Mahindra wasn’t kidding when they named this particular event as the Monsoon Challenge. Hosted in the southern part of India, the Monsoon Challenge lets you truly experience the intensity and beauty of Indian monsoons in all its glory. The 2017 edition of the Monsoon Challenge was held as a drive from Mangalore in Karnataka to Panaji in Goa. Now when you think of a route like this, you’re usually thinking of taking a straight and direct expressway route from A to B. And while that would be the quickest route, Monsoon Challenge 2017 had a different route charted out that would let us drive little on expressways and national highways and more on state highways while taking us through the lush green environs of Karnataka. In the process, taking us through rather beautiful and untouched landscapes of the region in all its monsoon beauty. And to make things interesting, Mahindra hosts the Monsoon Challenge to be a Time, Speed, Distance rally that allows Mahindra customers to bring in their own Mahindra car and take part in the event.
We landed in Mangalore on the 23rd of June and I was introduced to the car I would be driving for the next two days, a diesel Mahindra KUV100. I’ve always been amused by Mahindra’s smallest offering that is styled to look like an SUV, but I had never actually driven one, so this was bound to be interesting over our pre- charted 650 km journey.
The next morning, we were flagged off from Mangalore. We were given a route navigation map by Mahindra that we had to follow to the T. Now, my rally partner and navigator, Kirti Patil and I were probably the two most clueless participants in this rally. As we found out before the flag off, some rather experienced and well equipped participants were present here with professional navigational and TSD calculation equipment hooked to their cars. No matter though, so we reset our trip meter and went on our way. It wasn’t all that bad really, we followed the correct route out of the city. And with factors like refuelling calculated in, Kirti did a brilliant job of factoring in the extra kilometres on the odometer.
After a while we drove off the national highway and went off onto the TSD route where Marshals were there to start the clock for us. All I decided to do was follow the average speeds given to us on the map and we weren’t doing too badly. We knew this for we were following a competitor who was supposed to be ahead of us and kept our distance from him. Mahindra was careful enough to give us free zones over national highways to ensure safety and that we did not become a hindrance to traffic. Over the other far less populated state highways and B roads of Karnataka it was safe carry out the rally.
As we went in and out of free zones and tried to match the TSD requirements, I realized something. We were concentrating too much on the job at hand and were barely soaking in the beautiful environs of Karnataka. It was raining non-stop and our entire surroundings were gorgeous lush green landscapes. Thankfully, our media TSD section ended sooner than for regular participants so we did get a little time to soak in the views and enjoyed the hilly route. Leg 1 of the Monsoon Challenge took us on the route from Mangalore to Murdeshwar via Moodbidri, Siddapura, Nittur.
But before we got to enjoy this too much we reached our overnight halt at Murdeshwar. That evening Kirti and I realized that (how do I put this nicely), we weren’t exactly the top performers at the rally. Nevertheless, here is a look at the top performers of Leg 1 of the 2017 Mahindra Monsoon Challenge in their respective categories - Sanjay Takale and Mohammed Mustafa led the Open Class, Vinay BP and Ravi Kumar BM took top spot in the Challenge Class and Baiju Stephen and Kumar M reigned supreme in the Corporate Class.
And with that, the next morning we decided to take it easy on the rally and actually enjoy the Indian monsoon at its best. We refuelled, Kirti recalculated and we were on the way. But after a while we messed up and took a wrong turn. Thankfully though, some other participants had made the same mistake so we got back on route quickly enough. By now Kirti and I were busy enjoying the views. Karnataka is a truly clean state as we found out while driving through villages located literally in the middle of nowhere as we drove through our designated route that went from Murdeshwar to Panaji via Honnavar, Hadinbal, Jog Falls, Kumta. There were times (briefly when the rain would stop) when you could see across the horizon without any human settlements in sight. As we reached Panaji early in the evening our two-day drive stretching across the lush green landscape of Karnataka was at an end. And while we may not have performed optimally at the TSD rally, the Monsoon Challenge gave us a nice opportunity to see parts of the country we would never have otherwise seen for the route was a well charted out one that abandoned the National Highways for the most part and took us through some very scenic areas.
As for the results of Leg 2 of 2017 Mahindra Monsoon Challenge. Winners were declared in three main categories consisting of Open Class, Challenge Class and Corporate Class. Sanjay Takale and Mohammed Mustafa grabbed top spot in the Open Class, Vinay BP and Ravi Kumar BM in Challenge Class and Santhosh Kumar and Pradeep Nagaraj in Corporate Class.