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Old 11th October 2013, 16:51   #166
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by Arch-Angel View Post
Great travelogue and nice to see a guy from chennai(a bhpian at that!) decided to join you guys on a ride to Leh and back (yep Narsi, i am looking at you). Great travelogue motomaverick and some captions were apt and i smiled when i saw those little monks whom you followed and then the 3 idiots moment "taufa qubool karo" . Nice one anyways and 5 stars. I hope i am able to do something like this in the future.
Thanks for the kind words, Yes those little monks gave a fitting 3 idiots salute. By the way your tag line carries a quote that you often see in that region, so you are already prepared for it
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Old 11th October 2013, 17:15   #167
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Thumbs up Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Thanks for the kind words, Yes those little monks gave a fitting 3 idiots salute. By the way your tag line carries a quote that you often see in that region, so you are already prepared for it
Hehe, i am a nature lover and put me in an expanse like Leh and food, ill live happily for days just gazing at mother nature's handiwork.

OT:
Well, lets just say i dont like driving too fast since i feel i might lose control. So i drive at a speed where i am confident. The only plus points in my driving are that i drive slow anywhere, anytime much to the annoyance of my elder brother who says i could bump the speed a notch or two but still drive sedately.
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Old 12th October 2013, 16:53   #168
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

hello motomaverick got the approval just 2 days back but have been hooked to your travelogue. The way you have written and taken care of the smallest details is amazing. Really good pictures and enjoying reading it.
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Old 13th October 2013, 04:22   #169
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Finally I have been able to go through the entire thread. Previously I had read the first page and was itching to come back to read the rest, but was not able to take out the time. Awesome narration and great pictures. I have always wanted to do a drive with 3 or 4 cars for 5000 + kilometers, but have not been able to do that yet. It takes a lot of patience to do convoy driving. Last year we went to Ladakh in two cars and even then we lost sight of each other quite frequently.
Another lesson for me is that I was planning to take my Esteem to Ladakh next year just to have the feel of driving a low gc fwd car in those areas. But after seeing your ordeal I have made up my mind not to do it. The Bolero did all these stretches last year with such ease that I don't remember any place that posed even a little bit of a problem. The flip side is it is very boring when you think that you should get some adventure and there is no event to remember to narrate afterwards
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Old 13th October 2013, 13:51   #170
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What an awesome log! Thoroughly enjoyed reading through. What made it all the more interesting was the large and diverse group of vehicles in the convoy! Good going!
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Old 15th October 2013, 12:36   #171
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Default Day 16 - Sept 7

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Originally Posted by alfaromeo1984 View Post
hello motomaverick got the approval just 2 days back but have been hooked to your travelogue. The way you have written and taken care of the smallest details is amazing. Really good pictures and enjoying reading it.
Thanks Alfa for reading, I am glad you enjoyed it.

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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Finally I have been able to go through the entire thread. Previously I had read the first page and was itching to come back to read the rest, but was not able to take out the time. Awesome narration and great pictures. I have always wanted to do a drive with 3 or 4 cars for 5000 + kilometers, but have not been able to do that yet. It takes a lot of patience to do convoy driving. Last year we went to Ladakh in two cars and even then we lost sight of each other quite frequently.
Another lesson for me is that I was planning to take my Esteem to Ladakh next year just to have the feel of driving a low gc fwd car in those areas. But after seeing your ordeal I have made up my mind not to do it. The Bolero did all these stretches last year with such ease that I don't remember any place that posed even a little bit of a problem. The flip side is it is very boring when you think that you should get some adventure and there is no event to remember to narrate afterwards
Oh yes, it is a wise decision to leave the Esteem in Kolkata, though it will give you a lot of adventure but the sad part is it will prevent you from going to places your Bolero can take. What I realized is, Ladakh is definitely doable in a sedan or a hatch but there are still some places that require a high GC vehicle like Zanskar. With a sedan or a hatch we need to stick to the usual touristy routes. Plus the car will be certainly out of its comfort zone in that region.

