Bolting our way to Neemrana Fort #BoltDrives

“How much driving experience do you have, Antarik?” Arvind Sir asked me from the backseat.

“Frankly, not much,” I nervously replied.

“Don’t worry. Just be calm and drive,” he told me.

I kept my attention on the road, the speedometer close to 90 and the highway almost empty on the Sunday afternoon.

It had been a surprise when I had received an email from Blogadda a week ago inviting me to be part of a test-drive experience of the new Bolt from Tata Motors. Going by the minimal driving experience I have and the lack of confidence generated mostly by the paranoia of my family members (that I would crash the car), my response had been reluctant. I responded to the email saying I wouldn’t be comfortable driving a new car all by myself. A little communication over the next couple of days and my excitement of getting to drive a car without any of the ‘paranoia’ made sure I finally agreed to be part of this first-time experience.

The Godfather Lounge at Hotel Galaxy, Gurgaon #BoltDrives
Came Sunday morning and I was headed to the Galaxy Hotel in Gurgaon, the start point of the drive to Neemrana Fort & Palace. It was a warm welcome at The Godfather Lounge of the hotel where I was handed over a goodie bag and got to know about my team members and co-drivers. To my surprise, I was to join two fellow bloggers who I have known after having met a couple of times at previous blogging events.

A round of introductions of all the bloggers began the pre-drive session, followed by Mr. Inderpreet Sethi from Tata Motors explaining the various features of the Tata Bolt with a short presentation. He showed us all the unique features of the car that we ought to try during the drive later.

After a sumptuous lunch, we were all set for the flag off of the Bolts. We- ‘sporty’ Sangita, ‘aagyaakari’ Arvind and ‘animated’ Antarik- were Team Revotron 2, driving the petrol version of the Bolt for the first leg of the journey. Accompanying us for the drive was Kapil, our team leader and guide.

Sangita Maam took the driver’s seat and soon enough we were flagged off for the first activity at the leisure valley ground at HUDA. The scene greeting us when we reached the ground brought a big smile on my face. Right before us, was set what looked like an obstacle path, exactly like ones seen on reality TV shows. The task was to take the car through the path and over the speedbreakers and check it for a suspension test. We had to simply join the dots on a paper while the car was driven right over the bumpy breakers. We fared quite well in the test. Check out the video below:

After this we were headed straight on the highway towards Neemrana Fort. Joining us through phone calls was Captain Bolt, who enquired about our experience of the car at regular intervals and kept us entertained. We initially had a little trouble connecting to the navigation system on board and receiving Bluetooth calls simultaneously. Still not sure what the problem was.

I had taken the back seat for this first leg of the journey. The Bolt’s Revotron engine seemed to be working fine, considering we were at a constant speed of around 90-100 kmph throughout the stretch. The seats were comfortable, although I felt the air-conditioning wasn’t effective in the back seat for the initial few minutes. The outside temperature was close to 45 degrees that afternoon by the way! The hosts did a great job by putting an ice box in the car filled with water and juices along with cookies.

As the red Bolts zoomed through the highway, the camera team made an appearance. We realised we were being video taped. Not to forget, there was a GoPro camera set on the dashboard of the car. I am still wondering, who was watching us. :D

We had a mid-way pit stop at Aravali Resorts for refreshments and change of cars and drivers. I was finally on the driver’s seat for the nearly 50 kilometres stretch to Neemrana Fort.

Pit stop at Aravali Resorts, mid-way to Neemrana Fort, Rajasthan #BoltDrives

Now we were in the Diesel version of the Bolt. I spent a good couple of minutes just sitting behind the wheel and examining all the controls, accessibility and ease of movement. The gears and pedals seemed smooth and I didn’t feel the need to try and adjust to the cockpit of a new car, the way it usually is whenever I am driving a new car model. Soon, we had our seatbelts strapped and were bolting our way through NH 8 to our destination.

I wanted to try out the City, Eco and Sports modes of the car, but that was when I realised it was a feature of the petrol version only which we had tried out successfully earlier. I noticed, the call answer/reject and SMS read out buttons were on the steering itself, which was convenient.

I was a little nervous, no denying that, but the empty highway and smooth functioning of the car’s controls kept the nervousness at bay. We finally took the exit from the highway towards Neemrana town and I had to carefully manoeuvre our way through the crowded street before hitting the uphill narrow path to the fort. Uphill climbs are too risky if the engine goes off midway. And it did for me just before I had to take the U-turn for the parking.

“Do you want one of us to take it from here on?” Sangita Maam asked me.

I was going to nod in affirmation but right then Arvind Sir replied, “Let him drive. He will do it.” And that was enough to boost my confidence.

I swiftly put the hand brake down and accelerated. The car moved and quite easily I was able to take the uphill U-turn and park the Bolt at the designated spot. A big smile spread on my face. I had done it!

The Victory Picture, Neemrana Fort, Rajasthan #BoltDrives
It was past 5 and we made our way to the Neemrana Fort. The temperature was not going down anytime soon and we were taken to Jalgiri. After a few minutes of relaxation, we went for a short tour of the fort. Photography time.

Panoramic View, Neemrana Fort and Palace, Rajasthan #BoltDrives

We were back at Jalgiri where High Tea was served while all the bloggers were interviewed on camera about their Bolt driving experience. A trip to Rajasthan can never miss the traditional folk music. This was followed by the announcement of the winner of the best photo contest running through the day and one of the bloggers in attendance won a brand new Tata Bolt for her entry to a previous contest running on Blogadda. That was a moment to capture the look on each of the blogger’s faces- the winner was shocked and everyone else was too amazed- apparently, it was for the first time that an Indian blogger had won a new car by writing a blog post! :D

15 Bolted Bloggers #BoltDrives Picture Courtesy: Blogadda
It was nightfall by then and the Neemrana Fort complex lights were put on. It was a sight to be seen. We made our way back to the parking area to drive back.

Neemrana Fort at dusk, View from Jalgiri #BoltDrives
Accompanied by a good playlist of songs pre-loaded in the tablet attached to the touch enabled interactive system on the dashboard, we made our way back to Gurgaon. Captain Bolt now had a little surprise quiz planned for us that led to me winning bookmyshow vouchers.

The red Bolts all lined up at the toll plaza on the way back #BoltDrives
Thankfully, this being a Sunday, the highway wasn’t as packed with trucks as we had expected and our journey back was comfortably completed in less than 2 hours. We had to take a group picture at the end of the day.

I thanked Arvind Sir and Sangita Maam for their confidence boost. I thanked Harish from Blogadda for persuading me to join the drive. I thanked the hosts for their amazing hospitality.

15 Bloggers. 5 Tata Bolts. One smooth drive bolting our way through NH 8 to Neemrana- It was an experience to remember.

A Sunday well spent at #BoltDrives with BOLT from TATA Motors in association with BlogAdda.


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