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Old 6th September 2016, 22:03   #1
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Default An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

He rolled up like a cat in deep slumber and his trademark snore kept resonating into the walls of my room. Apparently irritated, I glanced over the porch into the living room, only to see his wide frame flowing over the humble limits of the couch. I felt pity for the couch; and resentment to the slouching epitome of laziness called Mr D, my owner.
His lethargy has been the one of “awe and perspiration”- Awe for him, and perspiration for the others!!
“Had laziness been a sport in the Olympics, PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik wouldn’t have been the only medal winners for the country.” I thought to myself.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention, I am Mr D’s XUV speaking.
Again”, I should add, wrenching out my unimaginative, oil slick, mechanical brain to wriggle out creativity on a travelogue!

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn0062.jpg

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn8902.jpg

There’s rhyme to reason for my resentment to Mr D.
For, I am that ill fated non living thing which had to write its own ownership report, Autobiography of an XUV (Autobiography of a Mahindra XUV500 - Satin White)
own travel diaries : Diary Scribes of an XUV- Kochi to Coorg (Diary scribes of an XUV500 - Drive from Kochi to Coorg)
From the mouth of an XUV- Kochi to Vizag through the hinterlands (An XUV500 speaks: Kochi to Vizag through the hinterlands)
and yet live with the providence of being the second car of choice at home, (the daily drive being a red devil Figo).

Mr D hasn’t been active in the forum for a while. That befell after he got relocated to Vizag from Kochi. It’s been almost a year and a half now. He blames it on his present job portfolio; but I have all reasons to believe otherwise. Otherwise being- LAZY!!

Background- The Monsoons in Vizag

I’ve always been thrilled to travel and munch up some miles. I will give it to Mr D too that he doesn’t miss a beat for travelling. He drove me to Himalayas from Vizag on a 6500 km trip last December.
Though as much momentous and breathtaking the drive was, he did not consider it amusing to put fingers to a keyboard and bring up something which is of use to posterity. He again blamed it on his tight schedule.
And again I call it "plain laziness!!!" How else would you find time to travel but not to pen it down?

The beauty and serenity of the snow clad mountains in winter did bestow me with inner peace.

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That held my horses for the few months that followed. I was again mostly relegated to the confines of garage with odd weekend trips to nearby places. The ecstasy cast by uncle Himalayas soon wore out and I was again waiting for an opportunity to stretch my legs.

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Then came monsoons to Vizag. I should add here that, having been brought up in the heartland of Mallu land, Mr D is used to luscious monsoons to say the least. In Vizag though, the monsoons were shy of just a formality. It suffices to say that the browns of vegetation just about managed to turn to a light shade of green and the roads became pools of black grimy slush with active contributions from Coal, Sulphur, Phosphorous, Iron, mud and drainage water. He visited the nearby valleys with some glimmer of hope, and there too he wasn’t greeted to what he desired.
I heard him mutter “Whatever happened to the famed ‘Glorious Monsoons’ of India!!”
I for one was happy, for I knew that this guy will go to whatever extend it takes to make the monsoons count. A good drive through the lush greens is something which he does every year and one which he could not live without. Gauging by the looks of monsoons in the Eastern Coast, I knew that to make the monsoons count, we had to cross the country!!

And the itch starts…

Thoroughly disappointed by the weatherman, his ancestry and everyone down his lineage, Mr D started contemplating driving across the Deccan Plateau to the Western Ghats for monsoons. If only wishes were horses, someone said. The biggest hurdle for the horses to start galloping was the indecision whether Mr D will get leave at the juncture.
However, his boss was an epitome of benevolence and Mr D came out of the boss' office flashing all teeth and exuberance painted all over his face. A few jumps in the air for jubilation, pump fisting and quite an extend of planning later, we were on blissful tarmac- A road trip from the East to the Western Coast of the country.