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What an awesome log! Thoroughly enjoyed reading through. What made it all the more interesting was the large and diverse group of vehicles in the convoy! Good going!
The number of diverse vehicles would have been quite large had it not been for cancelation. Initially we had an XUV, Vista, Nano, Santro, Verna, Punto, Polo as well.

============================

DAY 16 – Making Up Time
Sept 7th – 7:30AM
Location: Amritsar
Destination: Ajmer
Route: Amritsar – Tarn Taran – Faridkot – Bhatinda – Dabwali – Hanumangarh – Sardarshahar – Kuchaman City - Ajmer


This and the next few posts will be sans a lot of photographs as the drive was manly to get back home. Though Hari did take pictures but I am still to get it from him

After a good night’s sleep, woke up for the long haul back home, with no tourist destinations planned enroute, it was going to be somewhat boring but yet the challenge was to get back to Bangalore as quickly as possible. Since it was just two cars, everything was loaded in time for a 7:30AM start. Today we were targeting to reach Ajmer which was some 700 odd kms away. Though not long but we were trying to accomplish it within a reasonable time.

Checked the oil levels for Manza & Duster and we were ready to roll. Again tea & breakfast was decided to be taken enroute. Since it was early morning, it was easy to get out of Amritsar. The road to Tarn Taran was pretty good though it was 2 lane. Had tea just before exiting Amritsar, freshly prepared in a road side shed.

Harike Bird Sanctuary quickly came and went, just after crossing the lake, we encountered bad roads near Talwandi Nepalan, with bad roads traffic was pilling up as cars were moving slowly, so we decided to break for breakfast at a good road side restaurant. The restaurant was teeming with police folks more than civilians. However, we were not disturbed and had a nice breakfast of bread omelet, parantha, and sandwich. No no we are not hoggers but somehow like to stuff ourselves like camels for the longish driving range. The funda is more like filling up diesel.

After a nice breakfast, started rolling on the bad roads, which thankfully, disappeared and from Zira onwards the roads are really good. It was fun driving on the 2 lane roads, overtaking slow moving vehicles. We did have to stop for around 30 mins to cross Talwandi Bhai railway crossing, due to the usual issue of folks jumping lane and blocking both the sides. We were making good time till then with 10.30AM on the clock with a breakfast stop. But the sun was becoming stronger by the minute and while waiting in that jam we had to turn on the a/c. After the small jam, it was back on track towards Faridkot. The GPS guided us through the Faridkot bypass, which made things easy.

From Faridkot, it was onwards towards Bhatinda on some the most well maintained 2 lane roads one can drive. The traffic was also sparse hence, the going was pretty good. We reached Bhatinda at around 12.30’ish. Bhatinda in the afternoon was thankfully clear of much traffic and we were able to get to the Hanumangarh exit in around 30 mins. But it looks like the train which we encountered in Talwandi Bhai has been pretty much going at the same rate as us and there we were waiting at the railway crossing for around 15-20 mins.

When finally the gates opened we were moving behind a car waiting to cross the line, when all the 3 of us inside the car heard a shout, we were sure it was from the police men near the gate but we pretended not to hear them and just crossed the gate. We hoped that by the time they relay any messages we should cross Punjab. For some time felt like fugitives, but anyhow with traffic flowing it was easier for us to get away. Duster was also doing pretty well following us all this while in these roads. Since over bad roads it can fly while Manza needs to slow down, I did offer for them to go ahead but looks like they were happy to tail.

You must have realized that this drive of 220 odd kms was boring without much happening, and with the heat rising no one was in mood to stop to take pictures. But how can it be that we are on Indian highways and there is no fun, well we did have fun for some time after Dabwali with a XUV500. No I am not trying to boast here but whoever was driving that XUV was not doing justice to the car, the poor fellow was not able to overtake the Manza for the next 25 kms. Every time it came near I would accelerate ahead or I would be maneuvering to overtake a truck or a bike and it had to contend itself to following the white whale. Just loved the acceleration of the Manza during that time, ToT was working really well on the car. It was finally able to go ahead when we had to take the Chautala bypass.

