Rajiv Kumar, a well-established name on the world of nature photography stays in one of the extreme climate conditions in India. Based out of the beautiful Spiti Valley, Rajiv uses a Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara to reach challenging places in the valley. It has been 6 years since Maruti Suzuki officially discontinued the Grand Vitara from the Indian market but how does Rajiv live with the vehicle and that too in a remote location? He explains his life with the Grand Vitara in the mountains.
He is an avid traveller and has used the vehicle to travel to far off and remote locations. The vehicle has also been to Ladakh twice and spends most of its time in the Spiti valley. Rajiv bought the vehicle last year and it is a used car, which has done about 1.2 lakh km on the odometer.
Rajiv says that it is built like a tank and has not given him any kind of trouble or breakdown. He has already driven the vehicle to the treacherous Ladakh twice and has spent the worst winter in Spiti Valley last year, where the temperature dropped to around -30c. But he does take good care of the vehicle and parks it covered under layers of blankets and covers when snow storms hits the valley.
Maruti Suzuki officially discontinued the vehicle in 2013 and even now the availability of spare parts is easy. Rajiv says that they are not available off-the-shelf but all the spare parts can be ordered and it takes about 2-3 days to arrive. Last year, a broken seal of the 4X4 transfer case took 5 days to arrive but as all the parts are genuine, the wait is worth it.
In one year of ownership in the harsh weather and terrain, Rajiv says that his vehicle is yet to break down. However, he takes all the preventive care of the vehicle and protects it from adverse conditions. If the vehicle breaks down, the only way to fix it will be a flatbed truck trip to the service centre. Roadside assistance does not provide services in such remote locations.
Being a petrol vehicle, Rajiv says that it is easier to live in such cold conditions. Diesel fuel tends to freeze in cold weather. As per him, the temperature dropped to about -30c last year and the vehicle used to start in first attempt every morning. Also, the 4X4 system works efficiently makes it easy to drive through heavily snowed roads every day. He also adds that the 4H lock ensures that the vehicles come out as a winner out of difficult situations.
Because of his location, which sees extreme weather, he prefers driving a petrol SUV and says no other vehicle in the market right now will fulfil his requirement except for the Grand Vitara. He also owned a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy and an SX4 before the Grand Vitara. Rajiv also believes that there is no perfect replacement of the Grand Vitara in the market as of today.
He adds that Maruti Suzuki should re-introduce the Grand Vitara but without tuning down the engine for the Indian market. He will be the first one to buy the all-new Vitara if it comes with a fair price tag in the Indian market.
Rajiv Kumar leads many expeditions and tours of the Spiti region every year. If you’re are Spiti-bound, you can always contact Rajiv through his official page – Yellow Peaks.