Road trips for any automotive enthusiast are like toys for a toddler, no matter how many of them one might have you can never have enough. So naturally, Honda Drive to Discover is one of those road trips that we eagerly look forward to every year, not just because of the cars and the driving part, but more so because in every edition the event lives up to its name and lets us discover something new and splendid.In the 12th edition of the Drive to Discover, we headed out to the eastern part of India, covering various places in Sikkim, and West Bengal. Our companions for this drive were the Honda City hybrid, City petrol, the Elevate SUV and the Amaze sub-compact sedan.

Honda Drive To Discover 12: Beauty of India right up to China’s border| TOI Auto

Our drive started from Siliguri and our destination was Gangtok. Navigating through the narrow streets and traffic in Siliguri was a breeze for us. Although the drive took longer than expected on the highway, the Honda Elevate CVT made a very easy job of the stop-and-go traffic. Good visibility from this SUV and ample ground clearance meant even bad roads and sections with no roads due to the earlier flooding weren’t much of a problem for us.
One great thing to mention here is that the auto-dimming headlamps on the Elevate worked brilliantly once the skies went dark. They would automatically switch seamlessly from high-beam to low beam when there was oncoming traffic. Eventually, after a long traffic jam, we made our way to the hotel in Gangtok and had dinner and called it a night.

The next day we started our journey from Gangtok towards Lake Tsongmo and Nathu La pass. Throughout the route, it was a beautiful stretch of tarmac and brilliant scenery all around. This stretch was my personal favourite of the entire drive. We drove from Gangtok to Nathu La Pass, which is right next to the Indo-China border and our City hybrid, which was the companion for the day, managed the hilly sections and inclines with ease. While we didn’t see any Chinese soldiers, we did see their outposts clearly.

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Some of the inclines were quite steep and we weren’t sure how the car would cope, but the car still managed to perform well and delivered a brilliant fuel-efficiency of over 16 km per litre, despite us pushing the car hard through the day. Of course, the downhill run on the way back helped significantly.

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Nathu La Pass in itself was a beautiful place and was covered with snow all around. If you are visiting Sikkim, this is a place worth visiting and it should be on your checklist. We also visited a glacier lake called the Tsongmo Lake while driving down from Nathula in the City e:HEV. Beautiful scenery all around, blue skies, clouds in the mountains, snow-capped mountains, and then this glacial lake! It was a fantastic place to be in and of course, the Honda City Hybrid turned out to be a good car to drive through all these lovely roads. One thing to note was the handling of the car through the twists and turns that gave us confidence to push. Also, full credit to BRO (Border Roads Organisation) for maintaining such impressive road infrastructure in tough terrains.

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Day three was once again a memorable drive mainly because of the steep inclines we had to encounter but the City, equipped with a CVT gearbox was our car for the day and made easy work of the roads. The length of the City was a bit of a challenge through some narrow roads but its exceptional visibility from the cabin came in quite handy in such situations. Next up, we reached Pelling and we got a clear sight of the mighty Kanchenjunga mountains. Truly, a sight to behold! Cold temperatures meant a quick dinner and we hit the bed to call it a day.

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For day four, the idea was to visit the Pelling Skywalk and then head out to Kalimpong via Darjeeling tea states. What followed was a memorable drive and the Honda Elevate blazed through some tricky and bad sections of the roads. We finally reached the Pelling Skywalk, and we got another brief sight of the Kanchenjunga mountains alongside the beautiful 137 feet tall Chenrezig statue. It was a blissful place and the Skywalk was an amazing experience. If you are in this part of Sikkim, Pelling is a place you should definitely visit.

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Next, we headed towards Darjeeling and discovered a narrow yet beautiful stretch of road going through the Tea estates which was quite a steep climb. With the Elevate we didn’t have to worry about the bad patches, the construction sites and the landslide damaged roads. The Elevate handled impressively through this stretch and the manual transmission gave better control through the steep terrain. The drive up was quite a task due to the narrow and steep roads and although it was for a few kilometres this stretch did leave many drivers exhausted. By the end of the day, we reached Darjeeling and experienced some amazing and brilliant tea flavours to rejuvenate ourselves.

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On the last day of Honda’s Drive To Discover 12, we headed back from Kalimpong towards Bagdogra airport and on this day we drove the City CVT once again. The drive was non-eventful but plagued with traffic and the comfortable cabin of the City helped during this slow-progress towards the airport. Summarizing this journey, we can say that it was a great experience to be part of yet another Honda Drive to Discover. Even this time we discovered a lot of new things in the eastern part of the country, which is so beautiful, especially Sikkim. Among the other places we discovered one thing that truly stood out was the local food, which was simply fantastic. At the end of the drive, we went back massively satisfied, and can recommend this part of the country for a driving holiday but please ensure you do have enough time to see all places as traffic can be unpredictable in these parts.


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