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Honda Drive to Discover 8: Bagdogra to Bhutan

Motor Trend India logo Motor Trend India 03-10-2017 Pranav Divakar
Honda Accord Hybrid Drive To Discover Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda Accord Hybrid Drive To Discover Bhutan

Bhutan. A country that we in India never really seem to think of as a land that is different from ours. That notion could not be further from the truth. This story begins with me getting a call from Honda Cars India Limited, with an invitation to attend the eighth edition of their Drive to Discover (D2D8) event. Honda has been conducting this event for the best part of this decade, and it has a two-fold purpose: the first is to showcase the durability and reliability of Honda vehicles, and to provide a spellbinding experience of driving through some truly exotic locales.

Honda India Drive To Discover 8 Paro Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda India Drive To Discover 8 Paro Bhutan

The Honda Drive to Discover 8 would have us sojourning through the lush greenery of northern West Bengal and into the mystic highlands of Bhutan. We landed at Bagdogra airport for the first day of our 5-day odyssey and we were to drive through Siliguri into the Bhutanese town of Phuentsholing, located just across the border between the two countries. As the WR-V was the newest addition to the Honda fleet, I grabbed the keys to it for the easy 160km dash to Phuentsholing.

Honda WR V Drive To Discover Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda WR V Drive To Discover Bhutan

Each edition of the Honda Drive to Discover event celebrates a specific landmark or milestone that the company has achieved, and D2D8 commemorated the sales of 3 lakh Honda i-DTEC diesel engines. The entire entourage of Honda cars made available for D2D8, with the exception of the CR-V and the flagship Accord Hybrid, were diesel-powered. The roads for the most part were smooth and the Honda WR-V, with its robust diesel motor and roomy interiors, gobbled up the miles in the blink of an eye. By nightfall, we had crossed into Bhutan under an incessant downpour and checked-in to our hotel, located barely a minute from the border gate.

Honda BR V Drive To Discover Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda BR V Drive To Discover Bhutan Honda Drive To Discover 8 Paro Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover 8 Paro Bhutan

It was only early next morning that I got my first proper look of Bhutan as I sauntered out for a walk. In my experience, the appearance of border towns and the behaviour of people who stay in these areas usually blend so much that it becomes difficult to differentiate the two countries. However, Phuentsholing was the exact opposite. Despite the fact that it is barely a few metres from India, the pace was much more laidback, and even small details like driving discipline were starkly different.

Honda CR V Drive To Discover Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda CR V Drive To Discover Bhutan Honda CR V Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda CR V Bhutan

After a hurried breakfast, we set off on the mist-embraced mountain roads of Bhutan to our next port of call, Paro. Sitting behind the wheel of the Honda CR-V, it dawned on us quickly that even though the distance was only 155km, it would take us quite a while to get there; partly because of the thick fog and winding roads that were damaged in many areas, but mostly due to us constantly pulling over to admire the astonishing backdrop. The CR-V drove like a champ over everything it encountered thanks to its superb powertrain and beefy tyres.

Honda Drive To Discover Bhutan CR V Accord © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover Bhutan CR V Accord Honda Drive To Discover 8 Rinpung Dzong Paro Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover 8 Rinpung Dzong Paro Bhutan

We pitted for lunch at a small town called Gedu where we sampled Ema Datshi, the Bhutanese national dish made of chillies and cheese. For the remainder of the drive, I switched from the CR-V to the flagship car of Honda India, the Accord Hybrid. This car really impresses with its size, design, comfort and most importantly for us Indians, its 23.1 kpl fuel economy. Lounging in the space-age interiors of the Accord and with its super smooth 212 bhp petrol-electric hybrid powertrain gliding us along, we arrived at our stunningly beautiful riverfront hotel just outside Paro well after sundown, surprisingly not exhausted at all (thank you, Accord Hybrid!).

Honda Drive To Discover Taktsang Tigers Nest Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover Taktsang Tigers Nest Bhutan

The next morning, we were set for the highlight of our journey, a 7km uphill hike to the Taktsang monastery. Although the gruelling trek depleted our strength, the mind-blowing views of Paro valley from the trail and the experience of soaking in positive energy while meditating with the monks and clambering through tight underground caverns deep within the mountain made it all worthwhile. On our way back to our hotel, we pulled over at a small restaurant to gorge on a Bhutanese noodle-soup dish called Thuk Pa and momos (must tries if you visit Bhutan!).

Honda Drive To Discover 8 Tigers Nest © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover 8 Tigers Nest Honda Drive To Discover 8 Bhutan Cuisine © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover 8 Bhutan Cuisine

Day 4 was to be our longest drive on the trip, commencing with a short 50km dash to the capital city of Thimphu for some sightseeing, and then 170km back to the Indian border. For this leg, I had the Honda City i-DTEC. The engine in this car was as refined as it has always been, but the City was recently updated and several modern features were added to it to rekindle its appeal. Sure enough, City sales increased noticeably in the months following the update. After driving on a beautiful ribbon of tarmac to Thimphu, we made a beeline to the Buddha Dordenma, a magnificent statue that soars to 169 feet in height. The rest of the drive back to Phuentsholing passed in a whirl of twisty roads and fog-laden beauty.

Honda Drive To Discover 8 Thimphu Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda Drive To Discover 8 Thimphu Bhutan Honda City Drive To Discover Buddha Dordenma Thimphu Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda City Drive To Discover Buddha Dordenma Thimphu Bhutan

Our last day had us driving the superbly spacious and comfortable Honda BR-V back to Bagdogra airport, and this had given me the experience of driving 4 totally different cars that were all powered by the same i-DTEC diesel engine. It may not be as powerful as some of its rivals, but that is only because Honda has tuned it for excellent efficiency; and truth be told, that is precisely what we want from cars that we use mostly on daily commutes. It was a clear display of the versatility of this motor, and I`m not at all surprised that Honda has sold over 3 lakh of them.

Honda WR V Drive To Discover 8 © Motor Trend Staff Honda WR V Drive To Discover 8 Honda BR V Drive To Discover 8 © Motor Trend Staff Honda BR V Drive To Discover 8

Flying back home, reflecting on the fabulous new memories we were taking home with us, we were given the stunning parting gift of viewing Mount Everest towering above the cloud line. In conclusion, the Honda D2D8 opened our soul to spectacular Bhutan and the beautiful people that make the country what it is; and having a great bunch of Honda cars to explore it was the icing on the cake.

Honda City Drive To Discover Bhutan © Motor Trend Staff Honda City Drive To Discover Bhutan


Photography: Pranav Divakar

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