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​HVK Monsoon Drive North 2016

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  • ​HVK Monsoon Drive North 2016

    The travel bug can be quite deadly. Once bitten, you will have this lifelong desire to travel. And you will eventually meet a bunch of like-minded individuals with the same affliction. That pretty much sums up HVKumar and everyone in the HVK forum. HVKumar has been organizing various drives across the country and one such drive was the HVK Monsoon Drive North 2016.

    Now the thing about HVK’s drives are that the destination is sprung as a surprise to the people joining it. Till the last moment, no one has a clue as to where they will be going. They only know it will be exotic and it will involve a fairly adventurous road trip. Over the years, these drives have been known to arouse curiosity about the destination and has people frantically looking for clues as to where they would be going.

    The HVK Monsoon Drive North 2016 was to be held in Himachal on August 20-21, and that’s about all everyone knew. (Being involved with the planning and execution of this drive, I was privy to the route and destination, but sworn to secrecy! Only 4 others, besides HVKumar knew of the destination and places en route).

    HVKumar himself drove up a couple of days earlier in his black 2004 Mahindra Scorpio (with 4.8 lakh+ km on the odo) from Mumbai to recce the region that the O-Team (AJ, GV, KV, VNV & me) had chalked out.

    Teaser photos like this kept others guessing about the region. Some came close, but no one really nailed it.
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    On August 20, MotuSid and I set out at 5 am from Vasant Kunj to the rendezvous point for the O-team, which was Highway Dreams motel at Sonipat at 6.15 am. We were there on the dot. By the time the others arrived and we shifted supplies between cars and had a cup of tea it was 6.45 am.
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    As we drove along the highway, our convoy began to grow in number from 4 cars to nearly 15 cars as other clueless HVK group members began to join the group, spotting each other by the yellow HVK stickers on the cars.
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    Where were we going?
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    Our first stop was to be Kala Amb in Himachal, at a place called the Black Mango Resort. This message was relayed to everyone at 5.30 that morning via Whatsapp, and that was all they knew. They had to reach Black Mango Resort by 10.30 am for brunch. No one had a clue yet about the final destination or what lay ahead.
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    By the time we reached Black Mango Resort at 9.45 am, a few more had already shown up. In the end, there were 31 cars that turned up with 69 people signing up for the drive!
    After a sumptuous breakfast (price for the drive was Rs. 2500 – Rs. 3000 per person, including meals and accommodation in either a luxury or budget category resort), we topped up on fuel and set out from Kala Amb at noon. We had another 110 km to cover.
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    The thing is, no one except the convoy leaders (I was one of them) knew the route or destination.
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    That led to some pretty funny moments when a few got lost in Nahan town and had no clue where to ask for direction to! But since many of the helpful locals had seen these 3 convoys go by, they were soon back on the right track.
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    The road from Nahan to Kumarhatti was beautiful and the mist and rains added to the magic of the drive. The original plan was to deviate down a major district road, go via Baru Sahib and then reach Rajgarh – Mist and Meadows Resort, but HVKumar decided against doing that because of the thread of landslides and heavy rain.
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    Still, this was a beautiful drive of another 106 km, before we reached Mist & Meadows Resort at 5.30pm.
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    A lot of juggling of cars had to be done, as parking was a bit of an issue for so many cars.
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    Later that evening, we had tea, snacks and then conversations and dinner, while some of the more enthusiastic folks in the group provided the evening’s entertainment.
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    The next morning, the scenery from the resort was spectacular to say the least.
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    That's the man behind this drive: HVKumar with his son Hariharan.
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    And that is a Scorpio that has clocked nearly 5 lakh Km since 2004, all over India (and a couple of neighbouring countries).
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    After breakfast, we headed down from Rajgarh towards Baru Sahib to do a group photo shoot.
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    The photo shoot point is down in the centre of this pic. Spot a few cars if you can.
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    Most of the cars (down to 26 from 30) lined up at this meadow.
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    One solo shot of my Scorpio.
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    Post the photo shoot, it was already nearly 1 pm when we drove up to Baru Sahib Gurudwara.
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    Then we moved on towards Nahan along the scenic, but treacherous Major District Road 3. Treacherous because HVKumar’s Scorpio nearly fell off the side of the road, slipping into a ditch that was hidden by shrubbery, while we were stopping for a photo shoot. (Photo credit: Deepak Gupta)
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    Some anxious moments ensued, before we managed to tow it back using Karan Vaid’s Scorpio and weight transfer from the others to upright it. (Photo credit: Deepak Gupta)
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    By then our convoy had gotten smaller as we had all taken different routes from Baru Sahib, with some heading off to Renuka Ji for a visit before, retracing their route to Nahan. We stopped off at a Dhaba just before Nahan for some lunch and then headed out to NH1. Another stop to say goodbyes at Karnal and we were on our way by 7.30pm and back home in South Delhi by 10pm.
    Drink coffee and drive!

