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The Jungle Book By Rudyard Kipling - During my childhood , the only cartoon which used to come on DD is Junglebook. And the kids from early 90's late 80's would surely know the underwear clad Protagonist Mowgli. Some of us, like me, would also recollect the song "Jungle Jungle Baat chali hai , pata chala hai , chaddi pehenke phool kile hai" , Now you might be wondering why is this guy being nostalgic , well the story of Jungle book is set in Pench National Park. Hence the nostalgia.
Planning to the weekend Trip To Pench :
I stay in Hyderabad , and cannot complete the trip to Pench in a Weekend drive. But if you plan properly , you can complete the trip in a weekend. I did this trip with my parents, my dad being in his mid 60's is eager and enthusiastic for trips.
Booked a train from Secundrabad to Nagpur on a friday night. Booked a Zoom car on Saturday Morning from Nagpur. Booked a room in one of the resorts from Saturday to Sunday. (One Day). Booked Return Tickets on Sunday Night from Nagpur to Secundrabad. Reach Hyderabad on Monday morning , and go to office.
Actual Trip :
We have booked tickets to Nagpur on Secundrabad-Nagpur SF express , the train leaves at 22:15 from Secundrabad station. The train reaches 8:15 AM sharp to Nagpur station.
We woke up at 7 in the train itself , and freshened up. When the train reached Nagpur , for our conveyance i borrowed my friend's car. Very generous of him to lend his car for my family trip. He left the car for us at the station back gate. For other's , there are multiple options of self drive cars are available. Choose the car according to your needs.
Another thing i had to keep in mind with my elderly father is his food. He has to eat on time and take medicines accordingly. Hence we went to the nearest Haldiram's to have our breakfast. To my bad luck , this particular Haldiram's was serving all south indian breakfast that day. I wanted to try something with Pav. .
( Haldiram's where we had our breakfast)
(Inside of haldiram's , where we had our breakfast)
After having breakfast, my friend left for his place, and decided that we would catch up again here , to return back the car the next day. It was 10:00 A.M by the time we started for Pench National park.
We booked our accommodation at Pench Jungle Camp (https://www.penchjunglecamp.com/) , and we also booked the Breakfast, Lunch , Dinner package along with accomodation. We also made the safari booking through them. so no other headaches. but if you do book by yourself , it might be a little cheaper.
It took us 2 hours 30 mins(Approx) to reach Pench Jungle camp. And it was 12:30 P.M by the time we reached there. Took some time for check in , and had our Lunch immediately , before even going into our Tents. Lunch was buffet , completely Indian. You will find both Veg and Non-Veg options. Reachech Tents by 2:00 P.M.
(The fan and the chandelier inside the tent)
(beds , and a lovely wall art)
(Extra space with Sofas)
The tents are comfortable , we got ready by 3:30 P.M for the evening safari. The safari timing's is evening 4:00P.M till 7:00 P.M , and morning 5:30 A.M till 10:30 A.M.
We went to safari on both the days, Saturday evening and Sunday morning. As the Safari was organised by the Resort on Sunday morning , they had packed some sandwitches and boiled eggs , for us to eat. After coming back at 11:00 A.M , we had our break fast , went to our tents , freshened up and checked out at 1:00 P.M. We paid to have our Lunch , there in the resort , and left Pench by 2:30 P.M , By 5:30 we were back at Haldiram's in Nagpur , to catch up with my friend and have some coffee.
My friend dropped us at the railway station, we took the train Nagpur - SC train back to Hyderabad. Below are some of the pics from the safari.
(The water tanker is used to fill water in ponds for animals)
(If you are luck, you will spot a tiger , )
( This tent/housing belongs to forest dept , and they serve tea/biscuits for tourists, Also notice Mowgli , of the far left of the image)
(Deers in Pench River)
(Thats the safari Road)
Precursor to the Trip:
Mr.Daddy calls me up on Oct 2nd in the evening.
Daddy : I had to work today , who the hell works on Gandhi jayanthi? They don't even sell Liquor today.
Me : Chill Macha , we chose this job. And have to take everything it throws at us.
Daddy: I need some relaxation , plan something for the weekend.
Me : Hmm, lets go to Bhuvanagiri Fort, I have been meaning to trek that fort since childhood.
The plan has been made , but could not be executed the Dussehra weekend, due to the obvious reasons. Our Wives would let us go on a trek on a festival day. And i totally forgot about it , till 12th When Mr.Daddy messages to ask me if i'm available to do the trek on 13th (Sunday). I said yes , and the trip was on.