We soon reached the outskirts of Hanumangarh at around 1:30’ish. We had covered 278 kms in 5hrs 30 mins, which was not bad considering that Google Supercar suggests to complete it in 4hours. Since it was early for lunch, we decided to push on towards Pallu to have our lunch. Since we had already done this RIDCOR Mega highway few days back we knew that Pallu will have good eating joints. So after some 90 odd kms we stopped at a typical roadside dhaba for lunch. Temperatures were soaring close to 40 as of now so as soon as we arrived at the dhaba, the first thing was to buy some cool drink which was more like ice drink. My throat is normally pretty sensitive to cold stuff in Bangalore but outside Bangalore, I can drink cold and also eat cold. Probably that’s 1 thing I hate about Bangalore. Ok let me not digress from the topic at hand.

Sitting and waiting for lunch to arrive, which was apparently cooked by a drunk fellow
25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013-leh52.jpg

Yeah, the person who took our order was drunk or at least he smelt of local liquor but the food that he fed was really awesome. Shahi Paneer, Kaddi, Dal, Chole and roti. I did not count how many roti’s came to the table but I personally had around 6 of them that day, yes yes you have certainly realized that my stomach was back on track. So the 5 of us must have gobbled down some 30 rotis that afternoon. Traveling does that to you, you know, the appetite just goes sky high. No wonder the truckers eat so much. After 16 days on the road, we also felt like truckers.

It was around 3:30 that we finished our lunch and started back on the road. Now this section of the road till Sujangarh was covered in the dark when we were going, but today in daylight we could see some sand dunes that typically associates itself to Rajasthan. But I guess the rains have been good this year so the area was more green than brown. With all those sand, high afternoon sun, and less traffic we were cruising along without any issues. The MID showed 40deg that afternoon. But after sometime the Manza temp needle started to go up again, not at an alarming rate but it was pretty high considering that we were on the move and it could get cold air easily. But I guess at 40deg it was getting more of hot air than cold. So I let the Duster pass us and we lowered our speeds to around 80-90 to let the car cool. Thankfully the days peak had already passed and by driving at 80-90 we were able to reduce the engine temp to around half.

In the meanwhile the Duster was not to be seen as it had gone past us, but then we saw it standing after a toll gate, they were worried about us and wondering why we slowed, but after explaining them the situation, we again moved at the slow pace.

We crossed Ratangarh & Landun, the time was close to 6:00 and it was getting dark soon. We were some 174 kms from Ajmer. So in order to make the most of the last remaining sun, and the engine temp down, I rushed the Manza after Landun, I am sure the Duster was confused at the sudden increase in pace but till Maulasar we kept the high pace. But since it was becoming almost dark, we stopped after the final toll gate to clean the windshield and prepare for the drive in the dark. We still had to cover 100 odd kms and were hopeful of reaching Ajmer by 9PM at least. Faced some traffic near Kunchaman City but the going was pretty good and we were finally on NH8 near Kishangarh. Once on NH8 the drive was that much relaxed as we knew Ajmer was not too far ahead. I had set the GPS to Hotel Khadim in Ajmer which is a RTDC run hotel.

At around 9:00PM we took the diversion for Ajmer and reached the outskirts, we saw one Paradizzo Resort just as you enter Ajmer but looking at the resort we drove past it. After a few meters stopped and discussed if we wanted to go inside city to Hotel Khadim or we check this resort. Well since we had to retrace the same road tomorrow, we decided to check the resort first. And thank god we did, because this turned out to be the most luxuries stays of the entire trip. Until that time the most luxuries stay for us was in Amritsar. The rate that we got was also pretty decent, I will discuss the rates in my final log of this trip. So by 9:25PM to be exact we parked our cars for the day.

