Home / Drives / A Royal Escape Indeed-MAHINDRA ROYAL ESCAPE

 

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape1Mahindra Adventure’s Royal Escape helped me and a few other adventure lovers escape from the hectic city life by going on a drive across the royal State of Rajasthan
Mahindra Adventure are a bunch of people who are really keen on doing things a little differently.

This team is passionate and follows what their heart says. This year the Royal Escape was a surreal experience and I was there to witness it in its full glory.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape2The mere thought of driving across Rajasthan in a Mahindra was enough for me to pack and go. However, the deal was sweeten when I learned that I would be spending the last day of 2012 and the first day of 2013 with a bunch of adventurers just like me. I was simply thrilled. It was time to welcome the new year in Mahindra style.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape3The day began about 8.00 am and, as always, I was really looking forward to getting out of the  city and on to the wide open highway. Since we were driving in a convoy, I had to follow the rules of the convoy. After a while we were finally out of New Delhi and on to SH 26, which is a nice four-lane highway with a lot of truck traffic.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape4The destination was Alsisar, a small village with a royal palace located in the middle of it. The 235-km drive to Alsisar took us nearly eight hours, but it was not really about getting there in the shortest possible time. The true essence of the drive was discovering the royal stature of this magnificent state in Mahindra vehicles. We got out of Delhi and into Haryana before finally entering Rajasthan. I was driving the Thar and while it performed well, I was unable to clearly hear anything as the wind noise penetrating through the fibreglass hood was simply overwhelming. But it was all right, since the distance to be covered was just 235 km.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape5Driving through Rajasthan and coming across mahals and havelis is an amazing experience. I had heard about them, but when I witnessed them myself, I was speechless. The stunning beauty of these royal buildings reminds us of how magnificent Rajasthan is even today. After driving the whole morning and almost the entire afternoon, we finally reached our destination which was aptly called the Alsisar Mahal.

This former royal residence displayed the grandeur of palaces in Rajasthan and almost everyone in the convoy was amazed by the beauty of it. The huge corridors and the lavish and well-furnished rooms ensured that you felt like a king. It was truly a royal treat.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape6The next day we drove to Jaisalmer, which was the longest in terms of driving hours as we drove on the wide open highways of Rajasthan for almost the entire day. By the time we reached Jaisalmer, all of us were very tired to do anything and so we called it a day and went to sleep. The next day promised a lot in terms of testing the true capabilities of Mahindra SUVs. So, after a lazy morning we drove towards the Saam sand-dunes in the afternoon to our desert camps to offload our vehicles. Everyone had had enough rest the night before and all of us were fully charged for some serious dune-bashing. After a short trip to the camp site all of us were off to the sand-dunes.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape7The short drive from the camp to the dunes took us through some rough desert terrain with uneven surface and thorny shrubs. While driving, I was getting all excited and was just wondering about how to tackle the sand as I had never driven on sand before. The moment finally came when we stood face to face with the intimidating sand-dunes. It looked just like the pictures and I couldn’t believe that soon I would be on top of those majestic dunes.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape8Before we attempted actual driving, we were briefed about driving on sand. It was a short and simple brief, but I was confident that I would conquer the dunes without any effort as I was driving a Thar that was modified for off-roading and had different tyres and raised suspension. The lead car went before everyone to mark the route that we were supposed to take. After the lead reached the top of the dune a Scorpio tried making its way through the sand and on to the top of the dune. It got stuck. It simply got stuck just after getting in. But I was full of confidence as I was driving a Thar. So without any hesitation I rolled out and went past the stuck Scorpio with a grin on my face. However, my confidence was punctured as soon as I passed the stuck Scorpio as my own Thar got stuck on the incline just 20 feet after the Scorpio!

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape9I was shocked to see this happen as I had not anticipated it. But Mahindra Adventure never travels unprepared. In fact, they are always ready for such eventualities. So the lead came down and winched my Thar out of the sand and there I was thanking him and getting ready to go at it once again. But this time around I followed the instructions quite carefully and did exactly what the lead had asked me to do. And, voilà, I was able to drive through without getting stuck. Not everyone was so lucky, though, as one of the Scorpios was stuck for almost an hour as it had ventured off the marked path into much softer sand. But the Mahindra Adventure crew was able to winch it out in time.


AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape10The sun was setting in the background and it was time to head back to the camp for dinner. The dune bashing in Saam was the highlight of the whole week and by the time we were done for the day everyone demanded that we come back the next the morning and bash those dunes one more time. And many of them actually got up at 5.30 am the next morning and went back to the dunes.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape11Since I was tired, I decided to sleep a little longer. The next day we left Saam in the afternoon and headed for Bikaner for overnight stay and that too in yet another palace: the Laxmi Niwas Palace in Bikaner, which is the former home of the King of Bikaner, Maharaj Ganga Singh. This is not a very old palace,  completed about 110 years ago. And that is one of the reasons why it still has that fresh look to it. The palace was styled by the English architect, Samuel Swinton Jacob, who was also responsible for working on the bigger and magnificent Lalgarh Palace.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape12Staying at the Laxmi Niwas Palace really made this trip a royal escape as we were living there like royalty and that was the main goal of Mahindra Adventure team.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape13However, the best part of the trip was yet to come. It was the 31st of December 2012 and to celebrate the occasion we were headed to Jaipur. On our way to Jaipur we stopped briefly at the beautiful Mandawa fort for lunch. This magnificent property that dominates the town of Mandawa is now a heritage hotel and it still has that rustic charm that attracts Indian and foreign tourists even today.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape14After a quick bite we headed for Jaipur to usher in the new year. It was a hectic drive, especially towards the end of it, as we had to go through the Jaipur traffic in order to get to the hotel. But it was worth it as the final destination was a lavish and modern, five-star hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur. In terms of luxury, however, it was no less than a heritage hotel. Everyone was excited to welcome 2013 and the party organised by the Mahindra Adventure team was simply spectacular. We danced our way into the new year and kept on dancing until three in the morning.

AM27_2013A-Royal-Escape15The entire trip across Rajasthan in Mahindra vehicles was an awesome experience and truly royal. The XUV 500s, Scorpios and Thars performed exceptionally well on the highways as well as in the sand. It was my first time on sand and driving the Thar there allowed me to enjoy the amazing sand-dunes without any trouble, a little effort maybe, but most of the time it was smooth sailing. The Mahindra Adventure team were really helpful and courteous and were always there whenever we needed them. Overall, the 2012-2013 Mahindra Adventure Royal Escape was an event that I won’t forget soon.

Story: Ravi Chandnani
Photography: Rommel Albuquerque

 

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