a bad shape due to the rains. It was 10:45am by the time we reached Bean Aroma. Piping hot breakfast was waiting for us when we got there.
Arun Chickmagalur
This is the entry to the homestay

Bean Aroma Homestay:

This is in middle of a coffee estate with good open space around the house.

  • Very friendly owners
  • Rooms are big and clean. 3 bedrooms inside the main house and an individual cottage are available.
  • Home-cooked local cuisine for all three meals. Very delicious fare.
  • Lot of open space for the kids to play
  • Shuttle court, open area for free play and lot of indoor games(chess, darts, bow and arrow)

It rained incessantly with few moments of sunshine and the weather was perfect to stay warm indoors with silly games of dumb charades and cards. The owner took us for a walk around his estate and shared lot of information about the spices available there. He is a nature enthusiast and he had lots to tell us about the terrain, the flora and fauna there.

Arun Chickmagalur
The rides, resting after the drive.
Arun Chickmagalur
Incessant rains all through the day
Arun Chickmagalur
And some sunshine to cheer us up
Arun Chickmagalur
Walk through the plantation
The highlight of the stay was the in-house coffee blend they served us on demand. They have their own coffee blend and it makes one of the best filter coffees we’ve ever had. We loved it so much that each of us got our own stash to take back to Bangalore.
Day 2

Apart from the walk around the plantation, there were no plans for the morning hours. So, I took Scarlett out for a quick drive around the town. The roads were deserted and the routes scenic. Felt like a drive through a dense jungle.
Drive to Devi Gudda peak:

This was the most fun part of this trip for me. The owner informed us that only a 4×4 vehicle can venture to this place because this terrain is rough with lot of gravel and very slippery due to the rains and slush. The route also had steep climbs and needed a vehicle with good ground clearance.

There were two routes, one was short (around 2Kms) but tougher to handle. The second route was around 5-6 Kms which was comparatively easier. We took the longer route on the way to the peak. Even in this route, the last 2Kms were quite challenging. During the return we took the shorter route. I was on 4WD mode up and down the hill.
Arun Chickmagalur
Driving towards the peak
Arun Chickmagalur
Scarlett among the greenery
During this last 2Kms, I was on the 1st gear almost throughout. At one spot, there was lot of loose gravel and I slowed down a bit and lost the momentum to climb. The engine turned off immediately. Thankfully I was able to get traction and proceed without any hiccups. At times I had to use the clutch to maintain the momentum.

Apart from the challenging drive, the scenery outside was a dense jungle like terrain. Thankfully, we had enough daylight to not make it feel eerie. The view at the top of the peak was breathtaking. The mist was moving and the visibility was oscillating between next-to-nil and bright daylight in a span of minutes. It was very windy and it started drizzling after a while. We decide it was time to head back and have a hot cup of coffee to end the day and start the evening.
Arun Chickmagalur
Looking down from the top

Here is the dashcam video captured while going towards the view point:

Arun Chickmagalur
Here is a pic from the top
Arun Chickmagalur
Max had fun exploring the new terrain
Arun Chickmagalur
During the return, we took the second shorter route back to the homestay. We had to stop in between for a few minutes as the owner of the homestay who was driving the Mahindra Jeep went ahead on a survey to check if Scarlett can make it in that route, especially after the previous night’s rain. We got the green signal and followed the Mahindra Jeep into the new route.This time the challenge was to maneuver the downward slope on a gravelly stretch. This route was very scenic too.

The dense jungle-like vegetation we went through

Arun Chickmagalur
During one more quick stop when the Mahindra Jeep ahead went to survey a small stretch
Arun Chickmagalur
Drive through the plantation continued

Here is the dashcam video captured during the return from the view point:

Day 3: Return to Bangalore:

The plan was to start around 11:00 am and get takeaway food for lunch on the way. The options were A2B, Malnad Cafe(a bit out of the way) and Swathi Delicacy. We checked with the homestay owners if they’d be willing to cook and pack food for us so that we can avoid a pitstop at a crowded restaurant. They happily obliged and the lunch troubles were sorted out. We started around 11:45 am once the lunch was ready and packed.
We stopped at a roadside clearing with lot of trees near Hassan to have the packed lunch. Thanks to the homestay owners, we could completely avoid stepping into crowded restaurants looking for food on both the onward and the return journeys. We reached Bangalore by 5pm. A perfect trip with great memories. This one will be cherished for a long long time.
Arun Chickmagalur
The traffic was heavy starting from Hassan and the hotels on the way were very crowded too
This trip is extra special because of the strange times we are living in. Last year, we couldn’t think of ever going to a trip without stress. But, to be able to make this trip with good friends to a safe location with all necessary precautions in place is a great memory that will stay with us for a long time.

