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Old 18th July 2008, 02:20   #1
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Talking Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg

This was a completely unplanned trip. This was the day we were supposed to tamely drive back home after a successful offroading event at Coorg.

See the report of the offroading event here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-of...08-report.html

During the morning coffee, I overhear a conversation between Giri Tirumale and Kiran Kumar where Giri is suggesting some scenic place near Virajpet that is a must see. He says once you reach Chelavara falls, people usually go on foot, but you just turn right and keep going, just keep going, some places you may have to use 4WD, but just keep going, after few Kms it is a great scenic spot. Soon Kiran, Shahnawaz (Khan_sultan)and myself are interested. Since it seems like a small detour I quickly convince my wife to modify our itinerary for the morning.

Meanwhile word spreads and few more including Jammy ‘s gang gets on board. But Jammy himself is not so keen since he has plans to take the Delhi guests Sarvinder and Romi to almost all his favourite spots like Nagarhole. Bandipur, Gopalswami betta all on the same day. As more people join, we start getting delayed and we eventually take off at around 10AM.
Couple of KMs later we have to stop since Romi/Sarvinder aren’t with us.

After some 10 minutes of wait, they both joined us on the Yellow MM440. So we continue again. At Ammathi, Kiran, Shahnawaz and myself turn towards Virajpet, but the MM440 which was behind me continues straight towards Polibetta. Again we all come to a stop. After another 10-15 minutes, the MM440 comes back and races ahead of us. Again we all start towards Virajpet. As we were closing on Virajpet, I notice Jammy’s red Willys parked on the side along with the yellow MM440. I continued ahead thinking they will catch up with us in Virajpet. But the wait at Virajpet was a long one, eventually we found that Jammy’s red Willys has starter trouble, the spark plugs are not firing. We reach towards the center part of the town and again park. As Jammy was trying to fix his Jeep few town folks started helping him out. After all this was Jeep country.

Meanwhile it was beyond 11AM and both the wives (Shahnawaz and mine) were giving an earful to their husbands about the delay and about cancelling the whole detour and head home. I finally told my wife that we will wait until 12PM before cancelling the detour. After some time Jammy told the rest of us to continue ahead to Chelavara without him, he would meanwhile get the Jeep properly repaired. With that understanding four vehicles took off, but only 3 made it to the first turn-off as one of them dropped out to return to Bangalore. So it was me (and wife), Shahnawaz (and wife), Kiran Kumar (and his friend Govind) in CJ340, Gypsy and MM540 respectively. All this time I am still thinking we are ahead to Chelavara falls. Kiran was in the lead and he was driving pretty fast, and I was focusing on keeping up with him. At one point Kiran stops the Jeep and get on the stop to shoot pics of the falls. I decide to wait until I get a much closer view.

A little later terrain gets difficult, I engage 4WD. Even Kiran gets down to lock his hubs. After some time we are doing some serious off-road climbing in a very rocky trail. Suddenly we notice that the engine is again reaching closer to 100C. Looks like any sustained climbing for 15-20 minutes leads to heat build up. So I stop the Jeep and leave the hood open for cooling the engine. There is a light drizzle. We call ahead to Kiran to make him stop and wait for us.

Click and view the large size images for better enjoyment.

About 10 minutes later we start off again. This time Kiran has stopped with his hood up. Apparently his coolant overflow tank was displaced and all coolant has leaked off. But radiator has coolant and there was nothing to worry about.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131229.jpg

Meanwhile I was getting worried about the distance, I keep asking how much more, the water falls looked not so far. I am eventually told we are going to a mountain top. Right where we had stopped, there was a very old tomb of a person who died in 19th century, the guy just missed out on Roy Bahadur title. Nice little piece of history.

The path ahead looks mysterious and rocky.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131230.jpg

So we continue, the trail gets even more rocky and challenging, but nothing beyond the normal ability of our rides. At this point I realise that my Grand Vitara couldn’t have handled this part. Finally we reach a point where the scene looked so nice we all had to get down.

We could see clouds lying on the mountain slope and my wife decided to literally walk into the cloud.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131232.jpg

See where we have parked, the mountain is literally kissing the clouds.

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This one will give the larger perspective; here only Kiran’s ride is visible. We are very close to clouds.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131238.jpg

Suddenly everybody wants to be photographed with the clouds, my wife, Kiran and then Govind.

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Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131239.jpg

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131240.jpg

I get back to the Jeep and the scene looks divine.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131241.jpg

Suddenly we hear an engine noise, we have company. Jammy’s Red and Yellow Jeeps show up with Jammy, Sarvinder, Romi, Sahana and Adhiraj. Jammy is in a hurry and he wants us to move on and he goes ahead. Now we are literally entering the cloud along with our Jeeps.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131242.jpg

How often can you pose with cloud below you?