Hill Fort of Bhuvanagiri:
If you have ever have traveled to Warangal by road or by train you would not miss this small fort on top of the hill. I remember watching the hill for the first time as a kid, from a train window, on my way to Hyderabad. Since then i was always fascinated by this small fort and it was my long lasting desire to trek to the top of it.
The fort is constructed in the 10th century A.D by Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya VI. That makes this fort atleast 1000 years old. In contrast Golconda fort is 400 years old. And Since it is built by Tribhuvanamalla , the fort is called Tribhuvanagiri , Which latter became Bhuvanagiri and with the Persian and Urdu influence of the local kings became Bhongir. The fort was built on a small egg shaped hill, and there were small steps cut into the rock to climb up to the fort.
Drive To The Fort:
I started at 8:30 A.M on Sunday morning , and started towards Mr.Daddy's home in Manikonda, Hyderabad. I picked him up and on the way we stopped at Organic hotel to have breakfast. After having quick breakfast we took the ORR to reach Warangal Highway.
(Organic Hotel , where we had or break Fast)
As there was no hurry , we mostly drove in the middle lane at 80KMPH max speed, The ORR charged us 140/- to get down at Warangal high way, And soon after that we had to pay another toll on the highway, We took a to and fro pass for 140/- and went on our way. The toll has dedicated lanes for fastag , and if you still don't have one Get one ASAP.
As soon as you cross the toll gate and proceed further , you see something like this (Image is taken from Wiki)
With the help of google maps we reached the entry point of the fort. There are two gates to get into , one for regular tourists and another for rock climbing school in the premises. There is ample space to park 8-10 cars. We parked our car , proceeded to the shop next to the ticket counter bought ourselves a water bottle & moved to ticket counter to buy our tickets. Ticket cost for Adults is rs: 10/- per head.
The Rock has steps cut into it , which looks fairly a recent addition to the 1000 year old Hill Fort. We started our climb from this point.
The weather forecast for Bhongir on that day was partially cloudy and with intermittent rains. But Sun god has different plans for us. It was hot and the rock reflected the heat. After a brief walk , we ended up at the first gateway to the fort. There was some shade and i sat there for a couple of minutes.
(The first gateway , where you will find some shade.)
After the first rest stop , there is enough tree cover and it was a little cloudy , we reached the second Gateway in some time.
The distance between the second and third Gateway is not much , but there is a increase in elevation. We soon reached the third gateway , and the the view looked like this after crossing the third gateway.
From here there is no tree cover , and to my bad luck there is no cloud cover either. From here , if you walked towards right from the path , you would find some ruins. This signifies that you have reached level 1. From here the path goes on to the top of the hill. We kept on walking and discussing on how ingeniously the architect of the fort has constructed multiple Dams to conserve rain water.
(Level 1 ruins towards the left of the picture and Check Dams to conserve towards the right of the Picture)
From here the walk way is very steep , one has to be careful. And this can be slippery during rains.
(Steep Walk way , with stairs cut into the rock, Rails installed in the modern era for support, Another Check Dam towards right and Mr.Daddy gauging on how far we have to go)
After this i was completely exhausted , and stopped at every 5-10 minutes on the pretext of taking pictures 😛 , Approximately after an hour we started , we reached the top of the fort.
(Celebratory pic of climbing the hill, My smile will tell you how happy i was on the top, the cannon at the back might be a late addition to the fort , as they were developed only in 15th century)
There are three structures at the top of the Hill , one ruined old fort , and two other government buildings , with Cellular tower on top of one. The other building was build on top adjacent to an old well. (The Pic of the fort).
The views from the top of the hill are simply amazing. Google maps told us that we were 1000 meters above MSL. Below are a few pics of the views from the fort.
(You can spot Bhongir Railway station , from where i first saw this magnificent Hill Fort. Also , at the bottom right , notice how Dams were constructed to save water.)
(Another pond , and the fort wall at a distance)
We explored the whole place for an hour , found a small entrance and a staircase, just out of curiosity i went in and started climbing the stairs , and Mr.Daddy followed me.
The stairs took us to the top of the fort. There is no higher point in Bhongir Than this.
(The fort view from behind)
(Me after conquering the fort, instead of a sword i posed with an Umbrella, modern day weapon to fight the soldiers of the nature)
By 2 o clock we were hungry and decided to descend, as soon as we thought of of it , we could see dark clouds manifest out of no where and weather became cloudy and pleasant. I wonder where these clouds were when i was climbing up the hill.