– Arun

Travelogue on Sandkphu Adventure

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 2

We did a Darjeeling and Sikkim road trip in the month of March 2021, this travelogue is part of it. Another travelogue will be shared on that complete trip, for now I will focus this travelogue on Sandkphu adventure.

It all started on Valentine’s day. Normal way of celebrating valentines day -> take your spouse/gf/bf for a candle light dinner or gift, etc. JEEPers way of celebrating -> take your JEEP on a offroad trail with 50+ JEEPers and form a heart with your JEEP. Here is a video of that trail:

Couple of JEEPers were discussing about their plan of going to Sandakphu in March and we got interested and wanted to join them. As usual next step is joining a whatsapp group  which had some 20 people in it. Frankly spoken Sandakphu was never in my mind, glad that it happened, one of our most memorable drives. Everything was getting planned and next usual step started. People dropping out, due to issues with leaves and pandemic, fair enough. Finally 4 JEEPers were confirmed and we were one of them.

After driving through 9 states and clocking 2800kms on the odo, we reached Siliguri, the first point for all 4 JEEPs to gather. Had our first lunch together at this amazing place called as Timboor which had recently opened up.

After filling our tummies to chicken and veg thalis, we started our ride towards Manebhanjyang. Manebhanjyang is full of dorms and homestays, typically for trekkers who start from here for trekking Sandakphu. Checked into a decent hotel, and everyone started getting frozen (-5 degC, a Bangalore those days was around 25 deg C, a drastic temperature difference!). We decided to start at 8am sharp and went to bed. Morning everyone was super exited and quickly had our breakfast.

Jeep Sandakphu
The Team! From left, Chethan, Narendra(BJC Member), Basavaraj, Pawani, Amritha (Most of us know her 😉), Akshata, ME, Pradeep and Prasad (BJC Member)

Sandakphu; which means “height of poison plant´´, got its name due to vastly grown poisonous aconite plants in the region. Apart from being home to one of the most poisonous plants on earth, Sandakphu is well known to offer mistic view of 4 of the 5 highest peaks in the world – Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.

Jeep Sandakphu
Early morning vibes @ Manebhanjyang

First thing we had to do was organise passes for our JEEPs, got to know that they don’t allow 4X2. So 2 JEEPs were not permitted and rest 2 could go. The other JEEP didn’t want to do it, so it was finally my JEEP that was going to Sandakphu. Rest 6 members in the group booked a Land Rover and we 3 (me, brother and wife) would take our JEEP. Local Land Rovers don’t allow anyone else to go, since it reduces their income, in our case since we booked a Land Rover, they allowed us. Paid 1000 for the entry pass and started out journey!

It was a 31km drive which will take roughly 3-4 hrs for our cars, Land Rover guys can do this in around 2 hrs depending on traffic. Yes, there is hell lot of traffic on the way to Sandakphu, lot of vehicles and to make things worse, at most of the places there is just enough space for 1 vehicle to pass. Please be advised, this terrain is not for regular 4X2, even for soft offroaders like JEEP Compass it is difficult if you don’t have people around you to help navigate and support. This 31km drive taught me things about my car which I didn’t know even after driving it for 20000kms! 

While we bought passes to Sandakphu, lot of Land Rover guys came to us and tried discouraging us from doing it, told us scary stories of cars getting stuck, breaking down on the way and what not! We JEEPers were determined to do it and believed in our machine and decided to take it. Our Land Rover driver was very helpful, he said he will support us in scaling it but he was apprehensive of this vehicle crossing Gairibas.

So we started the journey, the first few kms was full of steep climb and crazy curves. Good thing was it was paved and also the tar had good grip.

Jeep Sandakphu
Misty, Jeep Gang and Upper Chitrey!

Didn’t spend lot of time here, basically our Land Rover driver Sanjay had stopped at Chitrey to ask if I am still comfortable driving the vehicle or if I have changed the mind. After getting my feedback, we started moving on. Our next stop was supposed to be at Meghma Monastery, the road from Chitrey to Meghma is full of cement road and is well laid.

