Honda WR-V TrailblazES To DANDI
We’re taking Honda’s go-anywhere crossover to varying terrain and environments to see how it responds. First up, we take it to the waterside on a road trip to the iconic Dandi Beach in Gujarat
The road is slick with rainfall, the heavens have opened up, and it’s raining down so hard that the wiper blades are working at full tilt to help maintain visibility. Suddenly, there’s a whoosh of a truck driving into a puddle on the other side of the highway, the spray arcing into the air and landing with a heavy patter on my windscreen. And yet the WR-V cruises on, no drama, no squeamishness, no worries. I’m driving down the NH 48, heading for the town of Navsari and the famous Dandi Beach. The sat-nav’s distance-todestination number kept dropping as I flicked on the cruise control and just enjoyed the drive.
Our journey from Pune to Dandi Beach was well under way by this time, but it started at the crack of dawn in the heart of Pune city. We started from the legendary Shaniwarwada, the fortress residence of the Peshwas built in AD 1732 and ceded to the invading British empire in 1818. A beacon of pride for her people and one of the most recognizable spots in Pune city, this made for a perfect place to begin our journey.
Back to the NH 48 then. This highway is usually a pleasure to drive on, but during the monsoon that pleasure is elevated to a whole new level. Having the sunroof shade open and watching the thunderclouds congregate overhead as the rain pelted down was a singularly memorable experience. The rolling hills on either side are bathed in lush green, a cloud of fog lingers near the peak, and it all looks vibrant and alive. The WR-V’s potent 1.5-litre four-pot diesel engine offers 100 PS and 200 Nm, mated to a six-speed gearbox, and the fact that the power and torque come in fairly early in the rev-range meant I could pick up speed quite quickly. The six-speed gearbox also meant that I could cruise at high speeds while still maintaining great fuel efficiency levels. The car’s sorted suspension meant the WR-V didn’t disappoint around the corners, too, and was nimble enough to allow me to skirt past the slow-moving trucks on the highway. En route, there were more than a few interesting things to see. Chief among them was a gorgeous bridge just before our turn off at Navsari and we even spotted a line of what looked like geese waddling along on a service road on the opposite side.
Dandi Beach is just outside the town of Navsari, so, of course, we set about to explore the town as we were passing through it anyway.
Navsari may be a small town in Gujarat, but amid its narrow, bustling lanes and crowded bazaars, it hides a rich tapestry of culture: Parsi culture to be precise. Navsari is a bit of a hotbed when it comes to Zoroastrianism in India. The biggest attraction is undoubtedly the Atash Behram Fire Temple there. This fire temple dates back over 250 years, built as it was in AD 1765, thus making it the second oldest fire temple in India. Even though you have to be a member of the Parsi community to enter it, a visit to examine the architecture from the outside is well worth it. The building has this stoic, old-world charm about it that is quite pleasing to the eye.
The famous First Dastoor Meherjirana Library is but a stone’s
We started from the legendary Shaniwarwada, the fortress residence of the Peshwas
Dandi Salt March. For those of you who paid attention during your history lessons at school, that might just ring a bell. For those who didn’t, here’s a bit of a refresher.
On 12 March 1930, Mahatma Gandhi commenced a march from his base at Sabarmati with about 80 followers in tow, a march that was set to culminate at the Dandi Beach. The march took 24 days and covered nearly 400 kilometres, with more and more supporters joining as the march progressed. On 6 April 1930, the Mahatma and his followers reached Dandi Beach and, in a symbolic gesture that reverberated around the world, he lifted up a fistful of salt as a mark of defiance against the oppressive British salt tax. This action was the spark that fired up the entire nation, with similar protests taking place across the country and prompting the British colonial government to make over 60,000 arrests. This incident is also cited as ground zero for the wildly successful Civil Disobedience movement that eventually resulted in India gaining her independence. In fact, so far-reaching was the impact of this march, conducted on the tenets of satyagraha, that even American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr reportedly drew inspiration from this iconic protest.
Today, the Dandi Beach is a mostly abandoned stretch of coastal land with its own police station. The constabulary has restricted access to the beach, whether on four wheels or on foot, which meant we couldn’t drive the WR-V along this beach, retracing the Mahatma’s footsteps as intended. However, we did get a chance to get our wheels wet at the backwaters nearby and so accomplished our goal of testing the WR-V in the wet.
Before leaving the area, we also visited the Dandi March memorial just off the beach and, in doing so, were able to closely examine a larger-than-life statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the very act of producing salt at Dandi. Getting there meant traversing through a path made of mud and rubble. The car’s high ground clearance and adventure-ready stance meant we could dispatch this stretch of tarmac with absurd ease. This beach has rightly gone down in history as a place of legend and it is great to see its most famous visitor immortalized in this way.
Having witnessed the beach and everything it had to offer, we headed back into Navsari and checked into our hotel for the night. The following morning, it was off again, back on the NH 48, only this time we were moving in the opposite direction, towards Rajasthan. Our next adventure and the WR-V’s next terrain test was on the horizon. But that’s a story for another time. Keep an eye out for our next issue to read all about it.