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Old 14th November 2010, 14:35   #31
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Originally Posted by ptushar View Post
Hey Sea_Cruiser in the Land Cruiser driving in the abodes of the Air Cruisers.

.
That was certainly a good one
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Old 14th November 2010, 18:31   #32
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Day 4 must have been a fabulous drive through the Rann. How did you do on timings? And were the roads through Tharad town bad?
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Old 15th November 2010, 00:24   #33
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Originally Posted by Sea Cruiser View Post
Pics are coming up shortly, after the delhi halt.
Hmm... so we heard about the Innova and the LC200. When do we hear about the Fortuner and the Prado? Not only do we look forward to your travelogue, we also look forward to your driving impressions and comparative feedback - or is that classified info for now?
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Old 15th November 2010, 07:52   #34
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Great and a unique travelogue, Sea Cruiser! My wife was in the Navy, and she did a similar drive to Gujarat/ Rajasthan some years back.
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Old 17th November 2010, 22:23   #35
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Apologies for the delay in uploading the day 4

Day 4 ; Date : 10 Nov ; Destination : Barmer ; Author's Vehicle : LC200


Day 4 began on a sombre note as the previous night a small drive till the ATM after dinner had led to a tyre burst of the LC200. . And thus there was the delay in the start due to replacement of the tyre. I am quite used to the procedure as my personal car's old tyres have kept me in touch with the process, however replacing the tyre on this brute was a totally ball game.

It took me good 20 min rummaging through the manual to find the jack and a suitable location under the car to place it. Then lowering the spare tyre is almost an art, and I've not yet mentioned the size of the thing.

However with the brake problem and now no spare tyre, the flagship vehicle was on tenterhooks. Furthermore the Toyota PR manager’s reaction when informed of the problem almost resembled a post heart attack gasp. The had no spares (even brakes) available in India, and the best they could do was cannibalise spares from the only other showroom car in the country, at Delhi.


With no option available, we continued towards Barmer through deserted roads and sleepy towns. Most of the journey was on state highways, which though relatively smooth, were sadly two lane most of the way, ensuring low speeds and a tiring driving experience. But a small stretch before we turned north for Rajasthan was as pristine as the German autobahns and that gave us license to test the Landcruiser’s legs. With all the faults we limited ourselves to 180kmph, but I must say the vehicle felt hardly stressed even at that speed.

Pure performance apart, what will steal your heart about the LC200 is its pampering suspension setup. Its almost like a magic carpet ride and only the roughest of roads can unsettle the occupants in it. The downside is that the car rolls quite a bit and that leads to a few hairy moments on lovely sweeping curves. That means its fit only for arrow straight roads and not the romantic curvy ones. And yes this is when talking of roads, else this beast can ride over pretty much anything the nature has to offer.

The route sadly had nothing to offer, not even patches of desert which we were hoping for and instead it was a constant stream of barren land punctuated by small towns, which were in a confused stage between a village and a small township. But one could certainly feel the draining influence of Gujrat and the rising of Rajasthani culture in the clothes, dialect and food of the land. Unlike one may expect, this is never sudden, infact quite gradual. There is no clear line as on a map where suddenly all changes, quite the contrary as there is a big area of uncertainty where its a cocktail of both.


Nevertheless we managed to reach Barmer late at night and the Army was once again generous to offer whatever little they had at such a remote location. Its the perfect example of amiability covering up for facilities.

I hit the bed wondering what the next day has in store. We have to cover about 800kms, our maximum yet and in the vicinity of the Great Indian Desert. With mechanical troubles and a bit of uneasy air, all I am hoping for is some good roads and nice sights, and definitely tasty Rajasthani food. So till next time adios and drive safe

Our next halt was Sri Ganganagar

Uploading the map for Day 5 i.e. Barmer to Sri Ganganagar; Total Dist 740 kms

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Old 18th November 2010, 00:02   #36
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Day 5 ; Date : 11 Nov ; Venue : Barmer ; Destination : Sri Ganganagar ; Author's Vehicle : LC200



Day 5 – Barmer to Sri Ganganagar

So after all the chaos of Barmer, we started on a fresh note and headed to Sri Ganganagar skirting the desert lands. The route was to take us through Jaisalmer and Suratgarh , but otherwise was expected to be barren. Before cast off everyone was excited about photo op with a herd of camels (is herd the word used for camels??).

Once again I was to drive the flagship LC200, not because the others were generous, but only as none wanted to take a chance with the wounded beast. I was the last to mind, cause mech troubles or not, this vehicle is almost the steel incarnation of Katrina Kaif.

