Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 27th August 2013, 18:53   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 12
Thanked: 97 Times
Default The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

An Introduction

After 3 years of in Mumbai. I thought the time had come to move on from my job at a TV network to a more challenging role of an independent film-maker. It was the reason I was there. It meant that better part of my near future would be spent in Mumbai. So, before I started with it, I decided to pack my bags and take short break from Mumbai. I am Vyom Diwanji and these are my rendezvous with India on its roads.

India has always fascinated me with its landscapes, stories, and above all its people. I always wanted to experience it in one great road trip across India. It was one of those things that you pen down in your bucket list and as I started serving my notice period I began dreaming this dream again. I planned this entire trip during the last couple of months at work. Initially it was just to drift away from my work but as I planned more the more it felt real. The urge to go ahead with it became stronger. By the time I had served my last day at work I had a 158 days detailed schedule in front of me. At some point I also decide to film this journey.

After the detailed planning came some difficult bits. I approached a few friends to join me on my 5 months of wandering across our country. They were kind enough to not laugh when I proposed them with my idea. Some volunteered to be a part of few legs while the others gave me their good wishes. I had to do the whole trip alone now yet I was totally geared up for this great adventure. But before I could proceed further there was a small matter of convincing my parents of the same. Slowly, I went about it and after several discussions, some route revisions they were firmly supporting my idea. I still have no idea how that came about.

The next problem I had to face was of a vehicle. As it turns out, it is more expensive to rent a self-driven car in India then one with a driver. I had given up hope and decided to do carry out the entire journey in my VW Polo. Still I wrote a mail to Mr. Rajesh Jejurikar, whom I knew at Mahindra and got an unexpected response from him. He put me in touch with the Mahindra Adventure team where I met Bijoy Kumar and Vinod Nookala. Our meeting was a brief and precise chat about my trip. Surprisingly, at the end of the meeting I was given a Mahindra Thar for the entire duration of this project. The month that followed went into some more planning and arranging things.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-img_1507.jpg

On July 2nd, 2013 - 20 days short of my 26th birthday I finally hit the road. The route was fixed and the destinations, flexible. I started from Ahmedabad, my hometown. My first destination was Lothal, an archeological site of an urban port during the Indus Valley Civilization. That was over 55 days ago. The experience through these 55 odd days on the Indian roads, alone, has been unique to say the least. My travels have so far taken me through Saurashtra, Kutch, Marvad, Punjab, Kangra, Ladakh, Nubra, Zanskar, Spiti and recently through MP, Bundelkhund and Malva. It is the people who interests me and that is the theme of my documentary: People of India and their stories. So far I have been lucky encountering some very fascinating people. But the more I travel, the more I realize that this nation is filled with countless number of interesting people.

I know I am starting this thread rather late. It took me a while to get to grips with all the driving, travelling and shooting. I hadnít planned on putting my experiences on paper but some friends insisted that I share them and so here I am. Through the course of these posts I will try and write about this journey, the places I see and sometimes about the people I meet. I will stick to writing about the places I visit afresh. Of the places I have already visited I will try and write as and when I find the time. Strange are the times when you are traveling alone, at times you seem to have lot of time while sometimes none at all.

My first post will be on my brief passing through the centre of our country - Madhya Pradesh. I hope you will enjoy it.
Vyom is offline   (38) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2013, 23:45   #2
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 12
Thanked: 97 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Orchha

After a short pit-stop in Delhi at the Mahindra workshop, I started on my way to Orchha early in the morning. I was unable to find the fabled Yamuna Expressway and had to take NH 2. After the beating the Thar took in Zanskar and Spiti, it felt in great shape again. The route I was taking was Delhi-Agra-Gwalior-Jhansi-Orchha, about 450 km. I expected the road to Agra to be good for sure. I was hopeful on the Agra-Gwalior road. Gwalior to Orchha I expected little. The Gwalior-Agra did not disappoint. I reached the Gwalior-Jhansi bypass by 4 pm. If anything the road after that got even better. A pleasant surprise. I was hopeful of reaching Orchha by 5 30 pm. But NHAI has a great sense of humour. After 40 odd kilometers it got bad and then worse. I arrived in Orchha at 7 30 pm.

