I have always been a fan of road trips, which is natural being a car enthusiast. I have done quite a bit of them till date but none of them have ever been challenging. Having watched a number of TV shows featuring driving adventures through the country’s most unforgiving terrain, there was an undying urge to do something like that myself. So when Mahindra Adventure called and asked if I wanted to be a part of the 2018 Edition of their Himalayan Spiti Escape, I just couldn’t refuse. An 8 day driving expedition (excluding arrival and departure days) with a bunch of 4×4 Mahindra SUVs, what more could I ask for? Mahindra Adventure has a yearly calendar featuring a number of expeditions of which the Spiti Escape is one. My dates were confirmed from the 8th to 18th of September 2018 and after getting confirmations and flight tickets, the long wait began. I spent the days building up to the departure by watching videos from previous editions of the expedition just to know what to expect. The wait was killing me to be honest, such was the excitement. After all, I hadn’t done anything like this before.
Day 1 – Arrival in Chandigarh
A morning flight from Mumbai landed me in the beautiful city of Chandigarh on 8th Sept. Checked into the Welcom Hotel Bella Vista situated on the outskirts at Panchkula followed by a late lunch and some rest. The evening comprised of a briefing by multiple National Rally Champion Hari Singh and his Drivetech India team along with Manish Sarser from Mahindra Adventure. A meet and greet between all the participants followed and 4×4 Mahindra Scorpios were allotted to all the teams by means of a lucky draw. The fleet comprised of slightly used S10 and brand new S11 spec Scorpios and the biggest surprise was when Manish told me that I would be driving a brand new Mahindra Thar for my journey. My immediate question was “There is a music system right?” and Manish nodded in the affirmative. I immediately went to the basement parking of the hotel to check out my steed and it looked quite awesome with its radio antenna on the bonnet.Heck even the plastic from the seats hadn’t been taken off. And the sound system had Bluetooth connectivity..Yay!! Backpacks filled with snacks, chocolates etc. along with a personal water bottle were handed over to everyone. A set of Mahindra merchandise that comprised of a jacket (this would be needed in the days to come), t-shirt and cap were also given to all. We also got a small booklet which contained the entire itinerary of the expedition and photos and names of the officials and participants. Dinner was served post briefing and a start time of 8 am was announced by Hari for the next day. Everyone retired to their rooms early including yours truly waiting for the next day.