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Old 24th February 2013, 15:40   #1
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Default Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

This is my first thread on Team-Bhp. Went on this trip almost a year ago in Feb 2012. Was meaning to write about this journey soon after, but my laziness got the better of me. Finally, here are my experiences on a trip to Rajasthan, Hope you all like it. (Wish there was a like button on Team-Bhp!)

The Story

2000 kms. A Mahindra Thar. 3 Childhood Friends. An epic road trip. We were three young souls, all in our mid twenties trying very hard to establish ourselves in this mad competitive world. One is a consultant (me), the other a finance geek and one a chef cum entrepreneur. In our daily home-office – home grind we tend to forget the fact that this is not what we human beings are made for. At frequent intervals, We seek change, travel, adventure, fun and something to look forward to, we are no robots and can’t live like one.

One of us – the chef, is more of the adventurous kind as you must have guessed it already. He always had a dream to own a jeep. He dreamt of himself driving the jeep around town wearing a sleeveless T –shirt and sunglasses (Though he soon realised that it is not possible to fulfil this part of the dream thanks to the extreme Delhi weather combined with the lung choking pollution).

Chef’s business picked up and he managed to save some cash to finally fulfil his dream. Soon his dream came true and there came the Mahindra THAR in his life. It was a cherry red THAR CRDE. He called the other two friends straight from the showroom saying that his one dream has come true the other two doesn’t seem to be far away. Among the other two ; one was to drive the Jeep to Rajasthan and the other one was to drive it to Goa. We decided we should go to Rajasthan first and that’s why you are reading this travelogue.

Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-thar1-copy.jpg

The Planning

Our trip was planned for 4 nights and 5 days (How we got our leaves approved is a different story!). We planned to stay in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Jaipur along with stopping by at Bikaner for a few hours on our way to Jaisalmer on the first day. The guy who is a financial geek is also the best planner I ever know. He scanned about a zillion reviews on hotels and a million websites and got us the best hotel at the best rates. I can’t doubt his ability one bit. He was also our accountant all the way and did all the calculations along with keeping a check on our expenses. He is a top negotiator and helped us save a lot of money while negotiating with guides, shopkeepers and restaurant owners. You need to have a guy like this on a long trip and I am glad he is my friend. To our amazement, he also arranged a BSNL/MTNL SIM card because that is the only network that works when others don’t and vice versa.

The route planning was my responsibility so i checked up with team bhp and a few people who have recently travelled. After a lot of deliberations we finally froze on the route discussed later in the post. Planned to stay together a night before at chef’s home as he stays in Gurgaon which made it convenient. We went to a supermarket in the evening to get a few refreshments for our long journey. Bought a carton of mineral water, few biscuits, chewing gums, namkeens, chips , chocolates , energy bars, sun tan lotions and face wash .

We refuelled the Thar with a full tank , checked tyre pressure, electricals and all fluids. Also converted the rear compartment of the Thar into a cozy bed. How? We got a heavy quilt from home and two pillows. We put our bags in between the two seats and then put the quilt on top covering the whole area, making it a very comfortable bed at the back. The drivers took turns to relax at the back ,while the navigator persisted on sitting at the front (Whatever said and done the front seat is the best seat in the THAR for a passenger). Now, we were ready to go.

The Itinerary

DAY 1 – Gurgaon to Jaisalmer via Bikaner (810 kms)

DAY 2 – Visit the Jaisalmer fort
Visit the Patwon ki Haveli
Go to Sam (Pronounced as sum) sand dunes
At Sam sand dunes - camel safari, traditional dance and dinner
Back to hotel

DAY 3- Visit the Gadisar lake
Off to Jodhpur (270 kms)
Sweets and Kachoris at Janta Sweets
Jodhpur city at night – Went to ‘On the rocks’ Restaurant
Back to Hotel

DAY 4- Jodhpur Sightseeing
Visit Mehrangarh Fort
Visit Ummaid Palace
Off to Jaipur (340 kms)
Check in at the Hotel

DAY 5 –Visit the Amber Fort
Shopping at the emporium
Back to Gurgaon (235 kms)

The Route

We were two drivers (me and chef ) and the finance geek was the navigator, his GPS enabled phone kept him busy and the GPS lady’s voice kept us amused. Though she was irritating at times with her persisitent “Take left” “ Take Right” commands. We wanted to stick to the route we had planned for and not do much of an experiment because its a long way to Jaisalmer and we wanted to avoid any trouble on the way.

