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Old 7th December 2013, 09:33   #16
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Fantastic post! And even better photographs...

Being a hard core Army man's son - we've lived extensively in the far east, what with dad being posted there often enough. Can't get enough of it though! It's so much prettier than all the more touristy places in the North - and virginal to boot!

I'm not really surprised at how well your Duster has taken to these roads and terrain. What is surprising is how few people attempt it in the first place! Very often, if you drive with a cool head and have a modicum of experience, a regular 2WD will tackle most hill roads without too much fret and worry.

My humble 2WD Safari has taken my entire family, a full camping setup (and the entire kitchen sink!) to Sangla & Spiti - on roads that are pretty much non roads. She not only coped but also did it all with aplomb.. Been too lazy to actually write a detailed travelogue for it - but it might be worth the effort!

Have fun, stay safe and I hope to read more of your stuff in time

Cheers,
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Old 7th December 2013, 14:32   #17
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Hi Himadri,

I saw your Duster coming back somewhere between Chitre and Tumling/Tonglu!!

I was out trekking and my guide was quite surprised seeing a Duster in these parts.

Great pictures and trip report!

Cheers!
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Old 7th December 2013, 15:54   #18
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Nice! That one pic made my day - the head and abdomen. Till you had mentioned it, to me, it was just clouds and after that, it made a perfect shape of someone sleeping! Nature's beauty is truly beyond words!
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Old 7th December 2013, 21:51   #19
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Hi Himadri,

Thank you very much for your travelog, such an adventurous drive. Your travel gives me more confidence to drive my Duster, few month back I drove from Chennai to Ooty with my family (size of four, my youngest daughter is just one year). In Ooty, I drove to Avalanchi, Pykara and Upper-bhavani where some stretch road was non-existing and very steep slopes. No where my Duster had hesitation (it is 85 ps) to sail, in hair-pin bends it was stayed always within the road marker (halh-way divider), I told my wife that every rupee spent on duster was worthy (when I bought duster she was complaining that I had spend little more than required). I am planing to show your videos to her to convenience her even better.

I also recommend you as a Renault Ambassador, enjoy your trips!!!
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Old 8th December 2013, 04:39   #20
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Excellent travelogue and guts to try this on a FWD. I might not have the guts to do it. Rated 5 stars.. Till which point did you go? I went through your post but was not able to understand. I have been to Sandakphu 3 times but still feel that I can go there anytime. This has to be the toughest stretch of road I have driven till date. Particularly the last time we went there the snow had made it even more treacherous.
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Old 8th December 2013, 17:50   #21
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Excellent read. Is sandakphu advisable in december?
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Old 8th December 2013, 19:34   #22
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Quote:
Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
By this time the density of Land Rovers parked has increased and in no time came the first checkpost at Manebhanjan. Its here we had to take permission for the entry.
Parked my car a little upfront on the road that goes down and walk straight into the office, 7am in the morning. Greet three officers and show them my ID card and seek permission to go up. Words were coming out of my mouth like butter, addressed them as Sirji and even before they could ask i was showing them three IDs.

Then came the dreaded question, 'Where is the driver?'
'Me' I answered.
Officer: 'Which car?'
By this time his subordinate rushed outside only to see this brown frog like looking car standing outside. I watched the expression on his face, he did not laugh, neither did he smile. Guess what, even a Nano in its lifecycle might not have got such a sarcastic comment,' Yeh gari, ye to yeh chardai nehi par kar payegi'. ('This car!!, it won't be able to cross this uphill here!')

I was like and with determined look and voice requested the officer, 'If I cannot, will come back, no worries. I am not on a mission, neither will I go till Sandakphu. If I cannot go, I will come back. I am responsible enough and will not put others at risk too'. My half white hair might have done the trick silently too.
The officer was convinced and told his subordinate to take it easy. Asked me to give Rs500 and handed me few passes which were to be shown on the check posts above.

Before leaving he sounded a word of caution. 'The road approaching Chitrey has broken down after monsoon and its like boulders. Be very careful. Return back if you cannot pass that.'
Why was this permit required. I remember driving silently by Monebhanjan, the Army Checkposts en-route just took down our details, no questions asked, and definitely no mention of any permit.

