We head out to the Rann of Kutch in the Hyundai Tuc­son, to sim­ply en­joy the sun­rise


The Hyundai Tuc­son chases the bril­liance of a sun­rise in the Rann

UNRISE. AS THAT CE­LES­TIAL burn­ing ball of gas we call the sun, pokes its head over the hori­zon, it bathes the land in its warm em­brace. Those first rays are al­ways the most com­fort­ing — the ones that pierce the ten­drils of dark­ness that spread through the night. Dark­ness re­treats as the sun claims its right­ful place in the sky. A sun­rise on a good day is quite the spec­ta­cle — the golden glow on the hori­zon along with the smat­ter­ing of a few stray clouds in the sky — it can be­come a heady con­coc­tion of colours that con­stantly shifts and ad­justs it­self, each frame more spec­tac­u­lar than the last. Don’t even get me started on the metaphor­i­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the in­evitable dawn after the long night and all that jazz; I could go on for days.

How­ever, we are a hy­per-ur­ban so­ci­ety, one that dwells in con­crete jun­gles, with its in­fi­nite shades of greys and browns. The sun rises out from be­hind buildings, fights through the lay­ers of grime, smog and dust through the day, only to dis­ap­pear be­hind another build­ing in the evening. Tell me hon­estly, when was the last time you woke up early sim­ply to watch the sun rise? I’m not talk­ing about the times you woke up early for work (or were up late at a party) and watched it rise as a con­se­quence of be­ing awake at that hour. No, when did you last wake up to sim­ply bear wit­ness to this daily oc­cur­rence? I couldn’t re­mem­ber ei­ther. Time to change that.

In­dia is vast, and it has no dearth of des­ti­na­tions that com­pound the beauty of a sun­rise by sim­ply be­ing mag­nif­i­cent by them­selves. Over the next

It is a heady con­coc­tion of colours that con­stantly shifts and ad­justs it­self

cou­ple of months, we’re go­ing to head out to some of these des­ti­na­tions in a va­ri­ety of Hyundai cars to wit­ness the sun rise. And set. Our first des­ti­na­tion was a no brainer, re­ally. The Rann of Kutch of­fers some of the most breath­tak­ing views of the sun ris­ing — the land is flat for miles and you can see the sun inch over the hori­zon and get brighter as it climbs. If you flip through some of our older is­sues, you’d no­tice that some of our best pic­tures have come from this cracked, dry salt desert. And to tackle this harsh ter­rain, we’d need an SUV — noth­ing like the Hyundai Tuc­son that has been get­ting rave re­views from all quar­ters then.

But be­fore I get on to our ad­ven­tures in the Rann (well, its pe­riph­ery), let me tell you about the drive there from Pune be­cause it was a real high­light. Here’s what you need to know: Pune to Dasada. 760km. 12 hours, 42 min­utes of con­tin­u­ous driv­ing ac­cord­ing to Google Maps. It’s doable in a day, but it shouldn’t be some­thing you can call easy-peasy. Well, the Tuc­son made it easy-peasy. When Anand re­turned from the Great In­dia Drive (read about it in evo In­dia 44 and 45) rant­ing and rav­ing about how com­fort­able the Tuc­son was, I put it down to him los­ing ob­jec­tiv­ity, hav­ing spent far too much time in one car. But boy, was I wrong. Be­cause the Tuc­son munches miles like no car I have ever driven be­fore, and I had to drive it to be­lieve it.

We made it to Dasada in 12 hours flat — in­clud­ing a break­fast stop, a lunch stop, a short de­tour in to the heart of Ahmed­abad to pick up a lens, and a tea break. Lit­tle more then 10 hours of driv­ing did the job. The Tuc­son makes it so easy to keep your av­er­age speeds up, and makes driv­ing such long

dis­tances a breeze. The com­fort of the seats are a high­light, and so is the de­tached feel you have in the cabin. The en­gine has plenty of grunt to hus­tle it along and the re­fine­ment lev­els are com­mend­able while giv­ing you de­cent fuel econ­omy as well. Fa­tigue sim­ply doesn’t set in and you can drive at un­speak­able speeds for hours, with­out tir­ing even slightly. Equip­ment is im­pres­sive as well. The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is fault­less — the touch­screen in­ter­face is in­tu­itive and doesn’t have a steep learn­ing curve like some modern day ones do, it has plenty of con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions and the speak­ers could give branded ones from cars in two classes above, a run for their money. The chas­sis con­trol is also sorted. Gone are the days of floaty cars, this one is taut and con­trolled, giv­ing you tremen­dous con­fi­dence to keep push­ing it. The road from Pune to Dasada is one long, long straight road — up NH48 all the way to Ahmed­abad, after which you get off the na­tional high­ways on to some State high­ways and make it to Dasada. The smaller roads aren’t as well paved as the other roads and you do come across the oc­ca­sional pot­hole — and the Tuc­son makes quick work of them. Ride is stiffer than you’d tra­di­tion­ally ex­pect of a Hyundai, yet com­fort lev­els are be­yond re­proach.

We ar­rived at the Rann Rid­ers camp in Dasada to over­cast skies, news that it had poured heav­ily in the Rann the pre­vi­ous day and (worse) that we may not be able to shoot the sun­rise, as the sun would rise be­hind the clouds. When it rains in the Rann, the Rann goes back to what it used to be — the ocean. The hard, cracked sur­face be­comes some­thing like quick­sand and even hard­core 4x4s and trac­tors can get them­selves stuck. You even fish for ex­cel­lent prawns in the Rann when it gets flooded. So all those dra­matic pho­tos with the car driv­ing through the vast­ness, dust bil­low­ing be­hind and the sun glow­ing some­where fur­ther be­hind had to be put into our bin of trashed ideas.

But we hadn’t driven so far to turn around and go home, so alarms were set for 4:30am. The en­try to the Rann is at Zinzuwada, some 25km from Dasada and it takes about 45 min­utes to get to this lit­tle vil­lage. We were fol­low­ing one of the Rann Rid­ers’ ex­pe­ri­enced ex­pe­di­tion lead­ers and as we drove there, the sky turned from pitch black, to a deep pur­ple and fi­nally to a rich blue. We were in luck, not a cloud was in sight. We were go­ing to get to wit­ness our sun­rise.

Top to bot­tom: The Rann gets flooded in the mon­soons; the Tuc­son took us far enough in to the Rann to shoot some wildlife; the In­dian wild ass is indige­nous to this area

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