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Honda Drive to Discover 6 - The Border Run

  • Feb 18, 2016
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Honda's Drive to Discover drive event has been growing in scale and in ambition – combining a showcase of the qualities of their cars and the desire to discover new places, new people and new experiences. In its sixth edition, the Drive to Discover sought to explore more of western Rajasthan – mainly the cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer and everything in between. The drive was also a great opportunity for the participants to check out Honda's new 'Honda Connect App' and test it out in real world conditions.

The Honda Drive to Discover 5 covered the beautiful vistas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the Mobilio - read more here

An ensemble of around 20 journalists were invited for the Drive to Discover 6 – and the best thing about the trip was the fact that apart from some set meeting points for a day, the participants were free to explore as they wished. Of course this meant there were smaller groups travelling together – but this, at least to me, made the trip more fun and less tiring. Ten cars were part of the drive – six units of the Jazz, two units of the City and two units of the CR-V.

[caption id="attachment_19446" align="alignnone" width="1024"]D2D6 Stuck at the Airport Think Delhi's Terminal 3 is all fancy? Think again![/caption]

The winter-fog in Delhi played spoil sport for some of us – flight delays (and ultimately cancellations) forced us to go all the way to Jodhpur via road, this would have been fun if we had not spent 8 hours in the airport. It is way more easier getting into an airport than getting out of it – that was the first discovery of the trip for me.

The Honda Drive to Discover 4 explored the Eastern Ghats and the company's (now popular) i-DTEC engine  - read more here

D2D6 Posing in front of the Mehrangarh Fort

Exploring Rajasthan is not complete without visiting at least one of its many forts. The Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts there, not only in Rajasthan, but also in the whole of India. Visiting the sun-fort is a good way to start the day – the light slowly highlighting the tall outer-walls of the fort while sipping on a piping hot cup of chai can get you invigorated – even if you have been awake for more than 24 hours! Out trip to the fort included getting lost in one of the many narrow lanes of the city – with early morning risers peering in wonder or mocking us for our stupidity. The fact that all the cars we took – including the CR-V – could fit through these lanes impressed me.

D2D6 Flag-off

The first day took us from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer – after a bit of rough patches thanks to the relaying of tarmac the rest of the route consisted of smooth roads and breathtaking views. While we started out in a convoy – we broke off quite soon from the group, three cars including a Jazz CVT, City petrol manual and CR-V 2WD manual. I spent most of the time in the Jazz CVT – and I did not like it that much. The CVT zaps the engine of its power and makes it too noisy. It didn't help that our group was always moving at a fast pace – it even resulted in the Jazz returning about 10 kmpl in terms of efficiency. The Jazz CVT is not a highway car – another discovery in the trip – it was also frustrating considering how good the car is otherwise in terms of space, comfort and features.

The Honda Drive to Discover 3 explored the route from Jammu to Chandigarh in the gutsy Brio (a car I would have loved to drive on this trip) - read more here

[caption id="attachment_19448" align="alignnone" width="1024"]D2D6 Making the Jazz look cool The Jazz CVT is not a highway car - but it looks nonetheless, doesn't it?[/caption]

The scenery was slowly shifting from that of an arid-place to that of a desert. Vegetation was becoming sparser as we moved to Jaisalmer, with rocky/sandy stretches of land divided by small patches of vegetation – sometimes this included fields of wheat, millet and mustard. We would also spot animals/birds from time to time – Sambar Deers, Camels, Peacocks, Sheep and lots and lots of Cows. We had to keep our eyes peeled for these though, some of these fauna had the tendency to jump in front the cars when you least expected them to.

[caption id="attachment_19450" align="alignnone" width="1024"]D2D6 Don't be an ass The wide open roads can be dangerous, always be on the lookout for animal or birds[/caption]

The Honda Connect app was a great help in the whole journey – it helped us keep track of the other cars in our small group, check the route for interesting places to stop while also keeping an eye on the condition of the car.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvZ65Td7xAE

The Honda Drive to Discover took us to a wonderful trip of the Rann of Kutch - a petrolheads paradise visited in the amazing Amaze!

