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Old 24th September 2013, 17:33   #1
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Default Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat

It all started with a group of my friends going LEH,
it all started with me wanting to go with them,
it all started when I could not be a part of the convoy,
it all started when I could no longer control my urge to drive.
And it all started after the solo monsoon drive with HVK and gang, during this drive when I was alone in the car I felt at peace and more in sync with the Rapid. Absolutely loved the idea of doing solo runs. With the upgraded tires the car was performing beautifully and so it was a shame letting it rot in the garage and doing office - home runs everyday. The Rapid is a highway mile cruncher and does a wonderful job at that.

Ran into brochure/map of Gujarat being promoted for tourism and I must agree Mr Narendra Modi has done one hell of a job. He's sold whatever he's done not done whatever, but it totally works.

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With that set in mind began scouting on the route updates and finer details. A couple of my friends at work were surprised I was doing something as big as 3000 kms and that too solo. I had faith in the car and in my driving skills, and had faith in the State and so I wasn't worried alot. I was bought up in Gujarat and so I knew the language I knew how people operate and what the psychology is. But even then 3k solo drive was something my friends at work had never heard off. And I was trying to convince them that I have a whole bunch of friends in the driving community who have done much much more than 3k solo drives.

Planed Itinerary
Day 1 - Pune - Abad - Patan -- Visit Stepwell @ Patan + Sun Temple @ Modhera on the way
Day 2 - Patan - Dholavira
-- Road according to the Google Maps this is 230 kms via Radhanpur.
Day 3 - Dholavira - Bhuj - Mandvi
Day 4 - Mandvi - Bhuj - Dwarka
Day 5 - Dwarka - Somnath
Day 6 - Junagadh - Lothal
Day 7 - Lothal - Pune

Leave Sunday and return the following Sunday was the plan. Got some basics check in place --

1. Torch
2. Money
3. Nitrogen top-up and spare tire check
4. Oil check
5. Copy of Mediclaim policy
6. All originals of the car
7. Cigarette Lighter

A day before the departure a friend walks up to me and says what all things have you planned, and pointed out tht I should always make sure I have a couple of thousands in the car. Make sure the back pack has a torch and a cigarette lighter. His philosophy simply being "Not being prepared is being foolish", kinda made sense. Also it was it his idea to setup a Facebook page, so that they could follow me and so that everybody would know where I am at.

And it was his brilliant idea to carry an extra mobile device, and so I borrowed a sim card from a relative. Now I had two devices both running 3g one on Windows and one on Android. Which made perfect sense, I could not be running my tracks on one, be updating the FB page (only possible via Android) and stay in touch with Family using Whtapp from the other phone. For maps depends on the Lumia which had better GPS connectivity.

And I believe this is an invaluable tip, if doing solo runs always carry two mobile devices possibly always keep one in the car. Both should have data connectivity, enough of battery juice and fully functional.

T-24 hrs --> Chocolates, Redbull, Water, Coke, Chakna, Cash, ATM card for two different accounts, Yellow tape on light, Papers, FB page setup, allignment balancing.
While the allignment balancing was happening booked my room at Hotel Tulshi @ Patan.

I know how to pack light and so I was only carrying a backup and snack/chakhna open bag. Both the bags were strapped to the pillion seat. And so my co-pilot became Bagwati.

Shared my route plans with the HVK team and they recommended I make a couple of changes --
Day 2 - Patan - Viramgham - Dhrangadra - Malia - Samikiyali - Dholavira
And
Day 3- Instead of staying in mandvi stay in Bhuj. And do Narayan Sarovar
And
Day 5 - Instead of staying put in Somnath, route back and stay in Junagadh
Day 6 - Instead of staying in Lothal which has no staying options, head towards Baroda - Surat and bunk there

And so my updated plan became -

Final Itinerary
Day 1 - Pune - Abad - Patan
Day 2 - Patan - Dholavira
Day 3 - Dholavira - Mandvi - Bhuj
Day 4 - Bhuj - Visit Narayan Sarovar - Dwarka
Day 5 - Dwarka - Visit Somnath - Junagadh
Day 6 - Junagadh - Visit Lothal - A'war
Day 7 - A'war - Pune

This made more sense, and sounded doable however this was not it was set to happen. Tried to get some rest the night before, my plan was to leave early morning by around 3-4 so that I can make it to Patan before Sun down. The same day my LEC friends were packed up and ready to leave from Mumbai.

Day 1

Because I was not able to sleep properly, left a couple of hours late. However that would mean I would miss the LEC kick off at Mumbai. So I was hoping I would skip the breakfast break and try and catch up to the convoy to atleast have Lunch together.

Began the journey at 5.09 AM, spent some time trying to get my applications going and realized I did not have a micro sd card on the Android and so I couldn't take pictures. The lumia worked but I could not post to my page on FB using lumia. Figdted around a bit did not want to waste time and so decided to move on.

The very first pic --
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Mumbai Pune Express --
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As I reached Fountain Hotel on Ghodbunder the LEC gang had already left and were an hour and a half ahead of me. I had to take a break at Lonavla and so I was now all guns blazing speeding at three digit speeds on NH8.

