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Old 18th April 2014, 23:17   #16
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Just by seeing the pictures i first rated your thread as 5 star then i started reading the travelogue and now am confident i made no mistake, beautifully written too! The message i want to convey you is, am really jealous of you! You drove an oceanic blue Punto (arguably the best handling hatch back) on the snow laden Himalayan roads! Am sure its more than enough to make a number of Team Bhpian's jealous of you!

A very well written travelouge with some breath taking pictures. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

Last edited by Samba : 18th April 2014 at 23:19.
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Old 19th April 2014, 00:21   #17
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

What an article!
Himachal is truly a Devbhoomi.
Having spent 3 years there, I visited these place twice, but during the summers.
Your writeup makes me feel like going back again.
Thanks for making me relive sweet memories and even sweeter drives.
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Old 19th April 2014, 08:38   #18
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Amazing writeup Biraj, rated 5 stars, Himachal and Uttaranchal are utterly beautiful states, your photos bring out the beauty of Himachal wonderfully

I am guessing yours is the new punto with 190mm of ground clearance which is perfect for rough roads. Just wanted to check how it performed on rough roads and did it bottom out anywhere
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Old 19th April 2014, 09:53   #19
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
Amazing writeup Biraj, rated 5 stars, Himachal and Uttaranchal are utterly beautiful states, your photos bring out the beauty of Himachal wonderfully

I am guessing yours is the new punto with 190mm of ground clearance which is perfect for rough roads. Just wanted to check how it performed on rough roads and did it bottom out anywhere
Indeed amazing write-up and pictures Biraj. Had the same question as alfafan. Did the Punto bottom out anywhere? I've the old Punto and it has to be driven carefully. Hate that sound when it scrapes the speed breaker
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Old 19th April 2014, 11:40   #20
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Hey Biraj,

Amazing TL. Was a pleasure to read. The snaps were excellent.

I had to ask you something. Is Narkanda a part of Shivaliks / Himalayas? My knowledge of the place is very weak.

Again thanks for sharing the TL. Hope the Punto didn't face any hiccups at all during the trip.

Cheers

Edit : Rated this thread a well deserved all star.

Last edited by voyageur : 19th April 2014 at 11:51.
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Old 19th April 2014, 12:44   #21
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biraj View Post
After idling Neil for an hour, we started the journey back.
How long had you kept the glow plug's on. Did the radiator water temperature gauge HIT the centre spot or not. i see it s still lower than optimal temperature.
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Old 19th April 2014, 13:18   #22
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Secretariat View Post
Some tips please for driving in snow and on ice laden roads, without aids like snow tires.
Thank you Secretariat! I have posted my experience about driving on snow below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
Biraj,
How much distance did you cover and how much did Neil return back in terms of average.
Thank you Girish! I remember taking pics of the MID after completing the trip but for some reason, I can't find it in my laptop and I formatted the memory card. The total distance was close to 1350 KMs and the fuel efficiency for the entire stretch was ~15.4 KMPL. In the plains it gave close to 17-18 KMPL and hills it was 12-14 KMPL. The reason I respect 15.6 KMPL is because there was at least 2 hours (in different intervals) of idling in Snow. Moreover, my other car is a Linea T-jet so, I really don't know how to extract FE from Punto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D4D View Post
Amazing experience you've had.
Did your Punto require snow chains on the terrain?
And a diesel(correct me if I'm wrong) isn't always going to start on the first crank in the cold?
Thanks D4D! I didn't carry any snow chains or ropes. The experience is documented below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffHanger View Post
Woah! Are the snow covered Punto's pics real?
Thanks CliffHanger. I still remember the chill my fingers experienced while clicking the pics. It wasn't easy to click with the gloves on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
The thread and the machine which enabled it-Neil-deserve five stars.
Thank you for the appreciation, Venkatt!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhogalrajnish View Post
wow I miss home.
I can imagine how someone who has lived there, must be missing it. I was there only for a few days, and still I am missing it crazily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajusherief View Post
Never thought a hatch back can make such a trip through the slush.
On the contrary, it's the smaller hatchbacks that rule such terrain. While I was cautiously treading my way back, I was being constantly overtaken by Altos, M800s, and Santros. It's a different thing that I overtook all of them after crossing Kufri.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolguru4ever View Post
Whoever underrates a Punto, should read your post.
Thanks! Punto is a fantastic car. That chassis deserves a more powerful unit. I have taken it to the beaches in Diu and the hill of Himalayas, it has never let me down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tamed_explorer View Post
Amazing! I have always been thinking of taking my Ritz vdi on such a stroll but never got that confidence.
Take it! I saw a RJ registered Ritz in Narkanda, he seemed as comfortable as I was. It definitely can do the stretch. Will wait to hear about your experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
The message i want to convey you is, am really jealous of you! You drove an oceanic blue Punto (arguably the best handling hatch back) on the snow laden Himalayan roads! Am sure its more than enough to make a number of Team Bhpian's jealous of you!
Thank you so much Samba. It's the forum that inspired me to make such a trip and then share my experience. The Punto has always been a step-child for me, as Crusoe (my T-jet) gets more attention as well as affection. Yet, it's the Punto that has taken me to the most delightful of places from virgin beaches near Diu to snow covered Hatu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nda992 View Post
Having spent 3 years there, I visited these place twice, but during the summers.
Your writeup makes me feel like going back again.
Thanks nda992, I sometimes feel like quitting my job and become a teacher in some small town in Himachal. One glance at my EMIs, and I quietly slip into my cabin. That place is divine, and it's really difficult to not miss it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alfafan View Post
I am guessing yours is the new punto with 190mm of ground clearance which is perfect for rough roads. Just wanted to check how it performed on rough roads and did it bottom out anywhere
Thanks Alfafan, yes it's the 2012 Punot but has 185 MM ground clearance. Active version has 190 MM. 185 was more than enough. The only difficult spot was Swarghat, but even a Fortuner will bottom-out at Swarghat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deoelect View Post
Had the same question as alfafan. Did the Punto bottom out anywhere?
Thanks deoelect, the bottom did scrape the craters of Swarghat but nothing serious. Punto has a very sturdy under-body protection plate. It's only the noise that scares but the car seldom would let you down. I drove through almost 2 feet of snow, there was a loud noise of the protection plate ploughing through the snow but mechanically there were no issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by voyageur View Post
I had to ask you something. Is Narkanda a part of Shivaliks / Himalayas? My knowledge of the place is very weak.
Thanks Voyageur, Narkanda is part of Himalayas and surrounded by the Sivalik range. The elevation of Shivaliks is typically ~1000-2000 meters but Narkanda is at 2700 meters. The locals told me it's the highest point between Shimla and Rampur and gets the maximum snowfall.

