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Old 29th April 2015, 02:23   #1
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Default Leh - In a Maruti 800

From a long time me and my friend (Rahul) had the urge to go up to Leh-Ladakh.

We would always go mad reading travelogues by fellow T-BHPians on their wonderful and enriching travel sojourns to Leh. Most of the people with whom we discussed about the trip advised and suggested us to attempt it in a SUV because of the rough terrain that we would face through out the journey. But we had something else going on in our minds.

We wanted to attempt it in a 1997 model Maruti 800. This was not going to be a rare achievement as it had been done before, but we wanted this journey to be a memorable one for us throughout our life. Hence we decided to go ahead and complete the journey in our ever faithful and beloved M800, which has given me company as I grew up and also the car on which I learnt driving.

We discussed this idea with a few friends, but they called us insane and stupid because of possible breakdowns with the vehicle, it being a very old work horse and the possibility of getting stuck in an unfamiliar and unknown terrain. But, we were not moved by their reasoning, and still wanted to go ahead with our plan. So we decided to keep this trip a secret and only to let them know once we touched down in the plains after completing the journey.

Preparing the car for the journey:
Making sure that a 17 year-old car is in the best possible condition was a great challenge. I got the car completely serviced and made a few small trips to fix the niggles and small issues with it. I had the old rims replaced with new alloy wheels and arranged 2 extra tyres, a spare can of engine oil, a rope (in case the vehicle needed towing or if we could help in towing someone else ) and a portable air pump.

Our final itinerary was:

14th June 2013 - Chandigarh - Patni Top - 410 km
15th June 2013 - Patni Top - Drass - 330 km
16th June 2013 - Drass - Leh - 280 km
20th June 2013 - Leh - Drass - 280 km
21th June 2013 - Drass - Patni Top - 330 km
22nd June 2013 - Patni Top - Chandigarh - 410 km

Here are some clicks from the way as we progressed on our journey.

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11027516_10152795720194109_8678078380515850891_n.jpg
At home feeling comfortable

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10422369_10152795720209109_2201079843966182581_n.jpg
With just two people, we had enough space for spares and our stuff

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11048652_10152795721234109_2806714172205303131_n.jpg
Put up the Spare can for Petrol and the engine oil to the back

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Continuing my penchant with the 7700..

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NH 95 Chandigarh - Hoshiarpur
Punjab was being lashed by heavy rains at that moment, and we had no idea as to what kind of weather we would be facing in the hills

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10665807_10152795732554109_3436373325540102401_n.jpg
First view of Kashmir Valley

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10995377_10152795732879109_7755597479526900524_n.jpg
The two boards acting just like two faces of a coin seem different although attached to one another

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11007725_10152795721289109_1237665394129015013_n.jpg
Passing through Jawahar Tunnel

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11146547_10152795733959109_6928421553687486616_n.jpg
Standing in a queue to obtain the pass on the way to Srinagar

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10460443_10152795747209109_3285611339695772003_n.jpg
Tree-lined roads kept on reminding us of the roads back in Punjab

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11148557_10152795740184109_9186906963947823045_n.jpg
The boards kept us going on and on to complete the journey

Leh - In a Maruti 800-21287_10152795734149109_783291406747898873_n.jpg
It sure is a risky job driving in such conditions and that too multiple trips weekly

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11050117_10152795748474109_752127567023992940_n.jpg
Customary pic near Dal Lake

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Climbing to Zoji La Pass

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11159948_10152795765899109_4561264998222769362_n.jpg
M7700 odometer clocked 2,08,157 KMS at Zoji La

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11141311_10152795757949109_2720273464757591138_n.jpg
With the M800 being a peoples car, many people had their stories to share with us on the way as we waited for the traffic to clear up

Leh - In a Maruti 800-17808_10152795728054109_42396442220498708_n.jpg
Contrasting landscape. A beauty to behold when viewed without a lens

Leh - In a Maruti 800-21809_10152795728844109_6685741986782191644_n.jpg
Spot the cars? Landscape can be deceiving too

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10438429_10152795757069109_3361477201797970984_n.jpg

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The road towards Srinagar seemed a cake walk, with the concrete block put up

Leh - In a Maruti 800-1509959_10152795774389109_1645384028334379952_n.jpg

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Day 3 starts and our M7700 is shining once again

