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Old 26th September 2023, 18:27   #1
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4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Its not often that one gets a lot of serendipity -
a) Being able to spare two days
b) Being invited to be part of an extreme 4X4 excursion
c) Rooms available at a tried and trusted place
d) The missus suddenly agreeing to be part of it

There has to be divine intervention, I say to myself.

So, when my good friend Robi messaged to ask if I wanted to ride with him at the annual Offroad event at Somwarpete and that he has booked rooms at Green Pastures, at Coorg and my wife says yes, it all comes together. I had two more good friends for company. Megazoid and Tilt.

Day 0 saw Tilt, Megazoid and Robi do a 4X4 event closer to Somwarpete. I wasnt able to participate that one. When I reached the resort, I already see 3 tired men wanting to hit the bed and get going the next morning for the main event at Somwarpete, a 6.30 am start off.

As always, the food at Green Pastures was fantastic, the conversations even better and we all hit the bed early and agreed to leave at 6.15 AM the following day.

The Pre-Kick off:

We got ready early, and we cranked up Robi's lovely mean machine at 6.15 am, and we reach the kick-off point at 6.30 am. We finish the formalities of registration, tokens etc..collected the goodies that consisted of a half jacket, a black cap, a bag full of munchies (2 candies, 2 packets of biscuits, 1 moong dal packet, 1 chips packed, 1 frooti juice and 2 small peanut chikki).
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-ready-go.jpg
The customary shot taken 1t 6.30 am above. You can notice the cap and the jacket that the organizers gave for all participants. Left most is Tilt, followed by myself, followed by Robi and the selfie being clicked by Megazoid.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-onemeanmachine.jpg
Here's our mean machine that we fully trust to get us back after this hard core offroad event.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-mm.jpg

And here is the Man and his machine, the Thar, Petrol AT, hard top.

I had parked my Jimny at the same place where the kick-off was scheduled to happen. We were all there early, and we slowly could see the machines and their owners arriving and lining up. We caught up with some known friends and we were also shooting some lovely beauties that were coming in and lining up.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-abeauty.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-anotherbeauty.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-whatabeauty.jpg

The hard part of such events is to decide which one to spend more time and admire on. Each was looking better than the other. By and large, the machines were broadly into 4 types - The classic old jeeps, the Gypsies (who were already giving us notes of their exhaust while arriving itself), the old generation Thar's and the new generation Thars. These 4 combined will be about 90% of the vehicles there. We did see one superbly done up Isuzu, a Fortuner and a cute looking yellow Jimny.

Pre-Lude:

There is always a first time for something. Such an event at such an elaborate scale was something that I hadn't seen prior. I might have enjoyed the odd videos that keep circulating or some friends who participate talk about it, but I had never had a first hand experience.

There is one more first that I was to go through, perhaps, not a very enjoyable one at that. I realised that I might end up sitting at the back seat of the Thar. Maybe, Megazoid was thinking the same, because, when we kept our bags and jackets and stuff into the car, we both being Jimny owners started talking about the lack of a door to enter the rear seat. . So, we had two Thar owners sitting front, and two Jimny owners occupying the rear seats.

The Pre-Kick off:
Around 7.30 am, the breakfast was ready. They had a nice buffet. We had a solid breakfast of Idly, Shavige Bhat, Vada, Kesari Bhat, Sambar, Chutney and a coffee to drown them in.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-yumbfast.jpg

The conversations around breakfast turned to how the organisers are doing a fab job this year. The parking near the kick-off was just about right. The food was yum. The mechanism to register and collect goodies was perfect and quick. The cars were being made to park as and when they arrive, and therefore, if you are arriving early, you get off the blocks early too. Now, the scale of this event is a mind blowing 140 Cars. I would imagine about 300 People who are participants, about 50 odd people to 'Help' us at different spots, several Marshal cars, sweepers etc..Its no mean task to organise this at such scale and the organisers had done a really stupendous job at it.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-lineduprows.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-liningup.jpg

The line up was super pretty. You almost want to go to each machine and shoot them. You want to kind of admire details of each car. You want to have conversations with the owners. But then, there are 100's of cars and 100's of owners and you are also waiting for the whistle to blow for the kick-off. which they did around 8.30 am.