_________________________

Thank you all for appreciating the thread! It really means a lot. Let me share my response to some common queries:

How did the Punto take it?

As mentioned in my response to Samba, my Punto has always been the lesser preferred option while deciding on a road trip. It's Crusoe (my T-jet) that gets priority. This trip too was planned to be done in Crusoe. Unfortunately, I lost Crusoe's RC before the trip and didn't get time to go through the procedure of getting duplicate RC issued. Thus, very reluctantly I decided to take the Punto. On the planes I used to constantly tell my wife, see how this is struggling to overtake, Crusoe would have been a breeze to drive on highways. My wife would point out, don't say such a thing, poor Neil might feel bad. Once we reached Swarghat, Neil came into its elements. Eating away bad roads at will. The surface at Swarghat is so horrible that NASA can use it for testing its Rovers. This is when I first started appreciating Neil over Crusoe. I am absolutely sure that Crusoe with its low GC and long wheel-base would have struggled on that road. After that, the ghat sections were tailor made for the Fiat's chassis.

While driving through slush, the broad (195 section) tyres offered excellent grip. The only scary part was at Fagu during the return journey. There was ice on road, which is much tougher than snow. The tyres were losing traction still, we managed to plough our way through.

In Narkanda, the car was parked outside at negative temperature. Since there was a snow-storm outside, I couldn't go out to crank it at regular intervals. I was pleasantly surprised when it started on the first crank in the morning. The Diesel had not solidified and the car was not coughing or any untoward sign. There were two MUVs in the property (a Bolero and a Sumo), and both didn't start. One of the owners came and asked if mine was a petrol car. Even they were surprised on why the Diesel didn't freeze. Even I don't know the reason because there were no additives in fuel, I didn't cover the engine, and didn't keep it on in the night. Perhaps, I was lucky or Punto is well-engineered. Maybe, the 5W-40 Selenia did the trick.

Bottom-line - The Punto performed way better than my expectations and is now emotionally as close as Crusoe.

Driving on Snow

This was my first experience of driving on snow. So, it was dependent on what I had read, what I had seen on Youtube, and invaluable suggestion by the driver at Hotel Hatu. I didn't have snow-chains or ropes, neither did I lower the pressure to abysmal limits. The wide tyres, Punto's long wheelbase did the trick. The idea is to use brakes as less as possible. The best way is to use engine-braking. I drove the entire journey from Narkanda to Shimla in 2nd and 3rd gear. Even if your car is equipped with ABS, it can skid when one applies brakes. It usually happens when there's oncoming traffic and we realise that we need to slow down. Thus, the key point is drive slow (but maintain momentum) so that emergency braking is not required. It's much easier to drive on fresh snow as it offers good grip. It's the snow that has settled and turned into ice, which is dangerous. On such stretches, I used to follow the tread marks of the vehicle in front as it would have roughed up the surface of the ice.

So, if one is traveling with a non 4x4 car, please Drive slow and avoid braking as much as possible. If there's a faster and better equipped car behind, let it pass.

Hope these answer the queries. Please feel free to post or pm, if I missed something.