Last edited by dhanushmenon : 9th October 2016 at 21:24.
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Old 11th September 2016, 20:09   #2
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Basic Statistics

Car- XUV 500
Total distance (to and fro)- 3290 Kms
Fuel- 274.91 litres

Mileage Highway- 13.12
Mileage City/ Ghats- 10.23
Overall Mileage- 11.96 Kmpl

Route and Places visited
Stage 1- Onward Journey. Vizag- Vijayawada- Hyderabad- Pune- Lonavala.
Stage 2- In and around Lonavala
Stage 3- Lonavala- Mumbai- Pune.
Stage 4- Circuit drive near Pune. Pune- Wai- Dhom Dam- Raireshwar Ghats- Bhor- Pune.
Stage 5- Return journey. Pune- Hyderabad- Vijayawada- Vizag

A big shout out to senior Bhpian hvkumar for his selfless involvement in all stages of planning and execution of this wonderful journey.
Had it been not for him, this simply wouldn't have been possible.
If not for him, over the years of lamenting, I would've died of rust and still wouldn't have known these wonderful abodes.
You are a blessing to all of us the rattling cars and their proud owners.
Hats off to you sir.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-vizag-lnl.png
Stage 1- Onward Journey. Vizag- Lonavala

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-around-pune.png
Stage 4- Circuit drive around Pune.
This circuit was part of the Monsoon drive which was organised by HvKumar in 2015 (HVK MD-15)

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Old 13th September 2016, 09:41   #3
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

08 Aug 16

Drive is the reason... Destination is just an excuse.
Mr D too didn't think otherwise. He took to the roads with the right earnest and I knew for sure that he wouldn't disappoint me in this journey. The onward journey was almost a straight sprint with nil deviations. We started at around 1400 hrs (2 PM) on a hot and horrid afternoon from Vizag. Our initial plan was to stretch till Hyderabad and plonk on bed by midnight. However, the horrendous traffic at Vijayawada had other intentions and we soon found ourselves winding up at Vijayawada for the night.

Distance covered in the day- 367 Kms.

09 August

I woke up to the croaking voice of Mr D gleefully singing a song to himself. My MID murmured to me that it was 4 AM.
"What in the world has befallen him? Can't you please let me get some sleep?" I thought to myself.
Oblivious to the noise pollution the song was creating, he clipped on regardless. His horrible voice and the discordant melody had anyway shaken me out of slumber by then. I noticed that all bags were packed and the kids were gathered from deep sleep. He was starting early to make up for the distance he lost last day due to the clogged streets of Vijayawada. I was happy. The sooner we hit the road, the happier I was.

Vijayawada to Hyderabad was a breeze and the ORR at Hyderabad was blissful to say the least. We galloped past and as planned, we reached Lonavala by nightfall. We had covered 930 Kms by the time we reached our destination, the longest Mr D (and I) had driven in a day. The earlier longest was 886 kms (Vizag- Raipur- Nagpur) which he did during the drive to Himalayas last year.

We stopped enroute at Naldurg Fort near Sholapur. However, since the monsoons had not yet blessed the place yet, we could not see the famous double river outlet. The fort is mostly in much dilapidated state and there was much renovation happening as on mid August 16.

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An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn9932.jpg

The castle top kind of structure next to the dam gave a panoramic view of the dam and the spread of green adjacent.

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A welcome freshness to the eyes after the rickety drive through the downtrodden roads between Zaheerabad and Sholapur.

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Old 8th October 2016, 13:09   #4
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Welcome to the Western Ghats

No sooner did we touch the brims of the Western Ghats, we were welcomed with rains. Rain in abundance at that!

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I enjoyed the patter of rain drops swooshing past my windshield, It was a great feeling indeed to get drenched and splashed around. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mr D flashing his characteristic 'sheepish grin' and his face pulsated like a kid who got his long awaited toy.
Poor thing, Ain't he still a child within!!

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Mr D's kids (Mythili and Dhruvin) were also enjoying the sudden splash of rains. The sheer volume of the downpour had them mesmerised. Something which they had been deprived on the Eastern Coast. I could see their overjoyed faces fill with excitement. And for no reason, I felt a feeling of satisfaction within.

In and around Lonavala

Lonavala was blissful. Drenched in monsoons, she swelled with greenery.

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The place had an ethereal charm to her. Despite the abundance of weekend crowd and traffic, Lonavala still exuded a kind of natural beauty which kept attracting more and more people to her, each passing day.

