Home / Drives / Hyundai Great India Drive-I – Taming Terrain in a Tucson

 

Unconquered and difficult terrain served as the inspiration for the design of the Hyundai Great India Drive for 2022. We put the all-new Hyundai Tucson to the test during this journey.

Story: Kurt Morris 

Hyundai Motor India Limited host the quite intriguing Great India Drive every year. In keeping with the pattern, the company began the sixth edition of the Great India Drive from Srinagar in Kashmir. According to Hyundai, the sixth iteration of the Great India Drive in 2022 was intended to showcase the thrilling and cutting-edge experience of driving the most recent Hyundai Tucson while also encouraging participants to set out on an expedition to reach “On Top of the World”.

Our vehicle of choice for this edition of the Hyundai Great India Drive was the Hyundai Tucson, the company’s top-of-the-line SUV which is available powered by a 186-hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine or a 156-hp, 2.0-litre petrol engine. While the diesel engine is partnered with an eight-speed auto, the petrol engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Tucson assigned to us was a the highest-spec diesel model with all-wheel drive.

The Tucson’s higher trim levels come equipped to the gills with amenities like dual-zone climate control, a 360-degree camera, ambient lighting, and a Bose sound system. The Level-2 ADAS technology is also a first for Hyundai in India.

Now let’s get to the flag-off for this epic drive which started on top of Kralsangri Hill, Taj-Dal View, Srinagar, which offers the best panoramic view of the Dal Lake and is encircled by the majestic Zabarwan Mountains. In a chic new guise, it is paradise rediscovered. A stylishly sophisticated and modern setting with the spirit of Kashmir masterfully woven together. The distance by car to the Srinagar International Airport is only 20 kilometres. Take in the breathtaking scenery as the road winds up to the main gate. These also alter with the seasons. View of the stunning tulip gardens in the spring and summer, the snow-capped Zabarwan range in the winter, the Gulmarg range in the spring, and the golden glow of the chinars in the autumn from above. No visit to Srinagar can be said to be complete without taking a shikara ride on the Dal Lake. A thousand gorgeous houseboats, lovely shikaras, and floating flower gardens. But, sadly for us, we only had time to drive alongside the stunning and calming Dal Lake. After our flag-off by Unsoo Kim, MD and CEO of Hyundai Motor India Ltd, all the Hyundai Tucsons set off in a convoy towards our first scheduled stop during this trip, which was the lovely town of Sonamarg.

Sonamarg, a captivating hill town in the Ganderbal region of Jammu and Kashmir, is located at a height of 8,956 feet. Sonamarg, which means “the meadow of gold”, is as close to heaven as one can go with its snow-capped mountains set against a breathtaking blue sky. The valley is traversed by the Sindh River. Upon reaching Sonamarg, we were treated to a scrumptious lunch. But before starting off with lunch, our hosts for lunch served us some Kashmiri kahwah, which is green tea leaves boiled with regional saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and occasionally Kashmiri roses. Typically, it is served with crushed nuts, like almonds or walnuts, and sugar to warm us up as we stepped in from the cold for lunch. After feasting on traditional Kashmiri food, Despite the fact that the food of Kashmir is famous for its meats, the inhabitants choose to eat vegetarians for lunch as compared to a non- vegtarinan feast. Pair some basic steamed rice with kidney beans and turnip, paneer in hot gravy, lotus stem, dum aloo or Haak saag – the food is seasoned with Kashmiri spices and has a particular flavour.

Now, with the sun setting, we started to make our way to the treacherous Zoji La. At 11,601 feet above sea level, Zoji La is a high mountain pass that separates Jammu and Kashmir from Ladakh. Sunday drives should not be made along this rocky strip. One of the world’s most dangerous drives, according to legend. In excellent weather, most passenger vehicles can navigate the partly gravel road to the summit. It is also known as National Highway 1D or the Srinagar-Leh Highway. It’s a mountain road pass that offers breathtaking views and exciting moments. This one is one of the riskiest passes in this area. The winding, long route offers a hellish experience that tests one’s ability to drive and challenges them. The tail-lights of the convoy were a sight to watch as we made it up the pass, with the temperature dropping to minus 15 degrees Celsius.

The pass offers views of densely forested ridges and summits covered in snow. A car can fit through it, but large vehicles have trouble manoeuvring due to the incline and restricted road width. The drive made me a little anxious. Not a simple drive. It goes without saying that taming this beast demands a tenacious driver and a solid set of wheels. High winds and a lot of snowfall in the area make travel impossible for most of the winter. Fortunately, we were cocooned in the Tucson with our heated seats on full blast so we did not have to brave the elements that much.

Upon reaching the summit of the pass we heaved a sigh of relief and we then proceeded to make our way towards Dras, which is the coldest place in India. The first settlement following Zoji La is called Dras and it is situated 10,990 feet above sea level. Dras experiences extremely cold winters with the temperature going as low as minus 45 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature drop recorded in Dras occurred during the winter of 1995 when it came down to minus 60 degrees Celsius. After braving the cold in Dras we fired up the Tucson and made our way to Kargil.

The Kargil War fought between May and July of 1999 between India and Pakistan is what made Kargil renowned. The conflict took place in the Indian state of Kashmir, along the LoC, which is now well-known. Relics from the conflict may still be discovered in Kargil. It is remembered as one of the fiercest fights between the two countries.


We made our way to the Kargil War Memorial, also referred to as the Dras War Memorial. It is a war monument constructed by the Indian Army in the village of Dras, close to Kargil city, in the Kargil district of Ladakh to commemorate the 1999 war. Spending time here we could reflect on the sacrifice that our country’s front-line defence forces took to protect India from its enemies in the harshest of conditions.

Leaving the War Memorial behind, we played some patriotic tunes on the incredible Tucson sound system and made our way back to where we started this incredible journey: Srinagar.


Throughout this entire trip, we had our trusty Hyundai Tucson with us which kept us safe from the harsh elements and performed flawlessly. The all-new Hyundai Tucson is the pinnacle of technological innovation, exhibiting revolutionary dynamism, contemporary elegance, and future readiness to command supremacy in India’s premium SUV territory, demonstrating its prowess in transforming the SUV ecosystem.

 

About the author: Kurt Morris

 

 

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