Not sure if Blackpearl had taken a permit either.

Anyway, You've taken your Tavera to the Sangalila National Park entry havn't you!

Great narration. Hats off!

However would be a little curious about the performance of the FWD at the steep section right after Gairibash (if not the last few kms from Kalipokhri)

Anirban
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Old 9th December 2013, 03:56   #23
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

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Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Not sure if Blackpearl had taken a permit either.
We did not have to take any permit at this point during our trips. Maybe the rules have changed.
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Old 9th December 2013, 14:01   #24
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Oh My God Himadri! Kudos to you

I have trekked on this route to Sandakphu and onwards to Phalut about 10 years back! At that time, i remember trudging up the route difficult even to walk along. It was late evening and our group with no experience whatsoever were worried about the route! And then suddenly, there was noise of a vehicle. And then lo and behold from the hairpin below emerged this green landrover grrring all out and huffing and puffing up the road! We could never believe that a vehicle could climb that road... of course we were novices, had no knowledge of cars and what they could do. I can however recollect my experience then and your story now, though the road surface seems to be a lot better now!

Once again, kudos and thanks for making me recount my experiences long ago... Tumling stay, tea at Meghma, et al!!!!
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Old 9th December 2013, 15:07   #25
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

That was some climbing with a Duster!! Never thought anyone would put a 2x4 car to that feat, the climbing has more to do with your will to drive up than the ability of the car

On my last trip to Rothang, saw a Duster struggling up on gravel, lots of wheel spin on the front and drifting sideways, he was on the hill-side but threatening to swipe cars on the valley side. Some us shouted for him to get the passengers out and try. The passengers pushed it up, but I am sure at every U turn he'd have the same problem. Having seen that, your story is pretty hair-raising, some roads I saw on video are tougher than Rothang sections.

Good story and lots of information one can use for traveling. Thanks for sharing.

--Ramky
======
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Old 9th December 2013, 16:29   #26
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Amazing! We are tending towards exchanging our Polo for a budget 2WD SUV early next year which means choosing between the Duster RXE85, XUV 5OO W4 and the Terrano XE85.

While we certainly won't have enough guts to replicate your experience, your Duster's stunning performance nearly removes the XUV W4 from the equation!
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Old 9th December 2013, 18:20   #27
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Himadri Da i have become a fan of yours. It really need some courage to do this road on a 2 WD. By seeing the road condition i was hoping to ask you whether any rattle or suspension issue cropped up on your Duster. But by reading your above post that after the trip your car is totally niggle free am just blown away with the capability of the Duster. Now i must say the price they charge has a justification its really not over priced in contrary to what many people say. It has proved itself to be a very good vehicle and of-course in the hand of a very good and cautious driver like you. Hats off to you and your Duster for this new achievement.

And yes how can i omit your photography skill! Its mind blowing as usual! The picture of the sleeping Buddha with the duster in front of me cleared my doubt why its called sleeping Buddha. I have seen Kanchenjunga so many times but you have changed my view of looking at it!

Last edited by Samba : 9th December 2013 at 18:21.
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Old 9th December 2013, 18:55   #28
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
How was the ride on this stretch from the rear passenger perspective? Was it the same as claimed - the pothole eating duster?
The turning radius does have its problems but duster is definitely not the one with one on the higher side. I dont think it would have possible for any 4x2 if the turning radius required the vehile to take turn in two goes!
Honestly speaking the ride was not comfortable. Be it from the driver side or for the rear passenger. Comparatively it may be better than a few cars of its category as the suspension does a lot of cushioning. Its a fact though, the suspension never bottomed out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bIte tHe bulLet View Post
Fantastic post! And even better photographs...

