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Old 15th July 2008, 16:16   #1
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Default First offroading event with my Jeep: Coorg Jeep Thrills OTR 2008 Report

Finally it was time for the very first full-fledged offroading event in my newly acquired Jeep. Conveniently for me that event was being held in Coorg, which is well within 5-6 hours of drive from my place. The event was being organized by the Jeep Thrills, and I diligently followed the instructions given in Jeep Thrills yahoo group to prep the Jeep for the event. I even bought engine oil, differential oil, brake fluid, coolant, etc., for the first time over the counter. Since we were travelling in an open Jeep, I also had to figure out a way to secure the items at the back. I finally worked out a locking mechanism to secure the luggage, toolbox, 5L engine oil and tyre inflator to the Jeep. This was all strangely new experience for me to prepare in such a manner for a trip. Photography was not of high priority for me on this trip since I had bigger fish to fry. I was originally planning to take just the newly acquired Panasonic FX-36 so that my wife can use it. However, I did take the Olympus E3 at the last moment, but I didn’t really spend too much time thinking of photography as I was worrying more about how to get across the next offroading hurdle. It was only yesterday I realised I could have taken some pan-action shots, but my mind was only thinking offroading during the weekend.

On July 11th 2008, my wife and I started off from home after lunch. After 35Kms we had a brief stopover at my parent’s home. My parents finally got to have a look at the Jeep. My dad (aged 75) was quite impressed with the Jeep, I even found him testing the seats for the firmness. We left after drinking some fresh kokum juice, and then hit the ugly road construction scene at Suratkal. I don’t know when traffic will come back to normal in these parts. Anyway, we didn’t get to breath clean air until we crossed B.C.Road. Then we turned right at Mani, and encountered occasional bad patches all the way until nearing Sulliya. The roads around Sulliya and onwards were in superb shape, all the way into Coorg. Even the main highways in Coorg are in good shape.

As we started climbing the Sampaje Ghats, my wife noticed that the engine was heating beyond 90C. I quickly stopped and checked the coolant level in the overflow tank, it was well above full. Then I opened the radiator cap and lots of coolant whooshed out. Well, that was a typical rookie mistake. So I added more water to make up for the loss. After some wait we continued again as we wanted to hit Madikeri before it got dark. But the engine started overheating again. So we again stop. This went on for few times, we even checked engine oil level, fan belt slackness in the dark in torch light. The heating didn’t make sense since the weather was very cool and sun was already set.

Anyway, we finally hit Madikeri at 7:45PM and refuelled. Then we turned towards Murnad and started climbing down, the temperature now came down all the way to 70C and remained there. At Murnad we took a left turn before hitting the town and headed to Ontiangadi and then finally reached Alath-cad Estates, our home stay for the next two days.

As I pulled in one of the organisers directed me to the parking area. As I started again, I stall the engine in 1st gear, in front of all the Jeepers standing there evoking a generous round of laughter. So much for first impressions.

After parking the Jeep we settled into one of the rooms and freshened up. The dinner was being served, we met the organizers, and also many members for the first time. The Patrick Kani’s team from Chennai had to ditch their Land Cruiser in Bangalore as it broke down, and ride down with Jammy’s Jeeps. After an hour long dinner chit-chat we all settled to our rooms since we had to get up by 5:15AM.

July 12th 2008

We were woken up by loud banging at the door at 5:15AM and that repeated every 30 minutes to make sure we were out by 6:30AM. By 7AM we found ourselves at the rendezvous point, Dhinu’s Home Stay.

Dhinu's Home
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The first set of Jeeps have gathered, it even included a new Pajero.

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And I started checking out some impressive rides.

A rare MM440 that runs on petrol and LPG belonging to Jammy Anand, from whom I bought my Jeep.

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The limited edition Mahindra Legend, this was the most modern Mahindra Jeep in this OTR, belonged to Mr.Sudhir Kashyap’s team from Mahindra & Mahindra.