Orchha is located in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, a small village with a rich past. There are two Palaces in Orchha - Raja Mahal and Jahangir Mahal. Along with them are three temples and fifteen Chattris (Cenotaphs). It was founded by Bundela ruler Raja Rudra Pratap Singh. Raja Mahal was commissioned by Rudra Pratap Singh and it took about 60 years to finish this magnificent edifice. This palace is built on the banks of Betwa River. On the other side of this palace the king ordered to build a canal so that the royal complex would be naturally surrounded by moat. Two interesting anecdotes of Orchha stuck by me

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-royal-complex.jpg

First is the story of Jahangir Mahal. Prince Jahangir had a fall with his father Akbar over his relationship with a courtesan named Anarkali. He escaped and hid from Akbar. An order went out that no Indian ruler would help Jahangir. Jodhabai was worried and sent a plea to her cousin who was the Queen of Orchha. Overwhelmed by her sisterís request the queen asked her son, Vir Singh Deo heir to Orchha, to help his cousin. Vir Singh saw this as an opportunity. Knowing that Jahangir was the next Emperor of India he helped him in his succession. In return he asked the Prince to visit Orchha as a guest. Once Jahangir succeeded Akbar he recalled the request of his old friend and told him he was ready to uphold his end of the bargain. Vir Singh asked for some time to prepare for the visit. After 22 years Jahangir finally visited Orchha. For him awaited the grand Jahangir Mahal. The palace which took 22 years to shape up was occupied only for a night. No Orchha ruler ever occupied it after that as it was a gift that they gave to the Mughal Emperor. As for the Mughals, they never returned.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-jahangir-mahal-2.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-jahangir-mahal-3.jpg

The other story is of Raja Ram Mandir and Chatrabhuj Mandir. The Queen of the time was a great devotee of Lord Ram. So, she commissioned the massive Chatrabhuj Mandir as a sign of devotion to Lord Ram. She went to Ayodhya to bring Lord Ram with her for the Chatrabhuj Mandir. As the legend goes she had vowed to drown herself in the Sarayu if the Lord didnít present himself to her and come along with her to Orchha. Well, Lord Ram gave in to her request and presented himself in the form of an idol. But, as always, there was a condition. He told her that he will settle wherever she would place him on the ground. The queen agreed and returned to a heroís welcome. The Chatrabhuj Mandir was still under construction when she returned and the devoted queen conveniently forgetting the condition, placed the idol in the royal kitchen. True to his word, Lord Ram settled there. And so the ordinary kitchen became the Raja Ram Mandir while the great Chatrabhuj Mandir is an empty old ruin. The 2 grandest structures built in Orchha thus never found their occupants.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-chatrabhuj.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-chatrabhuj-rrm.jpg

In the evening I went to see the royal cenotaphs. One for each of the fifteen rulers of the Bundela dynasty. They sit quietly on the banks of the Betwa which is overflowing with the rains. This year the rains have been kind to Madhya Pradesh. Orchha was green and full of water. Apart from all its grand monuments and foreign tourists, Orchha is a little one street village; most of it is made up of hotels and eateries. As the evening settled it became very peaceful. I wandered about the cenotaphs and Betwa for a while and made my way to the hotel as the night fell.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-cenotaphs.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-betwa-1.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-betwa-2.jpg

Next day was an early morning; about 550 km to my next stop, Mandav. My only wish was that the roads would be a little kinder than the Gwalior-Jhansi highway.
Vyom is offline   (12) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2013, 23:57   #3
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 12
Thanked: 97 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Madhya Pradesh in Monsoon

The morning was pleasant as I drove out of a sleepy Orchha navigating through 25 cows that showed no interest in my honks. The road to Shivpuri was smooth. From Shivpuri I was supposed to get back on NH 3 towards Indore. I had originally divided the 550 km in two days but after the road to Shivpuri I was confident of pulling it off in a day. As I turned towards Indore, I found out that the road was in bad condition and it was advisable not to take it. After the Gwalior-Jhansi experience I decided to pay heed to the advice and searched for an alternative. The alternative was Shivpuri-Baran-Jhalawar-Agar-Ujjain-Indore route. It added around 130 km to an already long route. The only consolation was that the roads were supposed to be in better condition. It was a single lane road, but was decent enough. The pastures got greener as I travelled south. Even Rajasthan had turned green.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-img_1793.jpg