My humble 2WD Safari has taken my entire family, a full camping setup (and the entire kitchen sink!) to Sangla & Spiti - on roads that are pretty much non roads. She not only coped but also did it all with aplomb.. Been too lazy to actually write a detailed travelogue for it - but it might be worth the effort!
The safari still stands as the icon, just wish Tata had pulled up its socks and delivered a better car when it shared the limelight for such a long time. It though has a amazing engine.Having owned Safari twice, I think its 2WD version won't be able to do this stretch because of its weight to power ratio and the turning radius.
Rest of the places, its still a monster. Once I remember going half wheel deep in swamp at nigh but its momentum rescued me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johy View Post
Hi Himadri,
I saw your Duster coming back somewhere between Chitre and Tumling/Tonglu!! I was out trekking and my guide was quite surprised seeing a Duster in these parts.
Great pictures and trip report!
Cheers!
That will be regret. It would have been a amazing experience meeting someone from TBHP on such slopes. You must have been on my left side as on the right side of the car is the yellow TBHP sticker seeing which you would have stopped me. A French gentleman though was overjoyed seeing a brand(Renault) from his country doing those slopes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftnfurious View Post
Nice! That one pic made my day - the head and abdomen. Till you had mentioned it, to me, it was just clouds and after that, it made a perfect shape of someone sleeping! Nature's beauty is truly beyond words!
Thanks Swiftnfurious

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssmani View Post
Thank you very much for your travelog, such an adventurous drive. Your travel gives me more confidence to drive my Duster, few month back I drove from Chennai to Ooty with my family (size of four, my youngest daughter is just one year). In Ooty, I drove to Avalanchi, Pykara and Upper-bhavani where some stretch road was non-existing and very steep slopes. No where my Duster had hesitation (it is 85 ps) to sail, in hair-pin bends it was stayed always within the road marker (halh-way divider), I told my wife that every rupee spent on duster was worthy (when I bought duster she was complaining that I had spend little more than required). I am planing to show your videos to her to convenience her even better.
We are proud owners of Duster. Enjoy the ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Excellent travelogue and guts to try this on a FWD. I might not have the guts to do it. Rated 5 stars.. Till which point did you go? I went through your post but was not able to understand. I have been to Sandakphu 3 times but still feel that I can go there anytime. This has to be the toughest stretch of road I have driven till date. Particularly the last time we went there the snow had made it even more treacherous.
There is no doubt its tough. Leh can be of higher altitude but it gains height gradually where as this road to Sandakphu is like insane.
You are still the boss on this stretch having gone there thrice on your White Tusker. I envy that ride of yours, more so because its no more available or public. Still remember the frame, your ride on snow en-route Sandakphu.
I went there till Singalila NP gate after Tumling.
There is one more stretch like this, quiet similar. The right just after Lava while enroute Kolakham leads to Neora Valley National Park.


Quote:
Originally Posted by megazoid View Post
Excellent read. Is sandakphu advisable in december?
Is that by car or trekking? I guess only a handful of people plan in December as temperatures will be much below zero.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
Why was this permit required. I remember driving silently by Monebhanjan, the Army Checkposts en-route just took down our details, no questions asked, and definitely no mention of any permit.
Not sure if Blackpearl had taken a permit either.
Anyway, You've taken your Tavera to the Sangalila National Park entry havn't you!
However would be a little curious about the performance of the FWD at the steep section right after Gairibash (if not the last few kms from Kalipokhri)
Anirban
I too am now not sure if the permit was compulsory. As per my knowledge, every National Park requires a entry permit, hence by habit I went to seek permission. Yes I did take my Tavera previously till the same point. Tavera is actually a great car though unpopular among car enthusiast.Being a RWD with a DI engine, it enjoys a massive pull in 1st gear with absolutely no turbo lag.
The only place I think this FWD will fail is loose gravel. Incline won't be a problem if on solid ground. As soon it hits a stone and bounce there will be a wheel spin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by palitrana View Post
Oh My God Himadri! Kudos to you
I have trekked on this route to Sandakphu and onwards to Phalut about 10 years back! At that time, i remember trudging up the route difficult even to walk along. It was late evening and our group with no experience whatsoever were worried about the route! And then suddenly, there was noise of a vehicle. And then lo and behold from the hairpin below emerged this green landrover grrring all out and huffing and puffing up the road! We could never believe that a vehicle could climb that road... of course we were novices, had no knowledge of cars and what they could do. I can however recollect my experience then and your story now, though the road surface seems to be a lot better now!