728kms covered in 12 hours driving time sounded really good by our standards. We were no long distance overnight drivers, so this was a pretty good timing. Here is a little WhatsApp conversation that we had once we stopped in Ajmer.

Quote:
Me: Manza and Duster reached Ajmer from Amritsar (9.25pm)
Nariman: Great news, have a drink for me (9.26pm)
Me: Sure Nariman but don’t think the place serves drinks (9.26pm)
Chandrakanth: Visiting Ajmer Sharif Dargah? (9.27pm)
Manoj: Great guys (9.28pm)
Me: Yes visiting Dargah in the morning (9.28pm)
Jaswant: Clap Clap (9.28pm)
Me: Thanks Manoj (9.28pm)
Nariman: Rain check on the drinks tomorrow then? (9.29pm)
Me: 728kms 12 hours driving time (9.29pm)
Nariman: Good timing (9.29pm)
Manoj: if you guys taking halt in Mumbai, let’s get together (9.30pm)
Me: Yes sir we are halting at Thane tomorrow, same Express Inn (9.30pm)
Rajesh: What is ETA (9.33pm)
Manoj: Cool, let me know what time you reaching, I will be there (9.34pm)

Distance covered: 728 kms
Time Taken: 14.5 hrs
Map:

Name:  maps_ajmer.jpg
Views: 2762
Size:  189.5 KB


So as you have guessed by now, the plan was to reach Thane, 1000 odd kms from Ajmer. Time we did not know but we wanted to reach by 9PM to meet up with the Mumbai folks. Did we get to see them? Find out next.

Last edited by motomaverick : 15th October 2013 at 12:37.
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Old 15th October 2013, 14:19   #172
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Default Day 17 - Sept 8

DAY 17 – Overnighter
Sept 8th – 10:00AM
Location: Ajmer
Destination: Panvel (Mumbai)
Route: Ajmer – Nasirabad – Bhilwara – Chittorgarh – Udaipur – Kherwara – Himatnagar – Ahmedabad – Vadodara – Bharuch – Surat – Vapi – Thane (Mumbai) – Panvel (Mumbai)


Well last night we had decided to visit the Dargah Sharif in the morning at around 7:30AM, yes the dargah opens that early, the hotel folks had already arranged for a guide there who would take care of the parking and darshan. It was 8AM by the time we met with the guide, he helped us park the vehicle. Apparently parking there is a big cult with charges going up to as much as 500 bucks if one is not careful. Thankfully for us, we got parking inside a garage for 100 bucks for the Duster. Yeah, we had taken the Duster instead of both the cars.

Had a really quick darshan of the Dargah Sharif, where the chaddar (scarf) was presented there, no standing in queue or waiting for hours, we bypassed all the queue and entered the main shrine. All thanks to our guide who apparently hails from the Chisty family and that’s the reason that they have direct entry to the shrine. By the time we wrapped up our pilgrimage and reached the hotel it was close to 9:00AM, yes, the roadtrip apart from being an adventure one has now turned to a pilgrimage with visits to a Monastery, Gurudwara, and Dargah.

With this late start of past 10AM it was becoming doubtful that we would reach by 9PM. Nonetheless we paced ahead on the GQ towards Udaipur. Interestingly we need to deviate from the NH8 towards Nasirabad to get to the GQ, which was a mystery to me until HVK cleared that we take the deviation because further ahead NH8 becomes 2 lane and NH76 is the actual GQ but this adds some 60 odd kms to the distance.

We also got caught up in a deluge of truck traffic on the GQ, the traffic continued till Chittorgarh and it was quite tiring to keep negotiating the trucks. Well the late start and the traffic added to the tiredness and as soon as we turned to NH76, we decided to stop for some tea and rest. After getting our bearings, we proceeded towards Udaipur. By the time we joined back NH8 at Udaipur it was past 2PM, with grumbling tummies we decided to stop after crossing Udaipur.

