Nano takes on Ladakh
It's always great to challenge established notions, and stir up the status quo. I think the Tata Nano does so in good measure.
Our trip to Ladakh began on the 1st of July 2013 from Noida. This is a very brief account of the trip for those Nano owners who are still hesitant to undertake this awesome journey.
I went up the Srinagar side, travelling via Kargil to reach Leh in 5 days (with stops at Jalandhar, Udhampur, Srinagar & Kargil). The only place the car kind of struggled was up a steep inclination, short of Zojila, where it slipped a bit in a non-existent part of the so called highway. I put on the hand brake, engaged first gear and revved all the way while releasing the brake, got out of that one easy.
The trip up from Leh to Khardungla is easier than one would imagine, in spite of the dirt track for a road stretching from South to North Pullu (40 Kms). The people on K-Top were fascinated at a Nano being there. I crossed over to Nubra Valley and visited Sumur, Panamik, Diskit & Hundar. I think it is the first Nano ever to reach Nubra Valley.
The road from Leh to Pangong via Changla is more trying. Just before Pangong, I got stuck in a bit of sand which was easily dislodged by some shove from my boots. I arrived at Pangong to an eager crowd of taxi drivers and tourists alike. The drive up from Pangong to Changla is one of the more difficult drives of the trip. The Nano struggled just the once on the uphill drive where the road was a combination of lose stones and water flowing over. A slight nudge by two extremely helpful taxi drivers saw me back up without a problem.
From Leh to Tso-Moriri starts out as the best of roads, and gets you wondering why more people do not venture there. The last 25 kms answers that question. The road is a carpet of jagged stones of all shapes and sizes. This stretch took me about 2 hours to get across and I think mine was the first Nano to reach there as well. On the way there though, if any of you plan to go in a Nano, please do not take the tracks made by other vehicles as some travel blogs might indicate. They're basically sand tracks, which the Nano really does not like, as I found out the hard way. It took a 15 minutes for a passing taxi and 4 kindly travelers to get me out of that jam. A new set of tyres will take on almost all surfaces, but the Nano can not take sand that runs too deep.
The toughest part of the journey was the return trip across the Rohtang pass- a combination of slush, stones, water, rolling clouds, steep hairpin bends and continuous traffic. The little one made it up and down the pass extremely efficiently, and without a body part lost.
I was on the road for 3947 kms, for 20 days and the Nano used up 168-170 liters of fuel. From Leh to Tso-Moriri and back, the car delivered a mind-boggling average of 27.1. To say I came back happy would be a gross understatement. Tata, you have made something special here, kudos to you.
It was a special trip.
And I did it solo.