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Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

Mahindra Adventure gave us an opportunity to test our off-roading skills in a stunning environment at Sakleshpur in great company.

Story & Photography: Zal Cursetji

Mahindra Adventure’s Great Escape, Sakleshpur, was an absolutely brilliant experience this year. The two-day event was held at the beautiful Kadamane Tea Estate, located about 20 kilometres away from Sakleshpur.

Kadamane Tea Estate is enormous; we were told that it spans nearly 10,000 acres. A small part of it is set aside for tea and a lot of it is inaccessible. The forest covers a large swathe of the rolling hills, which are part of the beautiful Western Ghats of India. This is prime off-roading territory and touché to the superb Mahindra Adventure team, who really did make the experience something to write home about.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

The first of the two days was a drive for Mahindra owners to hone their off-roading skills in a challenging environment. The turnout was quite good with the convoy finally consisting of 78 vehicles leaving the start point, which also included Mahindra’s support vehicles. The support vehicles consisted of a Pilot car that led the way and a Sweep vehicle that brought up the rear, doing what their names suggest. There were also a few Recovery vehicles which were called up continuously as the terrain became more difficult and breakdowns and getting stuck in deep mud became regular occurrences. The rain gods decided to stay quiet for the weekend, which was good for the beginners taking part in this event, but the veterans yearned for the heavens to open up and drench the course. Yes, rain would have been fun as it would make the course slippery, enhancing the experience but would also bring out everyone’s favourite, those leeches.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

The SUVs were mainly Mahindra’s off-road centred Thar models, some modified to every degree and some stock ones too. A few Boleros (which included the media car driven by us), Commanders, an Armada, and a superb Mahindra jeep inspired by the Willys M151 Multi Utility Tactical Truck, nicknamed the Mutt and used by American forces during the Vietnam War. Participants came from surrounding cities and towns, mainly Bengaluru and Mangaluru and even a couple, Soumitra and Mansi, who drove down for the event from Pune. The one thing that was common across the entire field was a passion for off-roading, a great thing to see.

The route took us through varying terrains and stunning scenery. We started at 10.00 am, driving through the picturesque cultivated land, full of tea shrubs, before entering a ravine where the challenging terrain really started. The path had tree roots running all across, making our cars slide about a bit, with a few large boulders and logs that caused most of us with stock cars to bottom out. Then came the first “winch zone”. Thick and deep mud caused most of us to get stuck and be in need of rescue, which the Mahindra team handled in a superb manner, advising and guiding the participants constantly.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

Next came the path to the highest point of the drive. It was lined with lemongrass on either side and, as one neared the top, one was greeted by a 500-odd-foot drop on either side with barely any wiggle room, calling for concentration by everyone. We wondered what it would be like if it were completely wet, something the Mahindra team were fervently hoping for. Finally, rounding the hill, we were on the way back to our start point and to a much-needed lunch.

A few notables along the route consisted of the following. Before the steep hill was the second winching point. This was a river crossing with a large and very slippery log at the far end which again made it almost impossible for most of the stock cars, especially those with road-going tyres, to cross without help. After the hill, there was a steep bowl in the road. It was a tight right turn that fell into a ravine and exited with a steep climb on the other side. A few cars did get stuck at this point but most tackled it fairly well. There were a few breakdowns but these were taken care of on the spot by Mahindra’s hard-working team and very effectively too. With full tummies and smiles all around, the day came to an end. Day two would beckon to us in a few hours.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

Day two — competition day. This was for competitors to register and compete in a number of challenging courses set up by Mahindra: four sections, each with different difficulties. All courses were lined with cones and flags with simple rules. Avoid the cones, collect the flags. That was the only simple part of the challenge. The courses consisted of a loop on the side of a hill lined with huge boulders, a section with a very steep climb made more difficult by deep mud at the base, another was purely mud-based and extremely hard with most competitors getting stuck fairly soon, and, finally, a river stage which had a loop through the river and a very, very slushy embankment followed by a steep exit.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

There were two classes for the competition: Modified and Stock. Points were given on the basis of finishing the course: smoothness and flags collected and cones avoided. Sapna Gurukar won in the ladies category, Soma Shekar and Vibin Varghese in the Stock Category and K M Bopaiah and Ajit Kumares K V in the Modified Category.

Mahindra Adventures - Sakleshpur

The Mahindra Adventure team constantly addressed participants on both days about an issue that plagues this beautiful country all over: littering. They supplied bags to be carried in all vehicles for trash and had a car sweep the trails to clear any rubbish thrown. It was heartening to see that most people adhered to non-littering.

We also covered the Mahindra Adventure Great Escape Lonavala 2018. To read that story click on the link here: Mahindra Adventure Great Escape Lonavala 2018 – No Tarmac in Sight

If you’re of the off-roading persuasion or just like tea plantations, then the Mahindra Adventure Great Escape, Sakleshpur, is a perfect place to let off some steam, spin some tyres, and get down and dirty — quite literally.

 

About the author: Team Car India

 

 

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