On NH8 towards Surat --
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As I crossed Surat, the LEC group was already nearing A'war. Their lead was not mean to be, there had been reports of flooding in Bharuch and A'War which had resulted in the golden gate bridge cut off and so all the traffic was diverted onto the highway. This Jam had resulted in trucks backing up what was easily 10/15 kms, from the turn which breaks off into A'War trucks had lined up to get on the Bridge. Took the service road and by passed most of the traffic and their they were the LEC group. Dr Kamat in his Grande, Hirak and gang from Bangalore all waiting in line hoping the traffic moves. Thanks to the traffic I had caught up with them.
Finally there was a break and they were pushing cars onto the other side and letting them use the Two wheeler bridge. Rapid, Grande, SX4 cut across and were now on the other side passing the traffic by.

A few pics from the jam and us driving on the opposite side --
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All that I had since morning was two cups of Tea and some dry snacks was hungry, however because these guys were running so late they decided to skip lunch and I trembled. But it made sense we had spent close to a couple of hours just crossing 2-5 kms and so it was necessary to make up time.
Gunned the accelertor once we crossed the bridge, it was breeze till we reached A'bad which is were we would seperate our ways. My route was to head to Go past A'bad -> Gandhinagar -> Mehsana -> Patan. I let the map do the talking as it guided me past A'bad towards Mehsana.

Interestingly as soon as we got on the Sardar ring road both me and Dr Kamat were fined a 100 bucks for having tinted glasses. This is also where Dr Kamat gave me a beating about why I was driving like a mad maniac, he din't know of my plans and so was a little angry why I was doing what I was doing.

As soon as we parted ways the jittery feeling in my stomach began. The sinking feeling that oops i am on my own now, its scary. Crossed the Gandhinagar circle and was now headed to Mehsana. A quick refuelling stop, and I was blindly following Nokia Drive till Mehsana. This is where things screwed up, the map started sending me inside mehsana into the lanes and gali gali. Turned around to come to the highway again, made a few enquiries called the hotel to confirm the route. Mehsana - Chanasma - Patan was the route, it was around 7.30ish and so I checked with the hotel. He re-affirmed that I should make it through and not stop at Mehsana.

Here I was now on SH 55, pitch dark with a few bikes around blindly following where the road took me. Finally some signage for Patan, checked into hotel tulsi at 8.45 PM. I had left at 5am and here I was in Patan close to a 1000 kms away having only had two cups of tea and a whole bunch of chakhna ( dry snacks in the car).

Took a quick shower to find out that the restaurant only served Punjabi food, which is such a big bore. I don't have anything against punjabi cuisine but when in Gujarat one must eat Gujarati food which is what I was expecting.

Conversation with HVK from Hotel Tulshi --
Quote:
santosh -- Reached Patan. Lots of traffic in Bharuch so had to skip Modhera. Tomm step well and to Dholavira. Any tips on the route to Dholavira
Not sure if you recognized me, this is santosh. u helped me plan the route.
HVK - Yes off course I have your number saved.
santosh - Tomorrow will head to dholavira. Any pointers on the route to Dholavira
hvk - Patan - Viramgam - dhrangadara - Halvad - Maliya - Samikiyali .. Superb Roads.
Santosh - Cool Thanks, much appreciated.
Now that I knew the route, traced it on the map and decided to call it a day.

Summary of Day 1 -
Day 1 - Pune - Via A'bad Ring road Mehsana - Patan
Distance - 784 kms
Time - 0600 to 2000 -> 14 hrs
Break - Tea and Looo break - Around 7isih @Food Mall after Lonavla
Tea - 12.00 @ Hare Krishna near Surat
3rd Break - Near Mehsana for refuel
Stay - Hotel Tulshi (850/Night )


Day 2

I had inquired the night before on the timings of the "Raani ni Vaav". Raani ni Vaav was the reason I was in Patan, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List and is one of the primary attractions in Gujarat. Started early as the roads to the Vaav was through the city, early morning hustle bustle people having their teas getting ready for another day in the office and here I was 800kms from my home on a solo mission.

Funny how these solo drives help give you perspective. So ya back to Raani ni Vaav, some background info here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rani_ki_vav

Checked out from the hotel at around 0800 and reach Raani ni Vaav in 10-15 minutes. Some pics as the day began --

Thats the car after 800 kms of rain and mud and traffic --
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First look of the Raani ni Vaav. Entry fee is Rs. 5 was spic-n-span, Rs. 20 for Parking and since I went early apart from the security and the restoration guys it was totally deserted. I have had a few friends tell me that this place can get crowded on weekends and holidays and so early morning visits are recommended.

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The let you go down to the last level but the well itself is closed.
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And that my friends is documentary evidence, I was there. heh
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Felt all excited having completed the first goal of the trip. Raani ni Vaav in Patan ( check ).

Now I had to trace back my way out of the town, get on SH 7 again and start driving towards Viramgam. Because I late to reach on Day1 I had decided to knock Modhera Sun temple out, just did not have the time. However as soon as I turned towards Viramgam I saw signage for Modhera Sun temple and lo behold the second goal of the trip was back in the check list. 20 Minutes on SH7 towards Viramgam and I was in Modher, the temple was right on the road I was on.

Contd pics from Day 2 --

Beautiful SH7 from Patan - Viramgam
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Sun Temple from the entrace
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Beautiful architecture, the building on the left is the actual temple and the bbuilding on the right is the Sabha mandap made up 52 pillars representing the weeks in an year.
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The path to enlightenment I am standing on the tropic of cancer, on the day of equinox sunlight would light up the diamond on top of the idol
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Sun temple's VAAV. This vaav has 108 miniature temples which people used to pray at before taking bath in the vaav.
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Do not forget to hire a guide while there, simply looking at the architecture is useless there are lots of minute things here which are noteworthy.

