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Sun, sand, beaches and a DZIRE ex­plore a bit of his­tory with salty air our hair

- Travel · India · Kochi · Kerala · Kerala · Arabian Sea · Fort Kochi · Kozhikode · Oxford · Mangalore · Vasco da Gama · CR Vasco da Gama · Kannur district · Pomfret · Pontefract · Muzhappilangad · Panambur

This is a car that has made a prom­i­nent place for it­self in In­dian mo­tor­ing his­tory. Erst­while Swift Dzire, now even ditches that moniker and goes with the part of the name that sig­ni­fies its suc­cess. The Maruti-Suzuki Dzire was launched less than 6 months back yet it has com­fort­ably man­aged to win the hearts of a lakh cus­tomers al­ready. To cel­e­brate this mile­stone, Maruti-Suzuki gave us the op­por­tu­nity to be a part of the Dzire Coastal Trail - a jour­ney that tra­verses the west­ern and east­ern coast­lines of In­dia.

Our jour­ney be­gan in Kochi, Ker­ala. Also known as the queen of the Ara­bian Sea and for­merly Cochin, the city has a rich his­tory be­ing part of an an­cient trade route in the 14th cen­tury. The Por­tuguese had set­tled here in the early 1,500s

and Kochi be­came one of the first Euro­pean colonies in colo­nial In­dia. Now, Kochi is a mod­ern, bustling city that boasts to be Ker­ala’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal. But to travel back in time we only had to cover 40km from Kochi air­port to the coast and ar­rive at Fort Kochi. Back in the 14th cen­tury, Kochi be­came the hub for spice trade, the re­mains of which are still vis­i­ble in the Fort Kochi mar­ket lo­cated on Jew Town road. Lined with var­i­ous shops sell­ing hand­i­crafts and spices, this mar­ket has a steady in­flow of tourists through­out the day. Houses and shops around this area re­flect Por­tuguese, Dutch and Bri­tish ar­chi­tec­ture and re­tain their her­itage. One iconic place to visit is the St. Fran­cis Church which was built in 1503 and is the old­est Euro­pean church in In­dia. It is also where the Por­tuguese ex­plorer, Vasco da Gama was buried. The church over­looks the beach which has an­other main at­trac­tion of Fort Kochi. Fish­er­men us­ing Chi­nese fish­ing nets are quite a sight as the ap­pa­ra­tus com­prises of a beam hold­ing an out­stretched net sus­pended over the sea.

Our next des­ti­na­tion was Kozhikode via NH66 which is an old coastal route. Our imag­i­na­tions ran a bit wild think­ing of well-paved, ARMCO-lined stretch of tar­mac by the coast, over­look­ing the sea and lined with palm trees while the re­al­ity was much dif­fer­ent. This na­tional high­way is a sin­gle car­riage­way full of traf­fic and strewn with con­tin­u­ous set­tle­ments along the high­way. Thus nat­u­rally, the high­way is busy through­out the day and progress was at a much slower pace than we had an­tic­i­pated. It took us over six hours to cover the 200 plus kilo­me­tre stretch but what greeted us, was a pic­ture per­fect sun­set at the Kozhikode beach. The high­light of the place how­ever, came early next morn­ing when we headed to­wards Kap­pad beach.

Lo­cated just about an hour away, the quaint beach is de­void of tourists with only a few fish­er­men to be seen, wash­ing their boats af­ter the day’s catch. The un­touched beach sees much of its flora and fauna re­tained and flocks of seabirds catch­ing fish made for a spec­ta­cle that we would oth­er­wise see on a screen. Kap­pad beach is also his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant as Vasco da Gama landed here in 1498. Soak­ing in the sights, we made a dash

to­wards Muzhap­pi­lan­gad, Ker­ala where some fun awaited us.

Hav­ing just spent a day in the south­ern state, our Ox­ford Blue Dzire was still gleam­ing with the coat of wax on it. Not only did the de­sign re­ceive com­pli­ments from by­standers for look­ing pre­mium, it also kept its oc­cu­pants in ut­most com­fort. A fea­ture worth men­tion­ing is the air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. Cool­ing the cabin ef­fort­lessly af­ter park­ing the car in the sun for tak­ing still shots while the rear air-con vents proved to be a boon for our ex­hausted and al­most de­hy­drated cam­era­man. Even at this time of the year, this part of the coun­try ex­pe­ri­ences tem­per­a­tures up­wards of 30-de­gree Cel­sius along with high hu­mid­ity. The plush sus­pen­sion also played a ma­jor role in of­fer­ing a com­fort­able ride, quite ev­i­dent from the snor­ing and sound sleep that the pas­sen­gers en­joyed dur­ing the drive. The

shine on the Dzire was go­ing to get brighter as we drove right up to the beach front, giv­ing it a lit­tle wash in the process. Muzhap­pi­lan­gad beach is a drive-in beach which re­stricts speed to 30kmph but one can have a blast driv­ing on the 4km stretch soak­ing in the sooth­ing view of blue wa­ters, rocks and lush green trees.

Wrap­ping things up with a round of pho­to­graphs, we headed on­wards pass­ing Kan­nur, to­wards our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. Wit­ness­ing a mes­meris­ing sun­set at Man­ga­lore’s Panam­bur beach, it was also time to feast on a sump­tu­ous meal. A coastal drive af­ter all, can’t be com­plete with­out sam­pling the lo­cal del­i­ca­cies that has an ex­otic se­lec­tion of seafood. Pom­fret, cala­mari, crab and prawns filled our hunger and souls at the fa­mous Ga­jalee restau­rant lo­cated just at the en­trance of Man­ga­lore city. With ice cream for dessert at an­other pop­u­lar joint called Pabba’s, we called it a night and marked an end to an equally sweet leg of the Dzire Coastal Trail.

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