Three Mahindra Thars exploring the hills of Coorg

The Thar is so different from my BMW 320d, in all senses, and driving this SUV was indeed a very different experience.

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Three Thars and the Hills of Coorg

First Drive with my New Thar:

Just about three months ago, I would have never imagined I would be writing a Thar travelogue, that too so soon. My road trips used to primarily be with my red BMW 320d, and there was no real plan to do something very different so soon.

But then, as always, life is all about unpredictability and experimentation. In somewhat of an unexpected (to myself) development, and purely as a fun experiment, I bought a brand new Mahindra Thar (Petrol AT 4x4 in Napoli Black) just a couple of weeks ago. From now on, this would be a new companion to my trusted BMW 320d. I plan to create my Thar ownership thread someday. But I thought it would not necessarily be inappropriate to start with a travelogue ahead of the ownership thread.

I always buy cars for long road trips and visit beautiful locations as my primary purpose. And every time I bought a car, I took that car for a long drive pretty much immediately. Thar is no exception. I got the Thar just a couple of weeks ago. In those two weeks, all I had managed was about 200km of driving around (mostly due to busy work schedules and work travels). This first road trip added about 700km to that, and was a perfect introduction for me to the new Thar and its capabilities.

In a nutshell, this trip was memorable to me because this was my drive in the new Thar. Thar is so different from my BMW 320d, in all senses, and driving a Thar was indeed a very different experience. Getting used to the Thar and understanding its capabilities was a big part of the motivation for this drive. Another thing that made this drive special to me was that, unlike my road trips in the 320d, this time, there was plenty of off-roading too. The main purpose of Thar is to explore rough terrains, and we did that on this very first road trip.

My new Thar in the hills of Coorg:

The Thars, The Crew and the Homestay:

One of the many reasons I love TeamBHP is because of the friends I made thanks to this forum. My partners in this drive were our close friends Mr. and Mrs. @robimahanta, in their Aquamarine Blue Thar (Petrol 4x4 AT). But as a bonus, this time, we made new friends. It was a great pleasure to have Mr. and Mrs. @justwheels, in their Red Thar (Diesel 4x4 AT). We met them for the first time on this drive, and we had a great time together. And of course, my better half was with me in my Black Thar, and she enjoyed the Thar experience (including some off-roading) even more than I did. I am glad she likes the Thar so much and so quickly that she is hooked on the idea of exploring difficult terrain in a 4x4 vehicle!

The Three Thars together on the hills of Coorg:

The Homestay:

We stayed at the same homestay where we had stayed back in August 2022 and loved it so much, as I described in my trip report from that time. The homestay is called Green Pastures, Coorg.

The homestay owners and hosts, Hemanth and Tripula, are wonderful hosts and good friends now. Just like my previous experience there, this time too we had a great time at the homestay and had a wonderful experience overall.

My Thar parked at the exact same location where I had my 320d parked the last time:

The homestay has three rooms, and that was just perfect for the three Thars and three couples traveling together.

The three Thars parked there:

Another view of the Three Thars parked in that beautiful homestay:

Green Pastures is not only a beautiful homestay, but one more speciality of the place is that the owner Hemanth is an off-road enthusiast and a very experienced off-roading expert. He himself owns an old Mahindra MM540 4WD, and also organizes some off-road events in Coorg. He knows the trails and hills of Coorg like the back of his hand. One of the main motivations for visiting his homestay in Thars was to do some off-roading explorations nearby guided by his knowledge of the area. He indeed gave us some great routes to explore and even took out his MM540 and lead us on a beautiful hill trail the first evening we were there. It was a great experience to follow his MM540 and watch it handle the terrain with so much ease and poise.

Anyways, I will stop this prologue here and share the off-roading experiences and photos below.

Exploring Roads and Off-Roads of Coorg

One of the main agendas for me on this trip was to try off-roading in my new Thar. I have done one major off-roading expedition in the past in the deserts of Rajasthan (described in this old travelogue) and then did a couple of small off-roading events here and there. But still, never did any off-roading in my own car. This trip was my first experience of off-roading in my own car in a small private group (without any official "organizer" of the event). Overall, I am still new to this game of off-roading, but thankfully, I had expert off-roaders @robimahanta and @justwheels with me, and their guidance and the tips they shared were also a great learning experience for me.

We did not do any hard-core off-roading on this trip (and that was not the plan anyways), but we did some mild off-roading, and then also drove around on some random hills and some mud paths we saw along the way. All of this gave me a good taste of off-roading in one's own car and I enjoyed it a lot.

The first evening we were there, Hemanth (the homestay owner and our host) took us to a nice trail in the hills nearby, leading us in his MM540 4WD, at the sunset hour. It was a short drive, but still was a wonderful drive.

The MM540 leading the convoy of three Thars on a nice hill trail at dusk:

My Thar on the trail:

My Thar there against the setting sun:

It was a short but nice trail. We saw some great views from the viewpoint we reached the top of that small hill. For me, this was also the first time I used 4-wheel drive mode (4H) on my new Thar. It worked well on the first attempt, and everything was fun. I enjoyed this short off-road drive for sure.