Having checked the next item on my list, all geared up to make it dholavira. However things did not go as planned. Read on....

Last edited by GTO : 10th October 2013 at 15:21. Reason: Please avoid using inappropriate words (s**t). Thanks
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:26   #2
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Default Re: Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th October 2013, 22:39   #3
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Really nice log Santosh. I was wondering when this is coming out. First when I heard you are catching up to us I thought you decided to join us, but the circumstances was not conducive that day to meet up properly and just a distant hi bye in that traffic jam.
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Old 9th October 2013, 23:48   #4
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Default Re: Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat

Thanks for sharing.

For Patan-Dholavira route, just a question out of curiosity, Did you check shorter routes?

From map,
Shortest is Patan-Radhanpur-Santalpur-Dholavira (230 km approx.), though I have not traveled personally, but I expect Patan-Radhanpur-Santalpur to be in good condition, not sure about Santalpur-Dholavira.

Other option is to go till Chitrod on Radhanpur-Samakhyali highway(NH15- part of EW corridor) and take same Chitrod Dholavira route.

Otherwise there is no doubt about the road condition of Patan-Viramgam-Malia-Samakhyali, one stretch of this route (Viramgam-Malia) is recently converted to four lane by L & T, also you got the opportunity to visit Modhera due to this route.
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Old 10th October 2013, 13:15   #5
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Looks like an exhaustive feast is awaiting us in your Gujarat T'log. The proportions and the symmetry of the Vaav's are mind blowing. Great start Santosh. Waiting for your next post.
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Old 10th October 2013, 13:50   #6
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Wow, the architecture seems to be fantastic. Can you please share more photos of the architecture up close so that it highlights the intricate carvings. Also what are the general hotel charges around these tourist spots?

Your TL is very motivating for me to do one trip myself
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Old 10th October 2013, 23:16   #7
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Nice to know that you had a'' PLAN'' and were not driving aimlessly Santosh.
The reason I gave you a piece of my mind is that you were doing insane speeds on those roads and even with the most professionally driven and tuned cars things can go wrong and specially if you are travelling alone the last thing you need is a mob baying for your blood thats if you are lucky and in one piece.
Nice pics and well written cant wait for more.
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Old 11th October 2013, 12:15   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sierrakamat View Post
Nice to know that you had a'' PLAN'' and were not driving aimlessly Santosh.
The reason I gave you a piece of my mind is that you were doing insane speeds on those roads and even with the most professionally driven and tuned cars things can go wrong and specially if you are travelling alone the last thing you need is a mob baying for your blood thats if you are lucky and in one piece.
Nice pics and well written cant wait for more.
hahah.. Indeed but actually na I wasn't doing insane speed. Through out the entire trip only a few circumstances did i go above 120. Warna was usually cruising at 120 through out. But ya i understand what you are saying, one needs to be extra careful when doing solo runs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Wow, the architecture seems to be fantastic. Can you please share more photos of the architecture up close so that it highlights the intricate carvings. Also what are the general hotel charges around these tourist spots?

Your TL is very motivating for me to do one trip myself
It is totally amazing, the Sun temple especially such intricate work. I wonder why these are not famous. And I am sure there are many such beautiful sites across India which only the locals know about.

Here's the entire set -- https://www.facebook.com/santoshrao9...0825628&type=3


Quote:
Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
Looks like an exhaustive feast is awaiting us in your Gujarat T'log. The proportions and the symmetry of the Vaav's are mind blowing. Great start Santosh. Waiting for your next post.
Ohh ya you have no idea. Solo drives can be really unnerving and some parts in the journey were really isolated. scary stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vishal.R View Post
Thanks for sharing.

For Patan-Dholavira route, just a question out of curiosity, Did you check shorter routes?

From map,
Shortest is Patan-Radhanpur-Santalpur-Dholavira (230 km approx.), though I have not traveled personally, but I expect Patan-Radhanpur-Santalpur to be in good condition, not sure about Santalpur-Dholavira.

Other option is to go till Chitrod on Radhanpur-Samakhyali highway(NH15- part of EW corridor) and take same Chitrod Dholavira route.

Otherwise there is no doubt about the road condition of Patan-Viramgam-Malia-Samakhyali, one stretch of this route (Viramgam-Malia) is recently converted to four lane by L & T, also you got the opportunity to visit Modhera due to this route.
Actually you are right. I did see that on the map as well, but ya I kinda followed HVK's suggestion and le-behold ran into Modhera. But ya maybe the next time I will try that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Really nice log Santosh. I was wondering when this is coming out. First when I heard you are catching up to us I thought you decided to join us, but the circumstances was not conducive that day to meet up properly and just a distant hi bye in that traffic jam.
Absolutely buddy.
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Old 11th October 2013, 18:43   #9
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Day 2 Contd --
The previous night I realized one of my biggest fears, driving an Skoda though is super fun however the service backup is very limited. And so during the night I had gone to their website and listed down service stations across gujarat and their numbers. In gujarat the towns with Skoda presence would be - A'bad, Rajkot, Surat, Gandhidham , Baroda, and Anand. And so in these parts the nearest town were A'bad on right and Gandhidham on the left. That gave me some relief as where I was headed the nearest town with Skoda presence would be Gandhidham which would be close to 200kms away.

