2020 was a challenging year for the entire world due to the pandemic, lockdowns, and the resulting life and economic impact. The year taught us many new things including work from home, study from home, and giving masks the same importance as undergarments. However, some experiences can not be turned into a digital format like driving cars, exploring new places, enjoying different cuisines, etc. Fortunately for us, all these elements and more brought together this year in the form of Honda’s Drive to Discover X.
The tenth edition was different from the earlier one due to Covid-19 restrictions and safety protocols but the experience was a story that can be best experienced only through eyes. So read along as we take you through some of the most stunning roads in some great cars as we drive from Bengaluru to Goa along the coastline of Karnataka.
Day 1 – Bengaluru to Chikmagalur
Day 1 started for us with a flight to Bengaluru, where we arrived at a hotel for a quick lunch, followed by a briefing for the route and the plan for the next 3 days. Shortly thereafter, we were flagged off in a convoy of 16 cars, of which we drove the Honda City petrol with manual transmission for the day. Other cars included the Honda Amaze, WR-V, and Jazz. The destination for the day was Chikmagalur, a hill station in Karnataka.
The roads to our first pit stop were smooth and nicely laid. This is one reason why you should plan a driving holiday along this route as the highways on this section are a treat to drive on. In a few hours, we took our first pit stop for much-needed chai and pakoras and some rest and talks. Thereon, we moved to Yagachi Dam or rather a spot close to it but on the same water body. The extremely narrow roads in this remote area lead us to a beautiful spot that showed us how much nature has to offer and how little we know and understand of it. The same narrow roads also highlighted the brilliant maneuverability of Honda cars and also the good illumination from the headlamps as the surroundings had little population and were quite dark.
From here, we took about three hours to reach our hotel in Chikmagalur and the drive was smooth with the exception of certain stretches of single-lane highways and some daring local drivers. The highlight of the day was the drive up the hill during the night with almost pitch black surroundings on pretty narrow roads with acute hairpin bends. The Honda City though enjoyed these roads as it gripped the surface nicely hence, we were able to maintain a faster than expected pace. Also, the steering feedback along with good brakes meant the car continued to instill good confidence around this stretch of road in low-visibility conditions. Soon all of us reached our hotel, located on a hilltop and in a forest area, offering fresh air in the night and splendid sights the next morning.
Day 2 – Chikmagalur to Kundapur
The next day, the schedule was simple – breakfast, drive, drive, drive, lunch, drive, drive, reach Kundapur through Mangalore but before we get to that I want you to enjoy some breathtakingly beautiful sights in Chikmaglur early morning on the 2nd day of Drive to Discover 10 or D2D as we like to call it. Chikmagalur is a hill station at a height of 3,400 feet above sea level and is famous for tea and coffee plantations, one of the many reasons why you are seeing such beautiful scenery in these pictures.
Back to the drive, our car for the day was a Honda WR-V with a manual gearbox and it was good since we experienced a sedan driving up the hill section so whether this crossover could handle such tight roads or not was something we wanted to find out.
Driving down the western ghats, we made our way to the highway leading to Mangalore. On the hill section, the WR-V offered good performance. The engine had good power to overcome steep inclines in some places and the impressive road manners translated into an enjoyable driving experience for us. On the way to Mangalore, we also went through some villages and settlements and it was on these broken roads and rough surfaces that the high ground clearance of the WR-V came in handy. Hence, we were able to make haste along the way and our car was the first to reach Ghazali seafood restaurant in Mangalore.
If you love seafood then this is one place that should be on your must-visit list. With fresh catch and great preparation, this place is heaven for seafood lovers. After our lunch, we once again got on to the smooth four-lane highways all the way to the small and peaceful town of Kundapur, famous for its beaches. The drive was uneventful and comfortable and we were able to reach our hotel in Kundapur by about 6 PM, translating into a travel time of about seven hours from Chikmagalur with multiple stops for food and doing our shoot. With a long day now behind our backs, we filled up our tummies and called it a night.
Day 3 – Kundapur to Goa
Day 3 was once again all about driving and discovering new places and the best roads and destinations had been saved for later. Our ride on the 3rd day was the Amaze CVT. An early morning start from Kundapura allowed us to drive on roads that ran alongside the Arabian Sea with clean and beautiful golden beaches and some stretches had water on either side making for spectacular sights. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t just drive off and hence decided to take a short halt and soak in the beautiful sights around us. The fact that the roads are great and offer such breathtaking views mean this a drive that any driving or travel enthusiast cannot miss. The experience was pretty close to driving on the Gold Coast road in Australia and that in itself is a compliment as big as it can get for a stretch of road.
As we continued along the smooth four-lane highways alongside the coastline of Karnataka, we also came across many rivers and some beautiful bridges. All these together made up for a driving experience that was in sync with the name of the event, Drive to Discover as we were discovering new places, meeting new people and understanding the immense and untapped potential for the tourism sector in a country as beautiful as ours. Around noon, we reached Murudeshwara, which is home to Murudeshwara Temple with the magnificent 20-storey Raja Gopura and a 123 ft high statue of Lord Shiva surrounded by the sea on three sides. This temple is the world’s second tallest statue of Lord Shiva and is a sight so grand that only seeing it in real can explain its brilliance.
With blessings from the almighty, we made our way to our lunch spot and for that, we were in Karwar for a lunch stop at Amrut Hotel, which is also famous for seafood and once again we were treated to some delectable food that recharged us for the remaining drive till Goa. By 6 PM, most of the cars were in Goa, India’s party capital and we had the rest of the day to spend at the beach and drive around trying to get as many shots as we could.
As for Goa, this place needs no introduction as it continues to be one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in India. From beaches to cheap and good food, plenty of flight and train options and hotels all along the city, Goa was buzzing with tourists despite the ongoing pandemic. Hopefully, the locals and the state government will do a better job of maintaining the appeal of Goa rather than allowing rampant commercialization leading to a sad state as we have seen in the case of Shimla and some other hill stations in North India.
Day 4 – Homecoming and Conclusion
The fourth day didn’t involve much action as the key agenda for all was to catch the flights to get back home but it was these calm moments that gave me time to think of the highlights of Honda D2D. First, the event brilliantly lived up to its name as through the course of more than three days we came across many lesser-known places, met new people, learned new things, tried different cuisines, and did all this doing what I enjoy doing the most – Driving.
Honda Cars India brought its entire model lineup to the event and the cars stood up well to the fast-paced journey of over 800 km and many detours, bad roads, and faulty navigation at times. In the end, it was a journey that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and this is exactly what one wants from a road trip. So next time you’re planning that holiday with your loved ones in a car, do consider driving from Bengaluru to Goa and if you need more help then feel free to contact us on our social media handles by the name of Express Drives. As I sign off, I’ll leave you with few more beautiful pictures from this amazing road trip adventure for that extra motivation to plan a driving holiday as a car can take you to many new places where a plane or train, followed by a cab might not get you to.
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