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Old 9th March 2009, 01:18   #1
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Default Savandurga OTR Event on March 1st 2009: Detailed report

“Savandurga, a fort built on the largest monolith rock in India. This is where the Chola soldiers used to monitor the enemy troop movements” says Jammy from the passenger seat of his Jeep that I was driving.

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After the Cholas, it was the Hoysalas, followed by Vijayanagara empire, Kempegowda’s dynasty, Mysore Wodeyars, Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan, the British and now passed into obscurity. That’s the shortest version of the history of Savandurga.

So what was I doing Jeeping around near Savandurga, nearly 450kms from my place? Ah! We shall dwell into that now.

When I first heard about the OTR event in Savandurga, I didn’t pay too much attention. After all, I live too far away to even think about participation. However, as the numbers grew I realised I would be missed a massive gathering of lots of friends, that too friends I have never met outside of an offroading event. Since I was due to attend Bangalore for some long put-off personal work, I decided to schedule the trip on the same weekend as the OTR. Since I can’t get my Jeep, I quickly reserved the passenger seat that was offered in Shakir’s Gypsy. And since Sreeraj was closest to my place in Bangalore, he offered to pick me up in the morning for the drive till the rendezvous point. But I needn’t have worried about getting a seat at all. Looking back I realise that I knew half the guys who made it to the event, in fact I never even came close to sitting in Shakir’s Gypsy.

When Jammy heard I was visiting, he declared I will be driving his Jeep. I even had a choice, petrol MM440 or a diesel SWB Jeep which is a work-in-progress. Since I am not too hot about driving LHD vehicles in India, I suggested the diesel SWB Jeep. That totally changed our plans. It was only on Saturday I found out that the rendezvous point was diagonally across on the other side of the city. That means at least an hour of driving during the best of traffic conditions. To adhere to Commander Dwarak’s 6:15AM deadline, we have to leave at least by 5:15AM from my place. And Sreeraj had volunteered to pick me up at that time. Sincerely, I didn’t believe 6:15AM deadline was achievable with 30+ vehicles in the fray, for I have seen a few large OTR events by now. Jammy certainly didn’t plan to start before 6:30AM, and he knew the route all the way into the trail. That settled it for us. So I told Sreeraj to sleep an hour extra and pick me up only by 6:15AM, we would join the group only at the trail and not at the rendezvous point. I also picked up supplies like 4lt of water, some juice, bread & Jam.

Sreeraj picked me up exactly around 6:15AM along with Arindam (also known as Sowmya on the forum) and it was close to 7AM when we met Jammy on M.G road. This Jeep was a strange contraption. It was a SWB running Bolero XD3P engine (75BHP), with a 4+1 gearbox (4th on overdrive), 4.27:1 axle ratio and 31x10.5 Michelin LTX tyres. It had no seat belts, no mirrors of any kind, no turn lights, no soft top, no roll cage and a very uncomfortable seat. It was a true WIP Jeep. I rarely get backache, but I know one sure way to getting it. I can get backache by sitting in a bad seat in less than 30 minutes, guaranteed. I knew it would be a mistake for me to drive this Jeep all the way to the trail. Besides, it had a very harsh ride unlike my Jeep. And I am very uncomfortable driving without mirrors, seatbelts and using hand signals. Therefore, I jumped ship somewhere near race course and was back on Sreeraj’s backseat. By now we had started getting calls from guys wondering where we were, and we just reported we were on Jammy time. That basically means we will reach without setting any timeline expectation. Curiously, that seemed to satisfy the people who called. Besides, since Jammy knew the way to the trail, nobody had to wait for us.

At around 7:30AM we promptly stopped for a quick breakfast. As we continued, we started seeing others on road. When I say others, I mean Jeeps and Gypsies with the rugged looks that would feel at home only at offroad environments. And we were not mistaken, they were all heading to the same place as us. One minor casualty happened right in front of us, a gypsy broke the entire tailgate assembly (along with spare tyre) as we were driving behind it. So we stopped and helped them load it on the cargo area. Some might remember the Yellow Gypsy without the tailgate, now you know why. We also saw a much of SUVs, couple of Ford Endeavors and Scoprios along with the familiar Baleno Willys. Now we knew this OTR is going to be quite star studded.

As we turned off the main road into the side road behind Jammy, it was time to stop and play the sweeper role. Since we thought we were the last batch of Jeepers, we waited for all the stragglers to join up.

Waiting for others, notice Jammy’s Jeep in the front.

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The famous Willys with a Suzuki heart (Baleno Engine)

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While we were waiting many passing villagers wanted to know movie we were shooting. Although at first impulse I wanted to mention a fictional name with big name stars, we answered truthfully that this was not a movie shoot. We definitely didn’t need the mob gathering to take a peek at their favorite stars.
Meanwhile Emanuel decides to show off his mini-offroader.

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The next photo actually gave us the glimpse of what would follow this day.

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Emanuel’s real ride.

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As we continued down the trail, we eventually got the first glimpse of the early birds.

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Hmm, can’t see them? Ok, let’s zoom in just above the tree stump in the middle.

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Finally we reach the place where the rest of the gang was located, at a river crossing. As I jump off the Jeep, I see an incredible sight and I was too stunned to pull out the camera. I see a yellow Herbie crossing the river and climb over the river bank.

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I turn around and see a familiar face I haven’t since July, Kiran on his MM540. Some may remember him from here:

Kiran crossing the river.