Jeep Sandakphu
Me @ Meghma Monastery with my Jeep in the background 😊

After taking some pictures at Meghma Monastery, we started again towards Gairibas. Meghma Monastery to Gairibas is again cement road but is quite steep. I think this is where we climb majority of the ascent. The roads are narrow and steep, we were praying all the time that we don’t get any vehicle on the opposite side. Stopping here would be a nightmare, at some places I felt the hill ascent was around 45 deg! Finally 3 after we started from Manebhajyang, we reached Gairibas. The real fun would start from here, post Gairibas there is absolutely no roads at all. Its full of boulders, sand, mud, slush, everything that posts a challenge for a soft offroader. Just about a km away from Gairibas, I started getting stuck. The road was full of boulders and my car was getting stuck. Frankly spoken, I am an amateur at off-roading, have done couple of trails with BJC (Bangalore JEEP Club) but nothing that can challenge me and the machine. Just when I was stuck, 3-4 Land Rovers gathered and started shouting at me, lost all my confidence here. Started burning clutch, this is when a Co-JEEPer Prasad came to my rescue. He took the driver seat and everything started moving again! After lot of pushing, navigating around boulders and huge rocks, we reached Kalipokhari.

Jeep Sandakphu
@Kalipohari, was already starting to get dark here.

Reaching Kalipokhari is one hell of milestone, but from Kalipokhari to Sandakphu is next level. Since it had already started to get dark and freeze, the slush on the road was starting to get frozen. This makes things way worse, mix of frozen ice, slush and boulders is what you never want to experience, especially when you are on highway tyres! After driving for 45mins to an hour, we used to stop for 15mins for clutch and engine to cool down. We noticed that the engine power was getting derated at higher temperatures, so cooling the engine for 15mins helped a lot. Furthermore, natural Air Con (was around 10 deg C outside) around us helped to cool the clutch faster.

Jeep Sandakphu
The crew, halted for engine to cool down.

The last 2 kms before Sandakphu is completely steep, and full of loose sand and mud. There is hardly any grip here, to make things worse, the road is narrowest here.

Jeep Sandakphu
This is the start of the last 2kms before Sandakphu. Notice the ascent and the width of the road.

Our Land Rover broke down, the clutch apparently had some issues. Some other LR helped our co-travellers reach Sandakphu. Sanjay arranged for some tools and got his machine ready in an hour, its so amazing how much these guys know about their machine. They lack proper technical education but can repair the vehicle on top of a mountain with minimum tools and spares! They are literally born with LR’s around them, Sanjay had started driving LR when he was 16.

Jeep Sandakphu
Picture of our Jeep clicked by fellow traveller from top of the mountain!

At 5pm, we reached Sandakphu, had started snowing at Sandakphu. Things would have gotten worse if we had reached half an hour late, fresh snow turns black ice in the evening. All other LR’s which had reached few hours ago were shocked seeing our vehicle make it to the top.

Jeep Sandakphu
Jeep with the gang @ Sandakphu

This is the first Jeep Compass that has scaled Sandakphu. A TrailHawk has done it in the past, but that has higher GC and low-end torque than Jeep Compass

Jeep Sandakphu
Missus was super happy about reaching Sandakphu..!! This is her first time in Himalayas 😊

We were super hungry, since we had not eaten anything after our breakfast, all the stress during the journey had drained our energy levels. Had some hot thukpa and chai. Went to bed after dinner and some rum to warm our body.

Jeep Sandakphu
Snow from the previous night had covered our Jeep completely!

Woke up at 4am to watch sunrise and sleeping Buddha. Weather was nice to us, very less fog but was quite freezing. It was still snowing, all the efforts of reaching Sandakphu and bearing the cold weather paid off. We had an amazing sight of Sleeping Buddha.

Jeep Sandakphu
Sleeping Buddha. Left most pic is head of buddha, then middle part (Kanchenjunga) is stomach and then knees and toe. Hard to describe it here, you need to imagine it.
Jeep Sandakphu
Jeep and Sleeping Buddha in the background. The image doesn’t do the justice, in reality it was quite clear.
Jeep Sandakphu
It was nice to see Solar Panels on top of every building. I work in Solar sector, sight of PV Panels always makes me feel happy.

After having a sumptuous breakfast, we started driving back to Manebhanjyang. Sun was shining, which means all the snow from previous day had already melted. But the bad news is the road was slushy at few places, which thankfully wasn’t much.

Jeep Sandakphu
Three of us (Mr, Missus and Brother) before starting!

It took us around 30mins to reach Kalipokhari.

Jeep Sandakphu
The must have picture when you scale Sandakphu!
Jeep Sandakphu
LR and Jeep Compass at sunny Kalipokhari

After having second round of chai (its amazing how much chai one can have when the weather is cold!), we started to Garibas. I am normally a filter coffee person, but given the fact that the only coffee that is offered in the hills is awfull instant nescafe, I prefer black tea. On the way back, at least 4-5 LR’s stopped us and asked if we had actually made it to Sandakphu. The sense of happiness in responding YES to them cant be described in mere words.