Our first halt was the imposing Jaisalmer fort, which has the unique distinction of being one of the very few “lived in” forts. Its a bit surreal to walk through a historic site, and suddenly find a girl in school uniform and bag hopping out of one of the houses. But the intense tourism has converted this regal fort to a shanty bazaar. Most of the time one is trying to peer through layers of shops to get a glimpse of the actual architecture.

One of the exceptions was the Jain temple, which had spell-bounding sculptures and almost magical statues, which seem to move with you, facing you at any angle. Such construction is forgotten in today's glass and steel world and for me its the nearest I come to Diagon Alley. But I strongly feel commercial establishments inside fort premises should be kept to a bare minimum if not banned.

So I definitely did not enjoy the experience and have instead visited smaller but richer forts in the royal state. As we left Jaisalmer, the road flirted with dunes and life seemed to wither away with every passing kilometer. The road stretched straight for as far as the eye could see and that meant great speeds. With no trees or buildings or even electric poles, for the first time in my life I could appreciate why people once imagined the earth to be flat.

But in the middle of nowhere we did find two young boys on a cycle heading to school, which was 14kms from their home. Its quite bitter-sweet to see the state's apathy which cannot provide even basic education comfortably, but such effort being put in by these village boys to beat the system and get access to education no matter the hurdles.

Enroute we encountered some sand dunes which presented the perfect opportunity to give the vehicles a taste of what they were designed for. Sadly the LC200 was not in the best shape to get adventurous, so it was just the Prado which got the privilege. For the first time in my life I could see the wheels spin at different rpms and could almost feel the differential struggle, making calculations in millisecs, diverting precisely the power required by each wheel.

The ease with which the Prado rode across and back was testimony to its capabilities and Toyota's technical excellence. After a brief photo session, we encountered a berry bush and picked lots of wild berries. One “experienced” team member assured us they were safe for consumption, and once we started, it was impossible to stop. By the end of a few minutes everyone had multiple thorn pricks but were still hungry for more.

We continued to Suratgarh where the Army station commander was supposed to host us for dinner. But we started to sense something wrong as we found a military escort waiting for us on the main highway entrance for the city. As it shepherded us inside the city and cantonment, we realised there was a function on for the night. But only when we neared the officer's mess, did it dawn upon on us that the dinner was a part of the entire station reception which had been organised in our honour. Frankly this was more embarrassing than humbling as none of us were prepared for it. We had arrived tired and grimy amidst gracefully decked and officers and families of the station.

The Colonel had gone the whole hog, organising a ceremonial band and other typical Army hospitality. Unfortunately we still had to drive till Sri Ganganagar and I was the designated pilot (:P) of the LC200. I say “unfortunately” cause that meant I was to miss out on the inviting spirits on offer. So making do with fruit juices for the evening, I immersed myself into the kind hospitality of the Indian Army.

Finally we reached Sri Ganganagar really late and were supposed to break away from the rest of the cars from the next day. They would continue as planned to Amritsar, while we diverted to Delhi for emergency repairs. This meant a 5am start the next day, leaving precious little 3 hours to catch up on some sleep. AGAIN the accommodation arranged by the Army was immaculate.

So day 5 then was certainly a step ahead after the previous two days. Tomorrow I post about the drive to Delhi and then the much more interesting 3 wonderful days’ stay at the capital. So till next time adios and drive safe

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Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Great and a unique travelogue, Sea Cruiser! My wife was in the Navy, and she did a similar drive to Gujarat/ Rajasthan some years back.
Thats nice which unit and which trip???

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Old 18th November 2010, 13:28   #37
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She was posted in INS Hamla then. They did the Gujarat/Rajasthan circuit from Mumbai. I think it was in 2004. FYI, she retired as a Lt. Cdr. after 8 years of service (in 2007).

OT: would you know Lt. Cdr. Purkayastha or Lt. Cdr. Asutosh Sharma? They are in Navy Nagar I believe...the first is my cousin, the second is married to another cousin of mine. They would be around your age :-)

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Old 18th November 2010, 13:51   #38
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No offence but this getting boring without pics. Google map extracts are no substitute for the real thing!
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Old 18th November 2010, 19:14   #39
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No offence but this getting boring without pics. Google map extracts are no substitute for the real thing!
Thanks for your valuable input. I completely agree with you. Pics will be uploaded within 2-3 days.
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Old 19th November 2010, 14:58   #40
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Are you sure you a naval guy? since when have you guys started adventure trips on land, lol. And such a nice way of narration, you a SS officer or a TE? Excellent mate, but do start with the pictures.
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Old 19th November 2010, 22:00   #41
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Waiting for pictures.
Pictures tells us the real story of various places.You can't narrate it ,whatever way you try.

Bring 'em on.
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