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131243.jpg

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131244.jpg

Here the roads are very deeply rutted, we are actually wary of them.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131245.jpg

And Jammy gets stuck in one of the deep ruts.

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The path is seriously damaged and Jammy tries to get out but can’t. He is still having trouble with the engine, not all cylinders are firing, so he is under powered. Both sides have deep storm drains and beyond which there are deep cliffs.

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Sarvinder comes forward in the MM440 to pull the Willys out. The rescue effort is in full swing while we are all fully inside the cloud.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131248.jpg

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131249.jpg

Finally the red Willys gets pulled out and Sarvinder moves ahead, right into the rut. Jammy showers a bucketful of curses in his native tongue and Sarvinder remains cheerfully cool since he can’t understand a single curse. You see, both Jeeps belong to Jammy.

Meanwhile cloud clear up and we can see where we are.

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Now it is the turn of the red Jeep to rescue the yellow Jeep.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131252.jpg

To be continued.

Last edited by Samurai : 18th July 2008 at 14:42. Reason: typo
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Old 18th July 2008, 02:30   #2
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Meanwhile, I walk ahead and survey the trail ahead, it is heavily cratered, and very rocky incline. Kiran had already gone ahead, much ahead. This is what I need to wade through if I survive the part where Jammyís Jeeps were stuck. Now I was truly spooked, and scared for the well-being of my Jeep. I didnít think I could take it across this path, with no tractor or winch or tow vehicle to rescue me. I mean I had to drive the same Jeep home and I had to attend office, etc.

Then Romi tells me that my Jeep can easily handle this terrain, it is much tougher than I think. OK, the Jeep can do it, but do I have the skill to do it? What if I make a mistake and disable the Jeep. I mean, many Jeepers did disable their Jeep on the previous day on easier terrain. And here we are, on the top of a rocky mountain, with no mechanics or spares. I decided to leave the Jeep here and hop on to other Jeeps and reach the top. My wife and Sahana had already gone ahead trekking to the top while we were rescuing Jammyís Jeeps.

One by one every Jeep moves on and I felt like a fool stranded in the middle of an adventure. So I change my mind, and decide to push my luck further. Few guys had stayed back to spot for me in case I took on the challenge. With a deep sigh, I started the Jeep and asked for instructions. I was told to do it in 1st low all the way without ever releasing the accelerator and I was told not to touch brake or clutch. I carefully watched the hands of the spotters and managed to get across the crazy crater and then on to the long rocky incline with deep ruts with a sheer cliff on one side. I floor the pedal and kept on going, going and going and finally stopped behind the Gypsy. That was the craziest piece of driving I had ever done.

A view from this point.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131254.jpg

We stopped here because Jammyís red Willys was again having problems.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131255.jpg

A shaadi.com shot for Adhiraj from Goa, he is the son of famous Jeeper Uday Bhan Singh.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131258.jpg

Once the Willys started again, the MM440 refused to start.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131259.jpg

So we continue to wait. The terrain behind the Jeep looks very tame, donít be fooled, it is almost 30 degree incline with very rocky surface that keeps slipping.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131260.jpg

We start off again on similar climb, and after some similarly difficult terrain we made it to the top.

This was one proud moment for me. And it would not have been possible for the encouragement and guidance of fellow Jeepers.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131262.jpg

There were no other tourists other than us. Yeah right, it was not like some tavera or Innova could have reached here with tourists.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131263.jpg

Here is 360 degree shot from the hill.

Samurai : photos : Offroading at Choma Kunda- powered by SmugMug

As I was shooting pics, most of them ran away to another spot. Meanwhile Jammy wanted to leave since they had more places to visit. He must be mad, who wants to leave this paradise in a hurry?

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131267.jpg

As I was running towards others, I wondered about the wildlife here, you know, there could be predators here. Then I see a grazing cow, so much for predators.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131266.jpg

There was nice ridge where most of them congregated, but wanted somebody to shoot pics. So I obliged. It was after all a great photo spot.

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Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131273.jpg

I even spotted a Sadhu meditating on the top of the mountain. No, wait, thatís just Kiran.

Offroading into the Clouds at Choma Kunda-Coorg-p7131275.jpg

After all the hard work of driving and shooting, I too got my share of the limelight.

