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Ford Endeavour to Rohtang Pass - 4-days recipe for a perfect vacation

  • Dec 03, 2014
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Majestic mountains and far peaks covered in snow. It’s a sight I want to wake up to every morning. This morning was truly special. Somewhere far it had snowed and I stood at Hatu Peak, 8 kms from Narkanda, in admiration. At close to 11,000 feet above sea level, life is a little different. It’s beautiful, it’s peaceful, it’s breath taking and it’s COLD. It had snowed somewhere far and we wanted to go there. So my companion, the Ford Endeavour, and I decided to chase it.Ford Endeavour Narkhanda

A day before, we had left New Delhi early enough to skip the morning rush and ate up miles rapidly before taking a break for our bellies at Karnal. The route to Narkanda involves driving towards Zirakpur (outskirts of Chandigarh) from where a right goes to Shimla. 260km into the drive and finally hit the hills by driving on the fabulous Himalayan Expressway. Shimla was roughly 90km from here and Narkanda another 64km.

Being a weekday, the usual tourist rush was missing and this allowed us to enjoy the ‘automatic’ Endeavour the way we wanted to. The 3.0-litre diesel engine is noisy but rewards you with oodles of torque across the rev range. As the elevation rose, temperatures started dropping and we were soon bypassing Shimla towards our night destination. Perfect road conditions meant another 2.5 hrs before we entered Narkanda. This town, situated at over 8000feet above mean sea level is home to feet of snow in the winters. Our resort for the night was just a km away, nestled deep inside dense vegetation. The following day would be special and we discussed our plan over a well-lit bonfire and glasses of one of the finest spirits known to mankind.Ford Endeavour Hatu Peak

Now Ford Endeavour is the only 4X4 offered by Ford in India. It’s huge, the cabin has so much space that this car should come with a pin code or something equivalent. With just two people on board it was like a park we had for us. Tight hair pins, especially the ones we encountered towards Hatu peak are a slight issue with this car. With it’s long nose, I had to reverse at almost all hair pins. But, I wasn’t complaining simply because nowhere did I feel it to be a struggle. For a little over 2 tonne vehicle, the steering is super. In fact, it’s effortless for a car of this size and weight.

We spent a good couple of hours at the peak before decided to head ahead to Manali. Now there are multiple routes to Manali from Narkanda. We wanted to take the longer route via Jalori pass but while chatting with a few locals at Hatu peak, we were advised to not take it. The locals also said that the road was in very bad condition and we might end up damaging the under body of the Endeavour. I was shocked and cross-checked (even pointed) at the Endeavour to confirm if they understand that it is this “jonga” that am driving and can be damaged. Now I always listen to the locals when driving in the mountains, it is advisable but this time I had to check that claim. How bad the road has to be to damage a 210 mm ground clearance vehicle. 4 hours later, the Endeavour wasn’t damaged but the fact that you must listen to locals was screaming in my head.Ford Endeavour

The road to Jalori Pass isn’t easy. In fact it is in a very bad condition. There is a lot of horizontal movement in the suspension of the Endeavour and it can be felt very evidently especially over no road conditions but I soon realised it’s a matter of time before you get used to the vehicle and understand its abilities. Till we joined the main tirthan valley road, the Endeavour was put to test.
After that the highway is a breeze. We joined the Delhi-Manali highway at Aut and 2 hours later we were in Manali. Whoever said, mountain driving is tough. In fact I believe night drive in the mountains is magical.

Next Stop: Rohtang

Rohtang Pass, that’s where I had to be. Snow covered peaks are here. In fact temperatures were dropping to single digits and it was just 2 pm. After our standard order at Rohtang of Maggi and chai we decided to find a spot for our companion and admire the view. Now if you have been to Rohtang, you know there’s a separate ATV route. With sun beginning to set and number of people reducing, we took that very path and reached a point where we were surrounded by white gold and huge mountains all around. In the Endeavour it’s simple, put the car in neutral and engage 4L. This machine can go anywhere thanks to its torquey engine and low ratio gearbox. Any terrain is too easy for Endeavour and it was quite a sight to see this big Ford driving among tiny ATVs off the road. And our Endeavour was an absolute pleasure thanks to this one.

Quick Facts:
Delhi-Narkanda-Hatu Peak-Jalori-Manali-Rohtang-Delhi is 1,273 kms
Rohtang- Take your 4X4 or rent a cab. Special permit for non HP vehicles.
Temperature- Single digits in Narkanda at night.

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