Lunch was done in 30 mins and we were ahead with our mission, we thought we will stop at Ahmedabad or Vadodara as Thane was a distant dream now. One interesting thing I wanted to describe here, when we reached the small ghats near Kherwara it was interesting to see one fully loaded Santro zipping on those turns, in fact the car was at its edge on the twisty but still was maintaining a decent pace. I was left wondering how it could pull off those stunts. Yes, it was dangerous but it was also interesting to note the handling of the car.

Anyways, we probably crossed Samalji by 5PM and were all geared up to reach Vadodara by 8 or 9PM which was still 200 odd kms ahead. However, here an interesting change to the plans happened. As soon as we crossed over to Gujarat after the toll gate, we stopped at a petrol bunk for refreshing. Narsi got a message from his brother in law advising us to cross Mumbai tonight itself as tomorrow it will become impossible to cross it due to Ganapati festival. Well that was an interesting information and we decided to drive on towards Mumbai irrespective of the time it takes and stop only after crossing it. With another 600 odd kms left, it was evident that it will be a night drive.

In a way the decision was exciting as it will be after a long time I will be doing an overnighter. So we proceeded towards Ahmedabad and then onto the Vadodara expressway after a windshield cleaning session. Now this expressway I have already talked about how good it is, and today evening it demonstrated its efficiency even more as we were able to cover 90odd kms in 40 mins, without the speedo needle going past 110. Yes, you don’t need to be a maniac to churn out those times on these kind of roads. Mohan enjoyed the expressway a lot as he stretched the Dusters legs but we both reached Vadodara more or less at the same around the same time, of course after the initial sprinting they slowed down.

We stopped at Hotel Dharshan a few kms after Vadodara on NH8 for our dinner. Dinner was light and the guys hogged on idly sambar which they were having after 15 days. With dinner out of the way it was now a sprint towards Bharuch. This is the dreaded place where we lost 5 hours when we were going to Ladakh, but now after 15 days, the water had subsided and we would be able to take the inner city route. By now we had covered close to 700 kms in under 12 hours, and that should give you an inkling of how bigger and better highways reduce travel time.

Reached Baruch outskirts on NH8 by 11PM and followed GPS to exit the NH8, but somehow we landed at a kucha road and were wondering if it was the correct. Thankfully we met one motorcycle fellow who informed that we should further go ahead on NH8 and take the right under the bridge, while this road is kuccha and blocked due to Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizer company here. Thank god for the good Samaritan he saved us a night adventure for sure. We traced our way back to NH8 and took the right under the bridge while NH8 continued straight. Thankfully this road was big and there were vehicles. This was the road to Bharuch main city.

Here is the map of where we went wrong and correct route
Name:  Bharuch_correctturn.jpg
Views: 1982
Size:  88.2 KB

Map of how to cross the Bharuch – Ankleshwar NH8 truck traffic
Name:  maps_how_cross_bharuch_ankleshwar.jpg
Views: 2499
Size:  93.7 KB

This time thankfully there was no jam and waiting we crossed the Narmada without any hassles. It was a surreal experience to cross the 1.5 kms long British made structure at night. We had to fold both the OVRMs as the bridge is pretty narrow and it especially becomes a challenge if there is a SUV from the other side. Well somehow without scrapping we were able to cross. Once you rejoin the NH8 it is a simple task of driving on the beautiful GQ 6 lane road towards Surat and then onto Vapi.

Well our going was halted for around 1 hour somewhere after Surat as we parked on the side. I was feeling sleepy and as soon as I found a empty bunk parked there and we all took a cat nap. Though it was not a deep sleep but the 15 mins actual shut eye did a world of good as I was feeling fresh again. To keep the freshness I had taken 3 red bulls as well from Hotel Darshan. But the red bulls have a very bad side effect of inducing drowsiness as soon as its effect wears off. In fact I could literally feel the power meter in my body going up after a gulp of the bull.

