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What do you do when you have one of India’s most capable and versatile machines in your hands? You flaunt it, you pose with it, and when you are done doing that, you push the envelope and take it to places you’d not go otherwise. Or you let it take you places you’d not go otherwise.
This is what happened with us this winter when we had the all-new Mahindra Thar in our garage for a few days. Ever since its launch, it has been such an attention magnet and one of the most desirable machines on 4 wheels in the country.
It is 4×4, has 148 bhp of power, 320 Nm of torque and above all, it has Mahindra DNA. Those make a very capable all-rounder. And it looks the part as well. We flaunted it around the city, posed with it to our heart’s content but somehow, it wasn’t enough.
So, we woke up one fine day and found it taking us in a Westerly direction and when the sun set, we were in the Thar desert, near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. There, we found the Thar jumping around with joy like a kid going to its grandparents home during summer vacations. It really liked being in the place where it got its name from.
But when it came back, like a stubborn kid, it wasn’t content with that only and started pushing to go for a short drive to have ice cream. Not a bad idea, we obliged, and here we were, on the way to the highest of the Himalayas, right after a drive to the desert, to have, well, a frozen dessert!
And because Thar would make do with nothing short of extreme, the destination for this drive was Chitkul, a beautiful village in Himachal Pradesh. It also happens to be the last village on the Indo-China border. The odds of reaching this village were very few as we knew that the road leading to it was still blocked by fresh snowfalls and we would be very lucky if we could go anywhere near it. But as they say, it is the journey that matters and not the destination.
Here’s a video from this adventure of ours!
So, there we were, going through those serpentine roads. These roads are high, highly beautiful, and highly dangerous as well and you would need nothing but top-class driving skills to navigate through them. But the Thar made it look so easy with its automatic gearbox, the superb all-around visibility from the drivers’ seat, and ample torque on demand.
The drive from Delhi to Shimla is forgettable, but the real deal starts when you cross Narkanda. Lush green mountains soon give way to rugged barren mountains that look intimidating and inviting at the same time. We wanted to stop but nature’s ice cream shop was still far away and we could see it from a distance as well.
We navigated through the snow and slush in the dark and by the nightfall of day 2, we were there in Sangla, a village on the banks of the Baspa river. Finding a room here at this time was tough as all the hotels shut shop in the winters but we managed to find a shelter for ourselves somehow. The night was spent shivering from the cold and also thinking about the views we will get to see the next day.
Day breaks, and we were there on the road even before the sun came out to start melting the ice on the road. A kid going to an ice cream shop and us going deeper into the snow-laden roads – the excitement was the same. But it wasn’t easy either. There was frozen snow and frozen ice on the road, making it extremely slippery and difficult to navigate; but again, the 4×4 Mahindra Thar made it look so easy.
Fortunately or unfortunately for us, the road to Chitkul was still blocked with a bulldozer still trying to clear the snow. So apart from a couple of local trucks, there was no traffic on the road and we found the entire playground waiting for us. Inviting us to play with it. And play we did, from the sunrise to the sunset until it was the time to bid adieu and go back home.
But just like all good things come to an end, this drive also had to end but not before we explored some beautiful villages of Punjab. And looking back, we just couldn’t stop admiring the all-new Thar and thank the good folks at Mahindra to come up with such a versatile and approachable machine that not only urges us to push our boundaries but also plays along and most importantly stays there as a trustworthy friend, keeping a watch and holding our hand, lest we do something really stupid. So thank you Mahindra, the summers are back and we shall again go for an ice cream drive.