Delhi-Pushkar Road Trip: Desert, Lake & A Land Rover Discovery Sport
Here's how is it like when you do a weekend getaway road trip in a Rs 52 lakh 7-seater petrol-powered SUV.
We took the Land Rover Discovery Sport on an epic road trip. (Photo: News18.com)
Ever since I was a kid, any ‘getaway’ that I would think of would almost always include travelling in a car. The destinations and scenarios et al changed over time but the idea of driving to the destination remained unchanged. And, if the drive to the destination holds as much of an importance for you as the destination itself, then you would understand how big of a difference having the right car for the trip could make.
The car should offer comfort and, at the same time, should be capable of tackling any driving scenarios, weather conditions and terrain. That’s where the Land Rover Discovery Sport enters the picture. Meant to be the replacement to the iconic Land Rover Freelander – which is known as one of the most capable SUVs to be ever made – it had a lot of expectations to meet and what better way to understand the Discovery Sport than to take it for a road trip?
The only thing left to decide was the ‘when’ part of the equation. Hence, the nearest weekend was zeroed on and the destination on Discovery Sport’s navigation was set to Pushkar, near Ajmer, Rajasthan. The starting point was Faridabad, just outside of Delhi – which is 410 kilometres away from Pushkar – and the estimated drive duration was about 7 hours 30 minutes.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport doing the duty was the HSE Si4 offering in the 5+2 seating trim. This is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that churns out an impressive 240 horsepower and 340 Nm of torque which is served as low as 1750 RPM. The engine comes mated to a slick 9-speed automatic transmission. To put it in simple words, this makes the 2.6-tonne SUV capable of reaching a top speed of 200 km/h and can do 0-100 km/h dash in just 8.2 seconds. Sweet.
The day started on a relatively cool Saturday at 4 AM. The idea was to skip as much Gurgaon traffic as possible early in the morning.
The 70-litre fuel tank was filled to the brim and it was time to go.
We started our journey on a relatively cool Saturday morning. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com
The drive was going to be a long one and getting the right driving position can make things so much easier. The 10-way electronically adjustable seats as well as the reach and height adjustable steering wheel offered driving position customisation to a great extent.
After successfully skipping the heavy traffic areas early in the morning, the Rover was set on Cruise control. Given the size of the car, we expected it to feel like a boat on the highway with vertical movement on high speed and body roll during the turns but that was not the case. It was planted and the ride quality was confidence inducing as the car almost always felt that it can take the roads 10 km/h faster than expected.
After driving for almost four hours into the journey and crossing Jaipur via the bypass road, it was time for some for food (yay!). We pulled over to one of the popular eating points and refuelled ourselves before moving on with the journey.
We stopped for breakfast at one of the most popular dhabas along our way. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
After this point, it is pretty much a straight road until Kishangarh from where we left NH 48 and onto NH 448 towards the Pushkar Bypass road.
Just before we reached our destination the low-fuel warning on the instrument cluster display popped up and started our hunt for a fuel station. Luckily, there was one close by and the long refuel began – exactly 59.99 litres of petrol was poured into the tank to fill it up completely, again.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport's tank was almost empty by the time we reached Pushkar. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
Since it was a small weekend getaway and we planned on spending most of the time outside the hotel, booking a hotel made little sense. We chose to stay at Madpackers Hostel which was not only economical but also had a Rajasthani touch to it with artsy interiors that you could ogle at for hours. Also, there was a rooftop seating arrangement for stargazing at night and from where you had a very good view of the parking lot and trust us, when you have a car like this in a town you don’t belong to, a safe parking spot is more comforting than we can explain.
We stayed at Madpackers Hosterl in Pushkar. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
Ideally, we should have rested but it turns out there was a cricket bat and a ball lying in the boot of the car. So, as the sun was setting, we spent almost two hours playing cricket with the very friendly staff at the hostel. They won the match, several times, but that’s okay as we had the excuse of being ‘tired visitors’.
After which it was time for dinner (yay again!).
The staff at the hostel recommended having food at an Israeli restaurant which was a stone throw away. We don’t remember the names of the dishes we ordered but the food was oh-so-good that we had a lot of it.
For dinner, there was some of the best Israeli food that Pushkar has to offer. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
The day was ended at one of the Ghats, there are 52 of them around there, sitting by the cold breeze coming from the sacred Pushkar lake.
The lake, also called Pushkar Sarovar, is described in Hindu scriptures as ‘Tirtha-Raj’ – the king of pilgrimage sites related to a water-body and relate it to the mythology of the Hindu creator-god Brahma, who’s most prominent temple stands in Pushkar. The lake finds mention on coins as early as the 4th century BC and over 500 temples are situated around it.
After a comfortable night’s sleep at the beautiful hostel, it was now day 2 and there were a few things that we wanted to do before setting off for Delhi.
As you might have guessed by now, we really enjoy having food. Usually, we’d keep the breakfast light but then we came across a Pizzeria and ended up ordering a huge Pizza, followed by dessert and a very soothing lemon slush.
