Rejuvenate: In the Western Ghats with the Hyundai i20
It's been tough, the last few months. But almost serendipitously, just as we seem safe enough to head back into the world again, very cautiously, the monsoons have swept through the country. So to celebrate this, we thought at least a short road trip was in order. With a competent car like the Hyundai i20 for company and the almost overnight transformation from grassy brown to lush green of the Sahyadri hills complete, there really was no stopping us.
If you live anywhere around the Mumbai-Pune region, you'll know how easy it is to leave the very unique bustle of these two cities behind. A couple of hours is all it takes to get to a place like the backwaters of the Pawna lake we visited. A hop, skip and jump through Mumbai traffic and the expressway felt just that with the Hyundai i20's plush yet edgy cabin while its potent turbo-petrol and DCT drivetrain meant the entire journey was just about effortless, the car quiet and efficient but still potent when you wanted it to be. The large screen with inbuilt navigation and Android Auto/AppleCarplay, and the many creature comforts, meant exploring these hills was as breezy as the weather outside.
And its large boot meant that once we got to our chosen spot to relax, we could spend this time in comfort, protected from the elements and all our knick-knacks within reach. The spot itself was a nondescript patch of land by the side of the country road that winds through the hills of the Pawna valley, but the views it afforded were quite extraordinary. The shimmering waters of the lake in the foreground a perfect contrast to the jagged green hills topped by the fresh rain-heavy clouds. This was the perfect place to head to for a quick reset, if you will, before we get back to the grind.
If you've been around these parts, you will know how quickly the scenery changes here. From views of open, cloud swept hills to densely forested canopies, all accessible within minutes. The i20 again felt right at home here. The car very happily keeping us aloof from the few broken stretches we covered while poised and confident through the winding ghat sections.
These mini road trips are a must as soon as the rains set in, but taking some precautions so that you can fully enjoy your time out is a good idea. Just a bit of planning goes a long way. Make sure your tires aren't worn out, there'll be less grip than usual on the wet roads, which better tires will handle much more capably. Always make sure to liberally use your headlamps and foglamps in the foggy sections you might encounter. The Hyundai i20's LED beams worked quite well for us. And only use your hazard lights when you are at a standstill. Also, it's best to come prepared for any eventuality, so try to travel with a companion. Network here is iffy and help might be a while away if you are faced with a flat tire, and the added pair of hands will be very useful. Finally, make sure you and your car are dressed for the occasion. So make sure you carry rainwear and your car's mats are waterproof. This will leave your car's cabin fresh after a trip in the rain. And lastly, some weather-approving munchies need to be at hand to lift your spirits higher still.
There's never been a better reason to go on a road trip. It's the safest form of leisure in the current situation and the weather's just about perfect right now. So head out, but stay safe while you're at it.
Images by Sumit Gaikwad
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