Travel

Making destinations on the way

Spectacular sight The overland truck Taurus seen against the Milky Way at Ladakh

Spectacular sight The overland truck Taurus seen against the Milky Way at Ladakh   | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

Capt Suresh Sharma introduced the concept of caravan travel in India as part of his efforts to spread the message of nature conservation through tourism and photography

While in the Indian Army, Capt Suresh Sharma got a chance to travel extensively within India and explore the beauty of its remote regions. Having served in the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka during the peak crisis period, he finally swapped his combat fatigues in 1990 for a photographer’s jacket and jungle boots. It was then that he decided to follow his passion of nature conservation through travel and photography and show the rest of the world what he had seen, in the most unusual way – through caravan travel. “I feel I am the chosen one, a medium to connect people with nature and show them the beauty of the world in its most extraordinary ways,” he says.

Overland truck Taurus

Also an expert on snakes, Capt Sharma worked on three documentaries for the National Geographic Society helping them film natural events difficult to document in the wild by creating simulated natural conditions under controlled environment to film the laying of snake eggs and other fascinating things of the wildlife. It was through all this that he discovered a special connect with nature and a whole new world of overland adventure, a travel concept popular in Europe and other western countries, and decided to chase his dream of pioneering the touring idea in India with a custom-made overland truck called Taurus.

In 2012, he purchased an Eicher 20.16 chassis to turn into a custom-built overland truck. After much research and equipping it with world-class equipment, its external transformation was complete and two years later, Taurus was ready to hit the roads. Incidentally, before Taurus became a reality he also made a caravan named as ‘King Cobra’ built for his family as their ‘home on wheels’. For last 14 years, he has clocked more than 1.37 lakh kms this ‘King Cobra’ with his family and friends.

Exploring remote places

“I went through my own set of challenges and financial difficulties. But that never stopped me from dreaming about making a self-contained mobile camping unit that would help people discover and appreciate nature. This was my time to pursue my passions like a free bird and travel to explore the best kept secrets of India in some remote magnificent places. We make destinations on the way. And while I do all that I also wanted to spread the message of nature conservation through photography and travel,” says Capt Sharma, who is in the city as the chief guest of the World Photography Day programme organised by Visakha Camera Club.

To raise funds for his nature conservation efforts, he founded Green Dot Expeditions – the most unique venture in Indian tourism and photography - that organises special tours and photo safaris for nature and wildlife enthusiasts with the overland truck Taurus. “The tours are designed to encourage people about life outdoors and follow sustainable conservation practices. For instance, we try to minimise the use of plastics and disposables and ensure the place visited remains clean and undisturbed after we depart,” says Capt Sharma, who hails from Chandigarh.

Photographer’s delight

Being a passionate photographer himself, the Captain was well aware of the challenges that photographers face trying to get to and find a place of stay at remote locations. Lugging heavy camera equipment around, figuring out a way to reach the place and also finding a safe camping site with the costly camera gears – these were issues that often come in the way of a seamless travel experience. That was the key idea behind Taurus, to offer photographers the road trip of a lifetime, driving them into some spectacular locations of the country like Ladakh and Rajasthan. Taurus can accommodate eight travellers and its typical trips that last for about 10 to 15 days or even more. Along with a well-equipped kitchen, a capacity to carry 700 litres of water, individual lockers and plenty of charging stations for travellers and photographers to charge their batteries, the unit has ‘on the move’ outdoor camping; roof-top-tents and four altogether new types of tray tents with foam mattresses, for single and double that are unique to Taurus. There are separate dome-tents for those who seek total privacy on such tours and comfortable camping chairs for outdoor seating.

While the Captain of Taurus manages practically everything single-handedly, he has a dedicated driver for the trips who also assists him to cook some of the best Indian dishes you have ever tasted. But he doesn’t shy away from going behind the wheels. “I want to be self-sufficient just like Taurus. In fact, I recently drove solo from Chandigarh to Leh through the fearsome Zoji La – an experience that made me respect nature and humankind more,” he says.

For Capt Sharma Taurus means much more than just an overland truck that takes travellers to dream destinations. “Photography has made me a better human being and Taurus has connected me with people across the globe in miraculous ways that only reinforces my trust in humanity. Through Taurus, I want to spread the message of humanity. And if you are passionate about life and nature and are a good human being, you are most welcome to come aboard Taurus,” he says. (To know more about Taurus and the expeditions, log in to greendotexpeditions.com)

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 8:21:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/making-destinations-on-the-way/article19524237.ece

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