We had almost a 12-15 km drive before we entered the trail. Mid-way, the entire line up was waiting for the lead marshal car to enter a temple and do a pooja to make sure we were all looked after.
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-poojatime.jpg
All cars lined up adjacent to a temple (isnt visible in this picture)

We quickly entered into the trail. I think the organisers had divided these into blocks of 35-40 cars and therefore, we did not see too much of a crowd ahead or behind us when we entered the beginning of the trail.
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-doweneed4x4.jpg

Here's our man thinking if we will need to switch to 4X4 at all, given the tarmac was like this for a considerable distance into the estates/forests.
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Old 26th September 2023, 18:53   #2
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Post Kick-off and before Lunch:

Megazoid and I were getting used to sitting at the rear. We both were making fun of the Thar (i used to own a Thar before). The Thar owners are quite a sport and we were generally engaged in friendly banter, while being thrown around at the back. I was hoping that I might have a chance sometime during the event where I can con Tilt to sit behind. By and large, I was having a go at the Thar. Little did I know that whilst the Thar owners are sweet friends and sporty, the machine itself will get back at me sometime soon.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-enroutescenary.jpg
There was no dearth of scenic beauty. We were driving thru the estates and forests in the rut and incline after incline was done, and you end up watching breath taking sceneries'. Hard to capture in the phone. The good part here was that the Lead Marshal car will ensure we take adequate breaks, especially at a good scenic point or just prior to a very hard obstacle.
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-scenary.jpg

I was testing my spine and my neck in the Thar rear seat, on an off-road trail, but still got some decent clicks of a fellow BHP'ian who was tailing us.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-harsha-beauty.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-harsha1beauty.jpg

Around this time, we were on a particular channel in the radio, and we decided to switch to the one that the organisers were on. This ensured we were abreast of what we could expect and what the plans were. We slowly realised that a batch that took the trail from a different direction had issues in clearing a water body and many cars were stuck there and they were heavily delayed. Little did we know that this will cascade into our times later on.

The trail had some really steep inclines and some great declines. Megazoid and I were getting to be 'Pro's in getting in and out of the Thar rear seat, with a 1-2-3 mechanism. While getting in, hold the grab handle, left foot on board, right foot into the rear passenger seat well, and one haul of our bodies into the seats. Getting down, we were doing the exact same thing, but in reverse order.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-florabeauty.jpg

You don't need a KAS valley, you walk around, and you will get to see some lovely flora in the plains. There were a lot of land with absolutely green grass pastures, and everyone of them were strictly instructed not to do do-nuts on those.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-halfdonebeauty.jpg

We were about 90 minutes into the trail and so far so good. Barring the odd jump up or a side bump, we were enjoying the ride. Robi and Tilt were discussing how the previous year one was so tough and full of slush and mud etc..

The car was slowly gathering dust, muck etc..The foot board was getting more slush as we kept driving on. We slowly started seeing the water bodies. Now, when there is a water body, we can be sure of a steep decline, cross the water body followed by a steep incline. We probably did about 7-8 such Decline, Water crossing, Incline ritual, but let me tell you, each of them were difficult in its own way. Each different from the rest. And each posing a challenge.

Till now, the Man and the Machine were in sync.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-marshals.jpg

There was enough help forthcoming at many sections. They really had staffed up people to ensure no difficulty or rush for people or to make sure that there wasn't too much of a wait time for each car to pass by a difficult obstacle.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-narrow-slushy.jpg

We started seeing trails getting narrow. We started seeing the bushes and the shrubs getting thicker and the limb raisers were throwing them out. Tilt at the front was doing a job of navigating Robi with commentary for rocks, tree stumps, distance to the left and so on so forth.

A beautiful Jimny, nicely modded in action in one of the sections.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-whata-looker-jimny.jpg

We slowly inch our way to the lunch spot. Trust me, the man and the machine and the co-passengers haven't broken a sweat yet. And at the lunch spot, we don't see too much of a crowd. Maybe, the batch who struggled early on are too far away. What this meant was that we all get to eat on time (12.50 pm) and we get hot food.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-parkedbeauty.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-parkingatlunch.jpg

The machine parked near the lunch place.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-biryaniplace.jpg

The lunch was being made hot, served hot. Fantastic choice of Veg/Mutton biryani, a dessert, kababs or Mirchi pakoda, with some raita. Sumptuous, yet very yummy.
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Old 26th September 2023, 19:39   #3
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Post Lunch:

If thus far, it was 'Man and Machine' we didn't know that the situation will turn into a 'Man Vs Machine' in no time.

A sumptuous lunch worked wonders in Tilt's brains and without me having to con him with some excuse, he offered to sit behind. I already see Megazoid's eyes were slowly expressing jealousy.

We get onto the track again, and boy oh boy, within no time we encounter tracks with slush. Slush that will ensure you can't even get down and stand straight.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-narrow-slushy.jpg


4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-trywalking.jpg

Around this time, Robi was the lead car and we sometimes had to get down and check the trail. Two things happen, first - you think you are walking here, but the feet below is so slippery, it will take you there. and 2. The area is so full of greens, grass, shrubs, and trees, that its a leach factory.

