After months of quarantine, it’s finally time for an old-fashioned road trip in nothing other than the mighty Endeavour
It’s been almost a year, life has taken a turn, an unpredictable one. What we took for granted is what we all crave for now. Who knew the simple pleasures of going to the restaurant or speaking to someone face to face would be off-limits, at least for the foreseeable future? However, life must go on and after being locked away at home, it was time to take a well-deserved break. A break which would give us a perspective on the outside world while keeping in mind the safety of the family during the Covid crisis. While most of us were still apprehensive to take a flight, we are always game for a long drive and that’s exactly what we did.
Hyderabad was decided as the destination of choice for three reasons. Great food, some touristy stuff for the kids and a small family commitment. Choosing the car wasn’t too difficult. A couple of years ago, we did a Goa trip in the mighty Ford Endeavour and it redeemed itself brilliantly. Powered by the then available, 3.2-litre oil-burner, it was effortless, even on the narrow ghat sections. Now, in its BS6 avatar, I decided to zero in on the Endeavour again. We were carrying a lot of luggage and the Endeavour swallowed everything with ease.
It was an early start to the trip, we left Navi-Mumbai at precisely 5.30 am. This was critical to avoid rush hour traffic in Pune. The route to Hyderabad is quite straightforward. You take the expressway to Pune, cross the city and get onto Solapur highway which is very well surfaced. We barely encountered any rough patches en route, nothing which was too much for the Endy. The 2.0-litre oil-burner doesn’t feel as gritty and aggressive as the 3.2-litre engine but offers more than enough grunt. We cruised effortlessly in tenth gear for most of the journey and finally reached our destination in Gachibowli in just under 11 hours.
The next day was reserved for local sightseeing. The drive to Charminar was fruitless as the roads going there were closed due to Covid. We did get a glimpse from a distance but there is no parking around it anyway, so we had no option but to abort. We picked up some authentic Haleem from the local shops and had it in the car itself to avoid stepping out. Next stop was the famous Golconda Fort. Covid has ensured that all tourist attractions were closed but that didn’t dampen our spirit. We visited the Fort, saw its architectural magnificence from outside. The kids were pretty charmed about it as they have been reading a lot of Enid Blyton books off late and most of the stories are about forts and castles.
The Endeavour made the entire journey a piece of cake thanks to its practical cabin and mile-munching abilities
No trip is complete without trying some local cuisine. Hyderabad boasts of some epic food and we did try some local delicacies. Honestly, I have been to Hyderabad multiple times and have tried the famous Paradise biryani multiple times and have always found it a bit overrated. This time we tried some authentic Nizami biryani at local restaurants in old Hyderabad and it was way different from what we have been eating. The biryani is more flavoursome and not unduly spice. It is served with Mirchi Ka Salan and Raita which goes very well as a combination. We also tried some local deserts, the pick of which was Double Ka Meetha, which is similar to Shahi Tukda but with a twist.
Finally, after 3 long days, it was time to leave and we hit the highway on the way back home. Getting out of Gachibowli was easy thanks to the Outer Ring Road. On the way back we stopped at one of the largest Forts I have seen. Nestled right next to the highway, close to Solapur is the Naldurg Fort. It is a magnificent sight and spread out over a large area and is massively intriguing. It is supposed to be the best fort in India going by the sheer military and engineering standards. Built in the 14th century it was considered to be impregnable, it also housed an inhouse dam. We were truly amazed by its sight.
The Endeavour was a perfect companion for the trip. Although this is a serious off-road machine, we didn’t test its off-road prowess just as most customers don’t. What really stood out was the humongous space and comfort. Although this is a 2.5-tonne machine, it felt planted at high speeds with body-roll well within control for its size. The new 2.0-litre engine feels a step down on paper but performs well in the real world. The only gripe is the 10-speed automatic transmission. While it does reasonably well on the highways, it struggles to find the right gear in the city and is continuously either shifting up or down, problems of plenty as they say.
Our return journey took just over 9 hours which was possibly due to leaving just ahead of the peak traffic and beautiful roads were a boon. We did end up wasting time at the toll booths as we couldn’t procure a FASTag as the car was on a trade plate. Despite the minor hiccup, we made it in good time and were quite fresh by the end of it. The Endeavour returned an average fuel efficiency of 9.6 km/l over a total distance of 1625 km. It was a wonderful change to see the outside world after being locked away at home for so many months. Hoping that things change for the better and we can go back to doing road trips the old-fashioned way. It’s definitely going to be a while before we go back to the pre-mask days but they say, hope is a very powerful thing.
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