Some Rajasthani villages have get Marshal Jeeps in dowry to their son-in-laws. It is a part of the culture. As two wheel drive vehicles aren’t ideal for driving whenever off the road, and Rajasthan is one state has a lot of places to off-road and hence the capable off-roading vehicles are given. Dune bashing is one of the favourites of off-roaders across the globe and what better place can it be than Rajasthan for Indians.
So to experience this, we took India’s first real SUV- the Tata Safari— in its new avatar, the Safari Storme. This drive was organised by Tata Motors as a part of its unique driving experience. Full Throttle organises varies drives for Tata SUV customers at a nominal cost, to enjoy the event.
This was a four-day trip covering New Delhi, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Khimser with the last leg ending in Jaipur. And our partner for the trip was the 4x4 version of the Safari Storme. Ours was the only Safari Storme in the fleet that could off-road, as the rest of Safari Stormes were 4x2. There were a total of 18 Tata SUVs in the fleet, which included the Sumos, Safaris and the Arias.
We began our journey from the McDonalds in Manesar on the National Highway 8 heading towards Jaipur. Soon, we moved to an interstate highway that was heading to Bikaner. The country roads are dead straight, but there are a lot of bumps on the way. So, one needs to be careful as these bumps can make you loose control.
The first day is long journey covering in excess of 400kms. Do stop for fuel whenever you reach quarter tank, as you might not find one for a few kilmotres on certain stretches. We passed through Mandawa Castle, remembering our old travel story that we did in the Honda Brio.
The route is a bit confusing as you pass through several villages and small towns. It is ideal to carry a GPS in these areas. The route post Mandawa is mostly straight with not many towns or villages. Mostly after that it is all by pass routes. In the winters, it gets dark in Rajasthan by 5:30 and it is advisable to carry extra warm clothes as it can get chilled more than New Delhi. Also, there is a sudden drop in temperature, once the sunsets.
In Bikaner, we stay the Royal Heritage hotel for the night and set off for Jaisalmer the other day. For Jaisalmer, we took an off-road patch to increase the adventure on the trip. The 4x2 vehicles took the normal route out, as the 4x4 had the additional joy off the road. Tried to get our vehicles on a dune. Some made it, some didn’t. It was a brilliant experience in itself.
Soon we came out on a road maintained by the BRO. This road ran parallel to the Indira Gandhi Canal, which is a few kilometres from the international border. As expected it was green near the canal. One needs to be careful while driving on this road, as there are some ditches right next to the road.
Soon, we headed on our way to Jaisalmer on almost arrow straight road. One needs to be careful, as there are several unmarked speed breakers— especially in the dark. Our stay was at the Taj Gateway, which is a couple of kilometres before the Jaisalmer city.
Then we headed out to Khismer via Phalodi. Like most of the roads in Rajasthan, even this is a straight country road. Phalodi is one town, where you can get some good food and also there are some fuel stations. Soon, we headed to Khimser after a quick lunch halt at Phalodi.
The route to Khismer is on a small rural road about 120kms from Phalodi. One needs to turn right, from a board that reads Khismer. On the way to Khismer, about 3-4 kms before the town, there is a private sane dune, where one can stay for the night in one of the modern huts with a small oasis and a few trees. They also have camel karts to take you from below the sand dune to the top. For those, who don’t wish to stay there, can stay in the Khimser fort Hotel. The same person owns both the properties and the choice are personal, as each has its own charm.
From Khimser, we headed to Jaipur via the Sambar lake which has a salt flat of about 20 kms. This route reminded me of the smaller version of the Bonneville salt flats. For there, we headed to Jaipur that is about 100kms away.
The Safari Storme wasn’t just good on the road, but off the road as well. The 4x4 was a blessing as we knew that we won’t get stuck anywhere. Even the handling of the Safari Storme is much better than the previous generation Safari and we could flaunt the shorter turning radius of the Storme to the other Safari owners. All-in-all, it was an excellent drive and it is a must go for the next Experience drive which is in Kutch and Rs 10,000 per head is very affordable is well.