Reaching Sandakphu – the Indian Himalayan region also known as the ‘Land of Land Rovers’
Deep in the Indian Himalayan region also known as the ‘Land of Land Rovers’ a fleet of classic Series Land Rover models dating from 1957 provides a vital transport link between Maneybhanjang and Sandakphu in West Bengal.
As part of Land Rover’s 70th year celebrations, Land Rover took the celebrations to new heights by visiting this remote rural community in West Bengal. The village of Sandakphu sits at an altitude of 3,636m and is only accessible by a steep and rocky track using a fleet of 42 thoroughly well-maintained Series Land Rovers .
Sandakphu is the tallest peak in West Bengal and is located in the Darjeeling district. It is situated right next to the Singalila National Park, which is located on the border shared by neighboring states West Bengal and Sikkim.
Sandakphu is a very special place and the views that surround it are spectacular where the peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, and Makalu –(which happen to be among four of the five highest mountain peaks of the world) – can be seen from its topmost point. It is said that it offers the finest view of Kangchenjunga.
The word Sandakphu means Height of Poison Plant, which can be taken as a reference to the various poisonous plants that grow in the region.
The temperature veers between 5 to 15 degrees in the summer season and between -5 and -10 degrees in the winter season. There is heavy rainfall in the period between July and September so the track can be very challenging.
A film that was released by Landrover in late summer 2018 highlights the spectacular 31km journey made regularly by residents of Maneybhanjang in West Bengal, India to Sandakphu in order to carry out their day to day activities.
Towering gradients, rock-strewn pony tracks and treacherous weather are just some of the hazards faced on a daily basis by the residents and their Land Rovers on the journey to the hilltop village.
The Land Rover team filmed the remarkable collection of Series models, which are a lifeline for the local communities.
A fascinating and compelling story unfolded in 1958 in Maneybhanjang, West Bengal. Life was tough in the, then sparsely populated place, along the Indo-Nepal border. These resilient people were determined to succeed against the odds, relying on ponies to move themselves and their supplies across distances near and far. Until the first of the Series 1 Land Rovers arrived in 1958.
These early Land Rovers were first imported into India by British tea planters, who operated the various tea estates that Darjeeling is now famous for.
Over the years, most of the original equipment in these Land Rovers, including their petrol engines were replaced by Mahindra/Isuzu Diesel components. While this gave them a fresh lease of life for a couple of decades.
It is our understanding that these ageing vehicles are now deemed unsuitable by the Government of West Bengal. One thing is for sure and that is that these workhorses have more than outlived their initial purpose are a true testament to the engineers who designed these early Land Rovers many moons ago.