In Agar a deputy sub inspector, Mr. Verma, hitched on for a ride with me. He claimed that this was the highest ever rainfall he had seen in his 53 years old life. He rode with me till Ujjain which was his native. He was going home to meet his family. It was Saturday night and he was looking forward to spend some time with his grandchildren. The youngest one had demanded some laddus. While we drove to Ujjain he was arranging his ride back to Agar the next morning. A warm man, he even told me he manages to sneak a few more leaves than the allotted 30 that he got every year. He kept good company and talked various things ranging from MP politics to the Kumbh Mela. We reached Ujjain around 6.30 pm and I decided to call it a day there. That night I visited the Mahakal Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlings of Lord Shiva. I was quite excited to see it after my visit to Somnath Temple on this trip. Mahakal Temple was quite a disappointment. The campus did not have architectural grandeur in it nor did it strike a spiritual chord with me.

Next morning I was off to Mandav. Emperor Jahangir had once said ďI know of no other place that is as pleasant in climate and with such attractive scenery as Mandu in the rainy seasonĒ. Turns out he was right. I went to Mandav to see the ruins of the various palaces of the Malva Kings and listen to the tales of wisdom of Munj and Raja Bhoj, tales of beauty of Rani Roopmati. I did find those there, but they were a distant second to attractive scenery that Jahangir talked of. I was unaware that such shades of green existed. In the light drizzle and heavy fog Mandav was perfection. And although I could never see the Narmada in the heavy fog that covered the Rani Roopmati Mahal, Mandav was definitely worth the pain staking journey made to reach it.


The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-jahaj-mahal-2.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-mandav-1.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-mandav-3.jpg

In the evening I went to Maheshwar on the banks of Narmada. The river was huge. The ghats and the temples on it had all drowned. Due to the heavy rains there was little to see in Maheshwar except the might of Narmada. I spent some time at the drowned ghats. As mighty as the Narmada seemed, there was still a certain calm about her. The town was washed by the same calm as evening fell over it.

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-narmada.jpg

The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-maheshwar.jpg

My next stop is Nasik. I will be returning back to Maharashtra after over 2 months. It would be more of a flying visit through Maharashtra where I will be spending a couple of days in Nasik and a day in Murud. The west coast beckons then. I am looking forward to seeing the sea again. Itís been a while.
Attached Thumbnails
The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads-mandav-2.jpg  

Vyom is offline   (28) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 14:47   #4
Team-BHP Support
 
mobike008's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 10,005
Thanked: 6,041 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing
mobike008 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 15:36   #5
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: TN-10
Posts: 236
Thanked: 161 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Let me be the first to congratulate you on this epic journey.
Do keep us excited on the fascinating things that come across you throughout this journey. Wising you the best of health..
swami.n is online now   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 15:56   #6
BHPian
 
unni.ak's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 777
Thanked: 80 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Vyom, excellent. It would have been a loss to a lot of us if you hadn't penned this down. Thank you for taking us along on a virtual trip. Do keep this log updated. Have fun!
unni.ak is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 16:02   #7
BHPian
 
satan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: mumbai
Posts: 329
Thanked: 586 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vyom View Post
An Introduction

After 3 years of in Mumbai. I thought the time had come to move on from my job at a TV network to a more challenging role of an independent film-maker. It was the reason I was there. It meant that better part of my near future would be spent in Mumbai. So, before I started with it, I decided to pack my bags and take short break from Mumbai. I am Vyom Diwanji and these are my rendezvous with India on its roads.
Welcome to TBHP Vyom and goodluck with your journey around India. Driving across the lenght and breadth of India is something most of us aspire to do but very few actually end up achieving.

Look forward to reading more of your posts and enjoying an armchair tour of India through this blog. Drive Safe!
satan is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 16:06   #8
Senior - BHPian
 
selfdrive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Pune
Posts: 2,548
Thanked: 1,718 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

A warm welcome to Team BHP!

Amazing decision there from you. Our country does take a long time to visit! Thanks for penning your experiences down and sharing with us through your words and pictures.
I await further instalments (with more trivia) as you take us through India virtually.

