Chasing Snowfall With The Mahindra Scorpio-N: Race Against Time

Ohh, it was a race against time indeed! With the winter waning in Northern India. But the good news is we did see what we aimed for! Tonnes of snowfall.

By Kingshuk Dutta


6 mins read


Published on February 22, 2024

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  • We took the Mahindra Scorpio-N out on weekend to find fresh snowfall
  • The weather gods did a number on us and almost left us hanging
  • We did find tonnes of snowfall, only at the end of our trip

I had been itching to see snowfall for a while now and my last snowfall experience was exactly five years ago when I did the Spiti Circuit with a Volkswagen Tiguan. It was a memorable trip. And the way global warming is affecting winter is quite evident. 5-6 years ago, snowfall wasn’t a one-off thing, it was a common occurrence in parts of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. But off late, the frequency of snowfall has reduced, and January 2024 was decidedly a rather snowless winter, with the usual haunts devoid of snow in a month that sees significant snowfall.

Also Read: Winter Wanderlust: Driving To Spiti & Back


Nonetheless, a strong Western Disturbance was reported to hit Northern India and I made impromptu plans of trying my luck to find snowfall. The good news, it was supposed to hit Manali, the snowfall Mecca, over the weekend. Which means I had just two, maximum three days to catch the white drizzle before anyone in office missed me! As it is, the entire team was drowned in work preparing for the 2024 edition of car&bike awards and if their hard(ly) working teammate was found gallivanting in snow, tough questions would be asked, for which I wouldn’t have had any answers.

Next on the task list was choosing a vehicle, that was capable of taking on tough terrain and the biting cold. A 4x4 it had to be. Calls were made and Mahindra promptly answered the call, sending over a top-of-the-line Scorpio-N diesel equipped with 4x4. The unit that they sent us, it was white, and I was disheartened. I would have preferred a darker colour that stood out against the snow but took solace in the fact that the colour was aptly named ‘Everest White’. 

With my winter gear stowed, diesel filled up to the brim, cameras packed, I set off from Delhi to Manali and the first challenge we faced barely out of the capital, was the roadblocks due to the farmers’ protest. With excitement and adventure coursing through my veins, I found a different route till Manali, going via Patiala, completely bypassing Chandigarh. 10.5 hours, endless cups of steaming hot chai and a few parathas later, I finally found myself crossing the Atal Tunnel, heading to a small village called Sissu, where it would snow. 

I checked into a small hotel, right on the banks of Chandra River, with snow-clad peaks all around us. There was a lot of snow already on the ground, from the previous spell, but no fresh snowfall. Nonetheless, after a quick meal of, well, parathas and chai again, we headed out further north towards Keylong. Spotting some wildlife, we leisurely drove up to Keylong, and while chatting with the locals, we realised that the lack of snowfall has actually made their lives difficult. With little to no tourism, apple crops suffering, it was tough for the local populace. 

I made my way back to the hotel and warmed ourselves up with a delicious local dinner and some coffee afterwards. The Scorpio-N too got some rest, but I think the big, brutish SUV was looking for tougher terrains and wasn’t happy with what it got so far. Or was it just a small voice inside my head.  

The entire day went by, and it didn’t snow for even a centimetre. I still carried hope that it will, on the second day. But the first half of the second day too went by in a jiffy. That’s when gave up on our luck. I did see some beautiful vistas and stunning scenery. But couldn’t find fresh snowfall and slowly, the time for me to return back to Delhi was coming up. 

I started driving back towards Delhi and stopped on the outskirts of Manali to meet a friend who ran a beautiful homestay called ‘Pehlingpa Home’. It started raining in Manali and over a simple yet delicious lunch, she suggested that we go to Hampta Pass. If it was raining in Manali, it was surely snowing in Hampta Pass is what she said. The same was confirmed by a friend of hers. She strongly suggested that we go and check out Hampta Pass. 

So, with the last roll of dice, we decided to go to Hampta Pass, since it was barely an hour away. And having been there before, I knew that the place was beautiful, even if we did not find snow, so it wouldn't be a trip wasted. It is a steep climb up to Hampta pass, with close to 30 hairpin bends from the bottom till the top of the mountain and till turn 22, it was just rain. No sign of snowfall. Turn 25 onwards things actually took a proverbial turn for the good. As I negotiated the turn, a brown, mucky landscape gave way to a white winter wonderland. It was snowing, heavily! And inside the Scorpio-N, I was chuckling away to glory. 

As I made it to the top of mountain, the Hampta Pass, it was beautiful. Everything, every branch, every rock, every blade of grass was white! I found a nice, secluded place to park the Mahindra Scorpio-N and started creating some content but not before I was satiated myself, covered from head to toe in fresh snowfall!  

The landscape was stunning, and I spent the next couple of hours gallivanting in the snow, taking photos, making reels and making snow angels. In case you haven’t, you should experience fresh snowfall at least once in your lifetime. It is a natural phenomenon unlike any other. Fresh, powdered snow absorbs sounds waves, making it quiet and peaceful. And the cold, while piercing, does well to make you realise that peace and joy is what we live for. And it is absolutely necessary to go out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Doing so, keeps you motivated for what comes next. 

And the Mahindra Scorpio-N finally got somewhat of an off-road challenge too. On some turns I did encounter the dreaded black ice and on others, I found thick muck, from the rainfall. Just a simple twist of the rotary knob from normal to snow mode, did the trick. The SUV didn’t falter even once and made it through with consummate ease. 

And then, it was time to head back to Delhi, just in time for me to show up at work on a Monday morning. But I showed up with the biggest and brightest smile one could muster up on a Monday and once the photos were passed around, yeah, my weekend did become everyone else’s envy.

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