Anyhow, to cut the distance short we made it past the Maharashtra toll gate by around 3AM and reached Thane Hotel Fountain at around 4:15AM. So after a marathon run of 1044kms in 19hours from Ajmer to Mumbai was successfully completed. In fact by the time Narsi (who was driving the Duster) and I stopped at the hotel parking lot for a chai, only the two of us were awake, while the rest 3 were fast asleep. I still remember how Hari was fast asleep with his feet relaxing on Venkats seat back and him almost lying in the back seat. I aptly placed the KSRTC tagline “Sleep like a baby” for Hari as he was sleeping like a baby in a KA registered car. Apparently he was shocked to know that we had reached Mumbai once he got up.

So after the high fives of completing this marathon run, we skipped Chai and started off to cross the city. At 4.30AM even Mumbai was sleeping and there was hardly any traffic let alone people. We in fact broke a traffic rule by driving for a few meters on a one way road, all thanks to Google, but since there was no police check post it was not an issue. (Please bear in mind this was accidental and not intentional and we do not advocate breaking traffic rules). By the time we reached Turbhe even Narsi and I were feeling sleepy. We saw Hotel Ibis and went inside to inquire on the rates, we got woken up after hearing 4800 for twin sharing with a 400 bucks discount. After staying in a 4 star resort for peanuts this was an early morning robbery for us. Quickly scooted from the place and started searching on the Sion – Thane road. But we never found any hotel here. Frustrations started taking over and at one point I suggested driving towards Lonavala and staying there. But Narsi was completely exhausted so we decided to check in Panvel. Thankfully we found one hotel as soon as we entered Panvel which was also not far from the express way. With rooms taken all I remember was setting the alarm for 12:30PM and dumped on the bed at around 6AM.

Distance covered: 1099 kms
Time Taken: 20 hrs
Map:

Name:  maps_panvel.jpg
Views: 4079
Size:  151.6 KB

Tomorrow we drive relaxed to Belgaum and enter our homeland.
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Old 15th October 2013, 14:41   #173
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Default Re: Day 17 - Sept 8

Whoaaa, back to back posts after the weekend's silence! That is great and that too the overnighter is something to remember. I drove overnight after a gap of nearly 6 years (yes you read it right - did one immediately after my college) and it feels great to know that I am still able to do it.

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
By the time we joined back NH8 at Udaipur it was past 2PM, with grumbling tummies we decided to stop after crossing Udaipur.
The Udaipur bypass was another worst stretch on this trip. It was full of trucks and pot holes. While starting from Ajmer Mohanan informed me that he wanted to drive the Baroda-Ahmadabad expressway (I drove the onward journey). So I took the wheels from Ajmer to Udaipur. Immediately after lunch I took the passenger seat and let him drive. This helped a lot when we decided to do the overnight journey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
We stopped at Hotel Dharshan a few kms after Vadodara on NH8 for our dinner. Dinner was light and the guys hogged on idly sambar which they were having after 15 days.
What a heavenly dinner it was! Idli sambar after 15 days. Took the wheels immediately after the dinner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Well our going was halted for around 1 hour somewhere after Surat as we parked on the side. I was feeling sleepy and as soon as I found a empty bunk parked there and we all took a cat nap. Though it was not a deep sleep but the 15 mins actual shut eye did a world of good as I was feeling fresh again.
This was a well deserved break if you ask me. Thanks to Venkat and Mohan who were awake when we were taking the nap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
To keep the freshness I had taken 3 red bulls as well from Hotel Darshan. But the red bulls have a very bad side effect of inducing drowsiness as soon as its effect wears off. In fact I could literally feel the power meter in my body going up after a gulp of the bull.
I am not a big fan of red bull and this prompted me to take cans of coke and mirinda. This had the side effect of dehydration though. After the power nap, Mohan started his marathon sleep which lasted till next day 11:00am.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
By the time we reached Turbhe even Narsi and I were feeling sleepy. We saw Hotel Ibis and went inside to inquire on the rates, we got woken up after hearing 4800 for twin sharing with a 400 bucks discount.
This was real shocker and I don't think that we got deal in Panvel as well. The receptionist was like 'If you want you take else leave'. We were desperate to get some sleep and we took the rooms.
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Old 15th October 2013, 16:12   #174
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

Wow that was a marathon drive motomaverick and narsi done by you ll considering you ll had woken up early for the dargah also. The drive from Ahemdabad onwards must have been enjoyable and you must have let the White Whale lose. Waiting for the final leg of this epic travelogue.
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Old 15th October 2013, 16:20   #175
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

That was some adventure out there in NH8. Last thing you need is to be lost in the middle of nowhere in the dead of the night.

