Thanks to the big idea of a former army officer, India might gear up to travel the new way.
In overland truck expeditions, Captain Suresh Sharma of Chandigarh brings a new concept to the domestic market from Africa. He offers to let you take on rugged terrain aboard a vehicle turned into self-contained movable world, with passenger seats; kitchen with enough foods and water; space for camping and leisure equipment; luggage lockers; and washroom all attached.
Sharma quit as short service commission officer in the army only to get into shooting with a camera and travelling, his passions. “The tour will give the travellers a thrill that only going into the wild can offer,” he says. “Where else do you see a wild elephant sloshing its way across the waterway.”
Besides the simple joys of travel, passengers explore unfamiliar cultures and the excitement of capturing rare photographs. “It is an overland photo tour, where my role is of a mentor and guide,” says captain Sharma, whose photographs were included in the coffee table book “The Indian Army: An Illustrated Overview”, which the defence minister had released in September 2007.
Many of his photographs have also made it to reputed newspapers, magazines, textbooks and websites. His next coffee table book is about fighter aircraft MiG-21. In his overland adventure venture Green Dot Expeditions, the support of his wife, homoeopathic doctor Rajbir Kaur, has made the journey smoother.
In the past three years, the couple has detailed every aspect of the expedition and engineered equipment to need. Push-back seats, thick mattresses under the on-board roof-top prefabricated tent canopies, an LED monitor, and a library are a few of the overlander’s many features.
“The on-board outdoor studio equipment comes handy to capture unannounced delights such as a camel trader cooking food with family over sand dunes,” says captain Sharma, who has logged more than 1-lakh kilometres in the country in his self-designed caravan (he maintains a logbook). Of late, he delivered a talk in New Delhi on “caravan tourism: India by road”, which the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry had organised.
His first overland expedition takes off next month, to Kullu, Teerthan Valley and Manali, for 10 days. In winter, the destinations are warmer Rajasthan and coastal India.