Off-roading is not easy; you have to not only drive your car but also run around to spot for other cars.
BHPian Dr.AD recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
About a week ago, a few TeamBHP members from Bangalore went for some casual off-roading with their 4×4 vehicles, on a hill at the outskirts of the city. It was an evening off-roading session; a short and sweet session that did not even take the whole day!
This event was organized by fellow BHPian @karthikd21. All credit to @karthikd21 for planning, organizing, and executing the plan flawlessly! He also doubled as our expert spotter and instructor, and the rest of us just followed his instructions and had a lot of fun. Thanks a lot @karthikd21 for this memorable off-roading session and for all your efforts!
Unlike most of the driving events that start early morning, this one started in the late afternoon. We started around 4pm on a cloudy day with forecasts of rain, and by the time we ended, it was quite dark and it was indeed raining heavily. We got to experience glimpses of off-roading in the dark, and also got to drive back in heavy rain. A day with a nice variety of driving conditions!
Although I mentioned casual off-roading, at many points the trail was deceptively tricky, and it quickly became more than just a casual drive. Some portions of the trail tested the much debated TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) of the 4×4 hardware such as MLD, BLD, HDC, and a few more; I am sure the expert fellow participants will fill in a few more here.
Personally for me, this was a great fun. I loved driving on those slippery slopes and the crooked hills, and maneuvering around a few stones and rocks in the process. One good thing about this event (something that I really appreciated) was that this was not specific to any one brand of vehicles. The group was diverse and included three Thars, two Scorpio-Ns, one Jimny, and one Fortuner. Such diverse group results in much more fun discussions without resorting to fanboyism for any one brand of vehicles. We surely had a great fun seeing a variety of vehicles in action together!
Let me share the rest of the story through pictures. Unfortunately, I was not carrying my camera. I have still not figured out how to handle a proper camera while also controlling my bouncing and jumping Thar on such tricky terrains without falling into a ditch, and how to quickly jump in and out of my Thar parked precariously on the edge of some hill, and without getting run over by the other 4×4 machines, taking their photos with a bulky and complex camera when those machines themselves are in the most precarious positions. In my experience so far, a simple mobile phone is proving much more useful to take some quick photos in the above-mentioned conditions than my other photography gear. Most of my Thar photos are taken with mobile phones just for this reason. This drive was no exception. All photos shared here are shot with a mobile phone, in a casual and hurried manner, while jumping in and out of the driver seat of my Thar, and taking care that neither I nor my Thar fall into a ditch in the process.
Four vehicles out of the group of seven arrived at the planned location a few minutes early, and as an “early bird bonus”, did another small trail just about 1km long.
“Black & White” (My Thar with @PrideRed’s Fortuner on that early bird bonus trail):
“Black & Rocky Beige next to a Rock” (ROG_AK’s Scorpio-N and @tilt’s Thar):
The four early birds posing together:
Before we could finish this photo session, we got a phone call that @robimahanta and @megazoid had now reached the original meeting location. We wound up our photo session and drove back to meet and greet them.
By now the above-mentioned six BHPians had gathered at the starting point. The seventh, @nerd1200, was going to join us a bit late directly on the trail. So the six of us, under the guidance of the leader of the pack @karthikd21 started driving on the main trail. @karthikd21 had an unfortunate hand injury that day. However, even with that injured hand, he still joined the drive and did not cancel it. But due to that injury, he could not drive his own Thar, and instead, he was riding shotgun with me. Hats off to @karthikd21 for his courage and commitment in joining the drive even in that state! As another bonus, I got to have an expert like him riding shotgun with me, and I learnt a few things by chit chatting with him.
Anyways, so the six vehicles started their journey on the main trail, with my car being the lead car and @karthikd21 riding shotgun with me and showing the path. The trail looked quite innocuous at first. But then at some point @karthikd21 asked me to quit the trail and take a left and start driving on a hill, and the fun started!