Good roads do remove a lot of stress and save time.
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Old 15th October 2013, 18:10   #176
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Default Re: 25-0-40 DownUnder to UpOver - LEH'd 2013

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Originally Posted by alfaromeo1984 View Post
Wow that was a marathon drive motomaverick and narsi done by you ll considering you ll had woken up early for the dargah also. The drive from Ahemdabad onwards must have been enjoyable and you must have let the White Whale lose. Waiting for the final leg of this epic travelogue.
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That was some adventure out there in NH8. Last thing you need is to be lost in the middle of nowhere in the dead of the night.

Good roads do remove a lot of stress and save time.
Thanks both, yup it was about to turn into a midnight adventure but thankfully it didn't. Though we had enough time on our hands to stay an extra day somewhere in case we got late
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Old 15th October 2013, 18:51   #177
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Default Day 18 - Sept 9

DAY 18 – Relaxed Drive
Sept 9th – 2:30PM
Location: Panvel (Mumbai)
Destination: Belgaum
Route: Panvel (Mumbai) – Pune – Satara – Kohlapur - Belgaum


Once again as always it has been happening in this trip I woke up before the alarm went off at around 11:30 or 11:45 AM, that’s some 5 hours of sleep. Despite less number of hours somehow was still feeling fresh. I guess that’s what seasoned travellers feel and it was the first time for me to travel for so many days.

Anyhow long story short, we all got ready in an hours’ time to grab brunch and leave for Belgaum. Since we had come in the dark we did not observe that just next to the hotel there was a Shiv Sagar. Now we all know that Shiv Sagar are a popular chain of sagar restaurants where you 9 out of 10 times cannot go wrong with the food. Today was no different though the fare was more local towards Mumbai. So order of the day was 3 thali’s, 1 kicchdi, and rava dosa with sabudana vada. Since the last we had eaten was more than 12 hours back, the food vanished off the table pretty quick.

By the time we wrapped things up it was around 2PM, we settled the hotel bill and came down to our cars, just then Narsi who was the last to come out of the hotel, asked us if we had ordered a few in room dining things like parantha, bread, water bottle etc Obviously we were surprised as none of us had ordered anything except for couple of bottles of water by Narsi. Off we went to confront on the bill, thankfully the folks at the reception accepted their mistake and correct the bill. On hindsight they should have checked the billing properly, if we had not looked then we would have paid more than what was correct.

So with the little issue behind us, we set off towards the expressway, which was pretty close by. As soon as we hit the expressway it was just a smooth sail towards Pune.

Just before Khandala
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The oncoming seems to be more than the ones going in our direction
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As you can see at that time of the day there was not much traffic
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Pune also was crossed pretty fast, since it was a holiday plus Ganesh puja ensured that there wasn't much traffic to bother us. Filled up just after Pune. Once again from Pune onwards we faced rains, first it was a light drizzle which turned heavy just before the Bengrutwadi Ghats. Stopped for tea near Wele and on we went towards Satara. Thankfully the rain stopped and the sun showed up a little to assist us on our run in as much day light as possible, of course it was a losing battle with both sun & rain as both came down. The entire distance of 150 kms from Satara to Kohlapur was wet and drizzling.

At around 8’ish we crossed Kohlapur, a distance of 346 kms covered in 5.30 hrs as we did not have to stop for lunch or anything longer than 15 mins. Now Belgaum was just 111 kms from here, but more exciting was that KA border was just 25 kms away and we would be landing up in our home state, well at least for the Manza after 16 days.

