My friends always thought I got everything on a platter as I joined my father in our family business. But the truth was far from it. Running your own business takes a lot out of you, even more when you are determined to prove yourself. Unlike my father, I was keen to expand the business and was willing to take risks. When he saw my vision and enthusiasm to grow, he came onboard and we acquired a new factory to expand our manufacturing scale. Located close to Bengaluru, this new facility was my baby and I was eager to give it my all. Acquiring it was the first major step for me. To celebrate I decided to take my core team on a road trip. I hoped that being on the road for a few days together would give us a chance to build a strong bond and an opportunity to get to know each other beyond our office cubicles.
Bengaluru you for choice with many places that can be easily accessed over a long weekend. I was keen to go on a long drive in my new Skoda Octavia and so we decided to head to Munnar in Kerala. I am a road trip junkie and was looking forward to seeing how a sedan held up as my previous journeys were in an SUV.
We started out early to beat the city traffic towards Hosur. A little into the drive I discovered that almost all of us were music lovers. With the new Media Command App with BossConnect even those sitting in the back could control the infotainment system using their phone. It was fun listening to music as everyone took turns being a DJ. Driving down the NH7 was an absolute pleasure, coupled with great views and good company. I made most of the clear roads and hit top speed, and the car held up beautifully.
Eleven kilometres after we crossed the Dharmapuri exit we stopped at Adyar Ananda Bhavan for breakfast. It was an overcast day and just the thought of piping hot sambar made our stomachs growl. We devoured wafer thin dosas, fluffy idlies, parathas and kurma, before getting back on the road.
This time I decided to sit back and let someone else drive the next leg. I am a tall person but sitting in the rear was very comfortable as opposed to my previous SUV.
Throughout the trip, my Skoda Octavia did not let me down.
We were constantly accompanied by coconut trees that seemed to rise up to touch the sky and jade green paddy fields, which against the grey of the sky and clouds, looked luminescent. To make the most of the glorious weather and surroundings, we decided to have a picnic. At Bathlagundu, we stopped at the famous Dindigul Thalappakatti Biryani restaurant and packed lunch. Before the ghats started we found a nice spot to pull over and enjoyed the biryani with some scenery for company.
Just as we made our way up the ghats it started raining heavily but we decided to keep going as we had planned to reach Munnar that evening. Despite the weather and the altitude the car climbed up with ease. With nine air bags throughout the car, I knew we were in safe hands.
Gradually the rains stopped and we were treated to uninterrupted views of verdant green tea gardens on both sides. It had been a long drive post lunch and so we made a pit stop at Chinnakanal falls. It had rained for a while and the cascade of white water came tumbling down with full force. Surrounded by luscious greenery it was a spectacular sight. After some hot chai and fresh pineapple sprinkled with salt and chilli powder, we were back on the road.
We had booked our stay at the Spice Tree Munnar, which was 23 kilometres away from Munnar town. A fair bit of the drive was still ahead of us and we all looked forward to it. I opened the car’s panoramic electric sunroof to let the cool mountain breeze blow right into the car. It was an exhilarating feeling being nestled by nature. Gradually daylight began to fade and the clouds hung low often blocking our view completely. Driving in these conditions was challenging but with the car’s Quadra LED headlights we were able to tackle it without difficulty. To my surprise the car glided over the bumpy parts and was a far smoother ride than it would have been in an SUV. When we finally reached the Spice Tree Munnar, we were a happy bunch. The drive had not worn us down, rather our spirits soared.
Waterfall in Munnar. Photo courtesy: CRS PHOTO/Shutterstock
Built on a slope, the resort was set amidst thick foliage which was completely hidden from view. We were enveloped by darkness but the night was far from silent. The sound of crickets saturated the air and lulled us into sleep. When we awoke the next morning and stepped onto the balcony, the view that greeted us was spellbinding. The rains had turned every inch of land into a carpet of green and the clouds floated right where we stood. Breathing in the fresh air rich with the aroma of wild forest flowers was a refreshing start to the day.
We were all tea aficionados and visiting the Tata Tea Museum also known as the Kanan Devan Tea Museum was high on our agenda. The museum turned out to be a storehouse of interesting facts and memorabilia relating to the history of tea in the region. I particularly enjoyed tasting different varieties of tea in the demonstration room of the factory.
While Munnar has many places of interest around, we were keen to spend time away from the crowds and in the outdoors. A standout experience of the trip was hiking up the Lock Heart Gap. It was an arduous journey but the views from above and the peace and tranquility that we enjoyed were something we wished we could hold onto forever.
Back at the resort we booked ourselves for some pampering at the in-house spa. The treatments that included rare spices and herbs from the surrounding hills were a class above and just what we needed after the long trek. It also rejuvenated us for the drive back the next day.
The drive back to Bengaluru had a completely different charm as the sun shone bright. The green tea gardens looked radiant against the clear blue skies. We were happy to have seen them in all their different avatars. The drive ahead was long but thoroughly enjoyable. It was thanks to the car’s clever assistant system that evaluates data from the steering sensors and signals if the driver is fatigued, that I figured that I had been behind the wheel non-stop for three hours and that it was time for me to take a break. As I slipped into the rear seat I smiled to myself enjoying how this new relationship was growing into a strong and solid one.
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