6 days & 1137 km: My Maruti 800 SS80 does an Assam-Arunachal road trip
Hirohito, my SS80 inadvertently manages to grab attention on the road, especially in the hills, where people still revere the 800.
BHPian Hirohito recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
A quick intro:
I’ve been planning to drive Hirohito (AMS 2654) from home all the way through the high mountain passes of Ladakh later this year. Keeping that in mind my SS80 has been undergoing some mechanical upgrades over the past few months. The most recent upgrades being, replacing the master cylinder with a Bosch cylinder with booster (thanks to @chiranjitp for the idea and guidance), replacing the front wheel bearings with new model ones along with knuckles and hubs. The car also gets new upholstery including door pads and pockets for convenience, to name a few.
New hubs and bearings. Planning to revisit Ladakh later this year.
A quick opportunity arrived for a ‘test drive’ in the form of the Rhododendron festival in Shergaon (Arunachal Pradesh). Moreover my friend Dhriti with a team of half a dozen friends and porters were doing a 4-5 days exploratory trek from Morshing to Mandala. My plan was to push the car, try out its braking performance, meet Dhriti and his team at the end of the trek and witness the Rhododendron festival.
What was supposed to be a quick plug & play, ended up into a full blown mod. The SS80’s master cylinder is located inside the cabin near the footwell and the new one needed to be installed inside the engine bay.
At the end of the trip it would be time to send Hirohito to the garage for a full body restoration work. Well at least that was the plan. It’s a different story altogether of what transpired and how we ended up not meeting any of the trekkers and as for the festival, we only reached there at the concluding function, where there was nothing much left to see.
As the saying goes, life is what happens when you‘re busy making other plans.
Day 1. 365 kms to Domkho:
4.19 am. We decided to leave a little early. Odo reading 52388 km.
4.52 am. Garo hills on the other side.
Moon & Maini (henceforth M&M) in their Swift will catch up around breakfast time. Anand will also be accompanying us in the Swift. Moon was apprehensive about a long drive given the condition of his back. Anand agreed to drive when needed. Ravi from Guwahati will also meet us around the same time. Abhijit, after doing an overnight bus journey will land at Ravi’s house and join us in Ravi’s silver chariot, a hardy silver OG Wagon R vxi.
5.05 am. Daylight seeping in at 52409 km.
Since we had that little extra hour, we left NH17 at Bijoynagar and decided to check out the Brahmaputra at Palashbari which some of my friends frequent as a quick getaway from Guwahati. Our present route bypasses Mirza and the GN Bordoloi airport (Guwahati airport), and rejoins NH17 closer to Guwahati at Dharapur. On the way we spoke to M&M who had already picked up Anand and were an hour away from us. Ravi on the other hand was getting our breakfast packed and loaded in his car in Guwahati.
We had to take it slow. Took left from Jalukbari and landed on NH27 towards the Saraighat bridge. Just after crossing the bridge, ahead of me I saw some uniformed guys, stopping cars for god knows what. Stopped me too. But I had all the time today. He ran my plates on his phone and then ran towards another guy. Instantly they signalled us to keep going. A little ahead, near Amingaon, it was time to start looking for a spot to stop for the rest of the team to arrive. By pure happenstance we landed outside the only monastery (Vihar) around Guwahati.
6.25 am. Palashbari river front.
Do you see the Buddh Vihar through the foliage? It’s at your 3:00 o’clock.
7.39 am. Assam Buddh Vihar. The gate leading to the top of the hill was still closed.
8.35 am. Finally everyone arrived and we stopped at Changsari, outside a shop that was yet to open. Ravi served us some delicious breakfast that he got from a trusted shop near his house.
Moon wanted to tighten the lug nuts in his Swift. Since his tools were underneath a trunkful of clothes, blanket and a bag full of meds, he asked for mine. While getting the upholstery done recently, I got two elastic bands stitched to the side wall panels of the boot for easy access to tools. The decision paid off immediately!
But the thing is, I also had my lug nuts changed recently. Our family driver had changed and tightened them. Now as I inspected them, to my utter surprise all the eight front wheel nuts were loose. Tightened them all, only to realise that one of the nuts is slipping. Nothing serious. I decided to address the problem later.
9.36 am. Passing through Rangia with Ravi leading the way. From Rangia just to get a glimpse of Bhutan, one can head to the Bhutanese border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. We however remained committed to SH10 towards Udalguri.
At 10.30 am we took our first tea break at a place called Sauraguri in Tamulpur district. Safe to say that it’d end up being the worst tea of the trip. I was surprised to see Moon’s cup already empty. An entire cup of hot piping tea that quick! Soon, I also found way to dispose it off without creating any suspicion. Almost everyone did the same, is what I got to know later.
Nearing Udalguri at the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh.
At 12.22 we arrived at our next stoppage i.e. Udalguri in Assam, at Denny’s house. Udalguri is at the foothills and shares a rich history with Arunachal Pradesh and West Kameng district in particular . In fact Udalguri is at the trijunction between Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.
Denny and I used to be part of the same motorcycle club and we’ve traveled together extensively in Arunachal Pradesh. Now we are planning to do Ladakh later this year. He has a newer model of the 800 and is planning to undertake the same brake booster upgrades that I had done in mine before venturing out to Ladakh.
After a sumptuous lunch at his house, we filled our tanks at Bhairabkunda and crossed over to Arunachal Pradesh shortly afterwards at Balemu border.
11.57 am. Lunch at Denny’s.
1.11 pm. Filling up at Bhairabkunda. We’ll be stopping here and head to the river, on our way back later.
3.35 pm. Landscape was constantly transforming as we began climbing our way up.
A foggy section of the road. Ankaling 13 km.
5.57 pm. Morshing 16 km. Almost there. Our destination for the night is Domkho, which is approx 2 km from Morshing.
Reached our homestay at Domkho at around 8 pm. A fire was quickly lit up in the compound. The full moon above.
Later before dinner the hostess gave us a khata each, welcoming us to their home and to the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Continue reading on BHPian Hirohito’s road trip in his Maruti 800 SS80 for BHPian comments, insights and more information.
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