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The red Classic belonging to Giri Tirumale.

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Meanwhile a second layer of Jeeps were added to the lineup. The Gurkha created quite a stir while being parked here. There were quite a few Jeepers circling it around muttering manual diff locks, snorkel intake, etc.

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We had long wait here while the organizers were sorting things out. In fact we didn’t leave this place until 9:10AM after we were issued our event stickers and Jeep numbers. The Pajero team was asked to leave the Pajero behind as the terrain would be impossible or damage the vehicle. The local organisers who knew the terrain very well didn’t feel Pajero would survive it, probably they had past experience with Pajero on this trail. So the Pajero stayed home, in the Home Stay.

The numbers of participating Jeeps were huge, according to the rumour I heard there were 52 Jeeps and 80 participants. And that’s without counting the audience who came in bikes and the forest dwelling tribals. We had at least 3 rescue tractors and lots of other local enthusiasts who came to help and organise. It was like a big Jeep carnival in the forest, and we didn’t see a single wild animal.

We often had traffic jams whenever difficult challenges were encountered. Sometimes we just didn’t know why we were stuck. But unlike city traffic, we didn’t have road rage. Everybody was relaxed and walking around taking photos every time we were held up.

Me with my Jeep waiting at the first traffic jam.
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A long wait...
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After this finally entered the forest and quickly passed through few heavily slushy trails. Due to my inexperience I took the slush in 1st low and it took forever although I kept moving. Another crazy looking challenge was also conquered quite easily. Soon we hit another major traffic snag and we took off to investigate. We were to spend 3 hours at this challenge.

It was a small stream of water with the other bank being on the higher side. Finally only one Jeep crossed it without help, every other Jeep including the Gurkha had to be winched or pulled from the other side by tractors.

This Jeeper had no idea he was going to be stuck for an hour in this stream, and disabled for few more hours after getting winched, he got water into the fuel tank.

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As the seriousness of this challenge sunk in, participants soon started scouting various crossing points across nearly 100 meters wide area, constantly probing for hard surface under the knee deep water.

The Gurkha tried 3 different crossing points, got stuck everytime with all four wheels spinning. Two times it was towed back hoping for a successful retry. After the third failure, it was towed across to the other side.

The First Attempt.

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and was towed back.

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The second attempt with good speed, the rear tyres went up air, again stuck and was towed back.

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But the Gurkha owner Srinath should be given credit for trying it so many times before giving up.

Meanwhile the official rescue Jeep (Mahindra Legend) gets towed to the other side to help in rescue operations. Driven by Mr.Sudhir Kashyap of M&M.

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Now it joins the rescue effort .

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Meanwhile a long line of Jeeps are waiting for their turn.

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There was a brief bamboo experiment inspired by the old Kung fu movie (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) which grew stale after a few tries.

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To be continued...

Last edited by Samurai : 15th July 2008 at 16:20.
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:25   #2
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Wow.. Keep it coming Sharath..!!!! Was eagerly waiting for your post. Great pics -- seems like being there again and can vaguely hear people shouting all kind of instructions on where to cross, which approach to take etc. :-)
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:26   #3
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Oh, what a thrill. Amazing snaps..
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:27   #4
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Great pics and report as usual, Samurai, keep it coming !!!
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:30   #5
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Some more new crossing points being tried.

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Bhaskarís MM540 came closest to success, but couldnít pull itself out. You can also see Gurkha being pulled out after the 3rd failed attempt.

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So close, yet so far.

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Romey from Delhi trying a new tack.

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But meets with similar results.

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Meanwhile this corner point was gobbling up on Jeep after other. This is where Jeeps got stuck for maximum period, the rescue time ranged from 30 to 60 minutes for each Jeep. Finally it was here the only successful crossover happened, that too by a petrol Willys driven by Sibi, a local Jeeper.

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This Jeep tries the other extreme side.