At around 11am (had started at 9am) we reached Manebhanjyang. Apart from few scratches on bumper and door panels, our Jeep returned clean. We had new set of Yokohoma Earth1 tyres on our Jeep, these performed really well. At few places when sharp rocks hit the side wall of the tyre, we were scared that we had damaged the tyre, but nothing had happened apart from rubber getting scratched. These are highway tyres, but they performed like AT tyres, taking on black ice, snow, slush, rocks and boulders, sand, etc. One of the difficulties we faced was, long wheelbase and turning radius of compass. At places where there was a sharp turn and steep ascent, it was difficult to take a turn and gain momentum right after that.

This image shows how the ascent started right after the turn, the long turning radius makes things worse in such cases. LR on the other hand, had quite small turning radius, this helped them manouver much easily. So long turning radius vehicles which want to scale Sandakphu need to keep this point in mind.

 

– Veeresh Anehosur

Bangalore Jeep Club!

 

ZEAL OF MY LIFE – JEEPY QUEEN

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 1
jeep girl rani

SOMEONE who was fond of cars & changing cars every third year from past 18 years. A couple of years when I was contemplating on which car to buy, there comes this magic machine which took my attention…

Ya you guessed it right…

Truly Magic…

Picked it on 9th October and special thanks to my hubby who took the delivery of my Jeep, not driving it straight home instead he gets it to my office as I could not make it to take delivery from showroom.  I jumped like a small girl without saying “NO”, trust me the moment when I held the steering & drove up the ramp of my office building it was ‘AWESOME FEELING’ – never before, never after. Felt proud when this MAGIC MACHINE made the heads turn when I drive it.

his bestie had given a lifetime experience of getting selected for the “Times Women’s Drive 2018” & definitely a PRIDE for being the first car to be flagged off.

This Magic Machine has taken my life to the next level with amazing people of Jeep Community. Made some good friends for life, especially the core team of BJC who are ever-ready to support / help all the fellow Jeepers. They are just a call away making us feel so special.

Wondering when I will be back on those lovely tracks especially made for my Jeep whether it’s on highway, off-road or just a drive to my work – I love being as much glued to my Magic Machine.

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Jeep Girl – Rani

MORBE DAM TRAIL IN MY JEEP COMPASS WITH JEEP WESTERN WANDERERS CLUB

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 6

After getting my Jeep Compass in August last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Jeep Trails event in November. Read all about my experience of participating in Jeep Trails White Sands, in the Rann of Kutch here.

But the ownership experience is always enhanced by sharing our passion with other like-minded enthusiasts. With this is mind, I was lucky enough to come in contact with Devendra Deshmukh (lovingly called DD) of Jeep Western Wanderers club. He got me hooked up with the group and I was onboard with JeepAG (Jeep Activity Group).

Pic Edited
Splash courtesy.. DD 🙂

Jeep Western Wanderers is one of the nine clubs under JeepAG, which brings together various Jeep clubs across India and their enthusiastic members under one roof.

IMG

The beginning of 2020 brought fresh enthusiasm to the group and a plan for a 1 day trail drive was made. Me with my impulsive behaviour, decided to attend the event. The drive was planned by Jeep Western Wanderers (JWW) to Morbe Dam, Khopoli which is located about 2 hours away from Mumbai, mid-way to Pune.

The event kick-started with all the participants from Mumbai meeting at a common place. To my happy surprise, many members came with their families, which was a great relief for my wife and son. The youngest enthusiast in the line-up was 9 months old. Kudos to his parents for getting her started early 🙂

Group
The Mumbai gang

The total participants included 25 Jeeps and 72 participants (Participants from Mumbai, Pune and me from Nasik). We started in convoy for our first destination; Hotel Purva in Khopoli. This was our breakfast stop and also the converging point for the participants coming from Pune (Yes.. that’s how enthusiastic we are. Coming from Nasik & Pune for a 1 day trail drive).

IMG

After a sumptuous breakfast, we lined up and moved towards our trail. We left the highway and moved onto a small narrow road, crossed Chouk railway station and moved ahead. The long line-up of Jeeps was a sight to behold and enjoy.

IMG ECEBD
Pic courtesy: Ajay Kadam

The organisers had promised us some off-road fun, and boy, did they deliver!! The paved road ended immediately after the village, and we moved onto a dirt track (Let’s not call it a road). I immediately had my doubts; would my 4X2 Jeep be able to handle such rough tracks? Would it get stuck in the loose sand? Would it be able to tackles steep inclines?

But the 2 dozen Jeeps moving ahead gave me confidence and I started enjoying the drive. 

The drive was rough, but we enjoyed ourselves. The going was slow and we had to periodically stop for others to catch up and the convoy would move ahead again.