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11203041_10152795786644109_8394024577669494707_n.jpg
Saluting the martyrs at the Kargil War Memorial

Leh - In a Maruti 800-13690_10152795792679109_724582613446388345_n.jpg
A pic that says it all

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Leh - In a Maruti 800-11164645_10152795805139109_5535142185549915055_n.jpg
All set to reach Leh by night

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11175024_10152795722199109_1191754396901072932_n.jpg

Leh - In a Maruti 800-11178230_10152795726809109_7731002036544394420_n.jpg

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10952529_10152795721599109_7541936125860014437_n.jpg

Leh - In a Maruti 800-10363660_10152795726194109_8010012383468278756_n.jpg
Finally we too got Leh'ed In our M7700

Last edited by Aditya : 8th May 2015 at 11:47. Reason: Spacing, spelling, formatting and grammatical changes
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Old 29th April 2015, 08:37   #2
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Default re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Oh Man! That's a real adventurous trip I should say, I really admire the confidence to take a 800 there. 2lakh kms, it's a milestone. How was it to ride on the rough patches ?
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Old 29th April 2015, 10:02   #3
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Default re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Really awesome and another myth buster about small cars doing the ladakh circuit. Any reason why you skipped Rohtang - manali altogether?
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Old 6th May 2015, 12:30   #4
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th May 2015, 13:38   #5
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Congrats guys and hats off to M7700 for completing this amazing journey

Please share your experiences with the vehicle while passing Zoji la pass, and whether there were any difficulties climbing steep slopes, slushy roads and the rough terrain.

Also, it appears the GC of M7700 has been raised. Can you share the modifications done?
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Old 6th May 2015, 13:44   #6
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Kudos to see the peoples car scaling up to the highest region in India. Being short wheelbase would have really helped.

All cars can do the Leh trip no doubt and its an adventure but somehow I never felt at peace or rather relaxed driving my sedan as it was always at the back of my mind that I need to be careful about the roads all the time. This I feel is somewhat eliminated if you are travelling on a high GC vehicle.
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Old 6th May 2015, 14:10   #7
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Simply awesome, ambarshante! Talk about breaking all stereotypes about the type of car you should take to get Leh'd. I myself wouldn't have imagined that the Leh circuit could be done in a 800. Well, I'm a believer now!
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Old 6th May 2015, 14:28   #8
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Amazing effort. Brought back the memories of a the car that taught me and many like me (born in the 80's) driving. This drive can be taken as a tribute to the legend.

It also reminded me of a documentary I saw on youtube some time back where Mr. Singhania drives to Leh with his equally rich friends in Audi Q*'s, then abuse and break the cars for fun and calls it an adventure of a lifetime. Someone should send them a link to this.
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Old 6th May 2015, 15:37   #9
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

WHAT a drive!!! Amazing effort to drive the trusty M7700 all the way to leh. Congratulations.. I really hope the car didn't give you any trouble on your adventure trip. Did it get frustrating at any point ? Please do elaborate on your driving experiences also.
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Old 6th May 2015, 16:27   #10
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Congrats to you for the memorable trip.

Reminds me of our last year's trip to Ladakh (from Delhi) on my cousin's Estilo. Just as in your case, everyone told us we were insane and this was a bad idea.

Not only did our Estilo reach Leh via Zozila, it crossed the trecherous Khardungla, spent good time in Nubra valley and brought us safely back in Delhi with no issues whatsoever.

A snap of me and our Estilo on top of the world along with an Avenger rented from Leh (me and my cousin took turns in driving the car and the bike):
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Old 6th May 2015, 17:51   #11
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Hi,

Congracts to you guys and the mini Beast for spectacular adventure, nobody would even think that a maruti 800 with 2lac plus on its odometer would do such wonders. I am sure this will be a memorable and spectacular trip for you guys. You guys have set a milestone.
Keep it up guys.