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Kiran is a veteran, and he climbs the hill with minimum fuss.

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Soon, Dwarak is ready for his turn. Now, this was a much anticipated moment. At Munnar Dwarak was forced to abandon his Gypsy 410 at the bottom of a hill, and he had insisted it was only because of bald tyres and not the 1L engine. Now that he had new Geolandar AT-S, this was the moment everybody was awaiting.

Dwarak comes in full speed and makes a dash for the incline.

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And makes it to the top in one smooth motion. So, it was the tyres. Critics are silenced at last.

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This particular hill climb was interesting, it was a good litmus test. As I stood there to shoot the action shots, I realised none of the experienced drivers are having any problems making the climb. But the newer offroaders were struggling with the approach line and sometimes even basic technique. After a few vehicles climbed in front of me, I knew what line was most likely to work and what amount of momentum was required. I soon found myself advising drivers who were failing to climb in first attempt.

Sometimes, this advising business can get dicey. Experienced offroaders won’t like it since they want to try it on their own. Sometimes even newbies don’t appreciate it because they think they know. So I gave advice only if they failed the first time. Even then there were guys who ignored the advice and kept failing before they followed the advice. The advice was fairly simple, go up from the right side, cut left just before the mound while maintaining a good momentum all the way. Newbies need extra advice on what gear to use, keep off clutch/brake, etc. Once the experts cracked the technique in the beginning, it was fairly simple and everybody got through this one.

This was Bijoy on his first OTR.

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Most SWB Jeeps did it very easily, but there was a very curious exception. Utkarsh, who is one of the veteran Jeeper on his Classic kept sliding back no matter what. We were all wondering what is going wrong, it was strange to advice him while he kept failing. Finally somebody noticed that he hadn't locked his free wheeling hubs. He was effectively trying in 2WD.

Jammy did the climb with a different line with couple of attempts and lots of dust, that won’t work for most. Notice how the passenger seat is progressively leaning back. It was fully broken by the end of the event.

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The first Endeavor guy was initially not ready to listen to advice, he tried it with wrong approach with wrong speed.

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After couple of failures, he was more open to suggestions and finally cleared.

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The second Endeavor was driven by an experienced guy, he cleared the hill in the first attempt.

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After most vehicles cleared the hill, I walked up to the hill. This was the view from the top.

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Sreeraj posing against the imposing background.

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This was a dead-end hill, we were to get down the hill right away in order to continue in the trail. While getting down the climb, I was in the Jeep and Sreeraj dangerously tilted the Jeep. He momentarily didn’t remember to turn the steering towards the tilt, but he finally did that in time and the Jeep recovered the balance.

After getting down, the trail continued. Since I was merely being a photographer, I jumped out of the Jeep for photo ops.

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Again I was shocked to find the Beetle at this part of the trail.

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It was parked next the 1955 Willys belonging to Santosh.

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Then I reached another hill where the Endeavors were parked and the drivers doubtfully looking the next obstacle. It was a moment of truth for them.

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To Be Continued…
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Old 9th March 2009, 05:48   #2
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Awesome report as usual. Eagerly waiting for the next part.
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Old 9th March 2009, 07:17   #3
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Great report. Great pics !
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Old 9th March 2009, 09:20   #4
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Wow! Now this is called a report! Thanks Samurai!

Please continue - glued to this one.
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Old 9th March 2009, 09:49   #5
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Dear Sharath,
Finally, here comes your report.
Bring it on!! Am all eyes now
Btw, a very nice report and super pictures (as usual ;-).
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Old 9th March 2009, 10:54   #6
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This is what you call it a "detailed" report.

Samurai Sir, it was fun going through this thread.

Kindly shoot some more.
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Old 9th March 2009, 11:18   #7
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So after a long time the Great Samurai is in the Passenger seat !!!!
Excellent Report as Usual !!! Waiting for more!!!
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Old 9th March 2009, 13:38   #8
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Hi Samurai,

Great Discption buddy. Awating the Moment of Truth.


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Old 9th March 2009, 13:57   #9
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Already rated it 5 stars, great start Samurai.. eagerly waiting for next part..
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Old 9th March 2009, 14:28   #10
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Has expected nice thread, at last it has been started after finishing the Rajasthan travelogue for his wife

Now everyone are waiting.. waiting.. waiting.. for more on the photo and later the report.

Last edited by gowda79 : 9th March 2009 at 14:36.
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Old 9th March 2009, 18:17   #11
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Ah!!! At last there you go!!! Gr8 report as expected.

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Old 9th March 2009, 18:28   #12
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You would probably make one of the best auto journalist...rethink on your profession! Some neat writing skills. Great start! Keep it coming.
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Old 9th March 2009, 18:38   #13
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Ok. Now where is the sword wielding photographer!

He stop the post at a crucial point with regard to those two Endy's and then goes missing! :(

Samurai........ please start the second part!
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Old 9th March 2009, 18:40   #14
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Sharath sir great photos we missed ur mountain goat.
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Old 9th March 2009, 19:31   #15
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Sharath now this is what a report is all about, perfect with pictures. Lovely shots there and btw did you get yourself a wide angle ?

A noob's question, I read on the other thread that there was a Scop' and an Endy. How did these perform keeping in mind the kerb weight of these vehicles ? Definitely the other vehicles had the advantage of being lighter in comparo to these monsters.
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