NEW DELHI/JAISALMER: The beauty of visiting a place unscripted is challenging yet lets you explore at your own pace. The Jaisalmer Fort erected almost 850 years ago is a towering impression of craftsmanship and sustainability. More so, this crown of the Thar desert is considered as a living fort, supporting civilisation to thrive in and circling it.
In my first visit to the desert city, the experience behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz GLA 220D 4Matic was emotionally enigmatic. The dimensional expansion of GLA, which the German carmaker considers fit for off-road excursions, is a welcome delight in terms of more space for passengers and luggage.

While the efficient 2-litre diesel engine purred effortlessly on the highways, the 4Matic system comfortably tackled the twisted roads leading up to the fort. People here are warm, welcoming, stay in a close-knit society and have a knack for walking an extra yard to help each other. The golden hue of the township is a sight to behold as soon as the first ray of sunlight falls on it.
Kathputli or string puppets are integral to Rajasthan’s culture. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are the main centres of commerce for puppeteers. The Bhatt community makes these puppets as well as performs with them. A gradually shrinking business, Covid has been at the helm of diffusing the puppet business. If you wish to understand the process of making a puppet or understand the lives of artisans, as was our case, visit Gafur Bhatta where a bunch of huts on either side of an unplastered road house a dozen Bhatt families.

GLA, fit for off-road excursions, as Mercedes-Benz likes to put out, is confident dispatching small to moderate road undulations and when driven carefully, can take a beating on broken paths. Away from the flocking crowd, the GLA stared at the wind farms, soaking the view of hundreds of turbines harnessing the power of wind energy.
The route maps hindered by the patchy network on the cell phone could be overlooked. GLA, a connected car, displays its own navigation suite on the floating, twin 12.25-inch HD displays. The GLA raced on the road connecting Jaisalmer and Sam Sand Dunes, I cared less. Windows were down and sunroof pulled back, the wind soaking the warmth of the setting sun dissipated the exhaustion of a long drive as it brushed against my face.

Well, not to forget, the exact joy of owning a GLA could be no lesser, knowing the 8-year warranty Mercedes is offering on the engine and transmission.
Model: GLA 220D 4Matic
Engine: 1,950-cc, in-line, four-cylinder
Output: 190hp, 400 Nm
Transmission: 8-speed AT
Kilometres driven: 1889
Mileage: 15.4 kmpl
Price: Rs 48.58 lakh (ex-showroom)


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