Start Time: 5:00 A.M (Gurgaon)
End time: 7:15 P.M. (Jaisalmer)
MAP :

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We took the Gurgaon- Kotputli-Sikar-Fatehpur-Bikaner-Pokhran-Jaisalmer route. Gurgaon-Kotputli is the usual truck traffic heavy NH-8. Though we started early we were able to cover the distance of 130 kms in almost 2 hours. The road from kotputli to Sikar is a mix of good and bad. By bad I don’t mean that they are not driveable or too uncomfortable. There are some rough patches and some maintenance work is going gone which takes away some of your average speed figures.

The road from Sikar to Jaisalmer is a dream to drive. One of the best roads i have driven on. Dead straight ,pot hole free and traffic free. Driving the Thar on these roads was super fun. Average 90-100 KM/H on that stretch was easily achievable. Occasionally we took the THAR to 130 KM/H but it became a bit unsettled. We covered this 810 Km stretch in 14 Hours including 2 hours of stoppage time – 1 hour at Bikaner for lunch and another hour for bio breaks , some occasional tea breaks and driver swapping time. So total driving time was 12 hours. We were not at all tired at the end of the day, thanks to the amazing roads.

Came back from the route

While coming back we took the Jaisalmer- Jodhpur – Beawar – Ajmer –Dudu-Jaipur- Gurgaon Route. The route till Jaipur was good. Though not as good as the Jaisalmer route as this route had more traffic and there were a few diversions also. The road is also not as well laid as the Jaisalmer route. From Jodhpur to Jaipur it took a total of 6 hours and then the next day from Jaipur to Gurgaon it took around 5 hours. Jaipur to Gurgaon was bad , full of truck traffic and multiple diversions.

MAP :

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Pictures of the road :

Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0710-copy.jpg
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0716-copy.jpg
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Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0816-copy.jpg
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0782-copy.jpg
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0796-copy.jpg
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Old 24th February 2013, 16:15   #2
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Default Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'.2000kms.3 Childhood Friends.An Epic Road Trip!

The Trip

DAY -1

The early morning winter chill and the THAR’s cold cabin warranted us to wear some woollens. We made ourselves comfortable inside and off we went. The chef was on the wheel first and I was at the back lying comfortably on the ‘bed’ . Finance geek was busy setting up his GPS. Since we started from Gurgaon, we were on to NH-8 in no time. On NH-8 ,not too much traffic in the morning , though a few diversions and road construction took away some of our time. We reached Kotputli in about 2 hours. From Kotputli we had to take a turn for Sikar. To identify the turn we were dependant on the GPS. But when we reached there, we lost the GPS connection and we ended up missing the turn and went a few kilometres ahead. When all technology fails, the best way is the good old “Bhaiya yeh kaha padega” question to ask for directions. After a few consultations we were able to find the turn and went ahead. It was a typical two lane road with village settlements on both sides all through Sikar. The road had very less traffic , though the quality of the road was not that good. It had some rough patches here and there along with some potholes. Thanks to THAR’s suspension, you really get tossed around on bad roads. The passengers at rear suffer the most. Since, was lying flat on the bed and had cushioning beneath, it was not much of a problem.

Once we crossed Sikar, the road was a sublime piece of tarmac. It was dead straight as far as your vision goes. It was clean, empty and blissful. You can only spot a few army trucks or tourist taxis on the way. You need to be careful as there are some small villages in between and some stray animals might cross your path. We did good speeds on this stretch and went even to 140km/h at places where we were absolutely sure about the surroundings.