Just one question, you mentioned the Thar returned from Ladakh. Were you in it too? Or someone else took the Thar there. I am confused as you mentioned the first state on your trip as MP

Last edited by selfdrive : 28th August 2013 at 16:07. Reason: added question
selfdrive is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 16:47   #9
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 658
Thanked: 385 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

awesome! We can only imagine the fun you will have on this drive and read about it on your log.

Great stuff - pls keep it updated! Best of luck for the remaining journey!

P.S.: - Just imagine - getting Mahindra to provide with the expedition vehicle and that too Thar - i am green with envy
sach.sri is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 16:48   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Pune
Posts: 85
Thanked: 29 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Thats a great shot to start with, the Thar looks even better with the modifications(Tyres, Snorkel, Bull Bar & Winch) and the surroundings.

Did the Mahindra guys customise the Thar for you (on request) or they did it on their own ? Both ways you got a great deal i guess. Just trying to understand if they already have a customised off road worthy vehicle in place for such a demanding trip? Also if you could throw some light on what exactly does the Mahindra Adventure team do?

I got all excited seeing your post on Mandav, Maheshwar & Mahakal. I completed my graduation and post graduation from Indore, so these were like weekend spots where the locals will head to. There are lot of other random places(Simrol, Vanchu , Patal Pani to name a few) around there which in rains turn out to be picnic spot and OTR spots for 4X4 owners. Thats where i first learnt about trail driving and stream crossing in my uncles 4X4 Gypsy named Dagga.

Lot of fond memories of the place and around it.

Did you have a stop over at Indore, its a must visit for all veggie foodie's. Starts with breakfast as soon as 4.00 AM (Station) or 5.30 AM - 6.00 AM at Chappan Dukan and lasts till around 1.00 AM (Past Night)at Rajwadah (Sarafa Bazar).

Looking forward to the next dose of your travelogue. Welcome aboard.
somitra1981 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 17:57   #11
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 12
Thanked: 97 Times
Default re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdrive View Post
Just one question, you mentioned the Thar returned from Ladakh. Were you in it too? Or someone else took the Thar there. I am confused as you mentioned the first state on your trip as MP
I was in the Thar. I have been on the road for 58 days. I am starting with MP because that was the last state I visited. I will try and post experiences from my earlier travels from time to time.


[quote=somitra1981;3221065]Thats a great shot to start with, the Thar looks even better with the modifications(Tyres, Snorkel, Bull Bar & Winch) and the surroundings.

Did the Mahindra guys customise the Thar for you (on request) or they did it on their own ? Both ways you got a great deal i guess. Just trying to understand if they already have a customised off road worthy vehicle in place for such a demanding trip? Also if you could throw some light on what exactly does the Mahindra Adventure team do?

Mahindra Adventure is a division of Mahindra which deals with various adventure activities i.e. Expeditions, Off-Roading, Rallies, etc. For these activities they keep various Mahindra vehicles, they thought this customized Thar would be the best for this kind of a trip. I couldn't disagree on that.

Thanks a lot everyone.
Vyom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th August 2013, 18:49   #12
BHPian
 
mobius 1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chandigarh
Posts: 57
Thanked: 23 Times
Thumbs up re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

Lovely lucid writing style Vyom and absolutely great pictures to add on.
Kudos to Mahindra for backing your effort and providing the perfect car for this kind of trip. I am sure you have grown to love her after all this time.

Looking forward to more from you, It sure would be everyone's pleasure.
mobius 1 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 30th August 2013, 10:18   #13
Newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 12
Thanked: 97 Times
Default Re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

A Post from the past

The First Two Days

Planning and detailing for this trip was going on since a long time and finally July 1st, 2013 arrived! And well, went away as well. The trip was postponed by a day because I failed to check something very elementary earlier. On the upside, it gave me a much needed rest day. I started from Ahmedabad on 2nd July, 2013 at around 9.00 am. The goodbyes were simple and non-dramatic.