We climbed down, and there were 6 other cars parked in the parking. We went to the shop next to ticket counter had another bottle of water. Went to a nearby restaurant in Bhongir and had our lunch. After and uneventful lunch , we started back to Hyderabad , and it started raining just as we were ready to leave Bhongir.
Tips for Trek to the Top :
Carry your own water one bottle per person. Carry an umbrella , Sun or Rain it will help you a lot. Avoid Summers , It was tiring to climb in October Sun. Imagine April Sun beating down on you.
Suggest to go in groups, Half of the time i was engrossed in deep conversations with Mr.Daddy , and didn't feel the tiredness.
Wear shoes and avoid Slippers and Flip flops at all costs
PS: For those who are wondering , why i call him Daddy , You can find the explanation in my previous write up
This Dussehra holidays we planned a long road trip to Coimbatore in our EcoSport.
Thanks to India-Drive members, especially @sagar @Ranger for suggesting trip route and staying food options along the route.
We started around 4 AM from Miyapur, Hyderabad. Drive till Anantapur is quite familiar to me, as i have driven this route many times.
Drive was excellent with good pleasant weather, around 9:30 AM We reached Anantapur for breakfast at Club RuRu.
Food was good as well as the service and atmosphere. After some nice breakfast we started towards Bangalore, as we approach the outskirts of the city traffic made us slow down, and also the fear of over-speeding and getting fined made me cautious, kept at 60-80 speeds reached Devanahalli around 12:30 PM.
Our EcoSport flyaudio gave us this route which bypassed the traffic areas of the city (silkboard, electronic city) and took us to the sarjapura main road and joined on the NH just after the electronic city. The route we took to bypass the city is quite scenic and some places were narrow roads. and in some parts very rough roads (2-4 KM) with construction work is ongoing. I am attaching the route map for reference.
Around 2:30 we reached Hosur outskirts, despite being a Sunday afternoon the road is filled with heavy vehicles occupying all the lanes and made us slow down, managed to reach a good restaurant which serves good tamil meals by 3:00 PM.
The food was good and hot. after staying so long out of Tamilnadu we always look forward to eating in Tamilnadu hotels, glad we could make it for lunch.
After lunch started the journey towards Salem, Roads were quite good and smooth but not as wide as Hyderabad-bangalore highway. Not a pleasant experience as the vehicles seems to be in hurry and not giving space occupying all lanes, had to be very patient to outmatch the city buses.
Kept a average speed of 60-80 KM reached Salem, thought have a break at Salem, but due to some politicians visit (i am guessing its CM visiting his native Town) the roads were filled with cops asking us not to stop and keep left. At some places the cops were confusing us with their directions, over all a confused environment, but good thing is they reroute the heavy vehicles like lorries and trucks to some other route, so we had a clear road ahead of us.
The only catch is we couldn't stop for the tea break. And it started drizzling once we past Salem, it's almost 7 PM, and those rerouted trucks joined us back while we are nearing Coimbatore making our last leg of journey more interesting At Komarapalayam we stopped for some hot Badam Milk and much needed break.
After that it was nice to drive to the coimbatore city with with lit wide roads, reached around 9:15 PM to Sungam cross roads, Coimbatore. After parked the vehicle and went inside the house all of us were feeling that still we are moving. From morning 4 to night 9 this makes my longest distance driven in a day. (960 KM says speedometer)
We visited the famous GeDee Car museum, Coimbatore. the beauty of the museum is we can see so many vintage cars at one place which are maintained so good.
Checkout few pics:
It was February 2018, me and my father visited Malik Tata Bowenpally to enquire about Tata Tiago and Tata Tigor in our handsome shiny golden brown Honda City after a good leather upholstery polishing at Stunnerz. We we’re impressed by the car, the build quality and interiors, we felt it’ll be a good upgrade to my WagonR CNG which was showing its age after 3 years 65000 kms. We asked for a test drive and they couldn’t arrange. We were irritated by the sales team response and reluctance to sell their product. We stepped out.
Fast it forward to August, my father who was driving my WagonR slightly brushed to the electricity pole in a narrow lane. The impact was small, but the damage was really huge. A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind.
Fast forward to November, we put our Wagon R on sale at OLX and sold it in 5 days for 3,25,000. Got to know the meaning of resale value. Booked Ford Freestyle after just one test drive. We were taken away by the car, it’s build quality, ruggedness, and not to forgot the punchy TDCi engine. Ford has always been my favourite brand, I always wanted to own it, drive it. And this time I got the opportunity, we wanted to book the car the very next day but being a Sunday it was delayed.
