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Old 1st February 2014, 03:38   #1
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Default A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

We had a small 4-day gap thanks to Netaji Jayanti and Republic day, and this small trip was decided upon. Hence, it was decided we will take the train from Kolkata to NJP and thereafter ask a good friend for his car keys. The car in question a Tata Nano.

We were 4 adults and a 7-year-old kid and I had questions in my mind whether the Nano will be okay in hills with full load.

Anyway, got the train tickets made and started waiting for the day.

Upon reaching NJP, quickly went to the friend's house and got a jolt. Upon taking the car out of garage, I realized the Nano does not have a boot. Now luggage will have to be carried inside with all the people and that was a problem, though we managed somehow.

I had never driven a Nano before and it took some getting used to. I needed to get acquainted with the 2-cylinder engine. The Nano is pretty top-heavy and it was scary initially on curves. Nonetheless, we got along pretty well and I have say, this little thing manages pretty well.

Day 1, had to be NJP (Siliguri) to Mirik and stay there. I took my time driving the Nano in the hills and we reached safely. Got a hotel at very cheap rates due to it being off-season and all. My concerns about it taking the hills with all this load had vanished by now. Nano could take steep roads rather well I would say. We even visited the Mirik Monastery, the road to which was rather steep and we had no problem.

After visiting the lake and monastery, we decided to retire for the day.

Day 2, we started rather early (9 a.m. or so ) for Darjeeling. This route is pretty scenic but the road surface was pretty broken and bad. Settled down in the hotel and hotel staff tried to sell the usual stuff. "Your car cannot go to Tiger Hill and Rock Garden. You have to hire another car, etc." Told them, that is tomorrow and will think about it tomorrow.

Went ahead and visited the Darjeeling Zoo, rode the cable car and visited Roy Villa, (where Sister Nivedita spent her last days and has been renovated recently).

Day 3, again started early (10 a.m. or so ) went to Tiger Hill. I have say here, the road conditions to tiger hill was really bad. There has been no maintenance it seems and most of the places, there are no roads. Steep inclines with no road conditions sometimes makes life very difficult in these places.

The climate was all foggy, so there was no Kanchenjungha for us at Tiger Hill. Got down from there quickly and went to Rock Garden, which was a horror. Last time, I went there driving my Alto, road was bad but road was there. Those who know would confirm that road to this place is insanely steep. This time, there was no road. After going down a couple of kilometers, I started to lose my nerve. Stopped and pondered whether to go any further or not. Asked a local driver if the road condition was any better beyond the point. Answer was a no but he said "aste aste chale jaiye." Took his advice and went down not knowing what will happen when actually we ascend.

Rock Garden was devoid of any tourists and felt rather sad at the condition of the place. No maintenance and no tourist, nonexistent roads. I hope the local authorities wake up soon.

The ascent was pretty dramatic. At least at a couple of places, the vehicle stalled, not because of any fault of the vehicle though. If there were any semblance of roads, the Nano would have gone. Totally broken roads made me to go slow and lost the momentum. Anyway, had to engage reverse and go down get a couple of people out of the vehicle and ignore bad roads and build momentum to ascend. Attaching a couple of videos to give an idea about the road condition and kind of ascent I am talking about.





Anyway, once we reached Darjeeling again, had lunch and visited a couple of more touristy places before retiring for the day.

Next morning, we had a train to catch and so started early (this time 5 a.m.) and thanks to Rohini road, which is a toll road and beautiful, we were at NJP station around 7:30.

Returned the car to its owner and returned.

One of the reasons I wrote this is I wanted to share my views about Tata Nano. It is a small car perfect for city use. It does take hilly roads pretty well despite the 2-cylinder engine. Only grouse, absence of a boot. One other thing that bothered quite a bit was, it is rather top-heavy and even while negotiating uphill hairpin bends, one needs to slow down which is no good.

Otherwise, really worth every paise. I spent 900 rupees on petrol in total, which is real CHEAP.

Taken a few snaps.....just point and shoot type. Sharing here.
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Old 1st February 2014, 03:55   #2
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Default re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

Hit the maximum number of pictures ceiling. So, here goes the rest.

Thanks for reading
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Old 2nd February 2014, 02:07   #3
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

Nice travelogue. Was fascinating to read it. IMO ANY journey in a Nano sort of becomes special in itself! Like an Expedition! Its really a Nice car. Frugal too!

I also MUST admit, it was mighty brave of you to continue with the Nano even after MANY MANY people have VERY OFTEN raised doubts about its capabilities! Looks like you'll had quite a nice time with 4+1+Luggage in the car.

Nice clicks & quite informative! Thanks!

BTW, Can mods please put up this part in the Tata Nano twist review, it'd really clear some air about the cars capabilities. People underestimating the car are REALLY missing out on hell-alot-of-fun!

(Especially because heres a guy who's never driven a Nano before, doesn't even know the specs beforehand, doesn't know it doesn't have a boot(!) giving his completely fresh POV opinion.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
We had a small 4-day gap ...

Day 3, again started early (10 a.m. or so ) went to Tiger Hill. I have say here, the road conditions to tiger hill was really bad. There has been no maintenance it seems and most of the places, there are no roads. Steep inclines with no road conditions sometimes makes life very difficult in these places.