After about an hour of off-roading, we reached our first stop Pirkatwadi in Arkas Wadi area. This is a small hamlet with 20 houses. There is no electricity or running water. But there is a small Government run school with 16 students. It’s amazing to see the commitment of the villagers to educate their children.

I was astounded to see the school. It had a single classroom but the efforts being taken by the staff to educate the children was extraordinary. Having limited resources definitely wasn’t holding them back. Many unique and out of the box ideas were implemented for making the learning fun and educational.

Pic

As social impact is an objective of JWW, we carried as many things as we could for the children including stationary, books, food, blankets and much more. It was amazing to see the joyous reaction of the children. Their parents joined them too and we had a great time chatting with them.

School

Soon it was time to move on and DD once again sprung a surprise on us. He told us that he will lead us to a remote location, where we will be in touching distance of the water. So we moved ahead. We had to cross a dry riverbed on the way there.

We started driving back the same way but soon took a diversion. It looked like DD was leading us straight into the jungle. I couldn’t even see a walking trail. But we proceeded ahead nonetheless.

After about 15 mins. drive, we got to the catchment area of Morbe dam. It was a wonderful place. Right by the water, the weather was mild and we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere. Piping hot tea and poha was served by the same villagers who has met us earlier. The favourite timepass for the children seemed to be throwing stones into the water.

IMG
Pic Courtesy: Jatin K
Catchment
Panoramic shot of the area
Cake
Celebrate every occasion.. cause you get cake 🙂

Too soon it seemed, it was time to head back to civilisation. We drove back the same way and after another hour, we reached the Chouk village. 

Anay
A dusty Jeep but a very enthusiastic boy

It was a pleasure to drive on paved roads again. We assembled at a nearby restaurant and after a well-deserved lunch, it was time for goodbyes as everyone headed in their own direction, with promises to meet soon at similar trails.

I must specifically mention the performance of the Jeep Compass. My Compass is a 4X2 variant, but it conquered the rough terrain with ease. Not only mine, but all the Compass made it through without getting stuck. It shows the capability of the vehicle. The build quality is top notch as well, as my Compass took all the bumps, scrapes and underbody hits and still came out with flying colours. I am impressed and mighty pleased with my decision of purchasing the Jeep Compass.

Special thanks also to JWW organisers who took out time to visit the location beforehand and made the great arrangements. It was a great family drive, and I am looking forward to many more drives in the future with this great community of Jeepers and road trippers.

Legendary Jeep Trails 2019 – Rajasthan

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 1

This was a dream destination for many of our Jeepers from BJC, GOJ, WW & DJ, and when it was announced as a Legendary Trails by FCA – that added glitter to the beam that we were projecting to from long time. The planning for the trails started backend once the registered participants from our clubs confirmed their participation. A couple of more destinations were included on our route to the reporting location at Jaipur for LJT 2019.

For the BJC Jeepers the day started with drive from Bangalore on 19th early morning, while a Jeeper from Kerala had started off a day earlier to join us at Bangalore start point. The drive was smooth till the scheduled breakfast point and we were able to reach the break point ahead of schedule to have a local delicacy – Benne Dose of Davangere. There was an unassigned pit stop at Hubli to meet a fellow Legend Jeeper and as we were ahead of schedule the lunch point was dragged to few 100 kms further. After yet another local savory near to Kolhapur the convoy of 5 Jeeps headed towards Pune with an evening tea break to beat the upcoming traffic. In spite of the heavy traffic we reached our stay point by scheduled time. A quick dinner and retire to bed early was welcome by all to start off early next morning.

The day two drive started off on dot and reached the breakfast point on time, beating the Thane / Mumbai traffic. An appetizing Maharastrian breakfast at a prominent joint boosted the endurance of all Jeepers for rest of the day’s drive to the world famous Statue of Unity.
With yet another lunch break for the famous Gujarati dishes at Navasari, the convoy of 6 Jeeps headed to the day’s sight seeing place.
The view of the world’s tallest statue welcomed us from kms away, with the size of the statue increasing every meter we were nearing to it. Jeepers spent ample time at this famous location with a view of the biggest Dam and a late evening laser show over the statue of unity. Everyone retired at a nearest hotel for the day after the memorable visit to the status of Unity.

The day three all 6 Jeeps started rolling out 6:00 AM to the next destination Ajmer with a first breakfast stopover at Godhra after a flat tyre for one of the Jeep. The lip smacking local delicacy with a tea gave a boost to drive ahead. All Jeepers had a quick stopover at Jeep Centre in Udaipur for a tyre change and munching some snacks during lunch time. We had a late stopover for lunch on the highway towards Ajmer, thus proceeding the day’s final destination near to the Ajmer Dargah.

