trip

Throwback: Jhal Magsi Rally 2014

Back in December  2014 Red Bull Pakistan invited me to cover Jhal Magsi Desert Challenge Race 2014 It’s a yearly race event between 4×4’s like the Dakkar rally and the Baja it is on a very smaller scale compared to those events but is the most challenging of all 4×4 rally in Pakistan. I was so excited to witness this rally race on the track. The adventure starts on the morning of 20th Dec. We left Karachi at 7pm and reached Hyderabad after 2 hours then we stopped at Al-Zaib Resturant at 10am for breakfast.

Our breakfast

Our breakfast

Here I met the famous Sabir Shah aka @AsliBinLaden

Jhal Magsi Rally

@AslibinLaden

Then we left for longest road trip of my life till now. We stopped at some restaurant outside Larkana for dinner at 6.30pm.

Tikkain and Maash Daal

Tikkain and Maash Daal

For first time I’ve tried Tikkain and Rosh. Tikkain was served with minced meat and fry kaleeji while Rosh is like Paya but they served piece of Rosh with minced meat, usually Rosh was served with the soup in which they cooked it for 4 hrs. Rosh was delicious and not so spicy while tikkain is dry and maash daal was okay. We left Shahdadkot at 7.30pm and then we reached Jhal Magsi after 16 hrs. At 2.30am they turned off all the lights were switched off. I thought this was the best moment to capture some night sky shots at Jhal Magsi. Orion constellation and Sirius (the brightest star system in the earth’s night sky) which was above our heads while Jupiter was rising from the East.

Night sky at Jhal Magsi

Night sky at Jhal Magsi

We slept at 4am and woke up at 7.30am. After freshen up we went back side of our tents where drivers were staying in their camps to photograph their vehicles. I was amazed to see those vehicles and how they modified them for the track.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Toyota Tundra

One of the driver told us that there is a delay in race and now it will start at 10.30am due to fog. So we went to the starting point.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Initial Starting Point

And here we are at the Red Bull starting point where Ronnie Patel was waiting in his 4×4. It was one massive crowd waiting for race to start while media personals were setting their equipment. That was the initial starting point for the race but due to fog they shifted it to the other point which was 10km away from this point and the track was shortened to 100kms.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Ronnie Patel – runner up of 2013 race

So we headed out with our driver Mustafa to the new starting point in his Land Cruiser. It was one bumpy ride as he was driving off-road with the speed upto 120kms. At times it feels like we are part of this race.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Our driver Mustafa

The race starts at 11.45am. Every driver was leaving with some difference of time. This year 48 drivers were participating in different categories. I was so excited to see this action live on track.

Jhal Magsi Rally

and this was the second starting point

Red Bull gives us the opportunity to explored different parts of this track including some jumps and the Muller River crossing so we can experience this race more closely.

Jhal Magsi Rally

after the jump

This was the first shot I’ve captured while standing near the jump. It’s bit hard to see them coming, all you can see is the dust cloud coming towards you. Here I’ve seen one of the best lift kits. After that we went to Muller River crossing. Where one massive crowd waiting for cars to passing by the river crossing.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Making splashes through the Muller River

Then we headed towards the desert side of the track which was the tricky one due to the slippery sand and many drivers were stuck at this point.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Making his way through the slippery sand.

The race ends at 5pm. Then there was a prize distribution ceremony at 8pm. Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi and Marvi Memon were the chief guest. For the first they’ve introduced Ladies category in this race and this year only two ladies drivers were participating.

Jhal Magsi Rally

From left: Tushna Patel, Marvi Memon and Maliha Elahi

Tushna Patel was the winner of Ladies category with time 2.03.34. She is the wife of Ronnie Patel and she was the first female ever to participate in the 9th Cholistan Jeep Rally 2014. She received her prize from Marvi Memon.

Jhal Magsi Rally

From left: Mian Farooq (co-driver), Tushna Patel and Marvi Memon

Speedtrap was won by Zafar Magsi and Luqman from team Red Bull is giving him his prize money.

Jhal Magsi Rally

Next morning we left Jhal Magsi at 9am and after 14 hrs of road trip we were back in Karachi at 11pm. The event was very well organized by Red Bull and their team. More pictures of this trip are uploaded here.