Lesson learnt #1 -- Make a list of service stations enroute and near your destination. Call them and get the service advisor's telephone number if possible. Carry this in black-white meaning on paper.

And so ya I was on SH 7 headed towards viramgam. Road from Modhera to Viramgam was through villages small roads, and every time I would cross a village I would be the object of stare. Whats a Skoda doing here, what car is that. hehe

But ya rough roads the car behaved exceptionally, again the stiff suspesion makes rough terrain look like a walk in the park. The hard yoko's become harder when warm and so it starts behaving like a SUV.

On the road to Viramgam --
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As I neared Viramgam I set nokia drive to take me through Viramgam to Dhrngadhra. With the map navigating I simply followed its directions, I knew Viramagam is a city and that would mean navigating through traffic however the map took me around perfectly. Some kacche raaste (rough-noroad) through a whole bunch of cows and what not. As soon as I hit the road to Dhrngadhra ohh-what-so-beautiful roads. 4 lane neat no traffic straight as an arrow. THis apparently is a state highway.

Dhrngadhra - Malvan - Halvad
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This is SH 7 and unbelievable roads, passed through two tolls Rs 15 or Rs 18 something and I was like are you kidding me. We charge 45/65 bucks per toll and the roads suck.

Here I was a 1000 kms on my way to Dhrngadhra ripping it on SH 7, gives me goose bumps even when I think about it. Empty roads not a car in sight, so at peace.

But the knot inside my stomach was growing as every few kms passed. I was beginning to realize I am kinda moving away from A'bad, what if the car breaks down. Got a little panicky this idea of doing a solo drive may not have been the wisest. The roads were empty with nothing in site for km's together, with this thought in mind called my wife --

santosh -- Yaar, what did i get myself into.
rupali - why what happened
santosh -- I am a little nervous theres nothing for kms together. The nearest town with Skoda assitance is far in either direction. Its 13.30 and have a long way to go to reach Dholavira.
rupali -- If you are not feeling comfortable then return back.
santosh -- bring up the maps and tell me what the distance vs time taken from Dhrngadhara to Kabir bet via Maliya.
rupali -- should take around 4-5hours
santosh -- I am yet to break for lunch. Will possibly reach by late evening and i dont have the latest update on the gtdc guest house there.
santosh -- alright let me see what i will do. will update.

And then near Halvad I run into Hotel Honest, I love this little chain. You will find them all through Gujarat. Hotel Honest they are clean with good toilets, food depends more of less the same through out. When in northern Gujarat absolutely dont miss out on having tea. They make the best tea in the world without a doubt.

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WA conversation with HVK from hotel honest --
Quote:
santosh - Stopped 50kms before Maliya, Am thinking i will skip dholavira and stead spend the day in bhuj. am a little unnerved and dholavira seems like in the middle of nowhere. Instead do maliya bachau bhuj and stay there.
HVK - You can reach Dholavira easily by EOD. Samikiyari chitrod and rapar
santosh - But then will be able to do neither. Nor visit bhuj properly or dholavira. I was hoping i woul dhave reached by now, no point reaching by night fall and leaving tommorow.
hvk - in that case u can leave for dwarka tommorw. Do narayan sarovar today.
santosh - route is maliya bachau bhuj or maliya bachau madvi bhuj
hvk - first
So right i was at a little peace now. Bhuj was closer to gandhidham hehe so that made me feel better 200kms within range of a skoda service station.

The other most important aspect was no confirmation of staying options in Dholavira, what If i reach there by sundown and I have nowhere to stay. From what I had reach the only option of staying in dholvira is the gtdc guest house however i was unable to get through to them.

So I was perked up again, excited rejuvanated not scared any more. Had a lovely lunch at hotel honest, lovely puri shak. When in Gujarat eat gujju food.

Got on the beautiful SH7 again and started heading towards Maliya - Samikiyali - Bachau - Bhuj. Distance wasn't alot and wouldnt be very remote.

The insanely smooth SH 7
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After Maliya I hit NH8a and oh-my-god it was like makhhaan (butter). There is a big creek that you cross right after Maliya, apparently there's a whole bunch of solar panels and a solar park here. I came to know about this afterwards when I was tracing this on the map.

Some pics from the creek --

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That's my backup driver -- Bagwati
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Skoda Rapid has a lovely road stance, did I say that I love my car --

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Was at Samikiyali at 2.45pm, the thought about DHolavira crossed my mind again. It would take a close to 3 hours from here, but then decided against it. No point taking silly risks instead will spend an extra day in Bhuj.

At Bachau you get off NH8a and take the SH to bhuj, road from Bachau to Bhuj ain't all that great.

At one point i was totally surrounded by goats --

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Notice the roads, some sections had diversion as repair work was on. More or less good roads.

A few recommendations by HVK and I was checked into Hotel Dollar by around 16.45.

Called my wife to help locate the best place to buy Bandhani sarees and stuff, she quickly came back with a recommendation and an address. I wonder how women manage to get search results related to shoping so quickly. Had this been for directions or maps, it would have taken a few re-quotes , what ,eerr sorry wait.

