The memories of my first Brio experience are still fresh. This was when Honda had invited a bunch of journalists to experience the hatchback in Vishakhapatnam. I found it to be one of the best B segment hatchbacks I have driven in recent times. The light and accurate steering, the perky engine, the well-balanced chassis made it the perfect city go-kart. Since then, I have always wanted to drive the Brio once again, not in the city but out on the open road. My wish was fulfilled, when we were to drive the Brio as a part of the Discover India activity.
My route for the trip was from Chandigarh to Jaipur— a mere two-day trip. Since, we were on Discover India tour and our first night stay was in Mandawa, our route was on the single lane, not so busy NH65 instead of the expressway that could have taken us to Jaipur by sunset. Day one had a total travel of 406km. The Flag off happened at a Honda dealership in the Union Territory. From here we headed to Zirakpur towards the highway. We drove on to NH1 towards Delhi, which wasn’t the correct route. It was later that we had to turn back to NH65 through Ambala. We had to cross the Ambala Cant railway crossing and pass the parish.
Then we headed onto NH65 towards Churu. This was single lane straight road which was wide on most of the occasions. There were lush green fields on both the sides and the route was scenic. It has been rightly said; if you wish to discover India, drive on country roads. This does hold true as you won’t discover anything about the real India while cruising on expressways. India is here in the villages, where the green fields exist, closer to the picturesque nature.
NH65 was also a straight road with smooth asphalt, although it was a bit bumpy and there were some patches that had broken tarmac. The only major town we had to pass through was Hisar, and the locals were humble enough to guide us to NH65 towards Churu. One particular street in Hisar had a shade above ankle-deep water and a special mention goes to the rains that had happened a few days ago in and around Rajasthan.
We stopped near Gangwa at a restaurant called Blue Valley, which did impress us from the outside. But once we stepped in, it did remind me of the famous saying about “Judging a book by its cover.” It was the last place one would want to eat in. There aren’t a whole lot of food stopovers in Rajasthan, be it a national or a state highway. So for those who are travelling on this route, it is better to stop wherever you think the place will be good. Then we headed towards Churu on NH65. Despite entering Rajasthan, the topography was the same; there were no deserts in this zone. There seemed to be no end to the verdant green fields stretching out in every direction.
About three kms before Churu, we turned onto the interstate highway, SH37. Soon, we were driving on a small-rural road to SH41. This was a 7-8km stretch on which only one vehicle could pass at a time. It took us between the homes and fields of the villagers. This road led us to the Mandawa town. Our stop was at Mandawa Fort— which is a property of the landlord of that territory— now known as the Hotel Mandawa Castle. We think the images of the Castle will do more justice to it than text here. Hence, we forego the textual description of the fort for a visual one. Mandawa is a town in Jhunjhunu with a human population of about 20,000 humans and 10,000 poultry animals.
The 400+ km journey of the first day didn’t prove to be tiring. The Brio, despite being small was comfortable with the light steering wheel and clutch pedal that made driving a breeze, while driving on the highway or in the city. Driving on the interstate highways meant no radio stations, and the music on my phone along with the Aux-in connectivity was a saviour. We were pleasantly cruising at 100-120kmph on the interstate, without any sort of issues. This 1.2-litre i-VTEC seems to be sumptuously crafted by the engineers just like any other Honda engine. The refinement levels of this mill are phenomenal; it is peppy and redlines happily.
The next day we headed towards Jaipur via SH65 and then we moved on to NH11. The scenic route soon became a concrete jungle and most of the road was in its expansion phase. NH11, at the moment is a single lane road and soon we shall be seeing a dual carriage highway. Some sections of the highway are ready and already operational.
Impact of the rains in Rajasthan was clearly visible. We witnessed some minor waterlogging and slush while passing some small towns on our way. The second leg being about 180-odd km, we made it to Jaipur in about four hours’ time. This was one part of Rajasthan that I hadn’t discovered. The Rajasthan about which i have heard and seen was a desert one, which is hot with difficult climate conditions. The one I saw now was green with pleasant weather conditions even during the day. The entire trip was pleasant courtesy the roads, scenic route and also the tiny Honda— which despite being a city slicker did a fine job of driving on the highway.