Back in the 50s, tea estate owners in West Bengal introduced the very first land rovers called Series Land Rovers (1948-1958) in India, Darjeeling to be precise, not too long after these vehicles were first manufactured. Around that time, some 300-odd vehicles existed in India, out of which, untill very recently, 40 worked as local taxis, plying the treacherous terrains of Maneybhanjyang to Sandakphu. There is a lovely story behind how they came to this part of the country and why did they last for so many decades. Here's the story of the humble yet resilient original Land Rovers, the ultimate king of the road.
After WWII, the Rover Motor Company came up with series-I Land Rover, complete with four-wheel drive system, low gearing, aluminum body and two-litre four cylinders petrol motor. Back then, the Britisher tea planters found these vehicles useful while transporting tea on those treacherous and super steep mountain roads. The British left but these vehicles stayed back and ever since they have been under the care of local owners. They make for a good local taxi because of their built and easy maintenance. Driving on these tricky roads is no game, only seasoned drivers can handle the change in rapid change in gradient. Add to that the weather that this region gets most of the time. Rain.
These original Series Land Rovers were earlier put aside keeping their age, unavailability of spare parts and safety measures in mind. But now under recent developments, they have started plying the route between Maneybhanjyang and Sandakphu, just like the bygone days.
These vehicles cruise effortlessly on the steep slopes and hairpin bends and those who have driven these and also the modern variants, will definitely be able to tell the difference when it comes to cruise control. These Series Land Rovers remain unbeatable and are worthy of full admiration. They go where most vehicles can't go and can withstand the challenges of the road, and most importantly, after they ceased to be in production decades ago, the ones that remained in Darjeeling are the only ones in the whole world that are in running condition. It looks like they are here for good, running the same hills they they once ruled and continue to do so.
Series Land Rover will remain the heritage of Darjeeling.