The team reached Belgaum by around 9.30PM and got ourselves a small run of the mill hotel near the main market. Dinner was a simple fare of south Indian thali. So after a gruelling 17 days on the road, it was such a relief to be back to very close to our homes all safe and sound. Certainly that night everyone was much more relaxed and also not much pressure to start early tomorrow.

Distance covered: 447 kms
Time Taken: 7 hrs
Map:

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Here is a parting video of the Mum – Pune expressway
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Old 15th October 2013, 20:31   #178
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So finally you reached home! Great drive with very good narration and equally good pics.

About the guide at Ajmer Sharif being decendents of Sheikh Chishti, apparently all the guides there are decendents of the same family tree. They do not ditectly charge you, but their charges are hidden in the parking fee (yes you can even park in front of shops in the market), from what you pay for procuring the chadar & chadhawa and the cash that you offer on the dargah.

No offence meant to anyone, but this modus operandi I have observed during my visits. If you have one of those "guides" with you, you get direct entry to the dargah. Also, all of them have fixed places around the grave in the dargah where they stand with their clientelle. He must have given you his visiting card too!
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Old 15th October 2013, 20:33   #179
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Default Day 19 - Sept 10

DAY 19 – Home Run
Sept 10th – 9:30PM
Location: Belgaum
Destination: Bangalore
Route: Belgaum – Hubli – Davangere – Chitradurga – Sira – Tumkur - Bangalore


So we have finally come to the last day of this mammoth trip that started way back on 23rd Aug (trip log started on 18th Sept) For us it still probably had not sunk in as yet that the trip is coming to an end. Anyways, started pretty late by around 9.30AM after having breakfast and checking all car vitals as it has always been all these days.

In fact the habit of checking the car has stuck on so much that even now I do the rudimentary checks like tires every day before starting. I guess Steven Covey had not done a road trip in his life hence, he said a habit to become a habit takes 21 days, we can prove it will take only 18 days.

The drive was pretty uneventful till Tumkur. We had stopped for tea at Rannebenur and lunch was at Kamath Sira. At Sira, Hari parted ways from the Manza, as Duster would be going near to his home and he can get dropped there. Plus, Narsi had decided to drive straight to Chennai today itself instead of staying back for the night at Mohan’s place. Apparently what happened was that the Duster flew ahead after Sira, while Venkat and I were sailing along leisurely. But once we entered Tumkur road, somehow the bug bit hard to reach home faster and hence the Manza came back to form, so much so that just before Nelmangala we had overtaken the Duster. I could see a wry smile from Narsi when we were at the toll gate. I guess he smiled at the last hurrah from the white whale before it hits city traffic. Long story short, I dropped Venkat home at around 4PM and reached my place safe and sound just 5 mins after (our places are pretty close).

The Odometer after 19 days on the road
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So once I shut down the car finally for the day today, I realized that I had accomplished something that was a dream since more than 5 years. It started with Praveen KM’s 6 months expedition on his Karizma, further fueled by Rohit’s Ladakh sojourn. In between there has been numerous logs that have inspired and gave information to complete this trip.

The picture says it all
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Distance covered: 507 kms
Time Taken: 6.5 hrs
Map:

Name:  maps_bangalore.jpg
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In closing of this melodramatic but I hope a very true representation of the trip, I would like to thank Venkat, Hari, Narsi, Mohan, Sathya, Rajesh, Neeraj, Chandrakanth, Nariman, Manoj, and Jaswant for making this a successful venture.

As they say in Ladakhi, JULEY!! Or until next time


PS: Coming up Preparation, hotel details, and do’s & don’t from our experience.
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Old 15th October 2013, 21:21   #180
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Picture abhi bakhi hai mere dost.
A small account of duster's home run is coming up next. Eventhough it was a small distance the log will not be complete until the last man standing (yeah thats me :-D) reaches home safe and sound.
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