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