Last edited by Biraj : 19th April 2014 at 13:26. Reason: typos
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Old 19th April 2014, 13:28   #23
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

>>>

Am wondering if my car with its 137 mm ground clearance (minimum) and wheelbase of 2580 mm can negotiate safely or not..

Regards
issigonis
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Old 19th April 2014, 22:15   #24
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Beautiful pictures.. You had me riveted all through the travelogue. One special mention I would like to make is your picture of Neil with a mohawk with its apt title had me smiling from ear to ear..
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Old 20th April 2014, 14:17   #25
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Fantastic TL and it gives a lot if hatchback owners lot of confidence to head there. Any reason you did not proceed further than Hatu?

PS: can you please share the details of the Gyaani Dhaba?
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Old 20th April 2014, 15:32   #26
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Excellent thread Biraj, rating a well deserved 5 stars. The photos are just breath taking and i have never seen so much snow in my life even in photos. Glad to see Neil taking so much snow with aplomb and even starting in 1st crank under sub zero temperature, reiterates that the car is solidly built and the mechanicals inside are top notch.

Shocked to note that even with 185 mm of GC, Punto scraped its underbelly , what kind of a stretch is this Swarghat that a hatch with 185 mm of clearance kissed the ground.
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Old 20th April 2014, 19:34   #27
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Fantastic TL with poster quality photos Biraj. The roads in HP are generally good but can deteriorate suddenly. However, if you are unlucky you will damage the car as I di near Chail last October. My sump hit a rock and the oil strainer inside the sump broke . I had to get my FIgo towed all the way back to Noida in a tow truck. While the Figo was fantastic on the curves, I will never take a low GC car to the hills.
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Old 20th April 2014, 19:55   #28
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by sriramr9 View Post
How long had you kept the glow plug's on. Did the radiator water temperature gauge HIT the centre spot or not. i see it s still lower than optimal temperature.
Glow plug sign was on for less than a minute. I was a bit surprised as I expected it to stay on for longer. The temperature gauge took a long time to reach the center point. I allowed the car to idle for almost 2 hours, waiting for the premature to climb. The temperature outside was sub-zero thus, even after two hours it had climbed only a quarter. Once we were on the move, it started climbing gradually and reached the mid-point after ~10-15 KMs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by issigonis View Post
>>>

Am wondering if my car with its 137 mm ground clearance (minimum) and wheelbase of 2580 mm can negotiate safely or not..

Regards
issigonis
You should definitely avoid Swarghat section i.e. avoid travelling towards Manali, unless you have the patience to drive at <10 KMPH, and mentally prepared hear the clunk/plonk when the under-body takes a hit.

Shimla section should be fine as the roads are in much better condition. I remember seeing Merc E-class and Audi A4 in Shimla.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjax View Post
Beautiful pictures.. You had me riveted all through the travelogue. One special mention I would like to make is your picture of Neil with a mohawk with its apt title had me smiling from ear to ear..
Thank you Tjax!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Fantastic TL and it gives a lot if hatchback owners lot of confidence to head there. Any reason you did not proceed further than Hatu?

PS: can you please share the details of the Gyaani Dhaba?
The weather was getting worse while we were there, it snowed for almost 2 days and the weather predictions were also not encouraging. The hotel staff informed us that the road can get closed for a few days, if it snows for one more day. Moreover, there was no electricity in Narkanda too. We already had our share of adventure so, decided to turn back from there.

Gyani da dhaba is located at Dharampur, NH22. One can't miss it while travelling towards Shimla. It's known for it's chicken preparations especially Lemon Chicken and Handi Chicken. Don't expect great level of hygine or service because it is what the name says, a Dhaba. Still, the food is very good and it's a worthy stop-over while driving to Shimla.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboy007 View Post
Shocked to note that even with 185 mm of GC, Punto scraped its underbelly , what kind of a stretch is this Swarghat that a hatch with 185 mm of clearance kissed the ground.
Trust me, I am not exaggerating when I say the surface is horrible. Till now the stretch between Die and Una was the worst I had driven on. This one is equally bad in terms of surface but is thrice the distance. It seems to last forever.
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Old 21st April 2014, 09:45   #29
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Excellent thread,top of that breathtaking pics.Glad to note the punto performed well.
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Old 21st April 2014, 17:36   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biraj View Post
I allowed the car to idle for almost 2 hours, waiting for the premature to climb.
I am still skeptical, unable to conceive how come the engine fired successfully in First Crank. Why did you have to idle that long ? Was it someone suggested you or you did it on purpose.

Because the User manual says idle lesser and start driving slowly with the heater ON, that way you could have saved some fuel. Wondering how come diesel did not clog in such a condition. Your car looks amazing and bold in the dusted look. Punto is meant to be driven to such places for sure.

1. Did you receive any warning alert in the MID stating "Possible ICE on Road" ?
2. How many times were you able to sense the ABD and EBD kicking in during this trip ?

Last edited by sriramr9 : 21st April 2014 at 17:41.
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