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We stayed at Lonavala for three nights. Mostly lazing around and enjoying the downpour which continued relentless. We did drive to popular destinations of Lion's Point, Tiger Point etc. However, there was no view available as fog had engulfed the hill ranges.

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It was quite an exhilarating experience to dodge through the hair pins at zilch visibility. From the driver's seat, Mr D could not see anything
beyond my bonnet most of the time. The oncoming traffic could be identified only at the last moment and that too due to the halo of their headlights!!

The kids seemed a little bit tensed with the experience of driving into a white sheet of fog. Though they chuckled and jumped around within the car with the excitement of the first experience of White out.
Subsequently, when the fog cleared a bit, the good lady clicked this to save for memories. A click to remind of the fog drive at Lonavala.

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On the last day of our stay, we went on an aimless drive and reached near Tungi fort.

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The drive was wonderful as expected, with small streams running alongside us through the roads; sometimes crossing over the road and sometimes playing hide and seek. The stretch was dotted with small waterfalls all through the way and I lost count of how many times Mr D stopped enroute so that the kids could play in the streams and falls.
I for one am super jealous of the good father that he is. However, the good lady thinks otherwise
(Well, I am told that all ladies are like so. Are they?)

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Above and below: - Kids of Mr D. Boy, ain't they adorable!!!
I get irritated when Mr or Mrs D spoils or smears my leather seats with anything. But for the kids, my heart always has a sensible and forgiving corner.

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Old 8th October 2016, 13:20   #5
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Default Stage 4- Circuit drive near Pune.

A tourist sees what he came to see…
A traveler sees what he sees!


Well, Mr D is a traveler.
It doesn’t matter to him whether the “tripadvisor’ checklist has been crossed out or not. As long as he gets to drive, his kids are healthy and the good lady is smiling, he couldn’t care less.
So, thankfully for me, I get to see many places which otherwise would’ve been much beyond even my rusted imaginations.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn8952.jpg

The circuit drive around Pune (near Mahabaleshwar area to be more exact), stemmed out of his desire to be spontaneous, out of normal and the quest for the unseen. However, it suffices to say that Mr D just had the desire. The plot was laid out to him by Senior Bhpian hvkumar, to whom I will forever stay indebted.
Much thanks to him for having accommodated our request to suggest a location for a one day escapade near Pune.

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For those who are familiar to the ways and means of hvkumar, he is known as the human GPS amongst many other decorations to his credit. Every year, he conducts a Monsoon drive and an All India Meet in varied and unseen places, to quench the thirst of the traveler in you. Any travel enthusiast is welcome to join the drive and the whole thing is much like a huge family function. Mr D has attended two drives with HVK, AIM- 14 and AIM- 15.

This circuit route which HVK suggested him was the one which he did for Monsoon drive of 2015.

The circuit drive

Pune for starters is suffocating. The roads (though wide, yet clustered), the people, traffic sense, cleanliness (or the lack of it), pollution … And the list can go on and on. I thought Vizag was pathetic in traffic sense until I saw Pune. Vizag definitely has competition.

However, I never thought that some 100 kms from that mayhem, existed some of the most blissful places I would ever set my eyes upon.
Well, then, I was welcomed to Western Ghats.
The splendid mountain ranges that houses plentiful waterfalls, abundant greens and yet go brown and bald, void of vegetation during the first half of the year.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn8797.jpg

Drive route: Pune- Wai- Dhom Dam- Raireshwar Ghats- Bhor- Pune.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-around-pune.png

The detour towards Raireshwar temple.
An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-around-wai.png

Well, the day started well as we set out early in the morning. Initially, though we didn't find much traffic, soon the prowess of Pune traffic engulfed us and I was just a hapless victim.
Generous volumes of exhaust fumes, and few minutes of exasperation later, we were on highway and I got into stretching my legs. In contrast to the suffocation of Pune traffic, the highway was an easy walk.
Soon, we took the deviation towards Wai onto a more docile and two laned road.

One more diversion from the town of Wai and five kilometers of single lane road; there we were in the lap of nature.

