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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:14   #1
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Default Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

So the Fat Cat got invited...they are even sending a car to pick me up and I am a sucker for being chauffeured.
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-land-rover-above-2.jpg

I'll be honest, I have almost no experience in Offroad driving, but it's never too late to learn. So a fat old man dressed in more than just his boxers is going. Besides, if Land Rover wants to expand their market share in India, inexperienced and slightly inept drivers like me should be their focus audience. So, who else better than me to give the Land Rovers a 'once over'?
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:14   #2
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Jaguar-Land Rover India has organized this event to cover 10 cities in India including Chandigarh, Noida, Gurugram, Ahmedabad, Indore, Nagpur, Mumbai, Bangalore and a couple of others.

Some days before the event, JLR's PR team contacted me.
  1. First, they wanted a copy of my 38-year old driving license. Really? Me? Drive? I don't drive? Don't they know? Anyway, I had to fish it out from the locker where it is with my passport (since I do drive when I travel outside India).
  2. Then they wanted to send a car to pick me up at 6:30 am! 6:30 am? Why? Don't they know I sleep at 1:00 am?
  3. And finally the kicker, JLR sends a non-JLR car to pick me up. Yeah, they sent a Toyota Etios!

Anyway, this lazy "fat cat" complied and on Oct 5th around 6:30 am, a bleary eyed, slightly disgruntled, overweight gentleman found himself in the back seat of an Etios being driven to Aamby Valley.

I arrived at around 9:30 (after my driver got lost trying to take some short cut though Lonavala), slightly worse for the wear.

Note to anyone on the wrong side of 50. The Toyota Etios may be a nice car for a short run to the office, but after a 3 hour ride over bad roads, my condition reminded me of a famous James Bond line "shaken, not stirred".

I walked as quickly as my cramped, wobbly legs could carry me to the "shed" that had been designated as a meeting point:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0481.jpg

As I was walking up to the stairs, I was greeted by a peppy "Good Morning, Navin". I looked around to see a young girl who introduced herself to me as "JLR Girl" - a nickname I had given her since her name (Switzel) was too complicated to remember (don't know why, but I kept mixing it up with Zurich). I needed a coffee!

2018 marks their 70th birthday:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0482.jpg

The Mumbai event at 19 Degree North in Aamby valley. It was held over 3 days (Oct 5th-7th) and would include around 100 participants, including several owners of the Range Rovers and Discovery models. However NONE of the participants was permitted to drive this beauty:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0462.jpg

A big shoutout to Rohin Nagrani (seen below on the left) who looked so harried and busy that I did not have the heart to disturb him by introducing myself to him. Rohin and his team ran an impeccably well-organized show:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0463.jpg

A sneak peek at the cars that we were going to drive:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0464.jpg

There were 11 cars per session and 3 sessions per day. Most of the cars were either Range Rover Evoques or Discovery Sports:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0466.jpg

Ankur Kansal, Brand Director JLR, giving us the low down about the Land Rover brand and all the Land Rover models:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0467.jpg

Ashish Gupta, Cougar Motorsport, explaining to all of the serious nature of the terrain we were about to experience:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0468.jpg
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:15   #3
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After about 60 minutes of the "Ankur and Ashish" show (think Punch and Judy), I was introduced to the person who must be said was the hardiest, toughest and the most tolerant instructor they had - Gurcharan.

The bravest men at the event. The instructors:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0475.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0478.jpg

Gurcharan, aka Sancho Panza, the bravest of them all, posing with his steed (Rocinante):
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0469.jpg

This picture was taken before the drive when he still had some black hair. The next 90 minutes would prove to be the most harrowing moments in his life and a memory which by his own admission, he never wants to relive.

When we started out, Gurcharan asked me "So which publication are you with?"

I replied "Team-BHP".

His response "Khan Sahib!!!!"..."Sir you are with Khan Sahib (aka Khan_Sultan)?" He was incredulous. "Sir Khan Sahib drives so well and you? How?" Then his next words were "Hey Bhagwan." (see pics to follow)

I heard him repeat that "Hey Bhagwan" so many times that finally I told him "Gurcharan, I am Navin - why you keep calling me Bhagwan?" I think that shut him up. I think he was praying silently the rest of the way.

Somewhere along the way, I heard a thonk under the car. I don't know what I ran over so I looked over at Gurcharan, but he had his eyes shut and was praying silently.

When we got to the end, he introduced me to everyone with the words "Yeh Khan Sahib ka dost hain." (he is Khan Sahib's friend). One other instructor wanted to take a selfie with me only because I knew "Khan Sahib".

The man who gave Gurcharan nightmares - Tilting at windmills is not for the faint hearted:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0471.jpg

"Faint heart never won fair lady" - Miguel de Cervantes

We were not permitted to keep our mobiles and cameras with us during the drive.

The only place where we were given the opportunity to take pictures:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0472.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0473.jpg

Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Rocinante:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0474.jpg

"Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them"

Note to Land Rover, Rohin, Ankur and Ashish. Please install in car cameras and microphones in later events. I am sure the recordings will prove to be more entertaining than anything Kimi or Alonso utter during the F1 races.