The day four started off with in-house breakfast at our place of stay and skipping both the tourists places en route citing to the security reasons and warnings by localities. Headed directly to the LJT reporting place at Jaipur. The streets to the hotel at Jaipur were blocked with no internet connectivity for entire day, but FCA / Trails team guided us through exclusive paths to reach the hotel. After registration and check-in, all Jeepers hopped into a nearby food court in a Mall for quick lunch / snacks. Meeting and greeting fellow Jeepers across the country – a few of them took off for shopping at local market. Everyone assembled for the briefing on the lawns and welcomed each other once again along with the trails team and FCA officials. All of us retired after dinner by the lawns as the next day was scheduled to be hectic with lot of activities / places to visit.

The day five (actual day 2 of LJT Trails) kicked off as early as 4 AM with every one reporting and rolling out towards the first break point for a hot air balloon ride. The flight took off in batches and was a most thrilling experience chasing the balloons to board the flight. It was amazing experience and the pilot was very cautious to give us a smooth ride and landing.

After the ride we headed back to the exclusive breakfast at the Samode Palace.

Later headed to the Sambar Lake for a lunch at a nearby heritage resort which was exclusively opened for our lunch. We had a quick drives to the lake bed for Flamingo sightings in batches along the railway tracks. The thrill for the day was awaiting for us at the Salt bed where every Jeeper had a stunning experience driving over the sandy salt bed. The convoy in three batches proceeded further over the Salt pan crossing to reach our halt at Khimsar. The stay at Khimsar Fort was yet and heritage cum luxury experience with the dinner at old ruins followed by folk performance by local artists which encouraged fellow Jeepers to tap their feet for a while.

The day six with a little relaxed start post breakfast towards Jodhpur for a visit to the famous Umaid Bhawan. Here we were welcomed by a local mentor who took us around the palace and also the Mehrangarh Fort along with Blue City walk towards end of the day. Yet another exclusive lunch for Jeepers was organized by the foot hills of the fort at Chokelav Bagh – perhaps we had our best food over here with the tunes by Rajasthani artists.

Couple of hours walk by shopping and food street munching typical Rajasthani country side snacks, everyone headed back to the hotel for night halt. The stay at heritage Jhalamand Garh meeting the king of the palace for Christmas eve cocktail dinner on the palace gardens.

The next day had a leisure drive after breakfast at Jhalamand Garh towards Osiyan. Every Jeeper had a track to drive on dunes with an amazing experience as how their beasts can perform on such terrain. A stopover at top the sand dunes to meet the local children and camel rides added glamor to the drives. Apart from FCA donations to the needy school children the Jeepers also accumulated a whooping amount to provide the blankets to the families of those children. The lunch on the dunes at a camp was unique and heading back to the camp site for the stay. A quick check-in and everyone headed for sunset point along with dune bashing. We had our hands on experience taming the wranglers over the sand dunes and bushes. Back again to camp refreshed swiftly – all Jeepers were taken to the Gala Dinner place on the dunes. The deserted desert was jacked up by the trails team for an unprecedented elegance. The Christmas evening went on till late midnight with live music and various drinks to beat the chilling night on desert.

This day was most fascinating drive to the jungle path for lunch with privileged permission inside the jungle. A few Jeepers were welcomed by the stunning Leopard on the jungle path – a true off-roading experience. As we descended everyone were reasoning how do we go back on this path! But the Jeeps cruised through this with ease and without any additional effort. A hearty thanks to the team who arranged for the lunch in mid of jungle. Few of us had a quick foot trek to the dry water falls and headed back to next adventure.

All Jeeps climbed the rocky mountain in dark, this was a very thrilling element of our drives. Between Uphill and Lake front a shack was setup for high tea – to be welcomed by the Princess of Deogarh. The Princess unfolded the greatness of the place and also we gained knowledge about stars from her. We headed back to the Deogarh Palace for our night stay with a royal dinner hosted by the Princess.

The last day of convoy drive started off after a yummy breakfast at the palace, heading towards our lunch stop near to Tonk. The lunch was hosted at a Royal Family’s property which was jacked up and opened solely for our group after 10 years of shutdown. A garlanded royal welcome to cherish and relish the royal life with the delicious food prepared under the supervision of the great daughter of the royal family. A warm thanks to the family, we headed to our final destination Ranthambore. After checking in to our suites, we were back to dining area for the dinner together with the entire team. Later we drove to the Ranthambore festival at Nahargarh Palace to meet and greet the top officials from FCA. Later we were greeted by the Prince Alsisar himself and later spent the night with couple of music performances over the festival city. Whilst most of us returned back from the festival city due to sub zero chillness, a few of the Jeepers spent more hours at the Den for after hours party night which went till early morning.

