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Old 14th January 2016, 13:42   #1
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Default Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

Honda Drive to Discover is a regular event conducted by Honda Cars, India.

Each batch typically runs for 3 days. A car is handed over to us with a rough time line. Generally, two people share one car. Complete strangers, the first thing these two people do on meeting each other is pray that the other person has a little more sanity than himself.

Team-BHP has participated in a couple of previous Drive to Discover trips:
This edition of Drive to Discover started from Jodhpur on the 9th of January, 2016. From Jodhpur, we drove to Jaisalmer and all the way to our border with Pakistan. I got to drive a different car everyday. Simply put, I love my life.

I drove the Jazz, City and CR-V for long distances.

This is the story of my trip to Rajasthan.

Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-img_1015.jpg
Picture of me driving the CRV is courtesy Honda and their official photographer (Nishant Jhamb).

Last edited by GTO : 20th January 2016 at 17:24.
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Old 14th January 2016, 13:42   #2
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Default Arriving in Jodhpur and the market

The first part of this trip was to get to Jodhpur on Friday, the 8th of January.

There is no direct flight from Hyderabad (where I am based) to Jodhpur. The connection was via Mumbai and the connecting flight got delayed by a couple of hours.

To even think of cribbing about this is plain stupid. The journalists coming from Delhi had their flight cancelled and ended up coming in taxis. A big bow to all of them. Not one person cribbed or whined about this unforeseen situation.

After checking into the hotel, all I needed was a hot shower before I am already hungry. Hungry to see the city of Jodhpur. Sitting in a hotel while a city rich in history is waiting outside is a sad way to spend the evening.

Formed a quick getaway party and we hailed an Uber and got to the Ghanta Ghar.

Quote:
From wiki: Ghanta Ghar also known as the clock tower of Rajasthan was constructed by the Late Shri Sardar Singh Ji of Jodhpur. Beside the tower, there in the Sadar Market that is frequented by tourists on shopping spree. From this market, tourists can purchase Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewellery.
This market has a life of its own. A tremendous amount of energy and a multitude of shops filled with colorful textiles. It is also quite crowded and has a large number of tourists.

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Stopped at place that served Kadi Kachori and hot carrot halwa. I highly recommend these two snacks when you come to this market. They are totally worth it. The air had a slight chill. A glass of hot milk with a thick layer of cream on it was very refreshing.

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Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-_mg_4253.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 20th January 2016 at 17:26.
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Old 14th January 2016, 13:42   #3
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Default Drive to Jaisalmer

Because there was a delay due to the cancelled Delhi flight, we could sleep late and enjoy a relaxed breakfast.

Flag off was scheduled for sometime after noon. So I had sometime to relax and check up on my emails and messages.

A part of the parking lot had been fully taken over by Honda.
Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-0.jpg

My car for today was going to be Jazz diesel. I quickly found it and did a safety check. Its not really needed, but old habits never go away. As expected, the car was in excellent shape.
Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-1.jpg

This City and CR-V will have to wait for another day.
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I was instructed to install Honda Connect and register my Jazz on it. Took all of 5 minutes and its a good piece of software. I highly recommend it, especially if your car is being driven by a chauffeur or college kid.

However, if you are married, do NOT under any circumstance tell your spouse about it . It records details of all trips, including where you stopped and for how long. Read More..

Flag off finally happened at 12:45 PM. I don't remember the time. Honda Connect does.
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The first few kilometers out of Jodhpur were in bad shape. There was literally no tar surface on the road. The Jazz was driven at a very sedate 30-50 kmph. The suspension is a little on the stiff side. But it is not uncomfortable.

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It was not long before we encountered camels. Lots of them just running beside the road.

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We stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant called Manvar Resort and Desert Camp. When in Rajasthan, Laal Maas is a must have non-vegetarian dish. This restaurant did not disappoint. We took a relaxed lunch break and got back on the road to get to our final halt for the day.

But after checking into our hotel, we realized that the Jaisalmer Fort was less than 20 minutes away. So we took off again to explore it.