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But only results in getting a mud bath.

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Finally I realise I too have to go through the same grind. After seeing all the attempts, I decide to take the least damaging path, where the Jeep can be winched out fast and there is no danger of sinking in or water getting into the intake or exhaust or diesel tank. Hey, I am new to this stuff, I have right to be scared.

I position myself for the crazy rush and then go in. Then I got towed in less than 30 seconds.

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My wife chilling in the Jeep after the crossing.

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While I was going through my crossing, Sibi Paul successfully crosses the stream using a high speed technique on his ancient petrol Willys. I think he even had his wife and kid in the Jeep if I am not mistaken. I couldnít take his action shot since I was busy driving at that time. But I saw many Jeepers attempting the crossing with full family even at the place most Jeep sunk in 45 degree angle. I am not saying it is dangerous, but you need real guts to do it.

This Jeep was one of the last to cross, but he got caught royally, it took forever to pull him out since his clutch gave out while under water. The guys who are sitting on it are doing so to stop it from tipping over completely. BTW, the guy who is squatting on it is Sibi Paul, the hero of the day.

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Giriís Classic is leading the rescue effort of the Yellow Jeep. But it canít do it alone.

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Even the towing Jeep needs further support from the tractor.

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Old 15th July 2008, 16:32   #6
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Awesome pics there,Samurai

Looks like you guys had lot of fun.

Cant wait to see more
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:38   #7
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Awsome pictures there Samurai,Its wonderful.

Hats off to you sir,for driving from Manipal to coorg in a Jeep after driving the GV
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Old 15th July 2008, 16:42   #8
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While the final rescue effort is on, rest are relaxing.

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The petrol/LPG offroader looks ravishingly macho after playing with slush.

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A young participant poses with tribal kids.

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Meanwhile the water stream looks upon the rescue effort innocently.

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Ever seen a Gypsy with a patio umbrella? They say it is better than engine braking.

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Patrick Kani and his half-roader having a chat in front of Sibiís Jeep.

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Finally the Jeep is rescued and into the arms of Mr.Sudhir Kashyap whose mechanics have to fix the clutch to make it ready for the road, I mean off-road.

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The organisers call in lunch break and we all start munching our Chicken biriyanis and Pulavs.

I have to stop here since I haven't processed the remained photos. Also, I am taking my dad for a procedure in the hospital tomorrow, so I won't be updating the report until day after tomorrow. Sorry about that.

To be continued much later.
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:04   #9
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Woooo! Great report Samu. Looks like you guys had good fun!
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:07   #10
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Woooo! Great report Samu. Looks like you guys had good fun!
You bet.. this report is just till lunch on Day 1. wait for more exciting posts about post lunch, and Day 2.
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:08   #11
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Excellent report Samurai, is it just me or is there anyone else who cant see the pics. All i can see are the first five pics. After that i cant see any pics.
This must have been quite a thriller. I hope Jeep Thrills had a Maharashtra branch wherin we could also take part in such events.
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:18   #12
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You bet Gogibhai - I am kicking yself for having sold off my CL340 MH01P8300. Find me one, please !

best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:18   #13
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Originally Posted by V-16 View Post
Excellent report Samurai, is it just me or is there anyone else who cant see the pics. All i can see are the first five pics. After that i cant see any pics.
They are all hosted on Team-BHP as attachments, is anybody else having the same problem?
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:22   #14
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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
They are all hosted on Team-BHP as attachments, is anybody else having the same problem?

No problems here, all visible nice and clear. by the way, amazing pictures. Too bad you will continue only day after tomorrow.
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:24   #15
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Some thoughts,

1.) The invincible Gurkha
2.) Your overheating ain't normal.
3.) The Pajero wisely kept its locking diffs "in the rear with
the gear"

4.) If I want to do serious off-roading I will mod a
tractor...they did not seem to have much trouble .

5.) It looks like a grand time was had by all.
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