Our day ten (LJT’s last day of trails) was almost leisure day as the Safari got postponed due to some entry issues. We spent most of the day planning for our next trails and get togethers, cherishing the moments spent for the past 5 days. Post lunch everyone headed toward the festival location and tapped feet for those various musical performances.

Out of the blue – FCA arranged for another gala evening along with awards ceremony. Everyone were excited to receive their badge of honor for the completed Legendary Trails and few more were awarded additionally for the contests or outstanding performances.

A good bye for all other fellow Jeepers and warm hugs ended the night for us.

The day eleven for us was scheduled to head back towards south, whilst other Jeepers enjoyed the ride to Safari. We had a foggy drive for being started early morning on a bad stretch for almost an hour and later to be veered off to a better roads. The 8 Jeeps from South India followed each other in convoy to reach the breakfast point by the river side restaurant. A couple of breaks we reached our scheduled lunch point in Sagar for some delicious MP food. Beyond this point was what the nightmare drive for most of us, as the roads were in very bad shape before we could hit the normal highway to Nagpur. A quick vehicle checks was organized by FCA late night at Nagpur and later everyone retired for the day.

The day twelve kicked of as scheduled and reached the fixed breakfast point on time even though we had some hinderances on the way. A couple of tyre fixes were completed by the time the food was served. The scheduled lunch break point was replaced by a lunch at a fellow Jeeper’s farm house. Everyone cherished the homely food after so many days and thanked the family for the hospitality. Saying bye to DJ team, a late evening start off towards Bangalore delayed our destination time by many hours due to multiple breaks. A couple of them reached Bangalore few hours earlier than the rest who happened to reach by early morning. Almost 20 hours on the road was tiresome but none were exhausted to the core. The Jeeper from GOJ had another 9 hours drive back to his location and reached safely late morning.

Amidst the ongoing agitations at some places from our start point to the end point – we had a safe drive without any hurdles and at many a places the public gave way for the convoy with respect. So when’s the next trails is what in everyone’s mind…. Jeepy New Year 2020

– Anil PROMPT

Scarlett comes home – My Jeep Compass Limited(O) 4×4 – Arun Josie

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 1

Five years and close to two lakh kms of ownership experience is a perfect window for a change/upgrade. My humble steed, the Linea MJD had served us well in the past 5 years and I had no plans to upgrade it. But, a chance test drive and some deep discounts going on for the Jeep Compass pushed me over the edge to upgrade from the Linea. The temptation to bring the Jeep home was too much and resistance was futile.

Right from the launch of Jeep Compass in June 2017, I’ve had an eye on it. Not just for the looks, but the ride handling as well. I was thoroughly impressed when I took a test drive, way back in 2017. However, Linea was doing its job perfectly and we didn’t feel the need for an upgrade then. But things changed in March 2019. Oh! we never know on what life has in store for us!

I did think about retaining the Linea as a spare car. But it was not a viable option for us due to budget constraints. Also, the Linea will be driven sparingly with the Jeep in the garage and it’s bad to leave such a great car unused. So, after a lot of thought, we decided to let go of the Linea for a Jeep Compass.

A quick summary based on my experience so far:

Likes

  • Power! 173bhp on tap and it is very nicely distributed. (Of course, it’s a big upgrade for me from Linea MJD)
  • Excellent performance and handling on the highway. Its rock-solid at good speeds.
  • Tight suspension. At moderate speeds and above, the potholes and uneven surfaces are absorbed well. (Basically, the ride quality is stiffer than plush)
  • ‘Drivability’ inside the city is good too.
  • Smooth gear shifts and I like the gear knob, cool metallic finish, and nice grip to hold too.
  • Clutch is light (not in the Harrier league though), has a long travel like Linea. Initial batch had clutch issues which is fixed now.
  • Braking is excellent with all 4 disc brakes.
  • A meaty steering. It has a nice grip and it is handily wrapped in leather.
  • Quickly got adjusted to the driving position and no ergonomic issues as well.
  • Nice and comfortable leather seats with good under-thigh support. (Like in linea, it is a bit on the harder side)
  • Excellent NVH levels either while idling or at speeds.
  • Excellent build quality
  • Interior quality is good. Be it the buttons or plastics or the finish.
  • Equipped with side/curtain airbags along with front airbags
  • Good fuel efficiency for a 2L / 173BPH engine
  • Bi-Xenon Head Lamps
  • Reverse camera clarity is good and it directs you based on steering input.
  • Dual zone AC. You have an option to set a different temperature for either side. (Driver/Passenger side)
  • It’s a head-turner from any angle 
  • Liked the dual-tone exterior.
  • Of course, with plans for Sikkim, Leh-Ladakh in the future, it’s good to have a 4×4 car
  • The service interval duration is every 15K Kms, just like the Linea MJD.

