Ever since the start of the government-mandated lockdown initiated in March 2020, I have only been thinking of the adventures I could have gone for but wasn’t able to. Until 2020 I had always made it a point to go on at least one road trip to satisfy my adventure bug, but thanks to the Corona Virus and the pandemic, I had to let go of that annual tradition of mine last year.
So you can only imagine the excitement I must have felt when I received an email from the assistant editor; Jay asking me if I was keen to head out to Bangalore for the 10th Edition of the Honda Drive to Discover. Now I must admit that the route from Bangalore to Goa is relatively uneventful and can be covered in just under 10-12 hours, but what Honda had planned for us was an adventurous drive along the Malabar coastline to Goa.
Day 1: Bangalore – Hassan – Chikamagalur
Day 1 began at the Taj Hotel near Bangalore airport, where we had our formal introductions, Welcome presentations and other formalities to tend to. All that while, I was just aching to set off as it had been over a year since my last road adventure. After exchanging pleasantries with my co-driver for the journey, we loaded our luggage, set the air-conditioning to its max settings and awaited our flag off. For the first leg of the adventure, I was handed the keys to the diesel-powered Amaze, and on those smooth 4 lane highways of Karnataka, I was delighted with the power delivery and road stability the Amaze delivered even during my small stints of hitting triple-digit speeds.
Our first pit stop for the day was a café in the city of Hassan, which was around 200kms away and with the Amaze, I managed to cover that distance quite effortlessly. Post this stop, we continued onwards to our first halt for the night, which was situated at Chikamagalur, also known as the coffee capital of India. So it was only natural that we stopped as the sun set to grab a quick cup of coffee before heading into the luxurious Trivik Resorts deep in the hills of Chikamagalur. During our journey, I couldn’t help notice that I had to switch between gears a lot more often as the low-end torque of the diesel engine of the Amaze would sometimes prove to be inadequate while tackling the hills. So all in all, we covered about 300 kms in just over 6 hours.
Day 2: Chikamagalur – Mangalore – Kundapura
As compared to other media drives, what is unique to the Honda Drive to Discover is the fact that participants are given complete freedom to explore the route and not just follow a convoy. That is exactly what my co-driver and I decided to do by travelling to some of the famous tourist spots along the way to Kundapura. After a late departure from the resort, we were handed over the keys to the Honda Jazz in the petrol MT guise, and we set off towards our first destination, which was the holy town of Dharmsthala 106kms away from our resort.
After our mini halt at Dharmsthala, as we were unable to make it to the lunch stop planned by Honda so instead we and a couple of auto journos decided on halting at a restaurant in a small town and gorged on some generous helping of the fantastic chicken curry and egg curry. We then took a diversion to travel to Mudbidri which my co-driver recommended. It is famous for a unique temple design consisting of 1000 pillars. Continuing onwards, we drove past the renowned town of Udipi before finally arriving at our second destination for the night. During the second leg of the journey, the Honda Jazz performed brilliantly but what it did miss out on was some extra power as overtaking would sometimes be a challenge and the engine would feel strained at higher RPMs. But apart from that, the Jazz soaked up the 245kms we had covered during the day with ease.
Day 3: Kundapura – Karwar – Goa
For the last leg of the Drive to Discover, I was pleased to realize that I was handed over the keys to the Honda City with the petrol engine mated to a CVT. Being an ex-owner of the 2009 variant of the City, I was very keen at looking forward to seeing how the new generation City compares to the older one. We set off in the morning from Kundapura and headed towards Karwar, we drove past Maravanthe beach, which is a highly picturesque place with the sea to one side of the road and a large water body to the other side.
The drive from Kundapura via Karwar to Goa was highly comfortable thanks to the fantastic 4 lane highways built by the Karnataka government but one does need to watch out for bikers riding on the wrong side of the road or pedestrians walking onto the highway. Now, as we entered the state of Goa, we bid adieu to the large highways and were welcomed by the fantastic single-lane roads of Goa, which were a joy to drive on with the Honda City. Along the whole journey of around 350 odd kms, the City fared fantastically, cruising comfortably on the highway and later showcasing its handling capabilities on the Goan roads’ twisty bits. The only point of concern for me with the Honda City is the CVT gearbox because the gearshifts don’t feel quick and instead feel like they are straining the engine when driven a bit aggressively.
Flying back home
Now with rumours of a second lockdown brewing in Maharashtra, I am incredibly thrilled that I could attend the 10th edition of the Honda Dive to Discover. And for someone like me who was longing to head out on the open roads after being confined to our homes for nearly a year, the event was a blessing in disguise. As I waited at the airport for my boarding to start, I couldn’t help but smile at the realization that I attended a fully paid work trip from Bangalore to Goa, where I was out on the road doing what I love for three days straight. Looking back at it, sometimes I do feel like I choose the perfect career there could be.