Up in the clouds with the Hyundai Elantra, in Mahabaleshwar
Leaving the stressful city behind, we drive up to the blissful hill station of Mahabaleshwar to rejuvenate our bodies and minds.
In the monsoon season, there are certain parts of Maharashtra that really come alive transforming from the ordinary to the simply surreal and none more so than the many hill stations located across the state. This time around, in the Bucket List series, we drive off to a wonderfully scenic hill station, in a very special luxury sedan - the Hyundai ELANTRA - in order to clear our minds of all our stresses and troubles. We're off to Mahabaleshwar.
Now if you check out details about Mahabaleshwar online, you'll find that it is a hill station town that's known for its fresh raspberry and strawberry farms and if it's the berries you're after, the best time to visit here would be in the winter months. But the hill station can be rather crowded around that time of the year, and the rates of this season. If it's the a more calm and relaxed outing you desire with substantially less people around, the monsoon season is the ideal time to head up to Mahabaleshwar. On a weekday at that, mind you, because the weekends can be rather chaotic as well. There's a lot to take in as soon as you make your way up to Mahabaleshwar the rich smell of the earth, the cool mountain breeze in the shade, the lush green valleys on all sides. Enveloped in the mist of the clouds that settle down on the hill station is an amazing feeling and it feels as though you've entered some sort of real-life dream sequence it all feels otherworldly and instils you with a sense of calm, joy, thrill even.
Once in Mahabaleshwar you have many options on how you chose to spend your time there. There are numerous hiking trails to set out on, taking in all the sights and the flora that really breathe to into life this time of the year. You can also visit some of the awesome viewpoints and waterfalls with your friends and loved ones, with scenic backdrops that will make your photos all the more memorable. And when the clouds settle down on the mountain, there's nothing like a drive around Mahabaleshwar's mountain roads which now turn a tad eerie with the fog all around, for some freshly prepared and piping-hot pakodas at one of the local stalls to really invigorate your senses. Even doing something as simple as choosing to kick back and relax with a good book and a hot chocolate while the only sounds you'll hear being that of chirping birds, just feels so gratifying. But word to the wise, you must carry some warm clothes along for when the sun sets the temperature really drops and it can get quite cold up here. It's a setting that you simply have to experience for yourself at least once in your life because it just feels so reinvigorating. Even during the day the outdoor temperature in Mahabaleshwar around this time of the year isn't high, and we kept the ELANTRA's windows, and even the sunroof wide open for most part of the trip not requiring any air-conditioning. Only when it began to drizzle when the fog got too dense or were shooting video did we close all the Hyundai's windows.
Even the drive to Mahabaleshwar is a thrill on its own, and in a car like the Hyundai ELANTRA, the entire experience felt all the more sublime. On the drive up here, the roads were rutted in some parts, but thankfully, the ELANTRA's suspension soaked up all the bumps surprisingly well. The steering is nice and light in Eco mode, so the drive to here was just effortless. On the twisty ghat section up towards Mahabaleshwar from Wai, we switched the car into Sport mode where the steering weighs up nicely and the throttle pedal is more responsive. We thoroughly enjoyed an enthusiastic drive up the hill, let all of the Hyundai's 152PS loose. One of the many outstanding bits about the SX(O) petrol automatic variant of the ELANTRA is its 6-speed gearbox which is so seamless and smooth in its way of functioning. It truly gives you a sense that of being in the lap of luxury and it is so relaxing to drive this big luxury Hyundai sedan. It feels like a reward on its own.
Most people in Maharashtra don't like getting out much during the monsoon season, even if they have a couple of days off from their busy schedules, but they really don't know of the rewards that come with making a little effort and driving out during the monsoon season. The weather, the scenery, just being up in the clouds - it just feels so unreal, so relaxing and oh so special. Mahabaleshwar definitely comes to life in the monsoons, and it certainly comes with its perks and rewards. Driving a spacious, luxury car like the Hyundai ELANTRA certainly adds to the excitement and joy of being here. Rejuvenation, complete.
Photography by Ram Shrikhande
Starts Rs 17.6 Lakhs