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Mahindra Thar Fest tests the participant’s patience and skills with maximum toughness; it’s something more than just facing off-roading challenges

It was a breezy and cloudy afternoon when we landed in beautiful green city of Kochi, in the state so famously called the God’s own country. The temperatures were mild and comfortable, but there was adrenaline rushing through the veins thinking about our mission for what we were in the city. It was the Thar Fest, annual get together of Mahindra Thars from across the country.

Also known as the Mahindra Club Challenge, this event sees participation of several off-roading clubs from across India with their stunningly modified Thar off-roaders. Some events organised by Mahindra Adventure tests the skills of the expert drivers and of course the agility of these mean machines on four wheels. No wonder, thinking about it is enough to rejuvenate a motoring enthusiast after a tiring full work week.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-5The Thar Fest is not just an ordinary adventure event. For Thar owners and enthusiasts, it brings a chance to show the maximum extent of modification these machines can handle to overcome the tough challenges thrown at them. Also, it brings a chance for the Thar owners to build a strong camaraderie with each other and for enthusiasts like us, it is a chance to experience the Thars doing what they have been built for.

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It was raining – giving a strong vibe that the stage was all set and as the event was organised, the competition divided into two segments: a night leg and a day leg. The night leg was mud therapy for the Thars. An uneven field with slush, mud and ditches was ready to greet the Thars and us. The Thar Fest flagged off with around 30 Thars growling and fast pacing the hearts of the enthusiasts.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-7It didn’t take long for the Thars to taste the toughness laid ahead. It was not only mud and ditches, but another challenge for the participating drivers was collecting the flags from their poles without stepping foot on the ground. Not an easy task! While a few Thars and their drivers managed to perform the task with minimal trouble, major number of participants had to take help from their teammate, that include another Thar with another skilled driver. But, it was heartwarming to see no one gave up.

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The silent mood of the night shattered with the growling engines, screeching sounds, burning smell of tyres and diesel and also the nearly thousands of cheering crowd gathered around the venue. It was interesting to see how the crowd gathered there was constantly cheering the participants whenever they and their Thars were getting stuck in the muddy terrain.

2017 Mahindra Thar FestThe night leg was just the beginning of the action, as the next day stored more for us, Thars and participants. The breezy, comfortable night was over and it was a shiny day full of scorching heat and humidity. But, that was not enough to restrict the thousands of enthusiasts who have gathered to see the Mahindra Thars lining up for action. Not only the modified Thars from the participating clubs across India, several standard Thar owners also showed up to participate in a rally. The number was nearly 100, which was pretty amazing as it grew significantly compared to last year.

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In the day leg of the event there were several stages for the participants. These included crossing a ditch twice using narrow logs, driving through a water body, rocky terrain challenge and finally car crashing. All the eleven teams participated had their machines and expert drivers ready. All the three events, ditch challenge, rocky terrain challenge and driving through water body were going on at once. Every team brought several numbers of Thars for different challenges. The last one was the car crashing which certainly drew most attention and maximum number of crowds.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-6Well, it was not as easy as cakewalk for the Thars to overcome these challenges. Several Thars faced difficulties crossing the ditch using logs. The water body challenge certainly tested drivers’ patience and skill of off-roading. Winching and being rescued by another Thar after being stuck and spraying mud around while accelerating harder was very frequent for a number of Thars. But, the good thing was that the spirit of competition was there as always.

The final challenge of crashing the cars was certainly difficult considering the fact that the cars had to come down through an uneven lineup of dumped vehicles, tanker, truck bed, etc with huge tyres stacked on them making obstacles. This was the event that took most time for each participant to complete. Only a few managed to complete the task in the 15 minutes of allotted time. One of the participating Thars toppled as well invoking a thick cloud smoke and fear of injury. But thankfully there was no injury and everything was finished in a manner as it was supposed to be.

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As we already said, the Thar Fest is not only about adventures. But, it is a carnival for the Thar owners and enthusiasts. So, there was a rock concert as well in evening where the Goanese band A26 performed amidst huge crowd and many more apart from the award ceremony. So what were those? As it was a carnival of cars, there was everything automotive.

Mahindra Adventure displayed various customisation options for the Thar. The accessories available for the SUV were on display and on sale too for the buyers. Also, there was an online configurator through which interested Thar owners had option to check how their SUV would look with preferred accessories. Well, there was a Thar Ride-On on display too. A kid Thar you can say! Apart from that, Mahindra’s adventure tourer Mojo was also on display. No wonder, the brotherhood of Thar and Mojo goes pretty connected considering both are meant for traveling on rough roads.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-8While these were happening inside the CIAL Convention Centre Hall, outside there were loads of activities for the visitors. Thar means adventure and what can you expect at an event meant for Thar? Yes, there were adventurous activities like archery, rifle shooting and rock climbing as well. A quiz contest too and if we must say, it was all about Mahindra Thar. Itt was truly a weekend carnival revolving around Thar and for the Thar lovers.

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Mahindra is certainly one of the leading automakers in the country when it comes to organizing exciting events that bring its customers in one place and giving them a chance to build a sense of brotherhood. But, the Thar Fest is unique among all of those events. It was not about sports or competition, but testing one’s bravery, patience and of course driving skill.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-2The Mahindra Thar Fest was not only for the participants, but there was challenge for the media as well who were covering the event. The challenge was set in two different stages, one is driving through the water body and another stage was driving on heavily uneven ground with almost 60 degree incline and decline and that too in dark. While some of us faced challenges pretty tough, it was smooth like butter for others.

Like any other participant, we had to perform the tasks and believe me, it was not that we got some special treatment. But, apart from the challenges thrown at us, it was sheer excitement to drive those mean machines on rugged roads. No long drive through highway alongside coast can give that joy. Even after the event was over we were drooling over the things we saw and experienced in previous 48 hours.

2017 Mahindra Thar Fest-9A noteworthy point of the Thar Fest 2017 was how people are showing interest in off-roading. While participants came from far north east, enthusiasts arrived from various different cities to experience the high-octane event. Clearly that’s an encouraging sign for off-roading in India. The Mahindra Thar Fest is not only Thar lovers but for all off-roading enthusiasts and is a feast for eyes.

It was indeed a pleasure to be a part of that colourful and unique carnival and I personally would like to be a part of that again in the future. Until the next Thar Fest starts knocking at door, let’s cherish the memory of that shiny October day and hope to see some even more spectacular things at the next edition of Mahindra Club Challenge. Finally, to conclude this memoir, I must say thanks to Mahindra Adventure for such an wonderful experience of learning and outright fun.

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Mainak Das
Love for cars and bikes started with collecting die-cast models in childhood. Love to take getaway road trips. Travel fanatic. Apart from being an automobile journalist, I am very passionate about travel photography and story books. I dream to take wild and long road trips to the remotest and furthest corners of the country and beyond.