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Ravi

Solo Sojourn! Hyderabad - Srisailam - Nalla Malla - Gandikota

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Right from childhood, I always had this inner desire to stay alone for a certain period of time, do my chores, live my life all by myself, without my mother helping me nor my dad telling me what to do. I wanted to lead an independent life. This was because I never left home for any part of my life. So I took up this oath for myself that I would travel solo for at least 1 week of the 52 weeks in a year.

 

This year,2017, was no different. It was 4 day trip within the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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Hyderabad- Srisailam-Nalla malla forest- Nalla malla jungle camps- Gandikota- Hyderabad

 

The numbers :

Car : Hyundai elite i20

Mileage : 16.5kmpl (tank full to tank full)

Total trip : 935kms

 

 

It was not a pre- planned trip. Just as when things at home were at peace, a little effort to persuade mom paid off, a quick search in the India-drive paved the way for this trip.

 

A Teaser !

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Day 1

Drive day is the only day I would wake up so early in the morning (read 4 am) without even alarm setting off.

Started at 5 am, and the plan was to reach Srisailam Dam before crowd sets in and explore the route from Srisailam temple to Nalla Malla Jungle resorts

 

Gachibowli ORR - Dindi Reservoir- Srisailam

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Smooth roads and early morning fog made the drive refreshing!

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Reached Dam by 8:30am, crowd was sparse

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Clicking ample pictures, chugged along at a leisurely pace

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Moving along reached the top of Srisailam. I wanted to savour the moment, found a calm place over looking the dam. Spent a moment in tranquility and drove on.

 

I am a self proclaimed atheist, so skipped visiting the temple and drove down the hill towards Dornala.

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With smooth tarmac and winding Ghats, the roads up until Dornala Junction were smooth as silk

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The drive got rugged and bumpy after taking a right at Dormala Junction, leading towards Bairutly on the Vijayawada- atmakur Highway.The road passes through thick and dense Nalla Malla Forest.It is a single lane, potholed road with heavy truck traffic, often veering off the road to allow truck to pass by.

 

As irritating as it can get, and as bumpy as it could be, the silence in the forest and green cover has more than made up for the effort put in driving through this route.

 

Stopped by a thick canopy of heavily grown bamboo trees/plants on either side of the road, turned off the engine, windows rolled down and a breath of fresh air brushes your hair.

 

Blisss!! Savour the moment!The canopy was so dense, even sunlight couldn’t peek through, hence no photographs!

 

Reached Nalla Malla Jungle Camps by 2:30pm. The manager was kind enough to arrange for some home made meals for my lunch.

The resort had 4 double occupancy cottages and 3 tent like looking rooms and one dormitory.

 

This was my allocated cottage!

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The rest of the day was spent in leisure, talking to the staff about the safari the next day and their lively hood in such dense forest.

 

Day 2

It was quite a while since I had such peaceful sleep. Owing to such calm, non-polluted area and beautifully maintained rooms sound sleep was inevitable.

 

Since it was holiday and festival of Diwali, the resort had no guests. I was the only moron I guess who wanted to elude the city pollution.

 

So I had the whole day to myself and I was up and ready by 6am for the safari.

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A quick breakfast and off we went

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The safari vehicle

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The crew consisted of a driver (working as a driver for forest officers for the past 6 years) and local ‘gudem’ guy, Saidulu, who entered the safari vehicle with an axe. Safety I would think!

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It was a 8km circuit through the jungle I was told and would take about 2 hours for the safari

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When I asked the driver, what would be the odds of finding the Big Cat, he replied recklessly “very very very slim”

 

Just then, he slammed the brakes of the shoddy safari vehicle and spoke to Saidulu

 

He got down with the axe and did this ..

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Meanwhile,continuing my chat with the driver and looking around to spot the tiger, he asked me to get down the vehicle and walk with him. Apparently he found something odd at a distance.

 

Walking along..

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“Its a female” the driver reckoned!

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How? I spurted out!

 

Looking at the edge of those pug marks, the rounded edges denote female. Male would have claws which would have dug deep into the mud, he explained!

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We decided to leave the vehicle behind and start walking.

 

In excitement left my Camera in the vehicle (Facepalm Moment!)

 

As we walked along, we found more pug marks and we were sure to find a few a small distance ahead.

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We walked for almost an hour, in search of the Wild cat but to no avail.