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Old 9th October 2016, 18:08   #6
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Dhom Lake and beyond
  • Our drive around was planned on 14 Aug 16; Right in the middle of an extremely popular "LONG WEEKEND" of August.
  • Dhom dam, our destination, was on the foothills of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar; again an extremely popular weekend destination.
  • On the morning of our drive we got alarming updates from fellow travellers.
    Approach roads of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani have been 'blessed' with heavy traffic and 'appetizing' traffic snarls were what the chef delivered in the last couple of days.

There couldnt have been more indecision in our travel plans.
For, we had just one day left in our holidays, before we started the highway sprint back to the parched low lands of Vizag.
"Come what may, I am going for the drive" muttered Mr D.

Till we reached Wai, we did encounter a bit of traffic. However, as we peeled off from the Mahabaleshwar road, to the roads less travelled, the traffic started to wean. And soon became non existent.

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I couldn't believe that just a stones throw away at Mahabaleshwar, there were vehicles straining for foot print and here, away from hoots and whistles, not even a bicycle moved. Man, I am lost for words.

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Mr D, stopped at many places in between. Either to get lost in the beauty which spread out ahead of him....

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An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn8921.jpg

or to indulge with the kids in some monkey business....

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at times to dip into the chilled clear water streams

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or to gaze at the spray of light which streaked through the over cast sky.....

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Soon, we were lost in a world of our own.
Glimpses of civilisation were hard to come by. In short spurts and flashes we did witness life in its raw simplicity.

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Old 9th October 2016, 18:17   #7
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Default Raireshwar Fort

Diversion to Raireshwar Fort

Our initial plan was just to circumnavigate the Dhom dam area.
However, some remembrances of Raireshwar Fort and hearsay of "wonderful drive" flashed through Mr D.
In an impulsive decision, he curved sharp left onto the climb which led us away from the main tarmac onto a by road.
Little did he know then that it would be the impulsive decision he had taken till date.

A map would rather help here.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-map-explanation.png

The curvaceous drive up the hill was blissful to say the least.
The road serpented atop the lush green spread.
We kept pace to the twisties and each bend gave us a fresh view which left us wanting for more.

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We reached the summit of the hill and the beauty which lay before us left us spell bound.
There's green carpeted valley on either side and the layer of mist suspended in mid air across the mountain range rendered a surreal charm to the evening. A sight to behold indeed.
I thought to myself: "This country is so beautiful!!! C'mon guys, get out and get on the road"

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We were at the top most place till where vehicles could ply. You move either side, you would start to descend then.

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A 1.8 Km gentle trek from where we stood will take you to the Raireshwar Temple. Shivaji Maharaj was said to have taken the oath of Swarajya at this temple.

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Mr D and family, didn't take the trek since it was already approaching darkness periods. At a distance, we caught a glimpse of a small reverse waterfall.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn8994.jpg

Water flows down with gravity and then it gets blown back due to the windforce on high mountains. Quite an interesting phenomena. Though pretty small for its size, Mr D's kids feasted on the view for quite a while. Innocent excitement. They had a whale of a time I should say.
Only when you see the innocence on a child do you realise that how pretentious adults are.

Well, I am a rickety, rusty, oil churning machine. So, I am void of feelings.

Last edited by dhanushmenon : 9th October 2016 at 21:28.
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Old 9th October 2016, 21:11   #8
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Default A little slushroading and the return journey

Raireshwar to Pune

We had initially planned to retrace the path back to the peripheries of Dhom dam and drive to Wai to complete the circuit.
However, the sight of the inviting winding roads got the better of Mr D. We were soon driving down the hill towards Ambeghar, the road which was not tested nor sought an opinion of.

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We were just riding on our luck to hit the right spot.
The cellular coverage soon dwindled down to zero; however, the GPS coverage of the inbuilt GPS in me helped.
Within the first two kilometers of the drive down, we were welcomed with the sight of a landslide. Five hundred metres ahead, we saw the road caving in on a surface depression.
This was getting exciting. And the width of the road did not even allow to turn the car around to retrace the path. We pushed forth regardless.
With my not so modest wheel base, I just about managed to keep the tyre prints within the safety limits of the depression.

