Please Tell Us Your City
Aditya Chatterjee Aditya Chatterjee Friday 01 November 2013

 Drive to Discover Season 4: The Bangla Trip

Honda is one company which takes different initiatives to make all experience the true potential of its products. Often Honda cars are perceived as too premium for a common man. The Japanese automobile company wants to break this myth. It has its “Drive to Discover” series where Honda cars are driven across length and width of the country.

This drive includes different locations, weather and driving conditions. We had attended their last season from Ahmadabad to Pune and were thoroughly impressed with the potential of Brio hatchback.

This season when Honda offered us to be a part of it again, I was prepared to be a part of it already as it gives a good chance to experience the diversity of our country. Joy came in when I was told that this time the journey is from Vishakhapatnam to the City of Joy Kolkata. It is not a proud fact that being a Bengali I had not visited Kolkata for a very very long time. I was delighted when this occasion came.

There is no doubt that I love Mumbai but then the grilling traffic, bad roads and the always chaotic conditions get very stressful. One has to escape from it. After flying from Mumbai and landing in Vishakhapatnam all the stress is gone because down south in outer city limits the narrow roads are always filled with greenery all around. Even people are very helpful. They will guide you to everywhere. In fact, I met some real nice local people who offered me to guide me to my destination.

After staying in Vizag for a night and enjoying some good local cuisine, we headed off to Puri. Puri is situated in Odisha and the coastal roads were decent. These roads did not offer uneven surfaces and we were travelling at triple digit speeds. Honda Amaze comes across as a strong sedan in its segment.

This fact was highlighted that even with the car loaded with our luggage and equipment; it did not feel underpowered at all. Even while overtaking, the Amaze delivers superb torque thus reducing the efforts of frequent gear change. The only low point of it is the noisy i-Dtec diesel engine whose diesel grunt gets very evident.

Honda was very stubborn to get the diesel engine range for its consumers in India and thus the Amaze is seen as a blessing for the company as finally it is competing against its mainstream rivals mainly the Swift DZire. The 1.5L Diesel unit performed extremely well without any hassles.

After travelling for a great distance, it was not the fuel tank but our stomachs which went totally dry. The border areas of West Bengal don’t have mainstream hotels but the local dhabas offer some real strong flavored food. Getting the lunch sorted, we continued on our journey towards Kolkata via Puri. Till the time we were floating on the highways, it was just fine. Google Maps was the only guide for us in this trip. Unfortunately when we depend too much on technology we have to face its repercussions later. 

We took a detour and the roads vanished. We were left with a narrow pathway which crossed a village. At one time, we were almost lost because there was no sight of a proper tar road. The roads started narrowing further. The suspensions were put to thorough testing. We were at our careful best but even then the underbelly of the car scraped the ground surface. The roads we encountered on this patch were the worst ever with stones all over.

After battling the rough surfaces and sighting the highway again, we raced towards it. We reached our hotel post evening. The Honda Amaze is a mere sedan and the company does not claim it to be a soft roader or a crossover. I was mainly worried of the underbelly scratching that we encountered on the narrow lanes of our journey but then this is a Honda. The premium price that Honda puts on its cars is not the cost of the brand alone. The fit and finish of Amaze is very strong and it indeed endured a lot in this trip.

The temperatures were soaring and sun was its peak. We decided to do a quick shoot of all our cars together. To beat the extreme weather, the Amaze offered amazing cooling with its unbeatable AC unit. Our convoy was back on track.

The Amaze is a derivative of the Brio hatch but then it has been styled in a balanced way.  Sharp and edgy lines of the Brio have been converted into subtle and curvy lines for the rear door and windows. The roof line gradually flows down to the boot lid.  The diesel gets a strong wide cut square rib 10-spoke alloys.

Shooting the Amaze with a jungle backdrop was indeed very nice. We were on our way to Bhubaneswar where a small interaction with official Honda officials was planned.

We then headed towards Digha which was our next stop. After making our way through traffic filled areas and maneuvering the Amaze around corners we were back on the highway. We decided to pay a visit to Sun Temple in Konark. The Sun temple holds great historic importance since it was constructed as a tribute to Sun god. This temple was made in ancient period of 1250 by King Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is constructed in a way to resemble a gigantic chariot which has elaborate stone wheels and pillars.

We decided to have a sumptuous lunch which tasted average but then it costed a bomb. The roads now again got worse and the endurance limits of the Amaze were tested again though it was not for long until we hit some fine stretches of road. It was cruising at speeds of 130 Km/hr without any lag. The road towards Digha thankfully did not offer anything challenging and was a straight drive.

We also managed to reach speeds of 145 Km/hr. This was a long journey and thus comfortable seats were most important. The front legroom of Amaze is simply impressive and with different USB and Aux-in Support, the journey was filled with excitement. There were some who decided to chuck Digha and instead continue to Kolkata as it would have helped explore the City of Joy.

It was extremely early in the morning when we reached Taj Bengal in Kolkata. We were extremely tired at this stretch but then the Amaze kept its momentum and safely took us to our venue. The sign board which said “Welcome to the City of Joy” was a great relief. The next morning, our prime mission was Discover Kolkata.

Kolkatta is the capital of West Bengal. You know it’s Kolkata when slow running trams overtake you. Yellow Ambassadors and cops dressed in white parading the city is a common sight. The best part of Kolkata has to be its native language Bengali which is very sweet to hear. No doubt Bengali people have a sweet tooth. No meal is complete unless it has a dessert to compliment it.

We decided to ditch five star foods for some famous street food. In Kolkata, the range of street food available is exhaustive. It can range from a snack Jhaal Mudi to Keema roll and each has its unique taste. Out team ventured into Bhojohori Mana.The name of this place is named after a song penned by the legendary Manna Dey. There are no dedicated menu cards and instead everything is handwritten on a white board. It was too confusing to decide and thus we asked for the chef’s recommendations.

Tasting the best Bengali food in a known place in Kolkata does not get any better. We then decided to walk out way to new market area. This area is known for selling clothes, accessories, ornaments etc. It was bustling with excitement. The temperatures were humid but it was no way a distraction for the public.

One’s bargaining skills are truly tested here. With my novice bargaining skills I finally managed to get some popular Bengali Kurtas and sarees. We decided to call it a day and with the sun going down it was time for us to head back to our hotel.

From Vizag to Kolkata, it was a fantastic trip. We clocked close to 1200 Kms and the Amaze did not report any issue. It delivered a realistic mileage of 17 Kmpl which is very impressive considering the fact that we were driving on full throttle on some sections. There were some patches which were worse but the Amaze did not disappoint us. It went ahead taking us in great comfort. I was mighty surprised with this sedan and our Bangla trip went AMAZINGGG.



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