 

We came across one of the bunkers/ rest areas for men who patrol the forests. There is one such bunker for every 40sqkm and they have 8 men guarding the area round the clock from poachers!

 

Sadly though there have been reported cases of deaths caused by Tiger attacks on these men.

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This is the path taken by people who visit the Holy shrine of Srisailam during Maha Shiva ratri.This path transverses through the thick jungle, amassing a distance of 80kms.

 

Enroute they have 3 pitstops, each at a temple which provides free food.They would cover the distance in about 11hrs flat.

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We were already Walking along the thick forests for almost 3hrs now and I was almost drained.

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Spotted a few deers here and there

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We sat down at a small pond under the shade of a tree.

 

I asked Saidulu more about his life and what do they do to survive.

 

He very simple replied “ government free rice isthadi, avi udakapedithe ganji osthadi, ullipaya & mirapakaya ikkada pandistham, aviti tho tinestham.dabbulu sampadinchali ani em undadu saaru ikkada”

 

(Translation: Govt gives free supplies of rice, we cook and extract porridge. We grow onions and chilli, we eat rice along with it. We don’t think about earning money)

 

He was very vivid in whatever he told us, what problem they often encounter, how his childhood was.

 

After a while he was kind enough to invite me to his ‘Gudem’

 

It was an hour walk through the forest again. My eyes never stopped trying to spot a tiger though.

 

There were about 35 people living in the ‘gudem’. They seemed content with what all they had, the kids were smiling and the ladies had their own avagatxion of either raising kids or singing their daily chores away.

 

Lunch, was their staple food. A bowl of rice porridge, onion and chilli as accompaniment!

 

(Left my camera in the vehicle & phone battery drained out. Hence no pictures)- Sorryyy :(

 

After spending time with the local ppl , we started our long walk back to the resort. While we were walking back i was fortunate enough to spot a few cubs playing at a distance.

 

No means to capture, it was just see and enjoy.

 

After a long day, dozed off early as I had made plans to visit Gandikota the next day.

 

Day 3:

Plan was to reach Gandikota as soon as possible and relax during sunset time at the view point.

 

After breakfast, spoke to the manager there and bit adieu to the staff.

 

Bairutly- Atmakur-Jammalamadugu- Gandikota

 

It was a 3.5hrs drive with roads varying from single late to beautiful 4 lanes.

 

Reached Gandikota by 2pm.

 

Explored the surrounding area of Kottalapalli, famour for windmills

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The service road leading to the Windmills

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It was too hot and humid, and I drove back to the resort to rest till evening.

 

Made it to the view point by sunset time, and it was heavily crowded.

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Had an early dinner and dozed off. The beds and rooms were ill maintained at Haritha resort. I could barely sleep.

 

Day 4:

Woke up early, had little breakfast at the resort and started my drive back to Hyderabad by 8 am

 

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All the rounds were either 2lane or 4 lanes opening upto beautiful lush green fields on either side of the roads.

 

Stopped by Owk Resevoir, which was full owing to bountyful rains they received this year

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Had lunch at food pyramid at Kothakota.

 

Reached hyderabad by 1:30pm

 

The car was battered to the maximum extent with dust and mud and it was cleaning time in the evening.

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It got all the pampering it deserved

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All in readiness for the next drive!!!

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Until then, Drive safe!!!

 

P.S : After I forgot to carry my camera during the safari, I have decided to make this " All Mobile camera pictures only" trip. Sorry for the shady images if any :P 

 

 

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Nailed it. Great pictures.
Read the log three times, I believe such trips can be done who is very passionate.

Now you planted a solo drive bomb in my mind.

It will trigger at some point, very soon!

 

35 minutes ago, Ravi said:

I would travel solo for at least 1 week of the 52 weeks in a year.

 

I have done few Solo drives, usually I drive back home by night.

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9 minutes ago, Ranger said:
Nailed it. Great pictures.
Read the log three times, I believe such trips can be done who is very passionate.

Now you planted a solo drive bomb in my mind.
It will trigger at some point, very soon!
 
 
I have done few Solo drives, usually I drive back home by night.

 


Hehehe between Gowtham, i need new set of stickers. Had to remove the old ones, while waxing the car!

 

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2 minutes ago, Ravi said:

i need new set of stickers.

 

Sure, will pass them on the next meetup. 
We should plan a quick drive. 

Need some photography inputs from your end, will discuss with you and Omkar on this weekend. 