Dislikes

  • White interiors. With two naughty kids, it’s a pain to maintain the interior.
  • Something which I miss big-time is the “Rain-sensing” wipers. I was so used to it in the Linea. It comes in Limited Plus though.
  • Engine guard is not metal. They should have provided a metal engine guard like in Trailhawk.
  • Cruise Control. Not a deal-breaker but a good feature to have these days
  • Blank buttons in the steering wheel, this was supposed to be for cruise control
  • Reclining option for the rear seat would have been nice.
  • Bumper lip is low. I have seen many owners who have replaced the bumper lip from the Limited Plus model which is a little shorter than this and helps with better ground clearance
  • Exide battery. I am seeing many complaints from other owners with the battery dying in 1-2 year’s time frame.

Neutral

  • Space, it is adequate and nothing to complain about. Rear seat leg-room is more than Linea’s and no complaints from any rear-seat passengers so far. Space is not in the leagues of Harrier/XUV 500 though.
  • Boot Space, again it is just adequate. The Linea has more boot space than the Compass. During long drives with the family, we have to arrange the luggage strategically to accommodate more things. There is some space available in the spare wheel compartment as well. Removing the parcel tray helps to increase the boot space, but we have not tried this so far. Removing the parcel tray also means that the luggage will be visible via the windscreen.
  • Rear seat is for 2 adults + Kid. It will be difficult for 3 adults to fit in comfortably.
  • Thick A-pillar, especially the one on the left side is a hindrance while taking sharp left turns. With the left ORVM kind of an extension from A-pillar, it makes things difficult.
  • I feel the steering heaviness while taking U-turns and the turning radius is not that great as well.
  • Auto-head lamps is a miss too which was there in Linea
  • The display unit could have been bigger. (Limited Plus gets a bigger one)
  • Tinted glass windows. This is another miss from Linea.
  • Service Network. It’s not a Maruti or Hyundai or Tata or Mahindra with wide network.

– Arun Josie

Jeep Abilities Vs Expectations – By Ponz

posted in: JeepAG-Blog | 4
Bangalore Jeep Group Kolar Trip 10

My short take on jeep compass on its abilities against owner’s expectations – Ponz

 

Let’s start with challenges

Challenges:

Head lights, rattling, approach angle & missing a few (not so important) features

Headlights: Aftermarket fix available, so not much to worry.

Approach angle: I hope Trailhawk bumper fit these, sources say yes! …. but can live without one.

Missing features: I would rather talk about the 40-odd other safety features jeep compass has in it but is missing on cars in the segment and beyond the segment!

Expectation vs Reality on a few issues:

Off-roading:

  • By now if not all, most should have understood that this is not a naked off-roader, but capable to be made one if someone has the money to convert a 26l 4×4…..I am sure if done so, it will be one of the best across segments….what needs to be done to get there…( A separate write up can be done on this) .

With the current stock state and for most who feel that they have paid a bomb and hence expects it to go places where none other in the segment or below this segment can’t go….that’s not true….even a Nano survived north east peaks! But yes, it handles places with no roads elegantly with comfort and ease. A 4×4 owner can best feel how effortless it is to get over some deep slush and flip side is yes it can get stuck! & so does a 70l Wrangler!

Rattling : ( delicate topic)

Not a big fan of this topic largely because I think it depends on how the owners handle and take care of the vehicle. The only rattling I heard was from the dash speaker location until the last Wester Trails. Post that meet, I have been hearing a lot more noises and I narrow the reason to have rattling is only “US” who drive and how we handle it in bad roads! The day 2 road to Bhandardara during the trail was pathetic and now when I think about it , the way the convoy drew in high speeds( including me, under pressure of keeping up) either to keep up with the lead wrangler or assuming it’s built to be driven in a messy road without repercussions is not true! I have noticed more rattling in my JC post that drive. Let me clarify off-roading is rolling the wheels in a roadless space and not driving like maniacs on a broken tarmac road!!! Let me assure none of the cars existing on earth can survive without rattling if driven that way!! Something we will ensure to take care in the upcoming drives!!

My take or rather most of ours:

In simple few words – power packed, strong, able and safe. Best in segment and does beat a few cars in the next segment too. Clearly no comparison to Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra etc. Takes the Fiat Linea’s slogan to the next level “admiration guaranteed”. The Jeep community and like mindedness makes this stronger than any other brands in the country and in the world!

By- proud owner of a 4×4 JC with no regrets!

Ponz