We climbed a small hill and then started descending it to the other side.
The six vehicles on hill descend (From front to back: my Thar, @robimahanta’s Thar, @megazoid’s Jimny, @ROG_AK’s Scorpio-N, @PrideRed’s Fortuner, and @tilt’s Thar):
In the above picture, notice the sideways slope of the track (it was more severe than how it appears in the photo).
Once we descended from that slope and reached the bottom point, there was a steep, long, and almost straight climb to another hill. This was an interesting section of the trail. There were no obstacles here, just the trail with loose soil/gravel that that goes straight up a long hill with steep slope.
I do not have any pictures of this as I was just driving my Thar and making sure I keep my momentum on that steep and long climb. @karthikd21, who was riding shotgun with me, kept on telling me to keep pushing the Thar and keep the momentum and the MLD would take care of traction. I just kept the momentum and the Thar managed the steep slope just fine.
Once we reached the top, I told @karthikd21 that my petrol Thar, made in 2023, does not even have a MLD. MLD was disconnected in petrol Thar sometime around end of 2022. I did not tell him that while on the climb – I just kept the A pedal pressed and in 4L, the Thar did just fine and climbed that hill without drama. I have heard from Mahindra experts than the BLD was improved a lot by the time they deleted the MLD. I have no clue how accurate that theory is, but my Thar with whatever hardware it has managed just fine and that was the fun part!
After climbing up that steep slope, this is how it looked from the top:
The actual sharp sloping trail is not visible in the picture. But from the above picture, imagine that you are standing at the edge of that hill and that trail takes you deep down, at a steep angle, all the way to the bottom. That is the slope we climbed up. And then later in the evening, in pretty dark conditions, we descended down that steep and long slope again.
My Thar on the top of the hill:
After I parked my Thar there, I ran back to see the other cars climbing up.
@robimahanta’s Thar climbing up the trail as others watch:
While I was watching the other cars climb up, I could not resist taking a couple of solo photos of my Thar standing there:
Looking back at the trail below the hill, in the distance, I could see @PrideRed’s Fortuner on the trail at the bottom of the hill:
And a few minutes later, here is that Fortuner, climbing up in style:
One more photo of the big and mighty Fortuner which looked totally at home there and did the whole trail in style and without any issues:
The cars lined up on the top of the hill:
By then we started getting ready for the next stage. The next stage was another steep descend, followed by another steep climb, and this time, there were many stones and rocks on the path too to add to the fun.
While I was getting ready to descend down the next slope, I could see @tilt’s Thar in my ORVM:
And @robimahanta’s Thar in my IRVM (and the chit-chat session going on next to @megazoid’s Jimny):
The next track looked like this from my windshield:
Off-roading pictures usually do not tell the full story of slopes and angles. The slopes are much sharper than they appear in 2D images. This picture is one example of that. In front me there was a nice and deep descend that was impossible to capture in the photos.
By now @karthikd21 had got out of my Thar and he was standing at the bottom of the next descend and spotting and instructing everyone. Robi had already gone ahead to check out the trail ahead. And when I was driving down, I was busy listening to @karthikd21 and Robi and following their instructions.
This section was a bit tricky. The sideways slope was quite steep, and at places it felt like the Thar would topple. @karthikd21 gave be some instructions about how to steer the Thar while driving down that slippery trail with both forward and sideways slopes, and how to avoid toppling (or that “feeling of toppling”, to be more precise). In the end, I think I followed his instructions well because I managed without toppling. It was a lot of fun!
This was the section that also had big rocks and stones in the path. At many places, while one was worried about managing the slopes and steering straight, they hit the rocks that were invisible from the driver’s seats. A few hit the rocks, a few missed those, but in the end, all made it fine and all had fun!