  • #2
    That was indeed a very descriptive account of the Drive.
    Yes, the weather was perfect for most of the time, although some more rain would have been welcome on Day 2!

    Rajgarh, the final destination, in in Sirmaur District of Himachal, which is one of the least travelled parts of Himachal, but has plenty of interesting getaways that rival the popular Kulu region, Shimla/ Chail & Dalhousie

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    • #3
      I wasn't really sure I would be going for the HVK Monsoon Drive 2016. People sign up very fast for these drives, there is a good reason why. I had resigned to assuring myself of a quite weekend spending time playing some game on my tablet or something. Roshun called me up two days before the drive and told me that he could get me in, I didn't hesitate.

      The sky was beautiful
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      Roshun's Black Fox was gleaming as the sun rose
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      As we reached Kala Amb, the sheer number of different cars caught my attention. I couldn't get my eyes off the wheels on Rahul's Terrano. Contrast that with the steel wheels on amit Kalra's Scorpio
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      Our own little convoy
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      The clouds began to surround us as we drove on to Kumarhatti
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      And the heavens opened up


      The hills change character when it rains - don't you think?
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      As the clouds dispersed, the rain-soaked tarmac beckoned us to drive on
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      While mesmerising views awaited us around every corner
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      I was pleasantly surprised as to how good the destination resort was, I had no idea of what to expect from a HVK Drive - you should visit the Mist n Meadows Resort whenever you have the chance.
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      The next day was quite the contrast - blue skies, sparse clouds and the sun was out
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      A game of ping-pong to relax before the day's drive


      The convoy continues to the group photo location
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      Good to see some disciplined driving, I will miss this


      The sun was beginning to get to me - thank goodness for the view, it kept my mind off the heat
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      As we said our goodbyes from the dhaba at Jamta junction
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      The anthem of the HiVayKing group?


      I think I'm part of something brilliant now - thanks for everything. Also sorry for not being too interactive, I am usually very quite.
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      Be nice

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      • #4
        MotuSid If you think Flipkart flash sales are fast, its still slower than HVKs monsoon drive reservation. That is the demand and the trust the members have with the organizers. Great work O-Team and Chief. The locations are beautiful. We should compile more pics from the other monsoon drives that happened this year. Each location and drive is spectacular. Kudos to HVK sir, to keep up the spirits and attend all the drives to meet up with the forum members. I was unfortunate to miss the three HVK drives this year that happened around Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. Next time I would be alert and waiting to reserve for the next drive.
        I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Arjun View Post
          MotuSid
          If you think Flipkart flash sales are fast, its still slower than HVKs monsoon drive reservation. That is the demand and the trust the members have with the organizers. Great work O-Team and Chief. The locations are beautiful. We should compile more pics from the other monsoon drives that happened this year. Each location and drive is spectacular. Kudos to HVK sir, to keep up the spirits and attend all the drives to meet up with the forum members.
          I was unfortunate to miss the three HVK drives this year that happened around Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.
          Next time I would be alert and waiting to reserve for the next drive.

