MARAZZO OCEAN TRAIL

In part 2 of the Mahin­dra Marazzo Ocean Trail we drive to Chen­nai and meet the men be­hind the Marazzo

Evo India - - CONTENTS - WORDS by AFZAL RAWUTHER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY by RO­HIT G MANE

In part 2, we take the Marazzo to the place where it was born

BEACHES, BEACHES AND EVEN MORE SPEC­TAC­U­LAR beaches (with In­dia’s largest lake thrown in for good mea­sure). The first part of our jour­ney had so far been in­cred­i­ble. We had wit­nessed a sun­rise over the ocean, had de­lec­ta­ble seafood and spent our evenings gaz­ing at the hori­zon with fine sand un­der our feet. But now we de­cided to look for some­thing else apart from the beaches. Yeah, we’d had too much of a good thing and the East coast had to have more than just beaches, no mat­ter how beau­ti­ful they were. So, for The Mahin­dra Marazzo Ocean Trail – Part 2, we went a step fur­ther and de­cided to tick off the most un­usual of sights from our list. Visakha­p­at­nam to Puducherry was on the Marazzo’s nav­i­ga­tion, the dis­tance was less than a thou­sand kilo­me­tres and for us at evo In­dia that could mean one of two things — a day of spir­ited driv­ing or four days of ex­plor­ing. We chose the lat­ter.

From Visakha­p­at­nam, we set out to ex­plore the mag­nif­i­cent Araku val­ley, in­ci­den­tally one of In­dia’s finest cof­fee-grow­ing re­gions. The roads lead­ing out of Visakha­p­at­nam and to­wards Araku val­ley, much to our de­light, included sev­eral windy bits with tight cor­ners and nu­mer­ous hair­pin bends. Nes­tled deep in the Araku val­ley and soak­ing in the sights of the marvel­lous val­ley that lay be­low, we were mak­ing our way to­wards the Borra caves that are over 150-mil­lion-year-old caves and were first dis­cov­ered over 200 years ago. Since then, the sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites there have be­come a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion. A rather fun drive up the hills gave us an­other chance to put the han­dling of the Marazzo to the test, and it sur­prised us with how well it took to the tight twisty roads. Credit goes to the unique ar­chi­tec­ture of the MPV that mar­ries the ro­bust­ness of a ladder frame with mod­ern light­weight de­sign and a fron­twheel drive, trans­verse-en­gined pack­ag­ing. The twisties only

THE ROADS LEAD­ING OUT OF VISAKHA­P­AT­NAM AND TO­WARDS ARAKU VAL­LEY INCLUDED SEV­ERAL WINDY BITS WITH TIGHT COR­NERS

YOU CAN WALK ALONG THE EN­TIRE STRETCH AND MARVEL AT THE EMPTY SEASHORE WITH NO

TRAF­FIC TO BOTHER YOU

re­in­forced what we said in our first tests, that the Marazzo has got prop­erly sorted han­dling that blends good grip with even bet­ter com­po­sure and doesn’t spring any sur­prises on the en­thu­si­as­tic driver.

Af­ter putting the tyres through some tor­ture, we were soon out­side the Borra caves and went in to the colour­fully-lit and im­mac­u­lately-main­tained cave com­plex. With con­sid­er­able time and en­ergy spent trekking up and down the caves, it was time for lunch. Coin­ci­den­tally, we found a local del­i­cacy — bam­boo chicken, that was just be­ing taken off the fire. We held our­selves back a tiny bit be­cause of the twisties that we would soon find our­selves on and ad­mit­tedly we re­ally liked the beige up­hol­stery of the Marazzo. Need­less to say, we didn’t hold the Marazzo back on the twisties. The MPV dis­played re­mark­able poise and speed as it made its way down the hills of the Araku val­ley and soon we were back in the city of Visakha­p­at­nam and de­cided to call it a day.

The next day, we set out on the drive to Vi­jayawada. A great sec­tion of the NH16 beck­oned us and the smooth­ness of the road sur­face al­lied to the ex­tremely pli­ant sus­pen­sion of the Marazzo en­sured we could all take turns get­ting some shut-eye in the back. 40 winks later we were in quaint Kak­i­nada. Fairly pop­u­lar among the locals, the town has a fabulous 3km stretch of road that runs right along the ocean. And while we did say we’d had enough of a good thing, we had to make an ex­cep­tion. You can walk along the en­tire stretch of the beach and marvel at the empty seashore and the tran­quil waves with lit­tle to no traf­fic to bother you. What more could we ask for?

In the heart of Kak­i­nada town, we stum­bled upon an eatery that was more than half a century old. The Sub­bayya restau­rant is a feast for all your senses. It is im­mensely pop­u­lar and has more than a few out­lets serv­ing the same fare, on the same street, to cater to the thou­sand or so hun­gry mouths that throng the place dur­ing lunch hours. The place is ab­so­lutely jam-packed and the all-you-can-eat South In­dian veg­e­tar­ian fare cou­pled with the amaz­ing hospi­tal­ity — we were even handed bev­er­ages for the road as we were head­ing out — is ab­so­lutely worth the ef­fort and time. With tum­mies full to the brim, most of the team de­cided to take a nap, again! The Marazzo re­ally does in­dulge the lazi­ness in us! The pli­ant sus­pen­sion, ex­tremely quiet cabin, low NVH lev­els and com­fort­able seats en­sured that the sec­ond and third row oc­cu­pants got some rest.

