A beautiful weather calls for blissful drives and the charisma of Lonavala culminates during monsoons, especially on days when mist-filled clouds graze the surface as you drive along the narrow roads. The lush-green hill station is about a hundred kilometres from Mumbai and is part of the majestic Sahyadri hill ranges that demarcate the Deccan Plateau from the beautiful lush green Konkan strip. Lonavala remains one of the most sought-after destination for trekking, camping and even adventure sports, but most importantly, for years and decades it has also been the most expedient destination for owners to unite with their vehicles, as it did with us on our recent trip to the admirable hill station.
Once out of the city limits of Mumbai, the route leading to Lonavala comprises of well-paved highways and a few sections of winding roads, an immersive experience that allows for the drivers to experience their cars in the natural backdrops, immediately perceiving how beautiful and equally powerful Nature is. The realisation becomes stronger as you climb up the steep inclination with breath-taking views on either sides, especially in a vehicle that allows you to immerse into the transcendence presented by the environment, and our ideology was further cemented with the Hyundai Creta, which was just perfect for the winding roads and kept us entertained with good driving dynamics and creature comforts.
The Creta took this opportunity to showcase some of its key strengths, which resonate well with what consumers look for from a car of this segment. With those futuristic design lines, it sure does grab eyeballs while the striking DRLs leave a lasting impression. The dual-tone body colour accentuates its road presence and the roofline tapers towards the end, taking the visual bulk away. The C-shaped tail lamps add great character to the rear, and the large insignia across the boot-lid ensures this isn’t mistaken for anything else. The 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels keep things interesting on the side profile while the 215-section tyres ensure maximum grip and confidence while driving down those windy sections. The dual-tone dashboard greets you along with the start-up animation, and the highly refined and smooth BS6-compliant powertrains pass on the least amount of vibrations or noise whilst delivering punchy and responsive performance throughout.
We packed our own food, ensured no government-issued guidelines were violated and headed off on a quiet Sunday. We left our houses early in the morning and were greeted with the rather quiet and deserted streets of Mumbai. The sky was pitch dark with almost no hint of the daybreak, but the Creta ensured that the roads ahead were well illuminated while the suspension guaranteed a plush and soft ride over the undulations and potholes, preventing the spillage of our food and tea-filled flasks in the boot. The seats themselves provide a commanding view of the road ahead and with the advanced BlueLink connected suite onboard, requesting for directions to the nearest fuel pump was just a command away. In fact, the ‘Hello BlueLink’ voice command would wake the personal assistant up to help you with things like calling someone from your contacts or even opening the sunroof.
No matter how many times you drive to Lonavala, the weather will always welcome you with open arms and the locals will always greet you with a smile while serving Maggie, tea or the iconic corn bhajis. Driving past INS Tanaji, which is the Indian Navy’s premier technical institute, you enter a series of hairpin turns with steep inclines for that sudden elevation. The powerful engine throttled the Creta up the climb while the leather-wrapped steering inspired confidence while tackling the curves, tempting us to push the SUV to the limits. The beautiful views of the surroundings can be caught through the large glasshouse that wraps the Creta while the panoramic sunroof allows for all occupants to leisurely immerse themselves in the sights above – rain-filled clouds barely a few meters away, showering those cold droplets of rain which gracefully hit the glass-roof and create a natural manifest for the eyes to feast on. Bliss!
We drove all the way to Tiger’s Point, also known as Tiger’s Leap, which is a clifftop with a sheer drop, giving unprecedented views of the land below. Heavy mist caught us early in the morning but as the weather cleared we could see the views further ahead and beyond. The Creta looked so well in contrast to this natural backdrop that we couldn’t help but take it off road and find ourselves a spot to relish the view and ambience. The high ground clearance allowed us to make our own road to the very edge of the cliff, where legend has it that while being chased by a tiger once, the Maratha emperor Shivaji jumped into a ditch on the hill and the tiger leaped off it into the valley, giving it the name of Tiger’s Leap.
Taking some time off from the urban chaos and isolating ourselves amidst the serene arena helped connect with our thoughts and inner selves, signifying the importance of a Sunday drive to niche locations. It also allowed us to submerge into our favourite tunes – the Bose Premium Sound System with its punchy and clear music output made us want to endlessly hum to our favourite track all day long.
Bidding good-bye to such a prepossessing setting is the most difficult part to say the least, but owing to the new normal, we had to head back to ensure no norms were desecrated. While the thought of returning was desponding, the notion of driving the Hyundai Creta back gave us a gleeful chuckle and we quickly packed ourselves into the spacious SUV. Then there is the part where you stop and buy the renowned Lonavala Chikki that are relished and enjoyed by one and all, just like the new Hyundai Creta.