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Old 11th August 2016, 09:40   #91
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Default Part 1 - Patnitop (J&K) to Kalka (Haryana)

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I see driving in plains as a necessary evil.
It is necessary to link mountains to mountains. So before starting for this trip i knew the boring bit i.e. Patnitop to Shimla would have to be dealt with. My navigator was arriving by Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi on a Saturday and I had to pick him up at Kalka at 2110. This meant an overnight halt at Kalka, because
  • We wanted to be rested for the long road trip ahead
  • I avoid driving at night, especially on a highway that is infested with poor drivers (Chandigarh - Shimla)
Had planned an early morning start but couldn’t get much sleep anyway so finally got up and started from Patnitop at 0300. Empty roads till Jammu and on to Lakhanpur. No toll along the way, with the carrier stripped off, the Gypsy a more ‘sarkari’ appearance. Cruising along at 80kmph all the way to Hoshiarpur and then on to Ropar. From Ropar to Chandigarh I encounter a bit of traffic but nothing that took the Gypsy heat-o-meter over half. A few hours at Chandigarh with friends and then its on to the Himalayan Expressway to Kalka.

No problems with the Gypsy and it continues to trudge at 80kmph with aplomb. This gives me time to ponder over the longitivtiy of the F10A engine that powers or rather underpowered the MG410W. I bought it used as you may know if you’re following the thread, with no service history and traces that it had got no love and affection in the last few years. Yet after a basic oil, spark plugs, coil, HT leads, the engine still performs without missing a beat. I would love to put this on a dyno to check how many horses have bolted the stable and what I am left with on this underpowered Jeep.

Arrive at Kalka musing over this unfortunately, all the good hotels in Kalka had been taken up. Thus, I have to make do with pit stop hotel on Station road, walking distance from the train station with a dedicated parking for the Gypsy.

Final toll tally - Gypsy 6 | Toll booth 3

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-wp_20160618_20_57_39_pro-2.jpg
MG410W parked at Kalka

Since I was at Kalka with a few hours to kill I decided to explore the town. Found a n old world small public library at Gandhi Chowk with free access to newspapers and an eclectic selection of about a 1000 books. Chatted with the librarian and reminisced on the demise of libraries and the reading habit in general. However, the librarian did hold the library open for me till 1900 and allowed me to smuggle in pakoras and chai from a nearby Dhaba. Chai and newspapers make a wonderful evening companion. Kalia railway colony also has an old world British charm to it and its a fine place to walk, away from the hustle and bustle of station road. The station has some wonderful reading and good old fashioned retiring rooms. I could spend a day here photographing trains and their shunting yards. Last year I had walked all the way from Kalka to Shimla along the train tracks and it was quite an experience. The Shatabdi was on on time and I met my my navigator and after a sumptuous dinner we retired early for a fresh start the next morning.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0661.jpg
Kalka Simla railroad complete information

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0662.jpg
Kalka Simpla railroad - retiring rooms - prices

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-img_0665.jpg
Elevation Scale along the Kalka Simla railroad

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-wp_20160618_20_39_27_pro.jpg
Me and the pooch had a nice time playing at the station door

Next - Kalka to Sarahan


P.S. @VikramArya we decided to keep the leaking strut as is because its better to change struts in pairs. And while we were at it we wanted to change all four. However, the oil filled struts are no longer available with Maruti (or so we were told) and our workshop only had a pair of gas filled struts. So, in all pragmatism my friend suggested completing this trip on the worn out struts. His logic - even if the strut dies it wouldn't affect real world performance. There is no sag or danger to the leaf springs. We could have fresh 4 gas filled struts installed from Jammu after this road trip.

Last edited by antihero : 11th August 2016 at 09:45. Reason: Added answer to question
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Old 11th August 2016, 10:24   #92
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Default Re: 1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places

Another lucid piece of writing Antihero!

Yes, your friend is absolutely correct, changing in pairs if not all four is the preferred method to keep the suspension componentry/steering geometry on an even keel.