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As we finally gathered to leave, I was again the last of the herd. The climb down can be even difficult since I am not supposed to touch the brakes. Engine braking is the only option here. But with the experience I had gained since previous day, I chose to use 2nd low for the climb down. Although the initially parts were OK, it got really dicey as we neared the corner close to the crater. The Jeep was tilted at 30 degree sideways and I could barely keep my legs inside the Jeep. But we kept going and screaming in this angle and came to face the crater. Fortunately at this point Shahnawaz was waiting to spot for us and he guided us through the safe path and we made it across. Wow, what a relief. After that nothing was a real challenge, we kept descending 2nd low and later 3rd low until road got better and 2WD worthy.

This time we did stop at Chelavara falls, I had missed it completely in the morning. But the amount of climb in empty stomach didnít suit me and I gave it a skip. At this point we bade farewell and goodbye to everybody and continued towards Madikeri. At Hill Top hotel (Madikeri) we had rice and mutton chops (3 plates) for lunch, it was close to 4:30PM by then. As we filled up diesel, I realised that we had spent only 16lt since we filled up at the same point on Friday. We finally left Madikeri at 4:40PM and after some hard driving reached Manipal at 9:50PM. The entire journey totaled up to 639Kms.

And here is the funny part. This small detour to Choma Kunda turned to be more intense and gruelling than the planned OTR on the previous day. Who knew...
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Old 18th July 2008, 02:45   #3
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wow!!! breathtaking pictures and a brilliant writeup . Was the temperature OK while you were climbing in 1st gear? I want a jeep now too. I love that yellow jeep.
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Old 18th July 2008, 08:14   #4
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Originally Posted by bluestraveller View Post
wow!!! breathtaking pictures and a brilliant writeup . Was the temperature OK while you were climbing in 1st gear? I want a jeep now too. I love that yellow jeep.
Thanks man, do you mean the engine temperature? It did heat up during the initial climb, after that we kept stopping a lot, so it was not an issue later. The outside temperature was around 20C.
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Old 18th July 2008, 08:36   #5
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Suberb pics and brilliant write-up, natural for Samurai. The climate is one of the loveliest.
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Old 18th July 2008, 09:28   #6
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Wow!! Another Great report with pictures to match Samurai.
Its great to see someone woit a Jeep using it for the purpose it was built. Way to go man. I can see that you are becoming a 4X4 addict.
Please be ready to shoot pointers at newbies into the ofroading arena like me, once my Jeeps ready.
Cant wait to get the Jeep on rough terrain.
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:08   #7
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Wow!! You guys surely must have enjoyed every bit of the drive. Offroading is one of my ambitions and would love to take part in such events. However before that let me get my driving license and a good ‘offroader’. What say Mr. Dhabhar ?

Regards,
Adheesh Parelkar
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:18   #8
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Hi Samurai,

You had a great time, pictures speak for themselves. So you are officially an off-roader now.

Warm regards,
Dwarak
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:23   #9
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Thumbs up Nature at its best

Amazing landscape....nature at it's best, and captured most beautifully on camera by you , Samurai, Kudos .

.
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:26   #10
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Hi Guys,

Awesome pics and superb writeup. Wish to have a Jeep for such adventure.

Pleaseeeeeeee let me knwo when the next event is planned .... would like to be a part of it. cheers:

Cheers
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:39   #11
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Wow looks like you just went up into the heavens for a ride!! What a spectacular country. Great pics.
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:43   #12
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Damn you, Samurai. I wont be surprised if your travelogues set off a spate of Jeep acquisitions on TBHP.

You have got some beautiful shots. Thanks !

An observation about #15 in post 1. Feel it would have given a better perspective of the spot if you had taken that from a flatter angle, instead of taking it standing up. Something like as done in #16.

Also, could you have used a smaller aperture in these shots, to increase DoF ?
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Old 18th July 2008, 10:43   #13
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Samurai San,

Amazing photographs & write up. My hair was standing on an end!
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Old 18th July 2008, 11:08   #14
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You got me in awe Samurai.
I cannot wade off the thought of experiencing this in person.

Teach me how to drive a 4x4, would You (and lend also hehehe)
Btw what camera? manual mode?
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Old 18th July 2008, 11:16   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
An observation about #15 in post 1. Feel it would have given a better perspective of the spot if you had taken that from a flatter angle, instead of taking it standing up. Something like as done in #16.

Also, could you have used a smaller aperture in these shots, to increase DoF ?
Trust me, after the 9th photo, photography was the last thing in my mind. I had actually overexposed by +0.3 EV while we were in the clouds, since the meter tends to misread the cloud/mist. However, once the cloud cleared I didn't dial it down to my usual -0.7 EV. That is because my mind was spinning with the problem of crossing this terrain intact. I don't even remember what ISO, F-stop I used for all the remaining shots. I only bothered about composition after that. Regarding the angle, I tried different angles, and shot the most realistic.
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