Once again, kudos and thanks for making me recount my experiences long ago... Tumling stay, tea at Meghma, et al!!!!
Glad you enjoyed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
That was some climbing with a Duster!! Never thought anyone would put a 2x4 car to that feat, the climbing has more to do with your will to drive up than the ability of the car

On my last trip to Rothang, saw a Duster struggling up on gravel, lots of wheel spin on the front and drifting sideways, he was on the hill-side but threatening to swipe cars on the valley side. Some us shouted for him to get the passengers out and try. The passengers pushed it up, but I am sure at every U turn he'd have the same problem. Having seen that, your story is pretty hair-raising, some roads I saw on video are tougher than Rothang sections.Good story and lots of information one can use for traveling. Thanks for sharing.
--Ramky
======
As I mentioned before, Duster will climb all steeps only if its kept out of loose rocks and stones. The path on loose rock has to be very carefully chosen and not just ride on momentum to cross a stretch. The 'will' as you mentioned did play a big role. I did not want to regret my buy too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by itwasntme View Post
Amazing! We are tending towards exchanging our Polo for a budget 2WD SUV early next year which means choosing between the Duster RXE85, XUV 5OO W4 and the Terrano XE85.

While we certainly won't have enough guts to replicate your experience, your Duster's stunning performance nearly removes the XUV W4 from the equation!
The XUV for sure would grind and scrap its underneath. It does not have the GC required to climb this stretch. The first things to go will be its front wheel mudguards. The new Terrano is solid built with a engine map different from the Duster. I drove the 110 Terrano and was suprised, there was no turbo lag!

Coming back to the trip, Day 3
had a good night sleep inside the car and a new morning to a new place.
Up at 5.30, we head towards Singalila Nationa Park, this time from the Sikkim side, Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary at 9000ft and above.

The Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary or Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is situated in Western Sikkim in Singalila Range forming a natural border with Nepal in The West. The sanctuary also borders the State West Bengal from Sikkim in the south by Rambong Khola stream. The entire sanctuary is spread over 104 km2, across the Singalila Range. The Varsey Sanctuary can be reached from three points, Hilley, Dentam and Soreng. The most popular entry is Hilley since it is approachable by road and Varsey is only 4 km trek from this point through the beautifully laid gravel path shaded by different species of rhododendron.

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This part of Sikkim is very parsley populated. Even tourist seldom come here.
The ride though is pretty smooth with well laid out roads. Since we are living the life of a vagabond, everything we do is either inside or outside the car.
From having coffee in the morning to answering nature's call and camping for the day, we do it all today.

Did some birding early morning. It was a lovely experience after some gruesome drives all day long for the last couple of days. Sitting idle and gaping at nature to capture a frame is like having green tea to clear out to toxins from human body.

Oriental honey Buzzard
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Rufous Sibia
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Duster en-route once again

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Approach the entry gate.

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From this place onwards, I did not see a single soul for the entire day and night. It was all us and the trees swaying in lovely breeze.

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Our site for the day and night.

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You can catch a glimpse of the day here.
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Old 10th December 2013, 10:28   #29
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Dear Himadri,

Let me first thank you for such a courageous and wonderfully executed travel. Next, the photos, videos andillustrations are really noteworthy. Last, but not the least, how can i miss the Duster. i had test driven the 85 Duster when I was planning on a new car. Had thought it to be a little underpowered for a SUV. However, reading your T-Log, I feel like an idiot. I should have read or seen something like your Log and today i would have been a proud Duster Owner . Never Mind, there is always a next time.

back to the log, the entire set of photos and text is awesome. You should be selected as a Brand Ambassador for Renault in India. way to go Man. keep it going.
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Old 10th December 2013, 13:04   #30
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Default Re: Climbing heights with a 2WD (Duster 110)

Quote:
Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
Yes I did take my Tavera previously till the same point. Tavera is actually a great car though unpopular among car enthusiast.Being a RWD with a DI engine, it enjoys a massive pull in 1st gear with absolutely no turbo lag.



It was like reading an adventure novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Earlier this year, my family went to Ladakh but I had to stay back because of my semester exams. And now after reading, not only have you inspired me but also increased my thirst for adventure. Hence I shall also take my Tavera on this challenge sometime in the near future.
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