Whilst that was dangerous, the fun part only followed.
We descended on a faster pace and soon we were on the foot hills.
Mr D was merrily singing along a pathetic mallu song with his all the more pathetic croaking voice. The kids were asleep behind. I should really gift them toffees to be sound asleep amidst the cacophony of his croaking (or singing as he calls).

We negotiated a turn and suddenly Mr D became dumb.
I glanced ahead to see the reason for the horror which gleamed in his eyes.
What stretched ahead was a stretch of ankle deep slush.
Well, with all humility, I admit: I ain't no offroader.
I scorned at Mr D. If he was thinking of getting my shoes dirty on this, he must be crazy!!!
even if not for the matter of the cleanliness of my shoes, it has to be my best day to be able to negotiate that slush. Not only mine, his too.

Mr D jumped out, took a deep breath and analysed the crevices within the tracks. As if he is the Offroad champion who knows the veins of pulse of slush tracks.
We couldn't even smell mankind anywhere nearby and if we got stuck, then it would simply be "Merry Christmas".
Like a man possessed and some new found resolve, he jumped into the seat.
I protested as much as I could. But....
All I could do was to close my eyes as the ordeal passed.

(Time lapse)

When I opened my eyes, I was already at the other side of the slush.
Well, after all, Mr D isn't as bad a driver as I had thought him to be. With what he did with me in the slopes of Himalayas, I didn't have much hope on him.
Things went much better this time.
Only that I had generous amount of squishy deposits all over my shoes and heels. Well, thats OK. A good wash should take care of that.

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The rest of the journey was uneventful.
We visited the necklace point enroute and then drove straight to Pune.

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn9037.jpg

Much needed rest awaited us, before we start the sprint back to Vizag tomorrow.

Last edited by dhanushmenon : 9th October 2016 at 21:14.
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Old 9th October 2016, 21:17   #9
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

The Parting Note

The journey was completed with a final sprint through some of the best highways in the country in the next two days.
On the final legs, we were again welcomed back to the green paddy fields of Andhra Pradesh.
After so much of mountains, it was good to see expanding greens at sea level too.
It was good to see the farm lands, the ripe maize corns, the hard working farmers dotting the green paddy fields, the make shift bridges over canals made out of coconut trees.

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Soon I realised, beauty is everywhere.
When it is under your nose, It is just that you don't realise it.

Anyway, as of now till it wears out,
I am still in love with the Western Ghats.

For the fogged out twisties,
For the abundant waterfalls,
The unknown sojourns
The pulsating greens
A surprise which springs at each bend
For friendly people with humbling smiles
For serpentine tarmac which slits the green
And the towering beauties that kisses the clouds.


The Parting Shot

At last, but not the least, a parting selfie.
(Clicked on the day we reached back Vizag)

An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...-dscn9074.jpg

The guy at the car wash is definitely going to fill the ears of Mr D

Last edited by dhanushmenon : 9th October 2016 at 21:59.
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Old 9th October 2016, 22:39   #10
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10th October 2016, 00:05   #11
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Default re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Classic shots Dhanush. And nice to see you around after a long time! I can see the kids and the kid in you had your heart's fill.

5 stars from my side.
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Old 10th October 2016, 05:55   #12
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Classic shots Dhanush. And nice to see you around after a long time! I can see the kids and the kid in you had your heart's fill.

5 stars from my side.
Thank you ampere. Had been off the forum for a while. For want of time at home and lack of net at office. :sly:

I promise to be more regular henceforth.
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Old 10th October 2016, 10:28   #13
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Default Re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Awesome travelogue Mr. D, oh sorry Mr. D's XUV

Beautiful narration and clicks Dhanush which is a visual treat for the eyes. Wish you many more such vacations with your XUV. Rated 5 stars.
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Old 10th October 2016, 13:17   #14
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Default Re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Awesome travelogue Dhanush, after a long time. Can you chart the detour map to Raireshwar if you can, seems really interesting.
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Old 10th October 2016, 14:51   #15
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Default Re: An XUV500 speaks: The Western Ghats I hadn't known...

Indeed, a very nice and novel idea to have a travelogue from the car's point of view.
Thoroughly enjoyed every snap and every word.
And yes, kids are so adorable.
Thank you for the wonderful post.
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