Our friend Robi and leaches go back in time I guess. He will get off, walk in, run back, and start driving. He will on and off use his left hand to get to his feet or toes, pluck out a leach or two and throw them off the window. I have never seen anyone else being so cool and casual about a creature that I just loathe. Its a different issue that both he and I ended up with blood on the feet, but one was cool and me the polar opposite.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-whowants-slush.jpg

Well, thanks to the new person in the front passenger seat, we were suddenly facing obstacles that were challenging. We needed to be winched out. We had to use a self recovery once with the winch in the thar.

The nose is pointing left, the car slids right, the steering is pushed right, but the car slips and slides left, the brakes are rammed hard in, but the car slides down the slush. If someone had told me what to expect post lunch, I might have voluntarily left post a good meal.

We were 10 minutes into the trail post lunch, when we encountered a very narrow climb with a steep incline followed by a sharp left turn. To the right were trees, and the surface had ruts for the wheels, but slushy ones. The machine was literally against all actions of the man, it was as though it had its own mind and doing things it suddenly wants to do. It was a Man Vs Machine contest. Things were a bit intense at one spot, where a fellow BHP'ian came in with a shovel and was guiding Robi, while I was down spotting for rocks and other stuff to avoid. Finally, we had to self winch out using a tree. The moments were dramatic, that none of us had pictures of that place. Well, did I tell you that it started raining then.

We cleared this section and were approaching a hill, through a short 1 km of tarred tarmac that we had to use to cross a river over a bridge. Now, there are two ways you cross the river - take the bridge or get into the water and cross the water.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-easiest-way-cross-bridge.jpg

What such incidents mean, is that Tilt was just not comfortable behind and my front view through the windshield lasted all of 30 minutes.

You get to such places and the advice offered from people outside is 'keep gear 1, 4x4 Lo and Ram the accelerator. I wish it was that easy. You only see rocks and mud and you never know what's jutting out from where.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-presshard-go-easy-slush.jpg

So, do we press hard and make the climb or go easy and risk getting stuck or beached. We choose a mix of both and in some sections, we made it with some effort and in 3 sections, we had the tractors doing the job for us.

We were back to the lunch area, though, we approached it from a different direction this time. We did'nt see too many cars then too, and we were made to understand that a batch of 40 odd cars that got stuck very early are yet to arrive for lunch. It was 3.45 pm then.

After a wait of 15-20 minutes here, we were asked to proceed. Around this time, we did not have marshal cars leading us. Our friendly BHP's ian went ahead and we were just behind him. We were told to just climb the hill and follow the arrow marks into the trails.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-thehilltoclimb.jpg

The hill looks easy in the picture, but trust me, the Thar 4x4 adventure screen showed a 30 degree incline while climbing up. It wasn't wasy to climb either. Robi gunned it in second gear.

We quickly got into several declines, water crossing, decline sequence. One such sequence was quite a thriller. Technically, we would only be the second car to do this obstacle, the first to do so will be a fellow BHP'ian. He guns it, makes it half way very well, only to see a big rock to his left. In an aim to avoid it, he had to slow down and make an adjustment to a right steer and this ensured he got stuck. Megazoid and I decided to walk down here.

Remember I was saying how the 'Thar' will get back to me about my Jimny boasting? So, this time, while I was doing the routine 3-2-1 sequence, the moment I Put my left food out at the foot board, the slush and much collected there made me slip and 'bam' - I suddenly sensed that I had a shin bone and that aches. I slipped and hurt my shin banging into the foot board.


Nevertheless, i get out, and start walking. If you see the video above, you won't even be able to spot me in the video. It was because, it was at such a height and at such a narrow turn. All I wanted to ensure was that Robi guns it up, avoids that rock to the left (so, I positioned myself there). Even if he can't avoid the rock, he will avoid me. He does that in style though and clears it in one go.

After several such Man Vs machine contests, we arrive at an area where we had to take a right turn. This will mean that we get into the last parts of the trail before we head out to the starting point. It was 4.00 PM when we arrived there. We are second in Q. We slowly see many cars lining up behind us.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-when-do-we-turn-right.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-waiting.jpg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-waiting1.jpg

We wait, and we wait and we wait. We are told that there are 15 more cars to pass that spot into the trails leading to lunch spot. We had completed those around 11.45 am, and here we are, waiting for a batch of 15 more cars to arrive at 4 pm.

We probably waited in for an hour. News slowly trickles out that a Gypsy had toppled holding up all the cars behind. And there was another Gypsy that had broken down causing the jams. Megazoid and I decide to walk it out to check the situation. We had told Robi that if they are asked to go from there, they can pick us enroute.


4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-megazoid-walk.jpg

The walk was hard. Constantly slipping. You are walking with your weight pushed too low to ensure you don't slip. Its slushy, its wet, its raining and the leeches are waiting to latch on. The views are spectacular. The stream is clean and chill.

When we arrive at a particular spot after a 2 km walk, the cars held up were slowly inching their way up. They were all being diverted elsewhere since, there were cars waiting to get down and exit. We now see our machine inch its way to that spot, and we get picked up again.