The next morning Hemanth suggested a nice circuit that included some off-roading and some driving on lesser-known hill roads that were so broken that it justified having a Thar there. I would have never driven on those broken hill roads in my BMW. But the Thar was totally in its elements on those roads, and we managed to cover both totally broken roads and the off-road hill climbs with ease. Both I and my wife enjoyed this new experience, and we enjoyed this new aspect of motoring.

To start the driving day, we first hit a hill called Kote Betta. We reached the peak and randomly explored some paths nearby.

Robi's Thar in action:

Robi's Thar enjoying the valley view from a vantage position:

The Red Thar of @justwheels in action:

The two Thars enjoying valley view, while my Thar was parked a little away:

My Thar at Kote Betta:

I found time for a couple of random shots of my Thar in that location:

From Kote Betta, we started driving on some lesser known hill roads and some very narrow country roads. At one point, we found a random mud path leading to some flat grassland, and just randomly drove on those mud tracks. I got another opportunity to use 4H in my Thar and I enjoyed it again.

Red Thar on some random mud tracks:

My Thar on the grasslands:

Two Thars posing there at that scenic location:

We continued our drive on the rural hill roads, and at one point, found another hilltop where we could go off the road again.

My Thar posing at a random hilltop:

Notice Robi's Thar on some other hill in the background:

Here is Robi's Thar on that random hill:

In the meanwhile, @justwheel had found another amazing location for his Red Thar:

Then I drove my car on the rocky terrain too:

Views like these in the windshield, something that is hard to get in a BMW:

Not just the off-road locations, but even those narrow hill roads were quite scenic, as you can see here:

After driving on these narrow hill roads, we hit a proper off-road trail to reach a hilltop known as Mandalpatti Peak. This is a hilltop with panoramic views all around. And it takes a proper 4x4 vehicle to reach this location as the path to this is a dirt track full of stones, and at a couple of points, requires tricky maneuvers over rocks and a few steep rocky sections.

At the beginning of this off-road trail, there is a check-post which allows only 4x4 vehicles to enter, after paying the appropriate fees.

The Red Thar leading our way to Mandalpatti:

My Thar there at one rocky corner on the trail:

Another photo of my car at that scenic corner:

After some careful crawling on those rocky sections and the stone-filled road, we reached the hilltop.

The three Thars at the top of Mandalpatti hills:

This trail was not too difficult for Thar, but yet was just right to give me a good idea of Thar's capabilities and a preview of what kind of drives I would do in future in my Thar. I used 4H and Hill Descent Control (while coming down the hill), and I was happy that both of these features worked very well. This being my first drive in the new Thar, I was still getting used to handling this vehicle on such hill trails.

But here, @justwheels went ahead of me, and started giving me instructions on radio and I started following the lines suggested by him. Thanks a lot to him for his expert guidance that helped me quickly understand the nuances of handling Thar on such terrain. @robimahanta was behind me and was watching me carefully and giving tips as and when necessary. The three of us were using radios for communication and that was of immense help. Thanks to both of these expert off-roaders for making my first off-roading experience in my own Thar both easy and fun.

A parting shot of my Thar on its first off-roading trail:


It was a short and sweet weekend drive that was made memorable by the beautiful Thars, the great company we had, the idyllic homestay and the wonderful hosts there. Thanks to all of these for making this trip so much fun. Everything went well except for the weather. We were expecting some rain (common in Coorg at the end of May), and looking forward to driving in the rain and mud on the hills. Unfortunately, we were unlucky with the weather. There were no rains at all when we were there, although it rained before we went there and the forecast showed a lot of rain in the following week. Just the weekend we were there was bone dry and quite hot, something totally different from what we expected.

I was happy that I got to use the Thar well and got accustomed to it quickly. I wanted to try out various mechanisms in Thar, and I got to use 4H and Hill Descent Control on multiple occasions. I also used Cruise Control on the Mysore-Bangalore highway and everything worked fine. The only thing I did not get to use was 4L (given the bone-dry weather, there was no mud or slush anywhere and there was no chance to use 4L). Hopefully, my future trips will give me plenty of opportunities to use 4L.

Personally, for me, it was a new experience for sure. Thar is so different from my BMW 320d that driving it felt like playing a totally new game compared to what I am used to. And honestly, both I and my wife enjoyed this new Thar experience. True that both the ride and handling are quite bad in Thar. However, once you experience and appreciate what Thar is capable of beyond the tarmac and smooth roads, it is easy to look past these shortcomings and start liking the vehicle anyways. The simple joy of motoring with peace of mind on broken roads and wandering around on hilltops without worrying about your vehicle was something that we totally loved. And that exactly is the USP of Thar. Anyways, it is still early days for me with Thar and I will comment more on my Thar experiences after a few more drives.

Of course, I absolutely love driving my 320d too, and I plan to use both the 320d and Thar for different kinds of road trips from now on. Hopefully, I will have more Thar stories and travelogues to share in the future, but for now, this simple weekend drive was the first chapter in a new driving experience for me.

Well, that is all for now. Thank you for reading!

P.S. During my final reading of the travelogue after composing it, I realized that every single photo I included in this travelogue has a Thar in it. Not a single photo without a Thar! This was certainly not by design and certainly not done on purpose, but it just so happened and I myself noticed that only in the end. But this shows the photogenic appeal of the Thar. I just did not bother shooting any landscapes or sunset pictures this time, when I had three beautiful machines to shoot instead.

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