The drive itself was for about 90 minutes. We sloshed through a stream about 2 feet deep, and slid backwards down slopes, and drove bravely up many more. At times we sashayed, at other times trundled; we rolled and strolled and pretended to go boldly (when we knew the track and been pretty well planned and organized). The highlight was when Gurcharan let me drive the Discovery Sport at a 35-degree incline sideways through rocky terrain.

Since we were not permitted to take pictures during the drive, I am including pics the Land Rover team gave me at the end of the event. These pictures are only indicative. The actual drive was far more exhilarating than what these pictures portray. A big shout out to Switzel Fernandes (of the PR firm Weber Shandwick) who made all these pictures and videos available to me.

We took off in a convoy. I was the 4th of 11 cars.


Coming over this first hill:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-land-rover-above-beyond-tour_1.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-land-rover-above-beyond-tour_2.jpg

We waded through a stream about 2 feet deep at the deepest part:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-8620-tabt-mid-stream.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-8620-tabt.jpg

Short videos of the drive. If you follow them closely, you will see the sideways incline and may even spot me driving.







The pictures and videos do not tell the full story. The Discovery I was in was so poised that never during the entire ride did I feel scared. Gurcharan on the other hand, has a different story to tell.

This is me, driving. Yeah!
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-navin-tabt-stream.jpg

Emerging from the steam:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-navin-tabt.jpg

After we crossed the stream came the most fun part: driving at about a 35-degree incline through some wet rocky terrain. This picture is me just completing that section:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-navin-tabt-rocky-terrain.jpg

After the stream and a 35-degree sideways incline, I found this part easy. The power on tap in the Discovery Sport allowed me to race through this section even going a little sideways:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-red-disco-tabt-easy-part.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-red-disco-tabt-easy.jpg

Rocinante, after all we put her through:
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0484.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-img_0485.jpg

A final shout out to GTO who thought it worthy to let me represent Team-BHP for this event. It was a fun time. I do realize that for OTR experts like "Khan Sahib", this is tame but for me, this was a first time experience and I enjoyed it to the utmost.

Disclaimer: Land Rover invited Team-BHP for this offroad drive. They covered all the travel expenses for the driving event.

Last edited by Rehaan : 26th October 2018 at 17:13. Reason: As per RP
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Old 23rd October 2018, 11:19   #4
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 23rd October 2018, 12:48   #5
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Oh wow - what a thread. I recently test drove the Discovery Sport and the LR sales person had mentioned to me that they recently did this drive and were planning to do more of these for prospective customers. I should look out for this as and when they do. Looks like fun.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 15:48   #6
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

Interesting write up and it was a pleasure to read it as well as view the photos. I'm sure you had fun!

I think its great that landrover is making an effort to show off its offroading capabilities.

Perhaps some events like the type Mahindra conducts would be nice.

Any reason in particular for the no mobiles/ no photography rule? Its not like they gave you some hush hush secret car or something.
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Old 23rd October 2018, 22:00   #7
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

What a refreshing and gripping narration!!
To be very frank, it was your flair for writing that had me hooked than the exhilarating off road experience you narrated sir. Well, that was at the expense of hardcore Off-road pundits branding me "worthless" (After all, which Bhpian worth his salt won't be excited by steep inclines, muddy tracks and adrenaline rush?)
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Old 24th October 2018, 10:28   #8
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

Gurcharan is an amazing guy. I went to the Land Rover event (Indore) and I got him as my instructor. Not only did he help me navigate the track easily, but also taught me some finer points on offroading.

Last edited by Akshay1234 : 24th October 2018 at 10:57. Reason: typo
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Old 24th October 2018, 11:09   #9
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

Quote:
Originally Posted by navin View Post
His response "Khan Sahib!!!!"..."Sir you are with Khan Sahib (aka Khan_Sultan)?" He was incredulous. "Sir Khan Sahib drives so well and you? How?" Then his next words were "Hey Bhagwan."

I heard him repeat that "Hey Bhagwan" so many times that finally I told him "Gurcharan, I am Navin - why you keep calling me Bhagwan?" I think that shut him up. I think he was praying silently the rest of the way.

Somewhere along the way, I heard a thonk under the car. I don't know what I ran over so I looked over at Gurcharan, but he had his eyes shut and was praying silently.

The pictures and videos do not tell the full story. The Discovery I was in was so poised that never during the entire ride did I feel scared. Gurcharan on the other hand, has a different story to tell.
These had me in splits & the narration is so real that I can visualize Gurcharan in his DIRE conditions.
The drive seems to be pretty easy for these cars but that Classic LR is worth few more photographs.

Regards-Sonu
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Old 24th October 2018, 16:09   #10
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Originally Posted by theqca View Post
Any reason in particular for the no mobiles/ no photography rule? Its not like they gave you some hush hush secret car or something.
The idea was to keep drivers from getting distracted. After all many of us were newbies to Off The Road.