We reached Bikaner at around 12.30 pm, had our lunch at one of the restaurants there and then went out looking for the famous Sankhla kulfi. We also bought some Bikaneri namkeen from one of the shops and must tell you that they were really good and fresh.
I took the wheel from here while the chef relaxed at the back. We refuelled the Thar and continued our journey towards Jaisalmer. The Finance geek was busy jotting down the expenses and calculating the total spend till now. He created a Group in Whatsapp (Messenger Application) where we were asked to enter any expenses that we incur along with our name, so that at the end of the day we know who has spent how much. Nice!!

The road till Jaisalmer continued to excite us and I had a big smile on my face while driving the Thar. The Thar is a unique vehicle. It is raw, exciting and sometimes pretty unpredictable. The Crde is a brilliant engine which can take you to triple digit speeds in no time. Sometimes you think, how such a heavy vehicle with no aerodynamics can go so fast. Though once it is fast, it needs to be kept in control, lot of body roll and a vague steering makes matters worse. But I guess this is where the fun and adventure in the Thar lie. Yes, off the road, the vehicle can be more fun, but it is not bad on the road as well. It has a commanding seating position and you get a good view of the road ahead of you. It is also quite a stunner and you can get some admirable glances and compliments from people who meet you on the way. (Some points observed on the Thar will be mentioned at the end of the travelogue)

As we moved towards Jaisalmer, we experienced the change in the terrain and could see the desert coming close with sand on both sides of the road along with small shrubs all throughout. The sun was setting in as we were very close to Jaisalmer. It was beautiful !!
We reached Hotel Jeet Villa, which we had booked on the net and was carefully selected by the finance geek. It was good value for money. We were given two rooms instead of one and the rooms were clean and well maintained. We were not too tired so we went out after refreshing ourselves to the Jaisalmer fort. It looked beautiful at night. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant there. The food and the ambience was quite good. We came back and crashed for a good night’s sleep.

Some photos

Somewhere close to Jaisalmer
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0728-copy.jpg

Bikaner
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0739-copy.jpg

Butterflies in the Thar's Stomach!
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The Thar maintained good speeds
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Taking rest for a while and soaking in the scenery
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Jaisalmer at Night
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_0823-copy.jpg
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Old 24th February 2013, 16:50   #3
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Default Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'.2000kms.3 Childhood Friends.An Epic Road Trip!

DAY-2

We woke up at around 8 am and went for breakfast. The breakfast was free and quite filling. It was served at the hotel terrace. The location of the hotel is inside a colony so the view wasn’t that great.We had booked two hotels in Jaisalmer, one for each day. We had heard a lot about Hotel Fifu in all the reviews and wanted to stay there. So for the second day we had done our bookings for Hotel Fifu. We checked in at Hotel Fifu and then went straight to the Jaisalmer Fort.

We hired a guide who was good for nothing, though we were able to see all the major attractions of the fort. People live inside the fort and there are many hotels, shops and restaurants inside. We clicked pictures at various city view points and went to the 8 July restaurant which was much talked about in many travelogues and reviews. It serves mostly continental food. The owner is quite a character and loves to talk to his customers. The pancakes as well as the smoothies were very good. But, the mixed fruit juice he made, was just out of this world. Do check it out whenever you get a chance to go there. He told us the ‘Bhatia’ surname originated from this fort and any ‘Bhatia’ living anywhere in the world has his/her roots in the fort. Don’t know if it is true. We fixed a operator there for the Sam sand dunes desert safari and a dance performance under a bon fire at one of the desert camps . We had to reach there in the evening.

There are two haveli’s called patwon ki haveli close to the fort that are now converted to a museum. They were not too old but had some interesting artefacts. We had our lunch at a restaurant close by and then went back to our hotel. We asked the Tour operator to allow one of them to accompany us to Sam sand dunes as we took our own vehicle.

The road leading to Sam was the same straight flat road we had now gotten used to in this part of Rajasthan. As we came close we could see the majestic view of the sand dunes and lots of camels all around. We went for the camel desert safari into the sand dunes. It was a bit scary at first but we got used to it. The sand dunes were beautiful and we stopped mid way to take pictures during the sunset. Were tempted to get the Thar also into the dunes and have some fun off roading. We enquired about it and came to know its not allowed there. We asked the camel guy if there is any place close by where we can go offroading on the desert. He said that if we can come the next day in the morning he will take us there and since he is familiar with the place, can navigate us through the desert. We were quite thrilled and contemplated coming the next day in the morning. But after some deliberation we cancelled the plan. Reasons being ; we were novices in offroading, no back up vehicle, no knowledge of the terrain and we had to reach back home on time (a good 800 kms away). We cant afford to have any troubles with the Thar. So, we thought not to do it and plan for an off road outing soon , once we are totally prepared for it. After all, the Thar is all about taking the road less travelled.