I reached Lothal soon. It was a port town during the Indus Valley period. Along with its archeological site, there is a museum and both are well maintained. Read details in the museum and try to make sense of the site is the way it works. Though simple, for people who love history it is a very interesting place. 4600 years ago people of Indus Valley had built this port. Lothal is at a distance from the sea. River Sabarmati used to pass close by. They built a channel from the river and a harbor was built at the end of the channel with baked bricks. It could accommodate over 20 small ships. Sabarmati met the Arabian Sea in the Gulf of Khambhat. This port connected Lothal with other cities of the Indus Valley and faraway places like Egypt. Around 2000 BC Sabarmati changed its course and once a flourishing port was abandoned. As I strolled through the site, I got a faint visual of that time, very faint. The place could surely use a well informed guide. I met a gardener working on the site and asked him of the various structures. He gave me vague names for them and then educated me on Lothalís origins. The Pandavas had visited this place and established a town in the vicinity and Lothal was its suburb. It is curious as to the number of towns, villages, temples, etc. that are credited to Pandavas and Lord Ram. The Aryans have kept history lessons quite simple for the masses.

The journey from Lothal to Palitana wasnít easy. The roads were decent enough but there was a sudden realization that I was travelling alone. My company soon started to bore me. Original idea of my documentary was to film the journey with me as a central character. But filming my own self became tedious and tiring. To add to it I felt sleepy and was trying to drive through it. I reached Palitana early in the evening and shot around in the town, nothing interesting came about. At night I came back to my room and narrated about the day to the camera, it turned out rather sad and shoddy in quality. One night in and already there was a strong urge to head back to Ahmedabad. Much later did I realize that is a recurring feeling every time I have a bad shooting day. I went to sleep with a revised travel goal that night Ė 50 days would be quite an achievement.

Next morning I embarked on the 3600 steps climb to the marble temples of Palitana on Shatrunjaya hill. So fit was I that by the 800th step I was panting. A curious boy kept looking back at me and eventually approached me. Jay Parekh, a twenty years old BBA student from Jamnagar had come on his yearly visit to Palitana with his family. We started climbing together. The more we climbed the steeper it got. He climbed easily, I, not so easily. He kept smiling as I struggled on, but he kept me company. He asked me a lot of questions and I answered. He talked about Jainism, the places he had travelled and how he wanted to someday move to a bigger city. He spoke quite a lot but the conversations kept me walking. Finally at the half-way mark there was a place to sit. I sat and didnít get up for quite some time. Jay waited patiently for a while but after enough of waiting he urged me to get up and dragged me along. And so we started our ascent again. I interviewed him after we reached the temple complex and got some good content finally.

The marble temples were beautiful. It is said that Lord Adeshwar had made the climb in 3 steps. It took me 3600 steps to mount the hills but the scene was quite pleasing to the eye and worth the effort. Descending down the hill was much easier.

After lunch I proceeded towards my next stop, Somnath. I donít know whether it was that uphill climb with Jay or the holy temples but I felt better about this trip again. I decided on the documentary structure and I even enjoyed my Palitana-Somnath drive in spite of it being on the only bad road I encountered in Gujarat. The 158 day dream had sneaked back in.

I apologize for the lack of photographs in this post; at the time I was still finding my bearings.
Vyom is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 2nd September 2013, 02:36   #14
BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 94
Thanked: 69 Times
Default Re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

What a start Vyom to a fascinating journey. Excellent move by MnM. Good Gesture.
Looking forward for more to come...

Best,
TheG2 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 2nd September 2013, 06:58   #15
BHPian
 
Gokrish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chennai and AR
Posts: 257
Thanked: 132 Times
Default Re: The Lone Driver: My rendezvous with India on its roads

HI Vyom!

A good start to an adventurous travelogue! Though we missed the photographs of Palitana, your narrative did the talking and the visual communication. Probably Jay was God sent, to pep you up, I suppose.
Gokrish is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lone Women Drivers in Delhi. Be Alert. I am still too shocked. Sugeeta Street Experiences 143 19th September 2013 10:20
2011 i10 Asta A/T - its Korean, its new, its fast, its red, and its coming. nirupesh Test-Drives & Initial Ownership Reports 1 8th January 2011 10:45
Need help in planning a lone getaway for a week zaks Route / Travel Queries 11 23rd December 2010 14:09
Chennai Team-BHP Rendezvous on 1st Dec 2006 Samurai The Team-BHP Meet Section 100 17th December 2006 23:21
DRIVER TALENT:- How do u judge a good track driver from a good street driver memo45_m Indian Motorsport 27 18th May 2006 07:42


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 03:25.

Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks