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Nissan Terrano : Anniversary Drive

  • Nov 10, 2014
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Nissan Terrano Anniversary Front Right In Field

The Nissan Terrano is celebrating its first anniversary in the country with a limited edition model. And the best way to celebrate this anniversary in the land of diversity is to explore the diversity and unity of India. The best way to understand this is to take a long-winding tour of the country, but a short journey holds its own surprises too.

The Nissan Terrano 'Son of the Soil' drive was such an experience; a drive of 300-odd kilometers, it took us through the fertile plains of Punjab to the foothills of the Dhauladhar mountains in Himachal Pradesh.

The Terrano was launched in October 2013, to cater to those looking for a stylish and practical compact-SUV that was fit for multiple roles. It captured the attention of the customers too, it appealed to the rural as well as urban dweller, beckoned the adventurous as well as the prudent. In short, it was accepted as another part of our diverse automotive community.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Front

The Anniversary Edition of the Terrano comes with styling enhancements such as fully-blackened roof, sporty black stripes and blackened wing mirrors along with more chrome bits. The interiors have been spruced up, but the most interesting addition is the heads-up display for vehicle speed and directions.. This lend a sense of occasion to the limited edition model that celebrates the success of the vehicle in our market. As only 450 units of Anniversary Edition were available for buyers we had to content with driving the standard Terrano.

The day started for me at around 6 in the morning. Thanks to a big error in calculating the commuting time between my house and the airport, I had to wait for more than 2 hours. The flight was from terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, it is easy to see why it is rated as one of the best in the continent. It was a foggy day, indication that winter was on its way.

The view as we got closer to Amritsar was mesmerizing; you could see fields of Kharif crops being harvested, the parts that had not been harvested were golden brown, other parts were being prepared for the winter season. To the north-east you could see the Himalayas, the lower ranges all barren while the upper ranges still had snow on them.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Flag-off

Seven Terrano's awaited us at the starting point, most of them diesel powered in both the power configurations. There was only one petrol variant available and I was lucky enough to drive it for a significant period of the drive.

Our first destination was Punjabiyat, a resort providing the authentic flavour of rural Punjab. We had to cover around 100 km to get to the place from our starting point near the Amritsar airport. The road, for most parts, was the dual-carriageway State Highway 25. Traffic was heavy for most of the journey, complicated by the various types of vehicles sharing the road. From faster cars and SUVs to the local made 'Jugaads'. Jugaad, a local slang for a simple workaround, describes these vehicles aptly. Jugaads are the result of necessity and the subsequent bending of rules to let them be even though safer options are available.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Front Dynamic

 

Driving here is not for the meek, people seem not to care about their lives. If you are driving a bigger vehicle, it is your responsibility that everyone around you is safe. If you are driving a huge vehicle, you also seem to have the right to bully everyone else into submission.

When the road gets emptier, you can take a look around and notice how the farms are finishing off harvesting the crop and preparing the field for the winter crops. While some farms have already sown the seeds for the new crop, some are still harvesting, while others are burning off the roots of the previous crop which add a thick layer of smoke to the air. Tractors, tillers and harvesters are hard at work, it is a busy time of the year!

Winter was approaching, you could see that all around you. The tress were shedding leaves, the ground was littered with yellowing leaves, the air was dry. The tall sugarcane crops near our destination created a visual relief in-between all the dry land around. The resort looked like a small farm you would find at any village, except that you were greeted by people well-versed in a variety of languages and were encouraging you to have more food than your tummy could handle.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Food

We had been driving for almost 2 hours, we had taken a longer route to Punjabiyat, our support car driver assured us that the shorter route would have been jam-packed with traffic. We were famished, and jumped onto charpoys to have lunch. It was a proper Punjabi feast, the food on offer included sarson ka saag and makki ki roti, a lot of lassi and hot-fresh Jalebis. It was now time to experience some more of the rural farm life that we had been promised. Many took a tractor on site for a test drive, it can do a surprise wheelspin-laden launch or a proper wheelie if you are not careful. The tractor had badges which claimed that it had dual-clutch, but believe you me the gearshift does not want to budge from whatever position it is at.

Evening was approaching by the time we left Punjabiyat, the next stop? The Taragarh Palace Hotel at Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. 172 km from our current location, the drive would take much longer as we were going to drive on twisty mountain roads, at night.

The convoy was making rapid progress, and the 104PS petrol and 85PS diesel variants could easily keep up with the more powerful 110PS diesel variant. In the plains, the variable-turbo equipped 1.5-litre diesel engine could tear away from the others thanks to the extra boost provided by the variable-turbo and the sixth cog that helped with stress-free high-speed cruising. In the hills, the variable turbo system was taking longer to spool up, the fixed-geometry turbo on the 85PS variant spooled up faster while the petrol did not have any lag whatsoever. All the variants of the SUV needed to be kept on the boil to keep the pace brisk, it was annoying to know that we were missing many beautiful vistas thanks to the darkness surrounding us. But we soldiered on. The change of temperature announced that we had left the plains, the fresh mountain-air energised us even more.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Taragarh Palace Entry

We could not see much of the exterior splendor of the Taragarh Palace Hotel due to the darkness, but the winding staircases, marbled floors, and large rooms filled with furniture of the colonial-era reminded us that this property once belonged to the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Terrano's were given a proper scrub and every bit was tested to make it ready for the next day. We had a filling dinner and engaged in long conversations throughout the night before deciding to finally hit the soft-warm beds awaiting us.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Taragarh Palace

I panicked a bit the next morning, a fellow journalist played a bit of trick on me by declaring that everybody had left and I had slept in. The statement was partially true, a part of our group had to go to Jammu and left early. Anyway, I had enough time to take in the beautiful architecture of the hotel, the greenery all around and see the towering Dhauladhar mountain range to the north. Today we were on our way to visit the Norbulinka Institute, a centre created to conserve and promote the culture of Tibetans exiled from their home.

The drive to Norbulinka institute was about 40 km long and took us through some really beautiful winding roads. The view at many places had been spoilt by tall buildings, thankfully there were enough empty patches throughout the route where you could see and behold the natural beauty of this region. The Dhauladhar mountains got closer by as we got closer to the Norbulinka institute, it is located in lower Dharamsala.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Front Right

There is something about the place that makes you calmer from the moment you enter it; the Norbulinka institute has a lot of vegetation, among which you will find the academic buildings, art-and-craft buildings, a temple, some shops and a cafe. The usually talkative group had quietened down, the heightened spiritual feeling inside might have been the reason.

A guide showed us around the institute, especially around the vocational centers where traditional Tibetan art is still practiced. The institute encourages addition of modern techniques and ideas into the art and sculpture to keep it relevant to newer generations of Tibetans and others who want to learn. It was fascinating to see the hand-crafted artwork come to life right in front our eyes, learning about the training and practice that goes into becoming an expert and the materials and techniques used to make these masterpieces. Our journey ended with us paying our respects at the Seat of Happiness Temple inside the institute campus.

Nissan Terrano Anniversary Drive Seat of Happiness Temple

Though the official journey was at an end, the trip had one more surprise for us. The flight back to Delhi from the Kangra airport was breath-taking, the airport is small (it could be almost called 'cute'), you get the most awesome view of the mountains as you take off. This was the perfect way to end this diverse experience!

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