The Honda Drive to Dis­cover 9 took us to the lit­tle-known parts of As­sam and Arunachal Pradesh in two very ca­pa­ble cars


An epic drive through the splen­did vis­tas of As­sam and Arunachal Pradesh in the Honda CR-V and Civic


taken us across the length and breadth of the country. But some­how one part of the country hasn’t been ex­plored as much as the stun­ning beauty and rich cul­ture of the re­gion de­mands. I am talk­ing about the splen­did North East of the country. So, when Honda In­dia in­vited us for the Drive to Dis­cover 9, we jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. The drive, over the course of the bet­ter part of a week, took us through As­sam and Arunachal Pradesh. The cherry on the cake was the fact that we would be driv­ing the Honda CR-V and Civic all through the drive.

The mon­soon had just ar­rived and any­one who has ever been to the North East would know that it rains here by the buck­et­load. Land­ing in Guwahati, we drove to the ho­tel in the cen­tre of the city. The rains had al­ready made the view out­side my win­dow a brighter shade of green. This drive was cer­tain to be a one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ence.

We started off early on the first day as we were mak­ing our way to Ma­juli, the largest river is­land in the country. It wasn’t the dis­tance but the fact that we would be driv­ing through some very nar­row roads that weren’t in the best con­di­tion. How­ever, we had two very ca­pa­ble ma­chines in our hands. I started off with the Civic with its punchy diesel en­gine and slick-shift­ing man­ual gear­box. The hus­tle and bus­tle of Guwahati was quickly dealt with and we soon found our­selves pass­ing through lush green of Kazi­ranga. The na­tional park it­self was shut as it is for a few months ev­ery year. The numer­ous an­i­mal cor­ri­dors that we passed made us slow down and take in the beauty of the for­est and the tea plan­ta­tions that have sprouted up within touch­ing dis­tance of the for­est. How­ever, we en­sured that we didn’t spend too much time as we had a ferry to catch at Jorhat be­fore 3:30pm when the last one for the river is­land de­parts. With a heavy right foot, we made great progress and soon stopped for lunch. All through the drive it was ev­i­dent that the Civic, re­gard­less of its sedan body-style was more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling the crater-sized pot­holes that the roads pre­sented us with. And not just that, it did so with a ride so sublime that even the most picky of us au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ists were all praises for it by lunch.

A quick lunch later, I de­cided to call shot­gun and spent the next cou­ple of hours gaz­ing out­side the win­dow. The North East has so much to of­fer and even fleet­ing glances from a pass­ing car fill you with awe and won­der. Bad roads soon opened up to some well-sur­faced high­ways and that’s when the Civic’s horses were put to good use.

We gave the slow mov­ing traf­fic a miss and were soon do­ing triple digit speeds with ease.

Soon, we were at Ni­mati ghat in Jorhat and parked our­selves aboard a large ferry that took us to Ma­juli. The serenity of the river is­land has to be ex­pe­ri­enced to be be­lieved. Soon af­ter we got off the ferry we ex­plored the nar­row roads lead­ing to an eco-re­sort deep in­side the is­land where an evening of tra­di­tional folk dance per­for­mances fol­lowed.

The next day brought with it sear­ing heat and hu­mid­ity but also gave me the chance to get be­hind the wheel of the CR-V that took us to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. All through the drive, we were driv­ing along the Brahma­pu­tra and just like ev­ery year, the river was flooded push­ing the an­i­mals off the plains and onto the roads. That did make driv­ing a chal­lenge, as we of­ten found our­selves slam­ming on the brakes af­ter find­ing stray cat­tle on the road. To its credit, the CR-V didn’t mind the hard brak­ing one bit and the amaz­ing lev­els of bite and feed­back meant that I didn’t mind ei­ther. I was pi­lot­ing the diesel auto CR-V and was blown away by the amount of torque avail­able. Suf­fice to say, over­tak­ing on the nar­row high­way sec­tions was easy. The roads did present us with a huge num­ber of im­per­fec­tions on the way but the CR-V was very com­posed, lead­ing many of us to re­mark that it in­deed is just the per­fect car for a drive like this.

To Pasighat and then fur­ther on to Di­bru­garh and Guwahati, we found some re­ally good stretches of high­way and spent some time en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful North­east and the won­der­ful cabin of the Civic and CRV. This time, un­like the Drive to Dis­cov­ers in the past, we spent much more time on the road and with the CR-V and Civic, so we weren’t com­plain­ing. In fact, for us auto jour­nal­ists who are con­stantly on the go, the Drive to Dis­cover was a wel­come respite. ⌧

Right: Both the Civic and CR-V fared re­ally well in this part of the country; Civic’s edgy looks grabbed a lot of eye­balls; torquey CR-V is a hoot off-road

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