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Old 3rd May 2009, 21:25   #1
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Default Mahindra UV's Through Central India

This is a travelogue that I had written about my trip during February 2008. Wish to share the experience with you all.
During Feb 6-9, 2008, I travelled a gruelling more than 1200kms through the
rural hinterland in Central India. My work took me to some very and
some not so very remote towns and villages in Nagpur, Amravati(incl
Melghat forests), Akola, Malkapur, Jalgaon(all Mah) Burhanpur and
Khandwa dists (both M.P.). We had a white Mahindra Bolero LX 4X4 (2003
model) and a light beige Mahindra 540DP UV with a soft top(1998 model).
I interchanged the vehicles from time to time.The Melghat forests are
well known for their wealth of wild life.
For the first day, it was work
around Paratwada (Amravati dist) and a night halt there. It is the
nearest town for the hill station Chikhaldhara.
On the 7th, we moved westward towards Burhanpur(M.P.) via
Amravati, Akola, Malkapur dists traversing the state highway till
Nandura and landing on NH 6 leading upto Edlabad and there from to
Burhanpur vis the State Highway. The 7th and 8th night halts were at
Burhanpur. This town is historically very rich and is a treasure trove
for history lovers. The city is partly walled and has tongas still
moving as people carriers. The Asifgarh fort is on Khandwa road. Our
work took us to Nepanagar an old paper mill town and the several
villages and banks of the Tapi river around it.
The two UV's gave us unstinting support all through the run and
never required anything other than a small welding job (the 540DP)
expenses on diesel,engine oil & some coolant (the 540DP too needs
coolant). Both have Peugeot engines (the 5.40 XDP (the soft top)and the
XD3P(Bolero)) to which I accord the stamp of "Gems of Workhorses".
Leave alone the NVH levels and critics who say these are ancient-I envy
their dependability and lugging ability. Cruising all day long at
speeds of upto 80 kmph & also at 5 kmph using the 4WD option
many a time, these engines never, ever faltered. Nothing even comes
close to them under such rugged conditions of use. The 4X4 Bolero had problems creating its own road, due to
its lower ground clearance but the 540DP is a "go anywhere-make your own road" and a class above.
On the highways the Bolero cruises comfortably at 80-90 kmph- it can cruise at that speed all day long, whereas the 540DP is noisy at 80 kmph and its engine has to work hard to remain
cruising at 80-90 kmph. Body rattle is minimal, but for the
body-chassis bracket on the rear of the 540DP, whose welding came off
and the metal to metal noise could only be rectified by a slick welding
job done at Burhanpur. After all its a 1998 model.These UV's don't have
tachometers which is a turn off. The Bolero suffered only a small rear
tyre puncture.It has crossed 101000 kms on the odo and no major repair
work has been done.
The Mahindra jeeps have brake problems -one has to get used to it. Like the 540DP has drumbrakes all over and doing 80-90 kmph has the dynamics going awry upon emergency braking. The Bolero's front disc brakes are a notch better. One has to get used to the Mahindra culture of braking. Again after driving Mahindras for so long, driving a Maruti or a Santro like car, may get on the car's backbone and nerves. In the first few instances, we try to dodge potholes the Mahindra way, but the Maruti and Santro get rattled and before breaking or fracturing their bones, tell us that we're quite
delicate- we are not Mahindras after all.
Coming to the rural India and the 2,3,4 wheelers in use there, its
much different from what we see in cities and metros. As far as 2
wheelers are seen its HH all the way in their 100cc avatars. they are
the most popular ones. Their dealerships have reached the smallest
towns. Village mechanics repair these "once hi-tech" 4 stroke engines.
Bajaj 2 wheelers come second in population & include the 4S, Boxer,
Caliber and now the Platina. Some TVS models -the older AX100, Max 100,
Victor and Star city come third, popularity wise. Honda (HMSIL) and
Suzuki dealerships are growing but its tough to spot their bikes. Also
anything above 100-110cc (Pulsars, CBZ's,Unicorns)is as tough to spot
in these areas as it is to spot a Merc in our cities.The 100cc rules.
The older Rajdoots and Bajaj m80's are in minority but still survive. I
spotted a brand new m80 perhaps fitted with an OE battery, horns and
indicators. Forgot to write that Honda (HMSIL) and Suzuki( the Zeus makers) have dealerships in small towns like Bajaj, HH and TVS but unlike the Rural Big 3, their showrooms lack any rural crowd pulling ability. A Honda Shine or two, could only be seen on the streets.
Wondered why Escorts and Yamaha could'nt maintain their brand
loyalty and give something better than the Rajdoot and RX 100 to the
rural folks, who switched loyalty and went for HH. scooters are rare to
nil in population. Villagers simply dont like these. Thats all about 2
wheelers and more about 3 and 4 wheelers in the next posting.
For 3 wheelers its the Bajajs.Some diesel Bajaj 3 wheelers are also
seen. The Piaggio Ape comes next. The Mahindra Champion patterned on
Force Motors Minidor sells well and is perhaps more popular than the
Minidor. these operate as taxis and pickup trucks. the pickup trucks
seem to have outnumbered the bullock carts. Vikrams are very rare.
In the 4 wheelers category the Top awards are shared by Mahindra and
Tata for their popularity and market penetration. The Sumo and ACE are
very popular. I saw upto 15-20 people being transported on an ACE
minitruck. The Mahindra Savari (fibre top) and Maxx (hard metal bodied
top) taxis are the most popular. Bajaj Tempo/ Force Motors Gama and
Judo are scarce.Some of the older Trax's and Mahindra Marshals and
550DP soft tops still survive as taxis. I spotted brand new Oxford Blue Mahindra soft top UV's with the CJ 4A body and the 2.5L DI engine. M &M
call it "Major". The Major logo is just below the windscreen a la
the Commander/Marshal.
Apart from the Bolero pickups the new Mahindra Maxx, maxitrucks are popular.New smaller and older Marutis are the most seen as private cars.
Back to the highways, anything moving below the height of the truck's windscreen is looked down upon and scoffed at, by the truck driver. The 2 wheelers and even the frail A, B, C and D segment cars fall in this class. The tough UV's, MUV's and SUV's do not face much identity crisis and are accorded some little, if any recognition by truck drivers. The occupants of these UV's, MUV's and SUV's hence feel less insecure riding on these mighty ones.
Another highway tip- In developed states like Maharashtra, the State
Highways are as broad or even better than the National Highways. Truck
traffic is minimal and all you encounter are 2,3 and lighter 4
wheelers. Even in Burhanpur and Khandwa dists (M.P.), the roads are a
breeze to drive on and much better today. So once in a while,the State
Highways must be used for better and quicker driving.
I did not click pictures during this trip which makes it too verbose and not picturesque.