My advice if you are going to Jaisalmer for the first time. Don't go after 8 PM. Google maps are not very accurate. They can take you into all sorts of dead ends. The city has a lot of cows. They don't care about moving away. The streets are very narrow. So if you are stuck, its going to take more than a 5 point turn to turn around.

The Jazz has a very decent rear view camera. It has multiple camera angles to choose from. Also one interesting thing we discovered the next day was that the rear view can be seen on the display even when the car is being driven forward. This is a very useful feature, especially if you have something on the parcel tray blocking your view.

The turning radius is not bad. Must add, in a new city, if you forget where you left your car, you can use Honda connect to locate the car.

Last edited by GTO : 20th January 2016 at 17:33.
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Old 14th January 2016, 13:43   #4
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Default Longewala and Tanot

In 1971, India and Pakistan went to war. This war lasted just 13 days and our Army not only ended victorious, but also took as prisoners almost ninety thousand Pakistani soldiers.

The war resulted in the liberation of East Pakistan and a new country called Bangladesh was created. To counter the Indian victories in the eastern theater, in a sudden move, the Pakistani army attacked Longewala. The Battle of Longewalla put about 200 Indian soldiers against 2,000 enemy forces.

The 23rd Battalion, Punjab Regiment was holding the Longewala defense. They were given a choice. Either retreat to Ramgarh or fight. They decided to fight under the command of Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri MVC, VSM.

Longewalla was just about 120 kms from our Hotel. There was no way we would miss the chance of visiting this battlefield.

I was behind the wheel of the Honda City iDtec. The car, despite having an engine very similar to the noisy Jazz, has better NVH characteristics. The ground clearance is a sore point. Luckily, this road is much better and speed breakers are clearly visible. But the driver must be careful. The undulating terrain can cause the car to bottom out and - given the complete absence of traffic - it is very easy to get carried away and forget to slow down.

The upside down Pakistani flag marks this as a captured tank. Pakistan had attacked this post with 65 tanks. In two days, some 34 of their tanks had been either destroyed or abandoned.

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Some distance from Longewalla is the Tanot Mata Temple. Legend has it that during the battle, a lot of bombs were fired in its direction. A majority of them missed the mark and the few which did fall within the premises did not explode. Unsurprisingly, this makes the temple a very important place for the locals. The temple is now managed by the Border Security Force.

The road towards the temple is flanked by sand dunes. We found one and attempted to scale it. One of the reasons for Pakistan losing the battle was the terrain and the soft sand. In my excitement to climb the dune, I raced ahead. Very soon, my slippers got stuck in a vice like grip in the sand. I left them and continued climbing up. My hope of finding them on my return was misplaced. I never found them again, despite looking everywhere. The sand dune had simply swallowed my slippers. I spent the remainder of the day without footwear.
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The road from Tanot to Jaisalmer goes via Ramgarh. Here was the first petrol bunk we saw in a long time. The roads are decent, but there was a lot of construction going on as well.
Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-img_4382.jpg

At Ramgarh, we stopped for lunch. Some people make everything brighten up by their kindness. I asked the restaurant guy about nearby shoe shops. He asked me to go with one of his waiters on their Honda Activa and get them. I had to abandon that idea as time was running out. But so much kindness to a random stranger!! I am still feeling a tug in my heart as I write this.

Last edited by GTO : 20th January 2016 at 17:37.
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Old 14th January 2016, 13:43   #5
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Default Kulthara: Ruins lost in time.

Our next location was going to be very surreal and filled with ghosts...bollywood style.

Kuldhara is about 30 kilometers away from Jaisalmer. It has been deserted for more than two centuries.

It used to be a thriving town and then all of a sudden, the people just left. No one knows the real reason why they went away leaving their ancestral homes. Some stories involve a lecherous king who wanted to kidnap a young girl from the village. Some say the oppressive taxes drove the people away.

But all stories conclude that as they left, the people laid a curse on the village that no one will ever live in it.

We reached Kuldhara a couple of minutes before sunset.

