4 years ago

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 HERITAGE LEFT “THE SERIES I IS AS TOUGH AS A HAMMER. ITS BODY DOES NOT RUST AND IT IS SIMPLE TO FIX” Passang, one of the oldest Land Rover drivers in Maneybhanjang, firmly believes that no other vehicle can take on this arduous task CHANGING LIVES The genesis of these vehicles in India traces back to the Rover Company’s local distributorship, the Kolkatabased Dewars Garage and Engineering Works, which imported and sold around 1,000 Land Rover vehicles to British companies that owned tea plantations in West Bengal, Assam and other north-eastern states. As British companies exited India in the years following its independence, many of these vehicles were auctioned off in the town of Siliguri, about three hours away. The first Land Rover arrived in Maneybhanjang in 1958. Until then, life had been very hard, especially for the ponies that used to transport supplies to remote settlements high up in the Himalayas. The four-wheeldrive Land Rover proved to be so reliable and so much faster that over the next 36 years, an estimated 300 more were bought by the people of Maneybhanjang. Walking down Maneybhanjang’s narrow main street, busily lined with small stores selling assorted goods, snacks and trinkets, I’m immediately drawn to the parked row of Series I and II vehicles. They look like they’ve lived a hard life – the paint on most is worn down to bare metal, and most of their tires are way past their use-by date – but they are clearly well-maintained, and proudly sport an array of colorful stickers, from ‘Great Britain’, ‘England Rover’ and ‘Manchester Rules,' to the slightly puzzling ‘Chocolate Boy,’ and the apt ‘Life Line.’ Maneybhanjang, population 2,500, is a tourist town; its three hotels and numerous homestays cater to the trekkers who come to huff up 20 miles and take in the spectacular view from Sandakphu. For decades, the Land Rover vehicles ferried supplies and passengers between the towns, and have been the engine of Maneybhanjang’s commerce. URBAN LEGENDS “I owe everything to the Land Rover,” says Passang Ramba, one of the oldest drivers in these parts. Since the 1970s, he has been driving supplies up to Sandakphu twice a day, bringing back crops of potatoes to Maneybhanjang’s market. This is no mean feat: in the old days, the 40-mile return trip could take up to seven back-breaking hours. Today, two-thirds of the road has been upgraded to asphalt and concrete – but while it may be a bit more comfortable, the ride still takes about the same time, as the road’s width and gradient limit average speeds. “The Series I is as tough as a hammer,” he says, explaining that its longevity derives from its durable 32


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