Advertisements

Stargazing and Astrophotography trip with KaAS

As we usually do our Urban stargazing sessions with Ramiz and Shaheryar on Zain Bhai’s building roof but recently I got an invitation to the Stargazing and Astrophotography trip with KaAS. I was so excited for my second stargazing trip and Astrophotography trip with Karachi Astronomers’ Society (KaAS). At my first trip with KaAS in December I couldn’t see the Milky Way clearly cos galactic center of the Milky Way is visible from March till October as we are in the Northern Hemisphere. This time we have Talha Ghouri who will be giving us Astrophotography tips to us and to his students.  It was quite hot at that time in Karachi as 40C was predicted temperature for that day. As I reached the pickup point. I see this

our coaster

our coaster

We left at 1pm and reached 3pm at Mirpur Sakro. On our way I’ve seen these beautiful sunflower fields. These trips provide us an opportunity to get close the nature and escape to our hectic schedule.

sunflower fields

sunflower fields

The weather took a dramatic turn while we were on our way and it was all cloudy and windy by the time we reached Mirpur Sakro. After we reached our final destination we put down our bags and introduced ourselves to each other then they distribute certificates followed by a group photo.

From left: Hanif Bhatti with Ramiz Qureshi holding his certificate

From left: Hanif Bhatti with Ramiz Qureshi holding his certificate

 

A Group Photo - photo courtesy Abubaker Siddiq

A Group Photo – photo courtesy Abubaker Siddiq

After that we had lunch then we went on a short trip to the fields to find some birds but they were all flown away. We were back at the venue before the sunset. It was all cloudy and we thought we can’t see anything tonight. So we were praying for the clear skies. After 8pm clouds were scattered and the Moon appeared and we witnessed this breathtaking very rare Moon Halo.

Moon Halo with Jupiter

Moon Halo with Jupiter

That was an optical phenomenon where a circle with a radius of approximately 22° formed around the Sun or the Moon. We have seen the Planet Jupiter and the star Procyon of Canis Minor and Pollux and the Castor the heads of the twins in the Gemini constellation and the star Alhena left foot of the twin Pollux in the Gemini constellation. Now there was some clouds in the west rest of the sky was clear. After that I tried to spot the Polaris to make the star trail. In the dark skies its bit hard to spot the star you are looking for. So I found the Polaris – the star that never changed its position it. In ancient times people used this star to find their location when they were lost in the sea or in the desert.

Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major

Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major

So there was the Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major (Big Dipper) on the left corner. After that I spin those stars….

Star Trail

Star Trail

As you can see that the Polaris doesn’t change its position. There was a public stargazing session going on the other end with the 6 inch & 8 inch Skywatcher telescopes where I’ve seen Saturn rings, Omega Centauri or NGC 5139 which is a globular cluster in the constellation of Centaurus and other star clusters.

6" Skywatcher Telescope at the venue

6″ Skywatcher Telescope at the venue

After 3am the Milky Way Galaxy was starting to appear in the South near the Scorpius constellation so I moved my camera towards it and start capturing its beauty.

Our Milky Way Galaxy with Planet Saturn

Our Milky Way Galaxy with Saturn (not stacked)

Alhamdulillah! I’ve seen this breathtaking view of Milky Way Galaxy. Later we went to another trip to the fields to find some good location to photograph the Milky Way but it was bit cloudy again but we managed to get our group photo thanks to Ramiz Qureshi.

A group photo with the Milky Way thanks to Ramiz

A group photo with the Milky Way thanks to Ramiz

I really had a great time on this stargazing trip with KaAS. Finally I’ve seen the Milky Way Galaxy. It was so good to meet people with mutual interest as we have more than 70 people on this trip including a SIUT surgeon. All were so amazed after seeing the stars in the dark skies and KaAs members helped them to understand the deep sky objects such as star clusters, nebulae and the galaxies. Looking forward to more stargazing trips with KaAS.

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Karachi Astronomers’ Society (KaAS) usually conduct public stargazing and sun viewing sessions in the city to educate people about astronomy, cosmology and astrophotography using everything from ordinary binoculars to high end astronomical equipment.

You can find more details about upcoming public sessions and stargazing trips on their facebook page: www.facebook.com/KarachiAstronomy