Cheers
Josh
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Old 7th May 2015, 10:12   #12
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Great going guys, Till some time back, this car had the best power to weight ratio and could climb any mountain with ease, you still see them in plenty in HP, Uttarakhand and eastern India. Small wheel base coupled with very decent ground clearance, makes negotiating rough tracks easy. I remember taking my car all over the country in late 80's and 90's with my wife and kids on tow. It was non ac and always carried our small camping kit as well. Only place it refused to climb was Bum La, a little beyond Tawang, more due to terrible condition of the track than due to lack of power. I also remember doing Jaiselmer - Bikaner stretch (330km) in 3 hours and 30 mins flat out, driving alone in 1995. Felt bit like Mad Max, it was the amongst one of the last wilderness in the country then. My last big drive in the car was Wellington (TN) - Chandigarh in 1998.
Keep it up and wishing you many more adventures in M7700.
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Old 7th May 2015, 12:33   #13
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Nice effort guys! In such a trip, the driver's skills matter a lot, especially when you have a very basic vehicle. I feel that a Leh trip in a Maruti-800 provides a far more sense of achievement than if this would have been in a high end SUV or an offroader.

Some of my SUV crazy friends are of firm belief that Leh trip can be done only in a proper offroader while I have always opined that other cars can also do it. This thread is what I needed to prove my point.
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Old 8th May 2015, 01:03   #14
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajusherief View Post
How was it to ride on the rough patches ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya_P View Post
Also, it appears the GC of M7700 has been raised. Can you share the modifications done?
Hi sajusherief, Aditya_p we had taken complete care to the get the vehicle thoroughly serviced before the ride, and had also done some small trips uphill till Shimla and Hatu to check the reliablility.
We had also got the whole engine overhauled, Head unit was also replaced and the whole suspension including shock absorbers was replaced with new ones.

You can find the exact details here: Here (Engine Rebuilt 1997 model M800 at 1,93,000 km)
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M7700 on the way to Hatu peak Narkanda (H.p)
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M7700 posing for a click in Snow covered mountains at Hatu Peak
Quote:
Originally Posted by hothatchaway View Post
Any reason why you skipped Rohtang - manali altogether?
The road at that point of time was really broken and filled with lot of patches, and the updates we were getting from the oncoming traffic was such that even the SUV were finding it difficult to cross it, so we decided to this section a miss!

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Kudos to see the peoples car scaling up to the highest region in India. Being short wheelbase would have really helped.

All cars can do the Leh trip no doubt and its an adventure but somehow I never felt at peace or rather relaxed driving my sedan as it was always at the back of my mind that I need to be careful about the roads all the time. This I feel is somewhat eliminated if you are travelling on a high GC vehicle.
Regarding short wheelbase, we were worried till we crossed the zojila Pass. Once we were across, we got more determined to complete the trip.
Regarding the GC, while stuck in a traffic jam, we met a guy who was driving a VW Polo, we were really happy to see a Hatchback within the line of tall trucks and bulky SUV's, on talking with him, he warned us not to go forward as he too was going to return from the India Gate Point, saying that he was not mad to drive his through the bad patches.
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M7700 passing through zojila pass
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhii176 View Post
Simply awesome, ambarshante! Talk about breaking all stereotypes about the type of car you should take to get Leh'd. I myself wouldn't have imagined that the Leh circuit could be done in a 800. Well, I'm a believer now!
We believe this trip was done to make a lot of people believe what man and machine together can achieve..


Quote:
Originally Posted by alfaromeo1984 View Post
WHAT a drive!!! Amazing effort to drive the trusty M7700 all the way to leh. Congratulations.. I really hope the car didn't give you any trouble on your adventure trip. Did it get frustrating at any point ? Please do elaborate on your driving experiences also.
After reaching LEH, the front left axle, has started making a little noise, so to be on the safer side, we got it replaced from the MASS. Also got the M7700 a well deserved wash.
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M7700 at MASS LEH

Last edited by ambarshante : 8th May 2015 at 01:23.
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Old 8th May 2015, 01:03   #15
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Default Re: Leh - In a Maruti 800

Excellent travelogue and hats off to your spirit.

Maruti 800 is one hell of a car. Many people do underestimate the capability of this small hatch. The light weight and the peppy 800cc engine with smaller dimensions and short wheel base backed up by the ultra reliable mechanism makes it one hell of a car for these kind of drives!

Back in 2005 we did a Kinnaur trip in a M800 and i must say i was mightily impressed by the capabilities of this wonder car!

Last edited by Samba : 8th May 2015 at 01:06.
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