After the sunset, We were then taken to a nearby desert camp where there was a singing and dancing performance by the locals. It was not that good but okay. The dinner provided was traditional Rajasthani, but was not that great in taste. After the dinner, planned to go back to Jaisalmer. While returning it was pitch dark and we were the only one on the highway. Just for fun, I put off the headlights for a few seconds; it was damn scary as there was absolutely nothing that you could see in front.

It was a day well spent at Jaisalmer. We came back to the hotel and had a good night’s sleep.

Some fun off the highway
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Jaisalmer Fort
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Hotel Fifu
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Patwon ki Haveli
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Sam Sand Dunes
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Traditional Dance
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Attached Thumbnails
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Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc01421-copy.jpg  


Last edited by Vroom barabar! : 24th February 2013 at 17:05. Reason: Formatting
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Old 24th February 2013, 16:59   #4
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Default Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'.2000kms.3 Childhood Friends.An Epic Road Trip!

DAY- 3

On the third day, had our breakfast at the beautifully set up terrace of Hotel Fifu overlooking the fort. The food was decent. Checked out after breakfast and went to the Gidsar lake which was the last attraction left on our agenda. It was a small lake with a few old structures surrounding it. Boating was the only interesting thing there, didn’t try it out as we had to leave for Jodhpur. We left for Jodhpur at around 10.30am from Jaisalmer. The road was again good and loved the way the Thar was performing till now. Absolutely no problems till now, not even a tyre puncture.

During the afternoon, the sun was a bit too harsh and we felt the need of an A/C in the Thar. Though it was needed for just a couple of hours but it was highly missed. Hope the Thar came with a factory fitted A/C (Now it does). We clocked decent speeds again on our way to Jodhpur and the road was fairly comfortable all throughout.

Reached Jodhpur at 2.30pm Took us 4 hrs. Jodhpur is an interesting city. A city with the right mix of new and old. While it has the charm of a traditional small town, it also surprises you with its modern appeal. We checked in at our hotel Nahargarh Haveli. Its an old haveli converted into a hotel. It’s not a large property but it had decent sized rooms. The rooms were good and comfortable. After some rest, hunger was its peak and we headed straight to Janta Sweets, the famous namkeen and sweets joint in Udaipur. We gorged on kachoris, samosas, lassi etc. till we heard a big ‘NO’ from our stomachs. It was good but not as good as we expected it to be. Still we made our tummies cry. By that time, it was evening and we wanted to cover the Mehrangarh fort on that day itself. The entry for the fort got closed by the time we reached there. We blamed it on our tummies and went back to explore the city. In Jodhpur, you could find a lot of activity even at late evenings and at night. We went to a happening restaurant called ‘On the rocks’. The ambience was pretty good and the crowd consisted of mostly foreigners. The food was good too and we had quite agood time there. Went back to the hotel and crashed.

Gidsar Lake
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc03804-copy.jpg

Brilliant Road Leading to Jodhpur
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc01441-copy.jpg

Jodhpur City
Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip-dsc_1180-copy.jpg
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Old 24th February 2013, 17:28   #5
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Default re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Nice travellogue. This is like nostalgia because last year took a similar trip to Jodhpur. By road from Jammu-Chandigarh-Delhi-Jodhpur.
Believe the highways in Rajasthan are by far the best and the cheapest, we spent least amount on tolls compare to Punjab where even SH used to charge toll. Was on a Ford sponsored trip so everything was taken care by Ford.
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Old 24th February 2013, 17:59   #6
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Default re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Excellent photographs, nice and crisp writing. Keep them coming!
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Old 24th February 2013, 18:43   #7
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Default re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

First time seeing a Thar on a long distance road trip! How was it driving and living in it?
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Old 25th February 2013, 12:19   #8
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Default re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vroom barabar! View Post
This is my first thread on Team-Bhp. Went on this trip almost a year ago in Feb 2012. Was meaning to write about this journey soon after, but my laziness got the better of me. Finally, here are my experiences on a trip to Rajasthan, Hope you all like it. (Wish there was a like button on Team-Bhp!)
No need of like button, we have "Thanks" here

One word, Excellent !