The climate was all foggy, so there was no Kanchenjungha for us at Tiger Hill. Got down from there quickly and went to Rock Garden, which was a horror. Last time, I went there driving my Alto, road was bad but road was there. Those who know would confirm that road to this place is insanely steep. This time, there was no road. After going down a couple of kilometers, I started to lose my nerve. Stopped and pondered whether to go any further or not. Asked a local driver if the road condition was any better beyond the point. Answer was a no but he said "aste aste chale jaiye." Took his advice and went down not knowing what will happen when actually we ascend.
...
The ascent was pretty dramatic. At least at a couple of places, the vehicle stalled, not because of any fault of the vehicle though. If there were any semblance of roads, the Nano would have gone. Totally broken roads made me to go slow and lost the momentum. Anyway, had to engage reverse and go down get a couple of people out of the vehicle and ignore bad roads and build momentum to ascend. Attaching a couple of videos to give an idea about the road condition and kind of ascent I am talking about.
...
-Regards

Last edited by moralfibre : 2nd February 2014 at 07:38.
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Old 2nd February 2014, 08:23   #4
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Nano is a very good vehicle for hills, I have driven it on Delhi Dehradun route and believe me no one was able to overtake it !
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Old 2nd February 2014, 09:09   #5
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

Thank you for sharing and very nice to read.Threads like this prove the car's capabilities and that too riding on hills is altogether a challenge.The car has behaved far beyond the expectation without any twists that too on full load in some cases on non existing roads as well.
I think it takes time for one to get accustomed to the car and gain confidence on the machine as most of us have a poor perception of the car.
This is exactly what happened in this case as well and initial stage of the thread talks about the same.

cheers,
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Old 3rd February 2014, 13:01   #6
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

Nice travelogue novice_alto. I've been longing to go to Darjeeling since many years. I've come very close multiple times (Siliguri / Assam), but never managed to make it to the Queen of the Hills. Your pictures are really making me impatient now!
The winding roads through the tea plantations remind me of Kerala.
Great to know that the little Nano handled the journey well.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 13:13   #7
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

You took a Nano to Rock Garden and brought it back too!! Hats off man! Did you go to Ganga Maiyya park even further below?

But in hindsight, probably rear engine rear wheel drive layout helped. I had taken my Ikon 1.6 down there many years back and the front wheel drive would be very tricky to control the wheelspin on.

So what next? Sandakphu?

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Old 3rd February 2014, 17:28   #8
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

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You took a Nano to Rock Garden and brought it back too!! Hats off man! Did you go to Ganga Maiyya park even further below?
No did not go to Gangamaiyya Park, was told the roads were even more bad.

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But in hindsight, probably rear engine rear wheel drive layout helped. I had taken my Ikon 1.6 down there many years back and the front wheel drive would be very tricky to control the wheelspin on.

So what next? Sandakphu?
yes, rear wheel setup helps a bit. No doubt. Last time, when I went in Maruti Alto, I had wheelspin at a couple of places when I had to stop on an incline and start from there. Rear wheel setup combined with hand brake usage, helped no doubt.

Sandadkphu on a 2-wheel drive would require me to become insane first or if I can make a friend who is willing to hand over keys to his 4x4. Thinking about taking my bike there though. If I succeed would surely update here. One friend has done it on his 500. I too have a 500 but an old one..
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Old 3rd February 2014, 18:13   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
yes, rear wheel setup helps a bit. No doubt. Last time, when I went in Maruti Alto, I had wheelspin at a couple of places when I had to stop on an incline and start from there. Rear wheel setup combined with hand brake usage, helped no doubt. ..
But the most important bit of it is the driver!! The adrenaline Rush!

Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
Sandadkphu on a 2-wheel drive would require me to become insane first ..
Are you sure! You have already proven your insanity (which is a compliment though, mods dont infract me) in taking the Nano to Rock Garden and also also proven your capability in bringing it back home one piece!



Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
One friend has done it on his 500. I too have a 500 but an old one..

See if the friend you are referring to is the one that appears in this post (towards the bottom) from an earlier thread of mine.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post3102849 (Sandakphu Phalut Kolakham - Unleashing a Mahindra Scorpio on Land Rover territory)


Last but not the least, you are extremely lucky to have a friend who loaned you his Nano for this adventurous expedition.
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Old 17th September 2014, 08:17   #10
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

The Nano does have a boot! Only it has to be accessed from the inside. You need to pull the rear seat flat to store luggage in the boot. The boot space is as good as a Maruti 800.

Won't comment on the Nano, having owned it for two years I am not at all surprised it served you well!
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Old 17th September 2014, 15:07   #11
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Nano rides well on hills. I have taken to Kodaikanal and ooty with full load and all these trips as just made me feel more comfortable with nano. Infact i saw many nanos in ooty.
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Old 28th September 2014, 15:19   #12
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Default Re: A Nano trip on a Nano budget...in a Tata Nano

Quote:
Originally Posted by novice_alto View Post
Rock Garden was devoid of any tourists and felt rather sad at the condition of the place. No maintenance and no tourist, nonexistent roads. I hope the local authorities wake up soon.

The ascent was pretty dramatic. At least at a couple of places, the vehicle stalled, not because of any fault of the vehicle though. If there were any semblance of roads, the Nano would have gone.
No doubt, it is rather sad to see such bad roads in the so-called Queen of the Hills. The hill drive itself is a tough job. On top of it, if you have to use microscope to find the road tarmac then your drive becomes significantly tougher! Although you have called it a "Nano trip on a Nano budget", given the conditions of the road on which you have driven, I guess, it's better be called a "Mega trip on a Nano budget"
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