Monday, after attending a club meet at my college, at around 3:00 PM I booked my car at Mody Ford Begumpet. It was Ford Freestyle ambient 1.5 TDCi oxford white which was booked and later upgraded to top of the line model Titanium 1.5 TDCi charcoal black.
The delivery was done as promised in 5 days. Initially the dealership experience was really good. they treated us well, the car was delivered as promised and everything was good until I noticed what they have done. The dealership has given me 4 months old vehicle, which was lying in the stock yard without informing me and without giving any old stock discounts.
Found it by decoding the VIN number. The old stock/first batch vehicle came with fixed rear headrests and the newer one which I was supposed to get according to Ford as I booked in November came with adjustable rear headrests. Multiple mails and calls to the dealership proved to be waste. After a week of follow up, a good member of the Ford Freestyle WhatsApp group forwarded me the mail IDs of Ford India top management. A mail to Mr. Anurag Mehrotra MD Ford India sorted out the issues and the dealer was ordered to replace the entire rear seat with the new ones.
Experience with Ford India:
I must say, the experience so far with Ford has been really good. Right from solving my issues with the dealer to addressing each and every minor issues in the vehicle for which Ford is known for.
To be honest, Ford is not a reliable brand like the Maruti Suzuki, Honda or Toyota. It is known for those small yet really irritating glitches. But the way the company addresses the issues is what matters. And I must say, Ford outshines every other manufacturer in this department. We as a valued customer have the freedom to even talk to the bosses of Ford India and get the issue solved. Be it the General Manager of a dealership or Managing Director of the company. The mangers and general mangers (service) are always available on phone for our queries.
Life With Ford
It’s been 10 months since I bought the car and I’ve been to many road trips, explored many places, and done some really crazy things with it. So far So good.
Stability, Steering Feel and Feedback, Braking, Ride Comfort, and Performance:
The next month after buying the car we did a road trip to Vijayawada. Couldn’t go beyond 100 kmph as the vehicle isn’t supposed to go beyond 100 kmph before 2000 km checkup. while returning I touched 170 kmph effortlessly after 2000 km checkup at Laxmi Ford Vijayawada. No where I felt loosing the control of the car. After driving WagonR for 65000 kms this felt like a really big upgrade in terms of drivability and stability.
The response from the steering was spot on. Though the brakes did not inspire confidence at last minute braking for the first 5000 kms of ownership because of over sensitive ABS now they are perfect. Crisp and spot on braking performance. Or dont know if I’m
used to it.
Ford Freestyle is built to tackle bad roads and those beautiful untouched, unexplored roads. This said, the ride quality will definitely be on the stiffer side making all those shocks on the bad roads creep in. We can feel the thud sound when the car goes over speed breaker, potholes even in very low speeds. The suspension is on the stiffer side making the car super stable during high speeds and super rough on the bad roads. Space is strictly adequate in the front row and strictly average at the rear and the boot. The driving position is commendable. We sit higher than many of the hatchbacks making us see the road clearly. The car sitting at a height of 190mm from the ground makes driving on worst roads a breeze. No worries of under body hits.
The performance from the engine on offer is something else. It effortlessly touches 80 kmph in the second gear itself and 0-100 kmph in under 10 seconds making it one of the fastest car in India. This car even outshines VW Polo in terms of performance. This is the most economical, fun to drive car in India giving good fuel efficiency numbers. Even Ford EcoSport doesn’t offer the low end torque and that jump this car offers. Reason being same engine for a lighter car.
Ford calls the Freestyle a Compact Utility Vehivle and in my opinion its justified. It is not just a raised hatch/hatch with cladding or hatchback in SUV cloths as claimed by few online forums. Having used this for almost a year, clocking 20,000 kms, going for some unexplored areas, I can confidently say that this means some serious business, built for a purpose, a very practice vehicle. If not for serious off-roading, this is made for serious travelling and to glide on those beautiful untouched roads...
Ford is known for this. It’s always ahead of the other cars in the segment when it comes to giving safety features if not fancy features.
2 airbags ABS with EBD Reverse parking sensors Driver and passenger seat belt alarm is standard across all the varient in all the models of Ford Central Locking Speed sensing door locks Child safety locks Making it the most value for money varient.
The top of the line varient Titanium comes with added features like
TCS HLA ESP
And the even premium varient the Titanium Plus comes with added features like
6 airbags SYNC3 system With all the above features.