As soon as I got into my car Gurcharan took my phones (I have 2) and stuffed them in the glove compartment. My comment (in my best Italian accent) was "a-ha whose on ze phone iz not important". Gurcharan obviously has not seen The Gumball Rally as he never got the joke.

Excerpt from The Gumball Rally.

Last edited by navin : 24th October 2018 at 16:10.
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Old 25th October 2018, 15:00   #11
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and narration style, navin! I hope you are able to lend your distinctive tone to future TBHP reviews. Also is that the same Rohin Nagrani who was an automobile journalist?
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Old 25th October 2018, 15:18   #12
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Default Re: Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley

And I read the entire thing waiting for a pic of switzel and all I see is Gurcharan (no offence to him) !

But very well written Navin! I'm calling you to one of our events next time!
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Old 26th October 2018, 11:11   #13
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But very well written Navin! I'm calling you to one of our events next time!
Sure but be warned that the extent of my knowledge about cars is limited to knowing that cars come with 5 round things. 4 that are on the ground and go round and round and one that the driver holds.

You might want to talk to Gurcharan too. He did say "Sir you drive very well" a few times (in between his praying) but I think he was just being nice and/or hoping if he said that I would stop driving.

Last edited by navin : 26th October 2018 at 11:31.
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Old 26th October 2018, 12:24   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariesonu View Post
...but that Classic LR is worth few more photographs.

Regards-Sonu
Your wish is my command bro!

Here is a video that we shot using our humble Moto G series phone:


And some photos.
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-rr-classic-1.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-rr-classic-2.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-rr-classic-3.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-rr-classic-4.jpg

Well, we participated in the event on 7th Oct, 2018.

If someone has time to spare please read on our version of the event!

After receiving an invitation by our "good friend" at JLR Pune somewhere around last week of September, we thought of participating but it was not free for us. Some, INR 5K fee. Gulp! But 5K for driving the 76+ lakh LR through that terrain seems reasonable.

Finally after a long discussion with my friend we decided to go ahead and on 5th October, booked the one amongst last few available slots i.e. the one at 10 am on Sunday.

We didn't have a car with us so we set out on the Honda Activa!
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-activa.jpg

We started at around 6 am from Virar (yeah!) and guessed that on the scooter we would make it in around 3 and a half hours at average speed on clear roads.

After a few kilometers at around Vasai, suddenly our scooter started sounding like RE Bullet! After searching for the cause we found a bulge at the rear tyre! What bad luck!

We reduced our speed as there were no tyre shops open till 9 am and at some tyre repair shop he asked us to go slowly and replace it with a new one. Hence we moved at around 30 kmph mark.

And then this happened! At some point near Thane we hit a pothole and the bulge disappeared! It really did! God knows how! And I thanked the almighty a LOT!

So we rode cautiously till the start of Lonavla for some 100 kms! And found a tyre shop at 9 am. Thought it would take minutes to replace both of them as the front one was old too but boy! the repair guys were so lethargic! Took their own sweet time to bring in new tyre and replace them! It was now 9:45 am and we were still at Lonavala!

Once again our good friend at JLR came to our rescue and changed our slot to 12 noon.

We 2 guys weighing ~180 kg combined on a 110cc scooter rode on till the destination through the winding ghat roads of Lonavala. Was mighty impressed with the Activa I must say.

Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-19degree.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-19degree-entrance.jpg

The event was spectacular as the OP puts it.
Here is one video of the LR Discovery Sport wading through water that I recorded from the rear seat.



We were assigned to Mr. Yanren Jamio. A very cool guy!

Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-yanren.jpg

The event place.
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-house.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-shade.jpg
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-shade2.jpg

The LR Discovery Sport
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-our-car.jpg

Other cars which were part of the convoy
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-other-cars.jpg

Visitors!
Land Rover's Above & Beyond Tour @ Aamby Valley-visitors.jpg

Thankfully my friend drove rather amazingly through that terrain and was appreciated by Mr. Yanren. Phew!

The food there was amazing too. Hehe!
We clicked some pics around the event location and headed back to Virar where once again our scooter stalled due to fuel line not being connected correctly! Dayum!

What an "adventurous day" it was! After reaching our "After-Sales-Service" was so sore that we couldn't even walk or sit at home. Long distance on Activa NOT RECOMMENDED!

The LR Above and Beyond Tour was true to its name for us!

Last edited by RavSam : 26th October 2018 at 12:30.
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Old 26th October 2018, 13:15   #15
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If someone has time to spare please read on our version of the event!
Wow you guys are absolutely nuts and I say this with great admiration. Whatever possessed you to attempt to reach the event destination on an Activa?

The ride to the event must have been more "Above and Beyond" than the drive at the event.

Since there were 2 of you, one of which was not driving, I guess you were permitted to film while in the car.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and video (and your version) they surely add another dimension to my report.

Kudos again to your enthusiasm.

Last edited by navin : 26th October 2018 at 13:17.
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