There is an entry gate about a kilometer before the village. They charge twenty five rupees for each car. Twenty five rupees for the driver and ten rupees per passenger.

You can drive all the way to the temple. Some buildings have been renovated and give you a good idea of how they looked back in the 1700's.

The remaining are all in ruins.

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My fellow traveller caught me in a pensive state as I looked around the ruins.
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I don't believe in ghosts nor did I find anything eerie or scary about this place. But there was such a strong feeling of sadness there. Most probably, it was just the desolate location and my tiredness.

Last edited by GTO : 20th January 2016 at 17:40.
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Old 18th January 2016, 15:28   #6
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Default Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the oldest standing forts in India. It was built in the year 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal. It is a World Heritage Site.

It is a living fort and its very easy to get lost inside and stumble into someone's home. Because there are so many houses inside, it is a little dirty and has open drains. There are a lot of cows all over the place. It does have a certain charm and the people are very friendly and always smiling.

We had just a few hours before the return journey to Jodhpur. Two of us decided to take the Jazz petrol automatic and do a quick trip to the fort. The Jazz automatic was ideal for these narrow streets. Since this trip was in broad daylight, we could easily find the parking lot.

There is no entry fee into the fort. But you will encounter over eager guides offering their services.

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Long winding passages provide shelter to pigeons. When under these and having no umbrella, walk fast and pray.
Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-img_4424.jpg

The fort has seen a lot of battles and it has some beautiful cannons that still look over its ramparts.
Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot-img_4433.jpg

At the hotel, we exchanged our Jazz automatic for the petrol CR-V.
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Disclaimer : Honda invited Team-BHP for this Drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by bblost : 20th January 2016 at 21:40.
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Old 20th January 2016, 17:45   #7
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Default Re: Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th January 2016, 18:18   #8
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Default Re: Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

Thanks a lot bblost for this thread, brought back great memories of my Rajasthan trip in January 2013. Never got down to write the travelogue though. We had visited Kuldhara and my Bolero 4WD had almost got stuck in the sand when I tried to venture more into the ruins. It was a scary moment, somehow managed to get out. Even I do not believe in ghosts but the desolation is enough to freak out people.
Also, Honda can plan do to something like this in East India as well so that we can get a chance as well
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Old 20th January 2016, 18:24   #9
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Default Re: Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Thanks a lot bblost for this thread, brought back great memories of my Rajasthan trip in January 2013. Never got down to write the travelogue though. We had visited Kuldhara and my Bolero 4WD had almost got stuck in the sand when I tried to venture more into the ruins. It was a scary moment, somehow managed to get out. Even I do not believe in ghosts but the desolation is enough to freak out people.
Thanks.

I can imagine getting stuck there will be a rather exciting time. Especially if it's a full moon night.

There was a old caretaker guy who has a small one room house close to the entrance. He claimed that he sleeps there and helps thrill seekers who get lost inside at night.
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Old 21st January 2016, 18:14   #10
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Default Re: Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

@bblost - Excellent narration and pictures, thanks for sharing
I'm sure you had a one of a kind wonderful experience on this drive - nice cars and even nicer places to visit en route!
Couple questions..
What stretch was the most difficult to drive on and how did the Honda car fare on that stretch ?
What car did you enjoy driving the most ?

Last edited by NPV : 21st January 2016 at 18:16.
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Old 21st January 2016, 20:20   #11
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Default Re: Honda Drive to Discover: To Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
@bblost - Excellent narration and pictures, thanks for sharing
I'm sure you had a one of a kind wonderful experience on this drive - nice cars and even nicer places to visit en route!
Couple questions..
What stretch was the most difficult to drive on and how did the Honda car fare on that stretch ?
What car did you enjoy driving the most ?
The stretch immediately outside Jodhpur was bad. The road to Longewala was the kind that similes upon my inward eye.
Totally missed my bike on that stretch.

I liked the Jazz automatic inside the city.
The CRV on the highway.

The city is a nice car if you are being driven around by someone else.
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