I just jumped on your thread after reading the "Thar" in title, I thought you are the owner but then learned about your enthusiastic friend and the owner of the red beast. Introduction and text brings ZNMD memories back and I can imagine how you 3 enjoyed the trip in soft top jeep.

I am also planning a Leh trip in my Thar with 2 friends on coming June and your write-up is going to be inspiration for us. Please keep adding more details and pictures.

Thanks,
Vishal
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Old 25th February 2013, 13:23   #9
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Default re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Very well written. Thanks for sharing .Loved the tea-cup on thar photo.
How did the Thar perform on-road? I assume the third person on that cozy bed won't be sleeping full time . How was the comfort for him at back?
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Old 25th February 2013, 16:47   #10
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Hey Kavesh. You are absolutely right. The roads in most parts of Rajasthan are sublime, traffic free and wallet friendly

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Old 25th February 2013, 17:02   #11
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayant..B View Post
Excellent photographs, nice and crisp writing. Keep them coming!
Thanks Jayant. Rest of the experience coming soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
First time seeing a Thar on a long distance road trip! How was it driving and living in it?
The Thar is absolutely at ease on the Highway. It is a good long distance cruiser. Bad roads can be uncomfortable. But on this particular trip, due to the good quality roads and good weather, it performed really well. Have a list of observations on the Thar which I will share at the end of the travelogue pretty soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thar4x4 View Post
No need of like button, we have "Thanks" here

One word, Excellent !

I just jumped on your thread after reading the "Thar" in title, I thought you are the owner but then learned about your enthusiastic friend and the owner of the red beast. Introduction and text brings ZNMD memories back and I can imagine how you 3 enjoyed the trip in soft top jeep.

I am also planning a Leh trip in my Thar with 2 friends on coming June and your write-up is going to be inspiration for us. Please keep adding more details and pictures.

Thanks,
Vishal
Thanks a lot Vishal. It was a lot of fun and if I may say so, the journey was as good or better than the destination. We also plan to go to Leh. Dont know when.Good to know that my thread has inspired you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodge_Viper View Post
Very well written. Thanks for sharing .Loved the tea-cup on thar photo.
How did the Thar perform on-road? I assume the third person on that cozy bed won't be sleeping full time . How was the comfort for him at back?
Thanks Viper. Performed well on road. Yes at the back it can be a very bouncy ride, the bed cushioned it a bit and was not that bad at all. The third person was able to take short naps though.
Will share the driving experience in the coming posts.
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Old 26th February 2013, 14:20   #12
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Excellent travelogue. It would be interesting to hear some more about yourselves and the car as well. How was it to drive long distance, what did you like/ dislike about long distance travel in the car, FE, comfortable cruising speeds etc.

Keep 'em coming.
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Old 26th February 2013, 16:29   #13
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Good to see a Thar travelogue after sometime and that too a cherry red one . I am eager to know how you guys coped with the wind noise, weather under the soft top of the Thar.
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Old 26th February 2013, 19:27   #14
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

Thar looks really hot in Red. Excellent snaps. Since you fin friend has done extensive calculations, kindly share them on the portal for future referencing.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 26th February 2013, 19:49   #15
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Default Re: Taking the Thar to the 'Thar'. 2000 kms, 3 childhood friends & an epic roadtrip

I almost bought a Thar last year after I sold my 4x4 Safari, but settled for a mHawk Lx 4x4. The longing for a Jeep still remains.

Your trip took me back in nostalgia and reminded my own trip (Gurgaon - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Bikaner - Gurgaon) in 2008 to these places.

Nice crisp pictures, especially of the Thar. Wish you had put the Thar through its paces on the dunes.
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