The very soothing lemon slush. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
On our way back to the hostel after the breakfast, we decided to stop by another Ghat and just soak in the vast and beautiful scenery that Pushkar has to offer.
Pushkar is filled with mesmerising views. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
Back at the hostel we quickly hopped in the car and went to check out one very interesting location.
There are several canals built around Pushkar, probably for harvesting rainwater, but it seemed it had not rained for a while as they were completely dry. Hence, a canal run in a Land Rover Discovery Sport? Why not!
Yep, the canal run in the Land Rover Discovery Sport was as cool as it looks. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
Yes, it was as cool as it looks in the picture above. But the coolest thing, or perhaps, the hottest, both literally and figuratively, was still left to be done.
Before you know what it was, here’s the why.
The biggest attraction in one of the oldest existing cities in India, other than its mythological importance, is the Pushkar annual fair. It is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country that goes on for five days where animals, including over 50,000 camels, are brought to be traded and sold. To hold such a fair you need a vast stretch of land, which in this case, is the huge Pushkar Desert.
The Land Rover Discovery felt at home in the desert. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
Luckily for us, the fair was still months away which meant if we went the distance, we would have the desert just for the Land Rover – a perfect playground for the little beast by the British automaker. And the distance we went.
The Discovery Sport comes with Terrain Response System which allows the driver to set the car’s engine, transmission, differentials, traction control and drivetrain as per the requirement by choosing from several driving modes – namely General Driving mode, Grass, Gravel, Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand.
We put it into ‘Sand’ mode, turned the Traction Control off and fell in love with the baby Rover.
It had the right amount of control and stability, the steering felt direct and precise and the feedback from the car lets you know exactly what the car’s mechanics are going through and how the car is responding. The car felt happy, at home and was doing one of the many things it is meant to do – a proper SUV at heart. It inspires so much confidence that it will make you feel like a professional driver even though it is the car that’s doing all the magic.
The next thing we know is that while seated inside a plush cabin, we are giving a 7-seater SUV a Scandinavian flick and the car is more than happy to let the rear-end slide out. What an experience.
A long drive back home was still left for the day and we running out of sunlight. So, hesitantly, we headed back to our hostel.
Following the desert run, the car needed a wash. So we got to it.
It is during this time that we realised just how huge the SUV. To give you an idea, despite standing on all four door sills to wipe the sunroof off of all dust, we still couldn’t wipe all of it. Still, doing as much as we can, we cleaned the car properly and also the brakes of all the dust that might have set on the discs, and brought the car back to its bold yet gorgeous appearance.
Washing the Land Rover Discovery was a task but it deserves it. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
We were taking the same route back to Delhi so we won’t talk much about the roads again. We left at around 5 in the evening from Pushkar, put the car back on cruise control and also turned the Eco mode on for optimum drivetrain response for better efficiency. It was hard to believe that it was the same luxurious SUV that was tackling heaps of sand with ease just a while ago.
Giving us company was a hand-picked playlist of songs which couldn’t have sounded better thanks to wonderful 10-speaker (plus subwoofer) 380 Watts sound system which can be operated via the steering mounted controls or the smooth and responsive touchscreen infotainment system.
After driving for four hours straight, it was time to take a break and have some food. We stopped at the same dhaba as we had stopped while coming to Pushkar.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport on its way back to Delhi. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
It was at that time, at around 8:30 PM, that we realised that we could get stuck in a massive traffic jam just before Manesar if we don’t cross that stretch before the heavy vehicles are allowed to enter the city.
It was time to make a run for it.
And so we did.
Remember the part where we spoke about the turbocharged petrol engine and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 8.2 seconds? It was time to put the ‘Sport’ in the Discovery Sport to test.
We put the car into ‘Sport’ mode and went for it. The transmission was now being controlled manually by the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel and we were doing speeds that cannot be talked about. The music was turned down as well, because to our surprise, the car has a very sweet exhaust note when you give it the berries.
There was a bit of a body roll, of course, but that’s about it. The grip on offer was immense and the suspension was more than impressive. The gear shifts from the dual-clutch gearbox were quick and as a whole, it performed way better than a 2.6-tonne SUV should, living up to the ‘Sport’ in its name.
We had crossed Manesar well in time and with that, also skipped the dreaded traffic jam and the car was put back to regular driving mode.
Just as we crossed Gurgaon, almost 400 kilometres into the trip, the 70-litre fuel tank of this hungry beast was asking for a refill once again. After doing the needful, the car was back to where it all began almost 36 hours ago – home.
The Land Rover Discovery after the almost 1000 kilometre road trip. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)
It then sank in that the car has done so much, in so many scenarios and delivered on so many expectations and yet managed to not let itself down even for a second. From being the biggest baddest SUV at Madpackers Hostel’s parking lot to being a luxurious highway mile muncher after drifting in the sand.
It is a ‘Range Rover’ at heart that’s a ‘Discovery’ of your adventure dreams that promise to make it come true in very ‘Sport’-y fashion.
Throughout the journey which lasted almost 1000-kilometres, the car was a happy companion and we can’t wait to take it out to somewhere special once again.
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