The gujjus know how to sell and a sucker like me they can sell me anything. Some pics from Radhika house of Bandhani - Bhuj --
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All through Bhuj you will find a whole bunch of shops selling these stuff, as compared to the prices here this was cheap. With the shopping done, located a nice thali place had a wholesome Gujarati thali.

#peace.

So it was --
Kutch shopping --check
Gujarathi thali -- check
Modera temple --check
Raani ni vav -- check
Tomorow narayan sarovar and koteshwar temple. And this my friends is like the western most point of the country , a few kms more and I can be in Pakistan.

Summary from Day 2 -
Day 2 - Patan - Modhera - Viramgam - Halvad - Maliya - Bachau - Bhuj (Hotel Dollar)
Distance - 383 kms
Time - 0830 - 1600 -> 8 hrs
Break - Lunch halvad
Stay - Hotel Dollar (995/night )
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Old 14th October 2013, 23:42   #10
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Day 3 Contd ...

This was going to be a fun day, today I was to drive to Narayan Sarovar/Koteshwar which is the western most point of India. Though the distance between Bhuj and Koteshwar is around 150 kms but the roads are deep offtrack and so can take alot of time. I inquired at the hotel and he recommended I take the new bypass and then head to Nakhtrana.

Traffic was fairly sparse, every now and then maybe I would see a VW POLO pass by, definitely no Skoda's. Passed a huge Radio tower, this is the Road - Bhuj - Nakhtrana - Kotada - Rawapar - Dayapar

Till about Mata-no-Madh there's traffic, mata-no-madh is what attracts most of the traffic. I had been told good things about this place but I wasn't very interested. Also another interesting place to visit from Bhuj is the KalaDongar. Narayan sarovar may have a lot of historic value however to me the idea of going to the western most point of India was very very interesting.

After Mata-no-madh there was signage for Narayan Sarovar, till about dayapar these were sort of like state highway. However after you turn left off dayapar its like you are in the middle of nowhere. There's absolutely no road side service, and the terrain changes drastically. After a patch of barren dry roads suddenly you are driving through thorn ridden dry trees. It kinda gives you an errie feeling as you start coming close to Narayan sarovar, mainly because you are headed so much close to the India Pakistan border.

You pass a big arch marking the entry into Narayan sarovar, this place kinda gives you goosebumps its both sides of the road are part of a creek. THe water bed spanned till where my eyes could see.

This is the route I took - http://goo.gl/maps/i0NHA

I will stop and let the pictures do the talking --

Roads after Nakhtrana
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026541.jpg

FYI Tropic of Cancer passes by this road, I had planned to take a pic when I return but missed the signage --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026571.jpg

Road from Dayapar - Narayan Sarovar
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026581.jpg
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001045.jpg


This is after crossing the arch of Narayan sarovar --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026591.jpg

Red rapid all the way from Pune @ Narayan Sarovar --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026621.jpg

This vast expanse eventually leads into the Rann of Kutch --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026631.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026651.jpg

This my friends is the western most point on a motorable road in India. A few kms into the creek and you will be in Pakistan.
Koteshwar --
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026671.jpg

Border post, no civilians beyond that point -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026711.jpg

Surrounded by water on three sides --
1 -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026721.jpg
2 -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026731.jpg
3 -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026741.jpg
4 -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026751.jpg
5 -
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026761.jpg

Narayan Sarovar
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026791.jpg
Narayan Sarovar
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026801.jpg
Narayan Sarovar
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026811.jpg
Narayan Sarovar
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Narayan Sarovar
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026831.jpg

Deserted but beautifully laid out roads --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001050.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001052.jpg

Radio tower as we close in on Bhuj --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001056.jpg

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Wonderful Gujarati thali after coming back to Bhuj --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001063.jpg

Checked back to the hotel, a funny thing happened when I was parking at the hotel. THe owner comes out and says what car is this, and I am like common dude its a Skoda. He stares and says aah yes but what have you done with it, one can hardly make out. This because it had been 3 days and close to 1300 kms and the car had a whole bunch of filth on it. Even the logo wasn't visible.

Summary from Day 3 -
Bhuj - Narayan Sarovar - Bhuj (Hotel Dollar)
Distance - 159X2 = 318 kms
Time - 6 hours (to and Fro)
* Mehtarana to Narayan Sarovar - Deserted and no road side assistance. Beautiful roads, a pleasure drive especially as you near the koteshwar temple

Day 4 would see me drive back on NH8a and head to Dwarka.

Last edited by santoshr : 14th October 2013 at 23:45.
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Old 15th October 2013, 23:19   #11
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Day 4 --

Having checked the day before I had trace back the road to Bachau - Samikiyali - Maliya and then from there I would head towards Jamnagar and then Dwarka. That is what google maps had traced as well.

Checked out at around 8.30AM, I was in no hurry to reach and I knew this would not take alot of time I was to cover 400 kms and it would take around 6 hours to reach Dwarka, and so I had plenty of time to cruise by easily. So ya as soon as I checked out of the wonderful Hotel Dollar I walk to shiny red rapid, the guys at the hotel had decided to give my car a wash and were busy wipping it down. I was a little disappointed I had initially planned to bring back the car as is, all dirty and brown but then I dint mind driving a clean car. Driving a bright and shiny car has its advantages, I don't know how to put it but it kinda makes you feel happy.

Tipped the boys a 100 bucks for washing the car and here I was at 0900 headed to Bachau with a slight drizzle. Because of knocking Dholavira off the route I had managed to spend a day in Bhuj and had enjoyed the local food and the rest and so I was pretty pumped up wanting for more.