Regarding the F10-A engine I must add that we had a brand new MG 410W back in 1994 and I drove it once from Delhi to Dehradoon & I must say I distinctly remember loads of low end torque that was usable from get go especially while driving through the forested/hilly section from Mohand to outskirts of Doon valley . It is one bullet proof engine indeed.
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Old 14th August 2016, 13:56   #93
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Default Re: 1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places

Up and out of the door by 0630. We were raring to go today. It had been more than 10 years since I had visited Sarahan and I was excited to see Bhimakali temple. Throughout this road trip, we had no hotel reservations. Instead we decided we would stay at a place that caught our fancy. If all failed we had a bed in the back and a tent as a backup.

Breakfast at a mom and pop shop just after Dharamkot. I love these small ‘pahari’ dhabas, with their bread omelette and tea menu. Small chit-chat on how four laning would affect their business and we were off plodding along at a sedate yet consistent 50kmph.

Loads of tourists on the road today, with a disproportionate number of HR-26 vehicles. Nothing against Gurgaon, but most of them were extremely poorly driven. There are some inherent rules of hill driving and flaunting them marks you out as a poor driver. Had fun chasing an HR26 Hyundai Eon after Kandaghat. Even though we were doing a sedate pace, the consistency kept us just behind the Eon despite its burst of speed and equally hard braking. Another lesson disseminated.

15 kilometres from Simla all hell breaks loose. Vehicles parked along the road, double lanes, and chaos in general. Simla is a city I do best to avoid and I was kicking myself for choosing this route as mine and the MG410W temperature gauge inched towards hot. The twin advantage of seeing your bonnet line and Steel bumpers on a sarkari looking Gypsy conveys an unfair advantage. Twice I meet a SUV which had chosen to drive on the wrong side of the road. Both times they chose to reverse and turn back by an inching old Gypsy with steel bumpers trudging right next to their shiny new cars. we were at Shimla at 0930 sharp and it took us over 2 hours to exit the city. Sigh! The Mg410W complained with the heat-o-meter hovering just over 3/4. The narrow and winding road to Kufri was equally crowded but thankfully the traffic was moving. Second gear all the way through this climb and even had to use the first when I came across an imbecile trying to overtake on a turn and thus barging into my lane.

Kufri was a pleasant revelation, cross the town and the traffic thins out tremendously. Heaved a collective sigh and finally started to enjoy the ride at this point. The drive helped clear my head and we found ourselves reaching for our cameras just before Narkanda as we had stopped for lunch. From Narkanda its a beautiful descent through woods and small hamlets. Scenic and a controlled descent in 3rd gear doing a consistent 40ish all the way. The road was nothing to write home about but the authentic ‘pahari’ scenery made up for the jolts.
Rampur, is the former princely state and constituency of chief minister Virbhadra Singh. 20 kilometres from Rampur the road is double tarmac that begs a fly-by. Pedal to the metal and the MG410W made a respectable ton, before I decided it probably too much for the old girl.

Fuel pit stop at Rampur and then its on to Jeori. Rampur-Jeori stretch has some beautiful and imposing mountain streams. Another sign of technology improving things, are the new curved bridges on this section. These bridges reduce the need for tight turns at mountain turns and help improve safety.

Jeori-Sarahan is a narrow 15 kilometre winding road. As long as maintained momentum this road was easily dispatched in 2nd and 3rd gear. A CRPF camp along the way was serving free tea that we could not refuse.
Arrived at Sarahan well in time only to find that the temple guesthouse and HPTDC cottage with a commanding view were already booked. Overnight in a new hotel on the main road and the Gypsy parked at the police station who decided it looked official enough to warrant a parking space in the station
1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-p1030130.jpg
Sutlej river is in full spate near Nirath (Rampur). The river is glacier fed.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4487.jpg
Pagoda style Bhimakali temple and Sarahan town. No longer a sleepy hamlet I remember.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4485.jpg
Walking around Sarahan, the weather oscillates from misty to bright and sunny.

1996 Maruti Gypsy MG410W - Going places-_p2m4488.jpg
A majestic mountain stream along the way.
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