We had driven on the NH16 for the ma­jor­ity of the drive and the cruis­ing abil­ity of the Marazzo was some­thing that we had come to love. The 450 or so kilo­me­tres to Chen­nai were dis­missed at a quick trot and from one metropo­lis to the other the Marazzo im­pressed on all fronts. Ev­ery­thing from the ride, the han­dling and the sheer com­fort in­side was top-notch. The way the Marazzo is built also in­spires con­fi­dence. There is a re­as­sur­ing thud ev­ery time you shut the doors. And the high safety rat­ings that it has re­ceived (a 4-star Global NCAP rat­ing) en­sure that you can rest as­sured that the MPV will have your back even if, God for­bid, things go wrong. But more than any­thing else, it was the lit­tle things that re­ally won us over. The roof-mounted AC vents with the option of di­rect or dif­fused cool­ing is a high­light. No mat­ter how hot it was out­side, we could eas­ily find the right tem­per­a­ture in­side. Also, the top-end fea­ture-loaded M8 vari­ant that we were driv­ing comes with an 8-seater con­fig­u­ra­tion, some­thing that will be well ap­pre­ci­ated by ev­ery ex­tended In­dian fam­ily.

For the fi­nal stop on our Ocean Trail, we headed to the charm­ing town of Puducherry. The beau­ti­ful beaches, quaint

cafes and pretty streets, all hark back to a time in the past. The Marazzo with its shark-in­spired de­sign looks fu­tur­is­tic and con­trasted beau­ti­fully with the French-era ar­chi­tec­ture. A walk along the pic­turesque Marine Drive is an ex­pe­ri­ence to savour and should cer­tainly not be missed for any­thing. The nar­row lanes in Puducherry tested the ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity of the Marazzo and with its small turn­ing ra­dius, it ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions of­ten, get­ting us to places we thought the MPV couldn’t get to — good for us lazy bums then, the fact that the Marazzo could keep us shielded from the scorch­ing hot sun for so long en­sured that Ro­hit and Alameen got sea­side pic­tures and footage they wanted with­out an un­wanted tan. Now Puducherry is known as the Goa of the South and that tag has made it a pop­u­lar tourist destinatio­n for In­di­ans and for­eign­ers alike. Un­for­tu­nately though, it has had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the beau­ti­ful town. Unchecked con­struc­tion on the beach as well as a lack of ef­fort to slow down sand ero­sion has re­sulted in beaches that have coarse sand and the famed beaches of the Goa of the South are no longer as spec­tac­u­lar as they were. That hasn’t done much to the spir­its of the Puducherry folk though, and they re­main as jovial and fun-lov­ing as ever.

A short twenty-minute drive away was the town of Auroville and even though it wasn’t on our list, it had al­ways fas­ci­nated me with its en­vi­ron­men­tally-con­scious, self-suf­fi­cient way of life. We just couldn’t miss a short drive there. We had lunch at a ve­gan, or­ganic restau­rant there and when asked for a bill at the end of a fabulous meal, I was promptly told by the pretty French­woman that I would only re­ceive an email as “Trees are givers of life”. Stupid me! It was Auroville that I was in af­ter all. Re­luc­tantly, we bid adieu to the re­laxed vibe of Auroville, and re­turned to the hus­tle and bus­tle of Chen­nai.

We were at the end of the Mahin­dra Marazzo Ocean Trail

but we had just one last thing to do. We drove to the Mahin­dra Re­search Val­ley to meet the men be­hind the Marazzo. Led by Velusamy R, the se­nior VP of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, we were ed­u­cated about the var­i­ous in­no­va­tions and de­vel­op­ments that have made the Marazzo what it is. We re­alised that the Marazzo be­ing what it is, is not hap­pen­stance. The engi­neers and de­sign­ers be­hind the project have spent count­less hours re­fin­ing the ride, han­dling and per­for­mance to­gether with col­leagues from the North Amer­i­can cen­tre in Detroit. All that ef­fort was ev­i­dent in the way the Marazzo per­formed all through this epic road-trip. We stum­bled on things to do that were way off the usual tourist trail and way off our list too; made plans and then changed them. And all it took was a drive that lasted a lit­tle more than a week. The fact that the Mahin­dra Marazzo Ocean Trail was so ef­fort­less was clearly a result of the Marazzo’s in­her­ent qual­i­ties. The Ocean Trail also told us some­thing that we should have known ear­lier. In­cred­i­ble In­dia has nu­mer­ous hid­den trea­sures for any­one who is will­ing to look. The only thing you need is a de­sire to do so, and a car that is will­ing to take you and your bud­dies wher­ever you want to go. ⌧

“THE AIM WAS TO EN­SURE THAT

CUS­TOMERS FELT AS FRESH AT THE END OF THE JOUR­NEY AS THEY DID AT

THE START” –

VELUSAMY R

1: The Marazzo en­joyed the twisties. 2: The team mi­nus our shut­ter­bug, Ro­hit. 3: The mag­nif­i­cent Borra caves. 4: The one-ofits-kind Kur­sura Sub­ma­rine Museum in Vizag

Top left: The smooth gear­box was a joy to use on the Ocean Trail. Top: Velusamy R, se­nior VP, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, Mahin­dra Rise ex­plains what went into the Marazzo. Above: The place where the Marazzo was first con­ceived

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