There was a light drizzle, the road had turned black, dry trees had turned green reminding me again why I was doing this, reminding why I love to drive. Its for moments like these that make it all worth it.

Here's a pic --
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001064.jpg

The ride till Samikiyali was uneventful and smooth, however the creek which I passed after Maliya this time was super windy. SO much so that I had to hold on to the steering to keep it from veering to the left. There was a MH registered Superb whom I was trying to keep up with, realizing this he decided to speed away and I was left on the big bad empty and windy road. For some very strange reason running into cars from the same state kinda give you reassurance you are not the only mad bugger so far away from home driving in the middle of nowhere.

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001066.jpg

Reached Maliya in no time, passed by Hotel Honest was very tempted but thought it was too early to break and so decided to move on. That was one of the worst decisions on the trip, I had run out of water in the car and it was beginning to get really hot. I should have stopped and stocked up on water in the car.

I turned off NH8a and was now headed to Jamnagar, though this road was good however there was nothing , i mean nothing absolutely nothing for miles on either side. Just green, brown, black, once in a while a small establishment would pass by a small village and they would stare at the car passing by. This road gave me the creeps, and I was too scared to even stop at the local kirana store to buy a couple of bottles of water.

WA'd HVK letting him know where I was, actually speaking through out this HVK was the one person who knew exactly where I was.

11.06 - santosh - Took the right off Maliya to Jamnagar
11.10 - hvk - ok, road good ?
11.43 - santosh - Occasional bad patches, Fairly empty though
12.28 - hvk - ok


This was good enough to give me some faith, atleast somebody knew where I was exactly on which road headed to where.

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001067.jpg


Once in a while a I would see a car, forget about Skoda's or VW's I ran into only one thats right one maruti alto. There was signage for Jamnagar so I knew I was on the right road. Also this is the road where I almost kinda killed a bird, this bugger swooped down in front of the car couldn't judge how fast I was and DHAD!. I could see him/her/it swirling around landing on the side, I slowed down to see if he was still alive saw some flutter that was good enough a sign that he would live. No damage to the car, moved on.

As I was passing over one of those canals I heard a chak-chak-chak sound I figured it was coming from the car, instant adrenaline rush I tell you. I slowed down trying eagarly to listen to where and what the sound was coming from. Right then I crossed a small bridge I listened intently again trying to figure if the sound was still there but couldn't hear a thing.

I slowed down to the 80's and was now cruising slowly figuring out a plan on what should I do after I reach Jamnagar. Passed a canal again and there was the sound again, and after that gone. Took me a while to figure out it was the sound coming from those water pumps which pump water. haah, you guys have no idea how relieved I was. I know its stupid but the mind plays tricks on you, empty road not a soul in sight you tend to make up symptoms.

At around 12.50 I was bypassing Jamnagar, not having had breakfast hunger was beginning to strike. Started scouting for hotels but its kinda strange the entire Jamnagar bypass had no hotels or maybe I missed the one or two present. Passed by the gigantic campus of reliance, also on this road was undoubtedly the biggest reliance mart I had seen. I guess they have it setup for the convinience of their employees. Maybe a little something that the IT companies should learn from. Anyways passed by Jamnagar and was on the road to Dwarka and ran into a dirty little hotel, I don't remember the name but this was right next to the exit which takes you to the Marine national park.

Had the very Gujarati Roti and Sev-Tomato, dirty little place but the food was ok but the experience was priceless. Now here's where I bought two bottles of water, basically the last 70-90 kms I had run with absolutely no water in the car. That's just foolish and stupid.

Lesson learnt #2 --
Always have loads of water in your car. You never know when you might see a puncture or a break down and might have to walk push or whatever.

Its also strange how people's behavior and the demeanor changes from place to place. Bhuj is more of the quaint yes please come we are here for you, let me try and help you kind of people. Jamangar is the land of the aggressive, its sort of like Kolhapur/Satara of Gujarat. Though no one would engaged me, it is more or less like a feeling that one gets from the place.

Quick lunch, hot cup of tea and off I was, next stop would be Dwarka. As soon as I hit NH8e which connects Dwarka-Porbandar-Somnath I was welcomed by a beautiful beach. This road all the way from Dwarka to Somnath apparently is along the coast. This road was one of the highlights of my drive, sort of like a must do.

As I neared Dwarka traffic was swelling up, today was Janmastami and so I knew Dwarka would be crowded. This was around 1530/1600 , I had a hotel reservation at Hotel Gomti however many roads inside the city were blocked and only the major road connecting the ends were open. No entry into the alleys which led upto the temple, and unfortunately my hotel was also in one such alley. This was like the Palkhi blockade which happens here in Pune, all the roads get cut off so if you are on either side you have to be there no way to cut across.

Security forces and guards all around, a funny thing happened here I ran into a blockade asked how to get across and the cop pointed me to a different route. Went through there ran into another blockade and the cop there sent me back to the former road. This happened twice and by then the cop had lost his patience and had started shouting at me. Being the timid south Indian that I am turned around called the hotel and told them to cancel my reservation. No point taking all this effort and getting into an argument with the cops, anyways the idea was never to see the temple to me what mattered was that I was there.