          There are 3 things about these Monsoon Drives:

          1. The Journey is more important, the Destination is incidental

          2. Expect the Unexpected - neither the drive circuit nor the ultimate destination will be the usual ones, they are usually the least-travelled places, it is the fun of discovering & the thrill of the unknown

          3. Trust in a team - that is very important in many things in life, these Monsoon Drives are conducted with very prior little info about where you are going, confidence in the Team Leader has to be utmost

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by HVKumar View Post


            There are 3 things about these Monsoon Drives:

            1. The Journey is more important, the Destination is incidental

            2. Expect the Unexpected - neither the drive circuit nor the ultimate destination will be the usual ones, they are usually the least-travelled places, it is the fun of discovering & the thrill of the unknown

            3. Trust in a team - that is very important in many things in life, these Monsoon Drives are conducted with very prior little info about where you are going, confidence in the Team Leader has to be utmost

            4. Meeting like-minded Travellers in exotic places. From Facebook to Face2Face. Making new friends.

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is a video that has been compiled and posted by @Rupam Ritz Gupta. This is the first of his videos, and captures some of the lovely weather we had on this drive. Driving in convoys can be tricky, yet we managed pretty well overall.
              Drink coffee and drive!

              Comment


              • #8
                Beautifully written Travelogue and lovely pictures to go along Roshun & MotuSid I have the GPX Tracks of the route we took from Kala Amb to Rajgarh and Rajgarh to Nahan. Will share it here tomorrow for sure. Cheers

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by harjeev
                  "Originally posted by harjeev"

                  Beautifully written Travelogue and lovely pictures to go along Roshun & MotuSid
                  I have the GPX Tracks of the route we took from Kala Amb to Rajgarh and Rajgarh to Nahan. Will share it here tomorrow for sure.
                  Cheers
                  I really want to explore the Sirmaur valley region in greater detail. So many lovely routes to take, and each one seems really picturesque. It's off the beaten path and hence will be quite peaceful. I believe the region does see some snowfall in winter and I think that's the best time to take a drive through there.
                  Drink coffee and drive!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Roshun
                    Originally posted by Roshun
                    "Originally posted by Roshun" Here is a video that has been compiled and posted by @Rupam Ritz Gupta. This is the first of his videos, and captures some of the lovely weather we had on this drive. Driving in convoys can be tricky, yet we managed pretty well overall.
                    sooper. i missed it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Roshun View Post
                      I really want to explore the Sirmaur valley region in greater detail. So many lovely routes to take, and each one seems really picturesque. It's off the beaten path and hence will be quite peaceful. I believe the region does see some snowfall in winter and I think that's the best time to take a drive through there.
                      Couldn't have agreed more @Roshun
                      Infact I'm already planning a second trip as soon as Oct this year for Chail (a family friend has a cottage here) and plan to explore the Sirmaur Valley a little bit more.
                      This place, as Kumar Sir rightly said, is a treasure trove and still unexplored vis-a-vis the Spiti Circuit or the done to death Ladakh Circuit.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Roshun View Post
                        I really want to explore the Sirmaur valley region in greater detail. So many lovely routes to take, and each one seems really picturesque. It's off the beaten path and hence will be quite peaceful. I believe the region does see some snowfall in winter and I think that's the best time to take a drive through there.

                        Compared with the popular locations like Shimla, Manali, Dalhousie, etc, this region is absolutely untouched.
                        It harks back to Himachal, say, 20 years ago - small roads (lots of broken tarmac!), unbarricaded cliffhanger sectors, zero tourist "facilities" and none of the places ever figuring in any of the HP tourism brochures!

                        You never ask where the destination is. For a maverick motorist, you can aimlessly drive around. I spent 3 days doing just that - and came back highly dissatisfied because there were so many roads yet undriven. Enough green meadows, terraced fields, hanging clouds to please anyone.

                        They say that places like Rajgarh, Haripurdar, etc gets lots of snow during the winter, and compete with the likes of Shimla & Kufri - except that hardly any tourist ever comes there. They are surely nicer places - and uncrowded - to go "see" the snow during the winter.

                        I will tell you more about some of the lovely drive circuits in this region soon...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This was my 3rd visit to Rajgarh and Baru Sahib area. Every time it leaves me mesmerised. However this time I explored new tracks and much deeper parts of this region. All thanks to HVK Monsoon Drive.

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