I’ve done many road trips in this 10 months. Multiple trips to Hyderabad-Vijayawada but there are few trips that standout, that tested my skills, that took me to places I’ve never thought I would.
The first one being
Hyderabad to Maredumilli
This remains my favourite trip of all. This tested my skills on the ghat during heavy rains and low visibility, took me to a beautiful place called Pamulery Vagu inside the forest.
It was fun driving this car in those ghats. Steering feel and feedback was really good and was spot on. This trip will be forever remembered. The engine sound coupled with cool breeze and nature sounds made this a really wonderful and memorable trip with my Ford Freestyle.
Hyderabad to Yanam via Ramachandrapuram
This place is really beautiful. I’ve been to Yanam in 2012 in our Swift Dzire. I was siting beside my father and was observing him cruising in that beautiful cool, rainy weather. I was 16 back then. Learning driving from my father in our colony roads. I was amazed by the way it cruised, clicked many pictures in my father’s Galaxy S3. I couldn’t know more about the place. All I knew was the beach and the beautiful Jesus statue. Nothing beyond that.
This is 2019 and I was on the wheel with my father sitting beside me and my Sony A6000 DSLR in the rear seat to click the beautiful places. It was 4:30 in the morning, I fired the loud TDCi engine waking up others in my house at Ramachandrapuram. We hit the roads and it was all nostalgic.
The roads were bad, full of potholes and very bad curves. This gave me a new experience to drive on those village roads full of potholes and truck traffic from the opposite direction with high beam. Made me explore Yanam and the nearby mangroves and getting to know the place beyond beach and of course the beautiful Jesus statue, reminded my father of his childhood and the hotel where he used to sometimes eat and now we having our breakfast which is still running with the same quality at Drakshramam. This also proved how beautiful my car is gliding over those big potholes with very loud and uncomfortable sounds in the cabin and zero underbody hits. making this another memorable road trip.
Vijayawada to Hyderabad
I’ve done multiple trips between Hyderabad-Vijayawada on our Honda City as well as Ford Freestyle as my father is posted there. But this will be remembered.
This unexpected drive for few minutes under the railway bridge tested my knowledge on flood water driving, knowledge can be acquired by learning but not experience. And this kind of experience is very rare. This tests our skill, It’s a do or die situation. Drive well and come out of the pool or get stuck ruining your car permanently.
The experience was all together a very different one. This kept me in a situation where It was all on me. No one to help me, guide me or drive the car. This proved the capabilities of ford Freestyle and my driving skills. The punchy low end torque never worried me or gave a feel of stalling. It never lost the grunt. I successfully came out of it which doubled my confidence in driving and my love towards the car.
Accidents & Incidents
It was 24th of April, 8:45 in the morning. I was driving towards Suchitra Junction to meet my father’s colleague and take my internship certificate which I forgot in her cabin the previous day. I tuned into 98.3 radio mirchi my favourite radio station and was just 5 minutes away from my home when the unexpected saddest thing happened.
A construction truck which was coming from the opposite direction taking a 90 degree banged into my car’s rear third quater leaving a really bad damage. It was a hit and run case. Many villagers ran behind him but he fled away leaving me in utter grief. The impact was huge but the damage was small considering the impact.
Did anyone remember this? “the impact was small, but the damage was really huge” “A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind” and this proved to be the right choice, the safer vehicle.
It was 31st of July, 3:30 in the evening, I was driving from Tellapur towards Kompally on ORR. An incident which taught me the meaning of hydro planning, made me realise the power of water and yet again made me fall in love with my car.
It was raining, the road was good obviously because it’s the ORR a Hyderabadi drivers favourite, the road was empty and there’s a water pool that can be seen on the left most lane.
A child in me touched triple digit speeds (100kmph) from 80kmph wanted to spill the water and went straight onto the waterlogged pool only to loose control over my car. The vehicle immediately lost traction, drifted towards the right, steering was out of my control for few seconds, I tried very hard to steer the car to the left keeping it in the lane and I succeeded.
All thanks to the traction control that my car has. This taught me how much dangerous water can be and the force of water. Never after this incident I touched triple digit speeds during rains.
To sum it up, Freestyle is a car that definitely puts a smile the drivers face. Particularly the TDCi. It’s rightly called a pocket rocket.
Freestyle is not about luxury, its rugged, rough, not so comfortable when compared to the competition, the interiors are hard, the plastics are not placed well but as said before its lal about ruggedness and practicality. Once you are behind the wheel of a Ford you’ll forever be the fan of Ford.
A true Ford Lover
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