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Land Rovers, one of the vestiges of British legacy in the hills, rolled out on the streets of Darjeeling on Wednesday as part of the tea & tourism festival.
Only 35 Land Rovers from the 1954, 1955 & 1956 make ply in the hills, but even to this day, these are the only vehicles that can negotiate the four- hour rough terrain to reach Sandakphu. Tourist hotspot Sandakphu is located in the Singalila wildlife sanctuary at 12,000 ft, almost double Darjeeling’s altitude.
No modern vehicle has ever dared to ply on this route. Fifteen Land-Rovers in the hills use petrol while others have been converted into diesel. “ Petrol vehicle can carry only a weight of about six quintals but diesel Land Rovers can take eight quintals. Since the Land Rovers are the only means of transport for high-altitude villagers to ferry their goods, the owners who rent them out have converted their vehicles from petrol into diesel,” said the secretary of the Singalila Land Rovers’ Association.
Fourteen Land Rovers, which included eight that are petrol run, took part in the rally that started from Maneybhanjyan and ended before the Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling town.
Tourists were given a free ride between  Maneybhanjyan and Darjeeling.
Despite the vehicles being more that 50 years old, they are considered priceless in the hills. “ The vehicles are priceless and even though people hardly sell them, it will cost around 3-4 lakh if there is an old exchange of owners,” said the secretary of the Singalila Land Rovers’ Association. The Land Rovers are mainly serviced in Maneybhanjyan and usually machine parts of the old car are modified to suit the needs.
Courtesy :  The Telegraph




Posted on: 27 Dec 2011

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