The Safari’s comfortable and practical cabin made our trip to the beautiful city of Rishikesh a breeze
We were in Delhi to shoot a special video and this shoot lasted almost a week. It was quite hectic and fun at the same time and because we were in Delhi, I decided to extend my trip by a couple of days and head out somewhere on the weekend even though my colleagues were returning to Mumbai on Friday evening itself. My colleague Dhanil decided to join me and we started exploring options for a weekend drive.
We didn’t want to drive an extremely long distance (say 600-800 kms one way) but still we wanted to visit some nice place and roam around a bit without getting too tired. We considered Jaipur, Rishikesh, Nainital and Lansdowne but finally decided on Rishikesh because it is just 250 kms one way and the place is very scenic. I was tempted to head to Jaipur too (you get some lovely food there) but both of us have been to Rajasthan a lot of times so why not try something new.
I had been to Rishikesh just once before, it was in 2014 for a media drive, during the winter! This time though, it was quite the opposite because not only was it fairly hot, there were inconsistent rains over the weekend as well. Then we started shortlisting car options for the trip and I was keen on driving down the Tata Safari because even though I’ve driven it a number of times, it was mostly for local runs and for shoots so I was quite keen on seeing how the SUV feels to live with and how it fares over long drives over mixed terrain.
So we set out from Delhi on Friday morning (6th August) at around 9 AM and decided to have breakfast somewhere on the way. Thanks to the peak hour traffic, it took us a fair amount of time to get out of city limits and hit the Delhi – Meerut Highway. Well, this highway is just fantastic, it very wide and the tarmac is extremely smooth but the same cannot be said about other road users because we encountered lots of instances of wrong-side driving and riding here.
Supportive seats & a feature-loaded cabin made the trip effortless
I was in the driver’s seat throughout the onward journey and was quite enjoying being behind the wheel of the Tata Safari. We had the automatic variant with us, thankfully, and the SUV was taking everything in its stride. We kept the third-row seats folded because we were anyways just two people and had to keep our luggage as well. I particularly liked the comfort and support offered by the driver’s seat, it is so snug! The audio system sounds beautiful too but one grouse I have with the Safari and Harrier is that even though the touchscreen is quite big, there is a lot of space on the sides which is wasted and the Apple CarPlay display is quite small. A better design would’ve done wonders here.
Once we hit the highway, we crossed Ghaziabad in no time and found a good place serving fresh and piping hot Aloo Parathas. The taste was heavenly and in fact, we had pretty good food all around Delhi during our trip. After a quick breakfast, we decided to head to Rishikesh non-stop and it was a rather uneventful journey. The roads were good for the most part, we got to see some really scenic locales and the Safari was munching miles without a fuss. I was initially driving in Eco mode but then the performance felt too controlled in that and thus I ended up keeping the vehicle in City mode only. Sport mode, well, it is just something else because the SUV starts feeling a lot punchier and I feel City mode is a good choice for relaxed driving and that’s exactly what I was doing.
We reached Rishikesh by 2 PM or so and checked into our hotel. Now, the driveway leading to our hotel was extremely narrow and tight and the Safari is a very wide vehicle (wider than even the Toyota Fortuner) so I was a bit unsure about taking it all the way up so I parked the vehicle at a safe spot outside and we walked up the hill. Once we reached the hotel, we did figure that someone actually brought a Hexa all the way up and a quick search showed that the Hexa is wider than the Safari by around 6 mm which means, tada, the Safari could be brought in too.
We freshened up a bit and went out to explore the local streets of Rishikesh in the evening. It wasn’t raining on Friday and we managed to stop and click some nice pictures as well. After that, we drove down to a restaurant which had a beautiful view of the river Ganges and the sight was just something else. We actually just sat and enjoyed the view for a while and forgot to order food. This restaurant was close to Lakshman Jhula and the street was extremely narrow and full of cabs and people so I had to be very careful with the Safari. In fact, we did get stuck once and Dhanil had to get down and move a couple of scooters to free up some space for the car to pass.
The suspension of this SUV is very nicely tuned and it makes the ride very polished
We went back to our hotel and this time took the Safari all the way up on the driveway. It was very narrow but not impossible and the vehicle retired for the night after a long day of driving us around. The next day, we woke up a bit early, went to a retro-themed café for breakfast and then headed towards Lakshman Jhula. We left the SUV in a big parking lot and then went walking. After checking out the Lakshman Jhula, went to the Trimbakeshwar temple which is quite tall and you have to climb 13 storeys and we did that but it wasn’t very tiring. After this, we walked down to Ram Jhula and then went to Beatles Ashram because we had heard a lot about this place. So much walking meant we were very exhausted because it kept raining on and off and thus humidity kept increasing too.
Eventually, we took a cab to reach the parking lot where the Safari was parked but before that, we had a heavy lunch. In fact, we had lunch at two different places and then headed to the hotel for some rest. We had actually made plans to venture out again in the evening but then laziness kicked in and we ended up watching the previous week’s Hungary F1 Grand Prix which was a brilliant race really.
We had a flight to catch on Sunday evening from Delhi and while the journey to Delhi takes around 5 hours from Rishikesh we checked out at 8 AM and had breakfast at a nice food mall near Muzaffarnagar. There are a lot of food malls on this stretch and these are very clean plus they have all branded restaurants and cafés. Dhanil was driving the Safari and I was lounging in the passenger seat and also replying to some emails. The Safari does have a lot of popularity up north and we even noticed a local politician’s convoy slowing down while overtaking us and half a dozen people were checking out the Safari!
We reached Delhi by 2 PM and encountered a lot of traffic while crossing Noida. It was raining and some streets were waterlogged which led to a massive jam. In fact, to beat the traffic we ended up driving through a mildly waterlogged street where hatchbacks and 3-wheelers were scampering away but it was a piece of cake for the Safari. Finally, had a late lunch in Delhi and went straight to the airport and handed over the vehicle to a TaMo representative. It was a great weekend for sure; saw some good places, ate some tasty food and drove around in a nice SUV!
Further Reading –