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Making a weekend plan with my two favourite allies: my put-up-anywhere-and-camp tent and the Volkswagen Tiguan
If it slides on dirt, can tackle bad roads with as much aplomb as it can tackle smooth stuff, should the Volkswagen Tiguan not be a great vehicle for road trips? That’s the question with which we kicked off the third of our series on Living with the Tiguan. After all it does have a powerful yet economical 2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and that quick-shifting 7-speed DSG. Then there’s that roomy and airy feeling cabin. But with places to go near Pune fast disappearing under mounds of concrete, not all of it legal, our choices dwindled rapidly as we frantically searched through Google.
And just then it happened! Like a shaft of sunlight breaking through the clouds, the name Veer Dam, appeared on the screen. There isn’t much written about Veer Dam. Even the prolific authors of Wikipedia couldn’t find enough material to write more than a total of seven lines of description about it. Yet, this dam that spans the Nira river and was inaugurated in 1965, happens to be one of Maharashtra’s most important. It also happens to be relatively untouched from the voracious appetite of builders, tucked away as it is about 25km from the Pune-Bangalore highway. Which means Veer Dam could be a perfect camping ground. More so, because the pristine blue waters of the massive lake form an excellent watering hole for a wide variety of birds.
The first 50km from home base to Shirwal, which marks the turn off point, is on the main NH to Bangalore. Which isn’t a good thing because it’s a busy highway. A very busy highway. Even at five in the morning, there are trucks, a surprisingly high smattering of taxis and a handful of ill lit motorcycles with their trademark helmetless riders. Thankfully, the Tiguan’s excellent high intensity headlamps light them all up like someone’s switched on a bank of floodlights. And when you flash the headlamps at a sleepy truck driver veering off course and into your path, they move away like the waters of the Red Sea did for Moses. But what if they don’t?
Then you dab the throttle just a little bit more and you’ll have them in your mirrors in no time. And if you are feeling particularly vengeful and want them reduced to specks, then a couple of healthy tugs on the discreet paddleshifters and a mashing down of the right foot ought to do it. To be very honest though, you will have no thoughts of vengeance for the Tiguan does have the ability to put you in a very nice and relaxed mood. It’s effortless too because all you need to do on the open stretches is engage cruise control and let the Volkswagen do its thing, and it does cruise very well.
I soon realise that to get to Veer Dam, there are no less than three turn offs, which means you can just as easily land on the wrong side of the lake. This time Google saved the day, for the Tiguan’s infotainment system is equipped with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Using the latter (I’m not an iPhone buff and you can boo all you want), we get off the highway and turn into a nondescript looking double lane road that is designated a state highway. At about the half way mark, I find a set of lovely flowing turns that I attacked with gusto. I have driven the VW Tiguan on several occasions and have always found its confident dynamics to be quite endearing. Never fails to make me smile. This time too it doesn’t disappoint.
At the edge of the massive lake formed by the dam, I realise that I don’t need to pitch my little pup tent away from the shore on high ground. With the Tiguan’s high ground clearance, permanent all-wheel drive and modes for different terrains, I can go right up to the water’s edge and camp there. This, is the good life.