It's winter and Delhi's proximity to the hills makes it fairly easy to plan a longish weekend getaway if you want to experience some snowfall. So when I heard it was snowing in the hills, I decided to plan a drive up to experience it. The question was - where? Again, because of Delhi's proximity to the hills, the moment it starts snowing, the hills get crowded by tourists from the plains. And added to that I had also committed to taking part in The Great Darbar Sahib run - a road trip to Amritsar and Wagah on the weekend of January 14 and 15, 2017. And my 9-year-old daughter was on her winter break, so it was a good opportunity to get her out into the snow as well.
I did not want to take the regular route, but instead wanted the more scenic route and, if possible, a road that would involve tackling snow. On January 12th morning, my daughter and I got into our Scorpio S10 4WD (called Black Fox) and started out. I charted out a route that would take me via Nahan to Kumarhatti - a pretty scenic route that we had done earlier this year on the HVK Monsoon Drive. From Kumarhatti, I followed the main Shimla road till Kandhaghat and then turned right towards Chail, via Sadhupul. Now this section of the road is fairly narrow, but not much trouble.
The real fun on the drive started at Chail, when we got our first sampling of snow. Chail was snowed out. The snow was a couple of days old, and hence, some of it had turned to ice in the market place area of Chail making it difficult for a lot of cars to pass each other without spinning their wheels or sliding. Fortunately, for the Scorpio 4WD, it was no big deal. The weight of the Scorpio and combined with the four-wheel drive system ensured it had enough traction. I have Pirelli Scorpio ATR tyres on the car, which are brilliant all-weather tyres for this SUV. It's performance on snow is awesome - I can vouch for that after this trip, having done a snow drive last year as well with my other Scorpio 4WD (Red Fox) that is shod with Yokohama Geolandar AT-S tyres.
In Chail, a few of the locals discouraged us from going further saying the Chail - Kufri road was snowed out and we couldn't reach Kufri. I decided I would take a chance and push through to Kufri anyway, and if I couldn't I could always back track to Chail - as it's hardly 30 km or so from there.
Venturing out of Chail, I did encounter a fair amount of snow on the road, but it was manageable. Driving a few kilometres out I found a local family (husband, wife and toddler) walking up the road and so I gave them a lift up to Shilon Bagh, a hamlet (and resort) just 10 km short of Kufri. Till there the road was fairly decent, although there was a lot of snow and black ice in some places. One had to drive really slow and at places, just to maintain traction, I switched to four-wheel drive high (4H) to keep the vehicle in control. There were a couple of local Boleros running up and down between Shilon Bagh and Chail and I did pass a bulldozer and a dumper truck indicating that some of the snow had been cleared ahead.
I had booked myself into the Royal Tulip hotel at Kufri, and this hotel is quite close to Kufri Top (on the road up if you come from Shimla side). It was just about 11 km away from Shilon Bagh - but that 11 km was the most adventurous one. The snow got thicker. The landscape turned to white. There was a narrow track that had been ploughed through by the bulldozer, but it was still quite slippery. Keeping it in second gear, with 4H engaged, we ventured slowly, up the road keeping speeds under 15 kmph, as braking in snow can be hazardous. Every turn made the snow thicker, but the Scorpio ploughed on. The temperature dropped to 3 degree C outside, but we were ensconced in a toasty 22 degree C cabin thanks to the climate control.
As I neared Kufri top, there was no one in sight, until I cleared the top, ploughing through about a foot of snow on the road. And then I was greeted by a sea of tourists on horses, all looking bewildered at seeing a vehicle come up a road they thought no vehicle would come through! It took a while getting through the crowd of horses on the road - and in fact this was the biggest obstacle I faced on the whole drive! The snow part was easy.
I have a small car SWIFT VDI 2010 model . I use it for city travelling in Kolkata and often visit Orissa and Jharkhand . My family size is four people. Please suggest me a Car/Suv within Rs. 7 lakhs-11 lakhs for both City and highway and bad roads .
Roshun This may be a noob question, but how do you stop the windscreen/windows/ORVM from fogging when the temperature is colder outside and warmer inside. I have owned a Maruti Swift and Honda Amaze and its a pain to keep the cabin cold just to avoid fogging.
Roshun I own a ex-l 2wd honda crv 2014 model, and planning a road trip in the next few days to Kothi, a village only a few kilometers away from Manali. Considering the fact that I'd have to drive on a snow covered road, and the weather can bad as well, which snow chains should I carry with me? I realize the use of such traction devices is not so common here in India, but I don't want to get in any sort of trouble. Would really appreciate some help here!!