Mountains and music: The perfect set-up for a soul-stirring experience
They say music speaks a language of a different kind. A kind that binds people together in a string of melodies, leaving them in a state of trance as the music takes over. Our quest for exploring the sounds of India has taken us to places far and wide, however, for the final leg of this expedition, we decided to head to the hills of Kullu for two reasons.
The first was to experience a live performance by a local band in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh. We've heard a lot about the passion that people living in the mountains have for music and their renditions of popular songs, at times, are said to better the originals. The second reason was a break from the sweltering heat that has gripped North India. With temperatures soaring above 45 degrees, it was imperative to leave the plains and make a dash for the hills. And we did make a sprint there in the Hyundai Verna 1.6-litre petrol. The 2018 Indian Car of the Year has surpassed all expectations in the time we've driven it and we had no doubt about its abilities.
The smooth and powerful engine is a delight to rev and we had a blast driving it down the highway from Delhi to Chandigarh. There's ample spread of torque in the low and mid range as well as at the top. With the cruise control set to 90kmph, the drive was easy and relaxed. Given the heat outside, we were impressed by the effectiveness of the automatic climate control. The Verna's ventilated seats were a boon as well and by far, is one of the most thoughtful features I've seen in a car, especially in india. We called it a night in Chandigarh and hit the lights early as we had a long distance to cover the next day.
The route to Kasol is part of the busy Chandigarh-Manali highway and includes some nice, twisty roads, especially around Bilaspur. It's here where we truly indulged in the sure-footed handling of the Verna. The petrol variant of the Verna is quick to turn in and keeping the rev needle hovering in the powerband ensures a quick and smooth exit out of the corners. The roads were good up to Pandoh Dam. But, from then on, the road condition deteriorated due to the ongoing, highway widening work. At some places, we were stuck in traffic jams for up to half an hour. Cocooned in the cabin of the Verna, we were isolated from the chaos. Soon we reached Bhuntar and crossed the bridge that takes us over the confluence of the river Beas and Parbati. The Manikaran road, leading up to Kasol is narrow in some places and peppered with sharp turns. The Verna's brilliant cornering lights made life quite easy to judge while negotiating these roads. Though we reached Kasol after an 11-hour drive, there wasn't a hint of fatigue.
The next day, we set about exploring Kasol and just a few kilometres down the road from our hotel, we stood mesmerised by the towering mountains on either side. In the distance were a few snow-capped peaks as well and it instantly made us appreciate the beauty of nature. It's at times like these, you truly appreciate the little things in life. After soaking in the view, we drove down the road till we were close to the banks of the river Parbati. To simply stay put and listen to the gushing river was surreal. The sound of water splashing on the rocks as it flows downstream is actually soothing to the ears. It's music in many ways. Speaking of which, it was time to head towards the town centre and get front row seats for some live music courtesy Rudra, our band for the evening.
You've probably heard the term, keep it simple, and I guess that's what made the performance by the four-member band quite enthralling. Using simple music instruments paired to a soulful voice by the lead singer, the crowd swayed to the melodious tunes. We too joined in singing a few classics. It's a night we'll fondly remember. As they say, sometimes, live music sounds way better than the tapes.
As is the case with most good things, it was time to end our short escape and return to the plains. But the mood was cheery because of the peppy Hyundai Verna. We've always believed that the journey is as important as getting to the destination, and the car you drive sets the mood.
In the case of the Verna, it's well laid-out cabin, comfortable seats and features made the trip easy and fatigue-free. And then there was the sunroof that offered a different perspective of the mountains above us, when looking through it. Cars are companions that make road trips memorable. And the Hyundai Verna is who we owe a big thank you, for this little break from the city life.
Images by Ram Shrikhande
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