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Sure, will pass them on the next meetup. 
We should plan a quick drive. 
Need some photography inputs from your end, will discuss with you and Omkar on this weekend. 

Always at your service !
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Too good @Ravi I do have a habit of driving solo for as long as I can see the highway, but need to plan this kinda stuff sometime..!! Lot of Bairutly Jungle camp discussions / pictures around in the last couple of months, will have  to check this place out ASAP.

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Too good [mention=35]Ravi[/mention] I do have a habit of driving solo for as long as I can see the highway, but need to plan this kinda stuff sometime..!! Lot of Bairutly Jungle camp discussions / pictures around in the last couple of months, will have  to check this place out ASAP.

I suggest you to visit this place during summers! As per locals, the chances of spotting a tiger are higher during that time.
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2 minutes ago, Ravi said:


I suggest you to visit this place during summers! As per locals, the chances of spotting a tiger are higher during that time.

Oh! I always though opposite, In summers they generally do not get out and chances of spotting them are slim.. 

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In summers chances of spotting are high.

They come out for water.

Safari guys know the exact spot and timing.

 

In few forest reserves they create artificial pools for animals.

 

Density of tigers are very less in Nallamalla, one must be super lucky to spot a tiger.

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Oh! I always though opposite, In summers they generally do not get out and chances of spotting them are slim.. 

Tigers actually like the shade and coolness of a bamboo tree. During summers they rest under their shade.

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In summers chances of spotting are high.
They come out for water.
Safari guys know the exact spot and timing.
 
In few forest reserves they create artificial pools for animals.
 
Density of tigers are very less in Nallamalla, one must be super lucky to spot a tiger.

There are quite a few artificial ponds in the forest here. Also there are about 72 tigers in nalla malla as on june 2017
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@Ravi Brilliantly written bro. I had no idea that you done this trip until now. To my surprise, I've been wondering about when did this even happen even thought we catch up everyday :D

Now that you have done this solo, you are gonna become an inspiration to a many in this group. Keep revving. :cooler:

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[mention=35]Ravi[/mention] Brilliantly written bro. I had no idea that you done this trip until now. To my surprise, I've been wondering about when did this even happen even thought we catch up everyday
Now that you have done this solo, you are gonna become an inspiration to a many in this group. Keep revving. :cooler:

It just happened.
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19 hours ago, Ravi said:

Also there are about 72 tigers in nalla malla as on june 2017

 

Number of tigers are high in  Nallamalla forest.
Major Problem, Nallamalla forest is huge (low tiger density)


If they can increase the tiger density, It has potential to become a major tourist destination(Thadoba).

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Excellent write-up@Ravi
Good that you spotted pug marks and visited Gudem. I couldn't find pug marks there. And they didn't encourage me to walk deep inside the forest. I was with my parents probably that might be the reason. I also couldn't go to Gudem considering my car's GC.
After all Nallamalla Jungle Camps is the best place to visit from Hyderabad for wild experience.
According to Rajendra Prasad, tiger spottings are more in the summer season it would be good to plan that time around.

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Excellent write-up[mention=35]Ravi[/mention]
Good that you spotted pug marks and visited Gudem. I couldn't find pug marks there. And they didn't encourage me to walk deep inside the forest. I was with my parents probably that might be the reason. I also couldn't go to Gudem considering my car's GC.
After all Nallamalla Jungle Camps is the best place to visit from Hyderabad for wild experience.
According to Rajendra Prasad, tiger spottings are more in the summer season it would be good to plan that time around.

We could barely walk in such dense forests, GC is another issue!
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It was a wonderful experience reading through your post.

Your words, combined with your pictures are Inspiring.
 

Keep Inspiring people like me.
Would love to read more of your experiences. 


I'm back in Hyderabad, will catch up on the next drive meetup.

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brilliantly written.. awesome pictures.. I feel, one should spent at least few moments in solitude. That's the best time when you can talk to. yourself.

Once again, a lovely write up with some splendid pictures.. Thanks for sharing.!!

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Very nice @Ravi

You have great writing + photography skill.
Would love to read more from you.


I have given your plan to one of colleague.
He is planning to start this weekend.

Thank you for sharing.  

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      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:

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

    • By SK01
      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. 
       
      Dealership Experience: 
      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. 
       
      Capabilities:
      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... 
        Safety:
      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. 
       
      Road Trips:

      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.
       

       
      Srikrishna Bhavaraju
      A true Ford Lover


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