TO THE HIMALAYAN KINGDOM
The 35th Gang of Dusters expedition sees the Gang heading to Nepal to visit the mighty Himalayas and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Lucknow to Gorakhpur 270km
Driving on Indian highways with an expected mix of trucks and other traffic.
Gorakhpur to Chitwan 252km
Enter Nepal and drive on highways and rural roads to Chitwan National Park.
Chitwan to Kathmandu 170km
Proper (but crowded) highways gives way to a rutted dirt road, towards the end.
Kathmandu to Nagarkot, and back 65km
Day for rest and/or sightseeing in Kathmandu, including a visit to the Everest viewing point, in Nagarkot.
Kathmandu to Pokhara 201km
Twisty, scenic roads through mountains, with a river running alongside.
Pokhara, rest day
Rest day in Pokhara with organised adventure activities, like mountain biking .
Pokhara to Lumbini 198km
Primarily a highway drive, the journey culminates at the culturally-important Lumbini Gardens – birthplace of the Buddha.
Lumbini to Lucknow 398km
The drive home is the longest; closing ceremony in the evening, at Lucknow.
For some, driving and travelling are inextricably intertwined. Road trips are a way of life; a way to spend time with friends and family; a way to see more of the world; a way to discover new places; a way to seek adventure. The Gang of Dusters’ Iconic Passion Drive to Nepal is a collection of more than 40 such people driving more than 20 Dusters and discovering, driving, travelling, connecting and exploring together.
GODS OF THE ROAD
With the introduction of the Duster, Renault offered a large number of Indians a car that would allow them to satisfy their craving for adventure and exploration. The Duster was an SUV that was not only a go-anywhere SUV, it was also usable in everyday life on crowded city roads on account of its relative compactness and comfort. Soon after, Renault went a step further and started the Gang of Dusters – a special initiative to bring Duster owners together and offer them opportunities to traverse the length and breadth of India and its myriad terrains with like-minded adventure seekers.
The Gang of Dusters has expanded to more than one lakh members and its expeditions, after exhausting adrenaline-pumping destinations in India, have crossed national boundaries twice this year – first to Bhutan and now, to Nepal. The Iconic Passion Drive to Nepal was the Gang’s 35th expedition, 3rd Iconic Passion Drive and 2nd international drive – and it took everything the Gang stands for, to the next level.
LAND OF THE HIMALAYAS
The Iconic Passion Drive to Nepal started in the historic city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. Over 40 participants had come for this expedition from all over the country, some driving over from as far south as Bengaluru and Madurai. Having already been briefed about safety measures and the intricacies of convoy driving, the participants (or GODs, as they are called) set about filling their Dusters’ boots with nine days worth of luggage. The roomy Duster boot swallowed whatever was thrown in; car no. 7 was travelling with five people on board and even they didn’t face any shortage of space. Flagged off, the Gang set off for their first destination – Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur is quite close to the Nepal border, making for an ideal pit-stop en route to the Himalayan Kingdom. Well-rested and refreshed, the Gang approached the Nepal border, on Day 2. Efficient pre-planning meant that the convoy crossed the border effortlessly, without any of the hassle one associates with driving into international territory. For several GODs, this was the first time they were stepping outside India – and their elation was evident.
The first destination in Nepal was Chitwan National Park, a preserved area in south-central Nepal widely known for its biodiversity. The drive to Chitwan took the Gang through verdant fields and quaint villages; all driving was in a convoy, an experience the GODs thoroughly appreciated because of the sense of order and security it brought. At Chitwan, the GODs were put up in the luxurious and organic Barahi Jungle Lodge, a vast property that blends luxury, nature and tradition, situated on the banks of the Rapti River. The GODs were welcomed by a traditional song and dance performance.
The next morning, the Gang enjoyed a truly unique experience – breakfast on an island in the Rapti River. The GODs were ferried to this island in wooden canoes; they even got lucky with wild rhinoceros and crocodile sightings on the way. Post-breakfast, the Gang set off for Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu.
The route to Kathmandu took the convoy through scenic mountain passes and green river valleys, finally culminating in a patch of bad, broken roads just before they reached the capital – a true off-roading experience. Many GODs raved about how valiantly their Dusters managed this broken, dusty path, with the suspension and engine working hard to conquer the terrain. Content but tired, the Gang reached Kathmandu in the dark, settling into one of the city’s oldest five-star hotels for some much-needed rest.
The next morning, the Gang set off for Nagarkot, a little village 30-odd kilometres from Kathmandu that offers stunning and expansive views of some of the tallest peaks of the Himalayan range – including Mount Everest. Blessed with a clear sky, GODs got a rare chance to check out the world’s tallest peaks in all their snow-capped glory. For the rest of the day, GODs were free to explore Kathmandu, visiting its many iconic temples and monuments such as the Pashupatinath Temple, and shopping in its colourful Thamel market. That night, Renault surprised all GODs by gifting them mugs customised with their individual images and the GOD logo.
From Kathmandu, the Gang moved to Pokhara. What was noteworthy was how infrequently the GODs had to stop for fuel. Despite driving long distances on a daily basis, the Dusters seemed to be taking their own sweet time hitting empty – that trusty 1.5-litre engine was proving to be powerful and efficient. The drive to Pokhara was full of mountain twisties, and the 25-car GOD convoy wound around the mountains in an almost serpentine fashion. The twisty road was almost always accompanied by a river flowing alongside, affording the GODs one of the most scenic routes they have ever encountered.