Thar does it again. So, in the routine sequence of getting in, I forgot that the car is parked at an incline, and the moment I let go of my hand to the door, it whips back and gives me one on my calf muscle. I promise, I won't every boast about Jimny being better than a Thar ever again.

We finally make it to the Tarred roads that lead us to the start point. We 4 are happy. A day well spent. An experience that will be remembered for a long time.

We all promise that we shall 'participate' separately next time. I think I am confident enough now.

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-victory.jpg

And oh, before I finish, the above is the customary one with our sense of victory shields. The left most is one of the organisers. Right most is our every friendly BHP'ian Harsha was was of great help thru the trail.

I loved it. I am sure the other three enjoyed it too. We did not wait for the gala drinks and dinner that was planned by the organisers but instead, chose to get back to our home stay that dished up some super yummy food.

What a day! What an experience! What a company! Thanks much to Robi, Megazoid, Tilt, without whom it would not have been half the fun.
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Old 26th September 2023, 20:25   #4
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th September 2023, 09:53   #5
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Lovely report KJ. It was immense fun with you all. Owe a big thanks to Bhpian Karthikd21 in his Black Thar too for all the help during the trail. The Thar felt quite different to drive with four adults on board. Glad we all made it safe. Looking forward to more such trips in the future.

The start
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-smpt-parallel.jpg

After the event went for a deep wash
4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-img_8443.jpeg

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-img_8444.jpeg

Last edited by robimahanta : 27th September 2023 at 10:02.
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Old 27th September 2023, 10:28   #6
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Excellent write up KJ! It was super fun meeting other BHPians on the trail! This was one of the best and toughest trails I have done till date in the last 2 years of my Off-roading career. Thanks to Robi for being together and more thanks to our "Thar Bengaluru" group for providing ample opportunities to learn off road driving and spotting through practice on the monthly trails without which I would not have imagined to attempt such a trail with confidence and come out without any damage!

Adding a snap of Mine(MT) and Robi's(AT) machines together, both being guzzlers

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-20230923_092754.jpg

One of the best angles where the Thar is a looker! Shot just before the wash after trail

4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete-20230924_111642.jpg

Last edited by karthikd21 : 27th September 2023 at 10:30.
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Old 27th September 2023, 10:55   #7
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

Well organized event and a lovely trail for the 4wd vehicles to attempt. Sitting in the back of the Thar and doing the trail is the second best thing to do, driving it being the first. Big thanks to Robi for allowing a houseful in the Thar. It was a fun drive with lots of lessons for the occupants. There is no substitute for physical fitness in offroading. Walking on slush, eating late, parched throat, harsh light, cranky winches, misbehaving 4x4s, downpour, you name it... many permuatations invariably takes shape.

Then comes the technicalities of the stage themselves. After wearing cool outfit and twirling our collective non existent moustaches, when the local romeo in his decorated 4x4 just clambers the steep gradient with utter disdain, it puts real pressure on other men to deliver. Many times we looked cool, at places we were humbled, but at no point did we not learn something. Be it weight advantages and disdvantages, carrying momentum, spotting, winching and even choice of footwear to take on the elements.

The variety of 4x4s was fantastic to watch. The gypsy's were swell, the Thars crawled like crabs, the fortuners and the lifted Isuzu made the little Jimny's look like new born babies. Hardy men, smiling families, young turks with the latest hairdo, women drivers who made men look a wasted lot and small kids were all part of the cavalcade.

The food was terrific and we gorged shamelessely. So was the weather. It drizzled a bit, misty a while, sun shing through giving hope in the slush and it stayed that way through the day.

Robi drove well displaying grit and stamina, Tilt, tilted the car most of the time, KJ steadied the backend with banter and I munched on haldiram packets.

It is no joke to organize an event of such scale and make everyone go back happy. They did a fabulous job of keeping the marauding offroaders within the estates and provide them with food and drink. The registration desk and goodies distribution was hassle free and was well executed.

Hope to be part of more such excursions and eat good food.
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Old 27th September 2023, 17:47   #8
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Re: 4 Men, 1 4x4 Machine, a Shaniwar at Somwarpete

KJ, trust you to see humour in what was indeed a not-easy day; and thank you for letting me get back into the shotgun seat - my back is more grateful for your gesture.

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/members/karthikd21.html was the BHPian KJ fondly referred to as Harsha in his post because that is how we introduced him to KJ. Harsha took the lead and showed us how an expert would tackle an obstacle.; and we followed him, barrelling down under full wheel-lock.

All in all it was a good day, nice fun, no serious (read expensive) damage to any car or person, great food, no party (we all wanted to just get back to the homestay and have a nice shower).

Thank you Robi for letting the three of us pile onto your car for the drive.

KJ, we want to see your better-than-Thar Jimny do this trail next year

Cheers
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