[caption id="attachment_19451" align="alignnone" width="1024"]D2D6 Food! Feast for the stomach and the eyes[/caption]

The Manvar hotel en route to Jaisalmer was a nice surprise – the Laal Maas with Garlic Parathas is a weird but tasty combination. We checked in to The Gateway Hotel – Rawalkot at Jaisalmer as the sun was setting – a quick refresh later we headed to the Jaisalmer Fort to explore the city inside. Walking inside the maze of lanes makes you wonder how life may have been when these walls actually hosted the Maharajas. I drove the CR-V manual during this short trip and was blown away by how easy the column-mounted shifter was to use and the general sense of security and luxury that the CR-V exuded.

[caption id="attachment_19452" align="alignnone" width="768"]D2D6 Swept away by a windmill Windmills can be mesmerizing, who knew?[/caption]

The next day we explored two places closer to the international border India shares with Pakistan – Tanot and Longewala. The roads leading to these border posts promised to be smooth – the Border Roads Organisation maintains them to facilitate easy troop movement – and, more importantly, empty. Jaisalmer is also surrounded by a lot of electricity-generating windmill farms. You get the sense of space as you explore places around Jaisalmer – and this feels alien to people like me who spend a lot of time in cramped metro-cities like Delhi. The larger windmills are a sight to behold and standing below one such unit was exciting and terrifying at the same time.

[caption id="attachment_19453" align="alignnone" width="1024"]D2D6 Khula Aasman Scenes like this are rare for us city-slickers, which makes it more endearing[/caption]

The density of people thinned as we made our way to Tanot – the emptiness and loneliness broken very rarely – whether it be due to another vehicle on the road or by the sudden emergence of small villages with curious people watching us go by. The Tanot Mata temple, very close to the border, is famous because of it being in proximity of Longewala – a major battle spot in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

Tanot is a sleepy town, though there is a sense of foreboding – mostly thanks to the heavy presence of the Indian Army.

D2D6 Feeling alone with three cars and seven people

I was looking forward to drive on the narrow road from Tanot to Longewala. This stretch of road was going to be more sparse in terms of traffic and for the first time in the trip we were passing in between proper sand dunes. I jumped into the City manual petrol during this stint and absolutely loved the way it drove – my aversion for CVTs was getting stronger.

The Jazz dukes it out with the Maruti Suzuki Baleno and the Hyundai Elite i20 for the crown in the premium hatchback category - who wins? Read to find out!

D2D6 Ground zero

Longewala, by the time we reached the place, was more crowded than I had hoped it would be. The popularity of this border post is evident – and was helped a lot when it featured prominently in the 1997 film 'Border'. The films legacy is so strong that there is a 'Border Cafe' and a dedicated cinema room that plays the movie on loop.

D2D6 Remembering the fallen

The memorial at Longewala is a stark reminder of the pains of war : the people lost, the cruel devices man has devised to kill each other, the petty reasons for nations to go to war, the futility of it all. There is an air of pride for 'our' armed forces who bravely stand up to the 'enemy'. There is also a mock up how the small Longewala border post was during the 1971 Pakistani offensive, including the bunkers and trenches facing the approaching armoured divisions of the Pakistan army. The drive back to Jaisalmer consisted of another stretch of brilliant road – two lane this time – with long curves and surprising elevation changes. The Jazz and CR-V were wonderful on these roads, while we had to be a bit cautious with City because it started bottoming out in the more extreme dips on this stretch.

Check out our review of the Honda City i-DTEC here

D2D6 Posing in front of an upcoming 'fort'

If you are in Jaisalmer and anybody suggests to you that you need to visit the 'ghost village/town' of Kuldhara – I would suggest you either ignore it or visit the place when it is least likely to be crowded with tourists. Apart from a few photo opportunities among the narrow low walls of the village – the place little else in terms of significance. Well, now I know better.

D2D6 A long stretch of amazing road

The drive back to Jodhpur via Barmer took us through another set of brilliant roads – especially the NH 112 which connects Barmer and Bar via Jodhpur – super smooth and picturesque. The only bad bits of this route are the final 50-odd kilometers before Jodhpur which are undergoing maintenance – and also see a lot of traffic.

Read our review of the brilliant Honda CR-V here

D2D6 I will be back

For the past year or so, I have been running away to the hills whenever I have got the chance – Honda's Drive to Discover has sparked a lot of interest in me to explore more of the state of Rajasthan. Thank you for letting me discover the curious me again!

Video - Honda at the 2016 Auto Expo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iOxTCecNNo
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