Pokhara is famous for adventure activities, making it perfect for the adventure-seeking GODs. The next morning, a part of the Gang set off for mountain biking, riding bicycles along the banks of the beautiful and tranquil Phewa Lake, and even venturing onto dried portions of its riverbed. The most adventurous ones of the lot even decided to take a swim in the river to cool off.
From Pokhara, the Gang set off for their last destination, Lumbini. On the way out of Pokhara, the convoy drove down a road with snow-capped mountains making up the background, a most ‘iconic’ sight, indeed. The route to Lumbini consisted primarily of highway driving and the convoy maintained a brisk pace throughout, the Dusters feeling planted and stable on the smooth roads. By this point of time in the drive, the GODs had formed strong bonds among themselves – a development evident in the constant warm walkie-talkie chatter, throughout the day. The Gang reached Lumbini by late-afternoon, heading straight for the Mayadevi temple, regarded as the birthplace of Buddha. They also explored other areas of the Lumbini Gardens, like the golden baby Buddha statue and the eternal flame.
The next day, unfortunately, happened to be the last one of the Iconic Passion Drive to Nepal. With happy memories and a heavy heart, the Gang made its way back to Lucknow. The last stretch of driving was a long one – 400km from Lumbini to Lucknow – but the GODs were seasoned drivers by now and traversed this distance in an astonishingly short span of time.
The Iconic Passion Drive to Nepal was a resounding success, in every sense of the phrase. All 25 Dusters managed the entire drive – be it gruelling dust roads, twisting mountain passes or long stretches of highway – effortlessly with not a single breakdown or failure. As for the GODs – they formed bonds that would last them a lifetime. Different participants loved different things about the drive. Some were awed by the scenic routes they drove on, others by the experience of driving in a convoy. Yet others thoroughly enjoyed the luxuriousness of the accommodations chosen, while a handful will always cherish memories of roughing it out during the adventure activities. This Gang of Dusters offered something for everyone – no matter their age, interests, propensity for adventure or travel style. There were couples, families with children, senior citizens and solo travellers, and all of them had the time of their lives.
Despite the differences in age and interests, everyone unanimously agreed on one thing – their Dusters deserve a round of applause for the way they drove over a dramatic variety of terrain over 10 days, without so much as a single mechanical breakdown, making it the perfect car, if you want to go the distance.
NithIn Chandrashekaran, Madurai
My wife Madhubala and I are coming all the way from Madurai; we drove around 2,500km to get to Lucknow. We got married just two months ago, so this is our honeymoon adventure. I am really looking forward to a lot of off-roading, because we’ve got the Adventure edition of the Duster and we want to test the all-wheel-drive out, properly.
Uma Kaushik, Delhi
I feel really lucky that CEAT has gifted me these tyres; I was in dire need of them because my workshop advised me to get my current tyres changed before this drive. I refused their advice at the time; but then a doubt set in my heart. So when I was told that I was getting these new tyres, my happiness knew no bounds. So, thank you very much CEAT and Renault, I’ll now be driving very confidently!
Rakesh Gupta, Bengaluru
I’ve come from Bengaluru all by myself; this is a new experience for me, driving solo. I’ve never done solo driving, till date. This is also my first international trip and I am so happy doing it with my Duster. It can take anything, go on any kind of surface, be it a potholed road, gravel, mud, sand – it doesn’t matter.
Ratna Gupta, Delhi
Driving in a convoy has been a great experience. The crew cars are acting like sheep dogs to keep all the cars together, and they are handling everything despite so much traffic on the roads. This way, the drivers of individual cars are not too stressed, we only have to keep in line with the car in front of us and behind us. Guiding a convoy of 18-20 cars in an orderly manner is amazing.
Navneet Gupta, Delhi
Like they say, all good things must come to an end; and unfortunately, so must this. The long and short of it is that it was a lovely trip, we all enjoyed it, it was very exciting and very well-organised in terms of the hotels and stuff, and my wife and I were personally very enamoured by the convoy management; and since we have all come back to Lucknow safely together, I can say it’s a good job done.
GANG OF DUSTERS 100,000
The need for adventure among Renault Duster owners has been growing ever since the inception of Gang Of Dusters. Since it started in 2014, the Gang Of Dusters is now a community of one lakh-plus registered members. In the past, Renault has organised a number of drives across the length and breadth of the country, engaging its customers through various cities; the drive to Nepal was the 35th drive of G.O.D. The format for the drives have been designed keeping in mind different needs of the members – ranging from one-day drives to 12-day-long expeditions. Joining the gang is as simple as buying a Renault Duster and enrolling for the membership. A Gang of Dusters membership also comes with a host of additional benefits, such as discount coupons for Duster servicing and insurance, complimentary services and check-ups for the Duster and discount coupons for hotels, restaurants and other lifestyle platforms.
DRIVE IN NUMBERS
35 total Expeditions done by gang of dusters
25 dusters in the convoy
1500 Kilometres driven
2 Countries visited
41 number of participants
10 fuel stops
48 Price of diesel in Nepal in INR