NOTE: Please format the post before posting for better readability.

Last edited by khan_sultan : 4th May 2009 at 14:19.
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Old 4th May 2009, 11:45   #2
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nice report, but pictures would have been good...strange such a long journey and not even a single picture. Happens sometimes, i understand!
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Old 4th May 2009, 12:37   #3
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Yeah it seems to be a wonder of a trip. Must have enjoyed. A few Photos & some details on the food which you had on the way, also how you managed to spend your nights would have been good.

Lucky you that it was Feb had it been June - July, things would have been different
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Old 4th May 2009, 20:45   #4
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Originally Posted by vinod_nookala View Post
nice report, but pictures would have been good...strange such a long journey and not even a single picture. Happens sometimes, i understand!
Thanks Vinod. The next time I'll click and click.

Originally Posted by SamtheLeo View Post
Yeah it seems to be a wonder of a trip. Must have enjoyed. A few Photos & some details on the food which you had on the way, also how you managed to spend your nights would have been good.

Lucky you that it was Feb had it been June - July, things would have been different
Thanks Samthe. Was a thoruoghly enjoyable trip. The halts were in rest houses wherever available or in hotels. The food was extra spicy with the usual masalas in dhabas and hotels while on the move. At Burhanpur, we stayed in the Forest Rest House which is a bit off located from the town and is in quite a serene surroundings. Even horse drawn Tongas ply in Burhanpur till day.
February was quite pleasent as it was neither too cold nor hot.
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Old 8th June 2009, 22:42   #5
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A question posed as to whether a 4wd option is very necessary for
adventure? I have been driving a lot of 4WD's earlier. Now my Scorpio
is a 2WD.
Judgment is very important.With a 4WD one can do all the monkey tricks and emerge successful. But with the 2WD one must not venture into 4WD territory at all. Its inevitable to enter into the 4WD territory
sometimes, but is best avoided.One must not buy trouble.
I have had lots of adventures with the 4WD's too. Once my CJ4A petrol
Mahindra jeep was stuck beside a small dam, that had water flowing out
and making the road (cart track) alongside very muddy. The muddy patch was roughly 25 to 30 feet long. All the 4 wheels got stuck and the High 4WD option too was of no use as the four wheels were rotating on the mud, without the UV moving ahead by an inch. Villagers were called with crow bars, who put the two crow bars beneath the rear axle and slowly jerked the UV ahead. It took more than three hours to get the UV out. So it depends where, why and how you are stuck?
In my opinion its better to go for a 2WD option for the SUV if the use
is mostly urban with 10 to 20% off roading. If offroading exceeds 50 %
then 4WD is the only option. With the 2WD, if I am to venture into the
4WD territory once in a while, I'll prefer park my SUV at some
motorable point and walk down the extra distance for the adventure.
4WD UV's/SUV's are a bit more fuel thirsty even with the 4WD gears not engaged and have more mechanical parts that move. So obviously if less used thats not a pretty option.
Though on slippery, wet, sandy or a bit muddy roads where the UV is moving its preferable to engage the Low 4WD option. This is when the engine powers all four wheels with the propeller shafts, resulting in better traction. The UV/SUV can move even at 50 kmph with this option. Whereas with the High 4WD option, the engine rpm is very high and > 3000 or sometimes even > 4000rpm.But the speeds are seldom above 20 kmph.
There are a lot of narrow cart-tracks with shrubs on either sides sometimes thorny or with protruding branches, in forest/ rural areas.I found the soft-tops to be much fit to be driven through such cart-tracks, as even the Bolero's bodyline and paintwork would be badly scratched. Gypsys and the Mahindra CJ series with canvas hoods, are just ideal in such conditions.
Regular cart movement makes the two wheel tracks sink much below the surface level on such stretches, while the central portion protrudes as no wheel moves on that portion. UV's with a high ground clearence to avoid the differential from hitting the central part of the cart-track, are preferred.
4WD is best left for the UV kind of jeeps. Heavier SUV's like the Scorpio and Safari are best with the 2WD option.
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