Turned around re-fuelled just outside Dwarka and was now headed towards Porbandar. This was a major change in plan and would have multiple effects, original plan was to stay put in Dwarka and the following day visit Somnath and stay in Jungadh. Now that I decided to bunk in Porbandar there was no point wasting half a day in Junagadh, why? because Porbandar - somnath - Junagadh wasn't alot.

Checked in with HVK and told him about the change in plans. He recommended me a hotel in Porbandar which was perfect. Ample parking, cheap, new rooms, was deep inside the city however it was perfect for exiting. Sort of like close to the other side and so exiting would be a breeze. Found the hotel on the map and let the gps on my phone guide me to it. I belive this was a wise decision, Dwarka apart from the temple doenst have much to offer. Porbandar felt more comfortable and humble, so ya as I checked into Hotel Sheetal at around 18.30 the care taker was a Maharashtrian and he was delighted to see the MH registered car. Helped me park the car and started speaking to me in Marathi, bought a smile to my face. He was delighted, I guess I sortof reminded him of home and he did the same for me. He quietly recommended me not to order room service and suggested I go to one of the local joints which was very close.

Hot chapatis, lovely tangy sev-tomato and khicdi all this for a mere 120 rs. I was stuffed and happy.

I kinda liked this city, and would love spend a few days for sure the next time I pass by --
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-dsc026851.jpg

Checked in with HVK again if Porbandar - Somnath - Junagadh - Baroda was a possibility and he confirmed the same. Also recommended me to go upto A'bad and take the express way to Baroda as that would be faster. And so in the bargain I would have to skip Lothal which on my must do list. But its alright, the drive till now had showed me what I wanted to learn from the trip the invaluable experience of driving solo.

It had taught me how to be better prepared, and It had made me realize my biggest fear - A BREAKDOWN.

Three primary items that I had ended up skipping were -
1. Dholavira
2. Lothal
3. Junagadh fort

Summary from Day 4 --
Bhuj - Bachau - Samikhiyali - Maliya - Jamangar - Dwarka - Porbandar (hotel Sheetal)
Distance - 497 kms
Time - 0900 - 1900 -> 10 hrs
Lunch - Outside Jamnagar
Stay - Hotel Sheetal
* most dangerous stretch being Maliya to Jamnagar Deserted road of almost 90 kms.
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Old 16th October 2013, 04:17   #12
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A brave thing indeed santoshr. Congrats on the drive. Not sure if I would ever dare to drive such distances alone. I wonder why you were so worried about the car breaking down. I hope you didn't have any issues in the car before and after the drive.
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Old 21st October 2013, 00:07   #13
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Originally Posted by 21Archer84 View Post
A brave thing indeed santoshr. Congrats on the drive. Not sure if I would ever dare to drive such distances alone. I wonder why you were so worried about the car breaking down. I hope you didn't have any issues in the car before and after the drive.
Actually the new generation of cars are super reliable then can go on for days together cruising at 3 digit speeds. But this thought it starts creeping in your brain and just cant stop thinking about it. The car never did complain once before , during or after the trip.
I went in poth holes bad roads thud thad everything. I would start it up in the morning and usually end as the day ended. One of the tricks I learnt on how to keep your mind healthy is thinking about what I will do once I return. I started imagining writing this travelogue, started thinking about my friend who had helped me with the logistics plannning and the facebook page. How would my friends react when I reached home, what all stories would I have to tell my wife. It is interesting how a positive though process can help you push through.

----------------------------------

Day 5 --

HVk had confirmed the routes for me the previous night, it would have to be - Porbandar - Junagadh - Jetpur - Rajkot - Bagodara - Abad - Baroda

I had a very close friend in Baroda and I was going to bunk at his place. I left early around 7ish to try and reach Somnath by around 9/930. It only a 138 kms however this took a whole lot longer. Typical like the previous days I did not have any breakfast and was nicely enjoying the drive on the very beautiful NH 8e which connects Dwarka - Somnath, this road was on my todo list as I had heard good things about this road and it doesn't disappoint.

A few pics from this stretch --
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001068.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001070.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001072.jpg

In around an hours time I was feeling a little drowsy, and wanted tea and le-behold ran into another Hotel Honest near Mangrol. This was around 8.30ish, however from here to Somnath it took me close to two hours.

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_0010741.jpg

As soon as you enter Veraval the roads are broken, basically there are no roads. Its all poth hole after poth hole, here I was crossing a bridge when a guy in civilian clothes tried to flag down the car and shouted. I did not stop, and just crossed by. And so when returning back from Somnath I was a little fidgety that I might run into this guy again, being the timid south Indian that I am I had already imagine a converstion with them trying to extort money because of some silly RTO rule.

Somnath was crowded, lines and everything. I was hoping I would get to see an emtpy temple like shown in the Amitabh's Gujarat tourism add, however that was not the case there was a big line and the temple was very crowded. Actually this shouldn't have come as a surprise as I was doing this in the week of Janmasthami and all the religious places would be crowded. Took a picture from outside and started heading towards Veraval again.

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001075.jpg

I had 80% of today's journey ahead of me and It was close to noon already. The road from Somnath to Junagadh is a mess. First the almost dirt track around Veraval and then a gazillion diversions till one reaches Junagadh. Had I been on my original plan I would be bunking in Jungadh and checking out the Junagadh fort but it was not to be.