My Thar parked next to Robi’s Thar, after reaching the end of the trail:
@ROG_AK joined us next, and his Scorpio_N looked amazing in action:
This Scorpio-N, with its aftermarket wheels and MT tyres (I assume they were MT), managed this trail with ease. Those slippery sections would have been challenging for any vehicle with HT tyres, but this Scorpio with MT did it in style!
Looking back the trail, now we see @megazoid’s Jimny in action on that trail, with @karthikd21 standing in the front and spotting for the drivers:
In the above picture, again notice the sideways slope. It is much sharper than what it appears in the picture, and that made it a fun trail.
As you can see from the picture of this trail, just the trail itself is less difficult (or should I say has fewer obstacles) than the trail we did at Achalu Betta last month. That trail had many challenging obstacles and was more technical in nature. This particular trail, on the other hand, was a lot more slippery and had a lot of forward as well as sideways slopes, making it tricky to steer and maneuver on it. This trail was a different fun in that sense. You could keep driving, keep the momentum, and steer correctly to counter the toppling feeling. That was the trick here. In the Achalu Betta trail, it was not that easy. We had to get down and plan how to cross each obstacle there. Both trails had different kinds of fun and I liked both of them!
Two Thars and one Jimny parked at the end of the trail:
I loved seeing these Thars and Jimny together and managing everything so well together. While there are many academic debates about which vehicle is better, our friends like @robimahanta and @megazoid manage to ignore the debates and just drive their vehicles to their fullest capabilities and enjoy real-world off-roading to the fullest. And when you do that, both vehicles are great! I love that spirit. No academic debates and tons of real-world off-roading!
Here is a close-up of @megazoid’s Jimny, with @tilt’s Thar in the background:
I love this white Jimny. It looks great. But more than that, I like it because of @megazoid and the way he drives this machine and takes it everywhere. We already saw this Jimny in the picturesque settings on a beach in Kerala, and we are sure to see this at many more exotic locations across the country soon. @megazoid is one of our role models in driving his cars all over the country and utilizing each of them to their fullest extent, be it his lowered BMW 330i on the road or his Jimny off the road. We will see plenty of off-roading and cross-country travels from this Jimny soon, and I am for sure looking forward to those stories and travelogues.
The other white car in the group, Fortuner of @PrideRed, looked just as amazing while in action as it looks while standing still:
@tilt driving his Thar on the trail, while @robimahanta running on the side to spot for him (off-roading is not easy; you have to not only drive your car but also run around to spot for other cars):
After some chit-chat at the top of that hill, which was also the end of the small trail for us that evening, we started our drive back. Now the return drive was in the reverse order, which meant I was somewhere at the back of the convoy now.
The White Fortuner leading the pack as we started driving back:
Back to the first hill (we climbed up and down two hills in succession that evening), these five cars engaged in another session of chit-chatting and catching up, and exchanging stories of bumps, dents and scratches (yes there were five cars; my Thar is hidden behind the two white cars):
“der aaye durust aaye” (It came late but it came just fine); @nerd1200’s Scorpio-N came late and joined us here for the final stretch of the evening drive:
The cars lined up to descend down that very first big slope, looked amazing in the late evening light:
And finally, the parting shot from my windshield, of how it looked as I was ready to drive down that slope in that late evening darkness:
We finished the last few stretches of that trail in the dark, under our headlights, and then faced heavy rain just after joining the tar road. We were quite lucky that it did not rain while we were on those slippery slopes. I could see lightning and thunder when I was descending down, but the rain started only when we hit the tar road. The drive back home was full of traffic on the highways and the usual traffic and rain delays. But the off-roading session was so much fun that I did not mind the painful drive back.
With that, let me end this report. Once again, thanks to @karthikd21 for organizing this event and for all his efforts, and thanks to everyone who joined this drive for the wonderful company and the fun times together.
That is all from me. Thank you very much for reading! And I hope the other participants (all were forum members) will share their own stories and experiences too in this thread. Thanks again everyone!
Keyword: A gang of enthusiasts take their 4x4s on an evening off-road excursion