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Onelife 26

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Share the passion of a Land Rover-loving community in a remote corner of India | Experience the thrills of driving on ice in the Range Rover Velar | Explore stunning Donegal with seafarer Monty Halls and his family | Relive the child-like sense of wonder captured at the Above & Beyond Tour | See why the Range Rover PHEV impressed mountaineer Jimmy Chin | Encounter the most powerful Defender: the Classic Works V8 special

XXXXXXX LEFT INDIA NEPAL

XXXXXXX LEFT INDIA NEPAL Sandakphu Maneybhanjang BHUTAN Bagdogra BANGLADESH 30

HERITAGE Pemba (center) tackles the tough conditions with a smile, maneuvering his Series I up the narrow hairpin-studded road with practiced ease Pemba Tamang is wearing a smile that says, very clearly, that he is in his element. Mine, not so much. I’m riding shotgun with him in his weather-beaten Land Rover Series I as we drive up a snake of a Himalayan road, from the tiny Indian mountain town of Maneybhanjang to the trekking destination of Sandakphu on the Nepalese border. We climbed 2,000 feet in the first five miles; within the next 15, we will shoot up to 13,000 feet – and it is a first-gear climb all the way. The screaming diesel engine makes conversation difficult, so smiles will have to do the talking for now. The road is narrow and peppered with tight hairpin bends. Nepal flashes by, sometimes on our left, at other times on the right. Now, a novice driving a nonpower-steered Series I might misjudge a hairpin, have to reverse and burn his clutch plates to get going again; but not Tamang. He expertly navigates these curves with practiced muscle memory and the sincere belief that the small figure of Lord Buddha stuck on the dashboard will guide his Land Rover up safely. About 13 miles in, the concrete road deteriorates into a path strewn with rugby-ball sized rocks. To perform its usual duty of carrying loads of up to 1,764 lbs, this old Series 1 has beefed-up leaf springs, which makes it ride like a kangaroo on a pogo stick when unloaded – but to my amazement, it barely rattles. Instead, it’s only my teeth that do so, as we bounce down this so-called road, past rhododendron forests and through rolling mist. Four-wheel drive engaged, the Land Rover remains as unperturbed as its eversmiling driver, and we chug forward steadily. And though the thick, chilly fog today unfortunately denies us the otherwise pristine view of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world, the Land Rover has more than proven its Himalayan mettle. It dawns on me that anything longer or less tough than a Series I will not ballet its way up half as easily. No wonder that, for decades, Land Rover Series I and II vehicles were the only vehicles plying this old pony trail – and 42 of them still survive to this day, rendering faithful service. And this is the very reason I find myself in this remote Himalayan district – three hours by road from the nearest small airport, Bagdogra, itself a 75-minute flight from the city of Kolkata – to discover just how this beautifully simple vehicle changed the fortunes of one small Indian town forever. 31

 

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Onelife 27

 

Land Rover’s Onelife magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go above and beyond.

Land Rover vehicles go above and beyond, to help you make the most of your world. The latest issue of Onelife delivers this philosophy to your living room with evocative narrative and stunning photography. Experience a rich variety of perspectives from around the globe: from eco-innovators in China to road-testing in Greece and modernist architecture in Germany

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