Home / Features / Maruti Suzuki Trails & Tales Part One – An Excuse to Indulge

 

When you have a Maruti Suzuki Jimny at your disposal, all you need is an excuse to go off the road.

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Apurva Ambep

They say that the grass is greener on the other side. As a city-dweller, there are times when I envy those who live far away from the congestion, pollution, and general lack of peace that a metropolitan city supplies generously. While early retirement is not an option for many, a quick getaway adventure in a boring and mundane life is within reach. That is what this drive is about. Finding new trails and coming back with memorable tales. For me, it was made possible by our trusty bright red Maruti Suzuki Jimny.

The inspiration for our first destination came at the end of a particularly exasperating day when peace and quiet seemed like a luxury. When thinking about all the tranquil places one could go to, the idea of driving on a salt flat appealed to me instantly. If I did not have access to a Jimny right then, as in most of my schemes, this one, too, would have been shelved immediately to await further planning. That is the beauty of this SUV. All it needs is a tank full of petrol, enough engine oil, and air in the tyres. Then it is ready to go just anywhere one is brave enough to take it to. A few bags were packed and the Jimny joined other cars on the highway as we made our way to Dasada in Gujarat.

Although my initial plan was to drive straight into the Little Rann, our old friends at Rann Riders would not have it. They insisted we stay at their amazing property for a while before going our way. When what they had to offer included cosy huts, delicious Kathiyawadi cuisine, and a superb shooting range, how could one say no? Venturing into the Little Rann alone for the first time is not a smart idea. In addition to getting lost, there is also the danger of ending up somewhere in the protected part of the reserve. That would mean a quick trip to the nearest jail; certainly not the kind of tale we wanted. Despite what its size may imply, the Jimny seats four people in reasonable comfort. So, when an expert from Rann Riders offered to accompany us, we gladly let him ride shotgun.

There is a road that leads to the salt flats which begins disappearing the closer we get to the Little Rann. Maybe, a cause for concern for some but certainly not a problem for the Jimny. The tarmac was soon replaced by a broken path and then by a coarse trail which suddenly spat us out on to the salt flats. Although one knows what to expect from photos and videos, the first glance in person is something else. Any other landscape I have seen around the world has more than one element in it. The Little Rann had nothing. It was an expanse of nothingness that seemed to merge with the horizon in all directions. There was nothing to even indicate the presence of a breeze. No landmarks and no distinguishing features; only the occasional wheel tracks made by other adventurers. Most navigate that desert with the help of the sun and a compass. We had the advantage of a touchscreen infotainment system that supported wireless Apple CarPlay, so getting lost was not a worry.

To be honest, the Jimny’s capabilities were called for only on the sandy trails that led to the desert. The cracked surface of the Rann is fairly hard, so driving on it was not particularly challenging. In fact, I did not even have to use four-wheel drive once we rolled on to the salt flats. With no speed limits to keep us in check, I sent the car at full throttle towards the horizon. The Jimny complied without fuss, dismissing the occasional bump or crack in the ground without losing any of its composure at triple-digit speeds. With the need for speed satiated, we drove around for some more time but by sunset we had to stop. Simply because the natural artwork that unfolded before us demanded a dedicated audience. From where we were standing, it literally looked like the sun was falling off the edge of the earth, painting the sky in the brightest hues it could manage before darkness fell. It is something everyone must experience at least once in their lifetime. Plus, there is plenty of regional wildlife to admire too.

The location of our next tale may just be the source of the first image that pops into one’s head when they hear the word “desert”. After driving on the salt flats, we left for Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, all the way to India’s border. That region has among the best sand dunes in the country. Thanks to its flat landscape, the Little Rann did not offer us a chance to use the car’s four-wheel-drive low transmission. The sand dunes were a different game altogether. Traction was at a premium and one had to maximize the contact patch as much as possible to carry momentum through the sand. Without momentum, there was the possibility of digging the car into the sand.

The first step for going on to the sand dunes is to deflate the tyres slightly in order to maximize grip on the shifting sand. While the Little Rann barely scratched the Jimny’s potential, we used it to its limit on the dunes. The 1.5-litre engine had enough torque to propel the car right up the dunes without losing any momentum. Of course, its narrow track and low weight helped. Where heavier cars would get stuck, the Jimny kept moving.

After a few hours of playing around in the sand, we parked the SUV on top of one of the tallest dunes in the area and settled down to watch a spectacular sunset. The following day we would have to drive more than 1,000 kilometres to get back home but having done so much with the Jimny, that was going to be the easiest part of this drive.

Watch the full video here:

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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