Just before Junagadh saw a left for Jetpur, this by far was the worst road of the entire trip. This was not a road, this was like driving on the moon

Following Maps crossed across Jetpur and connected to NH8e and husssh, finally some good roads. This is the 4-lane highway which connects to Rajkot-Abad-Baroda and so on. I passed by Jetpur at around 1.40 PM and was beginning to get hungry, however I was so far behind schedule that it simply did not make sense. As I was passing Rajkot saw a couple road blocks by cops stopping vehicles for sun control films, luckily I was able to sneak through.

Stopped for lunch at 3.15PM @ Bamanbora, its funny how one stops at the shittiest places only to realize that there was a decent place just next to it.

Reached Bagodara at 5.00PM, saw the road cutting across to Baroda but better judgement prevailed. By better judgement I mean the tip from HVK he had recommended going upto A'bad though this adds 50kms its probably worth it as the A'Bad-Baroda expressway is a good place to cover time.

Around 6.30 I was 80 kms from Baroda saw signage for Mumbai, Mumbai was a mere 500 kms away I could actually drive through but it would not make sense I had almost driven for 12hours and would love the much needed break. I had to reach HariNagar, a little help from my friend and Nokia Maps and I was ready to bunk for the night. Had Good dinner with a very old friend after a very very long time. The funny thing is for the past 5 days all my meals were with myself always double checking my pockets, double checking my bag and so on.

After dinner went around Baroda in my friends AT superb, man what a car. Came back late at around 12.30 ready to call it a day. Its funny how much Baroda reminded me of Pune, the roads the people the vibe its so much like Pune. And yes Baroda'ians have lovely traffic sense, not that I was there for long but I crossed a major part of the city to reach my friends place and believe at no time did I have an erractic two-wheeler crossing, cutting lanes or anything. Every drove like they had loads of time, no hurrying no honking. A big thumbs up totally.

Summary from Day 5
Porbandar - Somnath - Jungadh - Jetput - Rajkot - Abad - Baroda (Hari Nagar)
Distance - 643 kms
Time - 0700 - 1930 -> 12.30 hrs
Break - Tea @ Mangrol
Break - Temple visit @ Somnath
Break - Lunch @ Bamanbora
* Where Chorvad road meets NH8D to Veraval --> 30 kms of bad-worst roads. Nothing but potholes.
* Veraval - Junagdh - Jetpur --> Bad roads, with divertions every few kms.

Day 6 --

This was the last leg and I was already beginning to feel depressed, I wanted more....

Easy lazed morning start at 0800, refueled before hitting the highway. I always get excited when I reach Bharuch, this is where I did my college and its always fun. Bharuch brings back memories
This time I was determined to eat at Nyay Mandir but I was let down big time, there was absolutely no Gujju food on offer had a vada sambhar and began quickly.

A note on Sardar bridge - when heading towards Surat always two-wheeler bridge. One can easily get on this if you stick to the left most toll gate.
And when coming from Surat always take the road going into Ankleswar and use the golden gate bridge.

As I was closing in on Surat I was flagged down by a speeding Vento, he wanted me to pull over and roll down my windows. As always being the timid-scared south indian that I am I thought I must have cut him or something. But no, he wanted to know what tires I was running. Apparently his 195/60 Michellin's were not performing like he expected, he also reported severly steering vibration at three digit speeds. I wonder why I did not have any vibrations even on stock tires, most likely his alignment/balancing needed some work done. Anyways told him about the tires I was running and we were on our way, a sense of pride prevailed.

At around 12.30ish I passed by the Sugar-n-Spice on NH8 near chikli, actually I wanted to drive upto talasari and have lunch at Parsi da dhaba but couldn't wait. A quick bite and here I was speeding on NH8 headed towards Mumbai, by around 2.30 I had crossed into Maharashtra and man-o-man I was feeling cocky and confident here I was back in my home state with a MH registered car nothing could stop me. And on the cocky note I decided to try the new 4-lane road from Manor to Bhiwandi, the road uptill Wada was good but why did I have to take this road. Should have stuck to the default Ghodbunder-Thane-Airoli-Turbe route, this road via Bhiwandi is a nightmare -- a. Bad roads b. Passing via Bhiwandi c. More bad roads. From Bhiwandi I had two options one to go via JNPT and the other via Kalyan and I am so glad I decided to go to JNPT cannot imagine the nightmare in Kalyan.

Anyways I was on Mumbai-Pune express way and decided to break at the food mall and here's is what I clicked. Inspired from the mighty motomaverick --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001078.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001080.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001082.jpg

The last car wash was in Bhuj, the day I left for Dwarka --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001083.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001084.jpg

Look MAA I killed so many bugs --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001085.jpg

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001086.jpg

Cars lined up outside the Food mall --
Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-wp_001088.jpg

3270 kms - 6 days and I was home. Called my wife and mother to come welcome me, they were surprised at the state of the car. And I for one was happy to see my family, they had been patient enough to let me do this on my own. Keeping in touch constantly, motivating ,e and helping me.

Summary for Day 6 -
Baroda - Pune (Wanowrie)
Distance - 562 kms
Time - 0830 - 2030 -> 12 hrs
Break - Breakfast @ Nyay Mandir Bharuch
Break - Lunch Sugar-n-Spice @ Chikli

Here's how it panned out -
Number of days - 6
Total hours on the road - 62.5 hrs
Total kms - 3187 kms
Money spent on Toll - Rs. 2018
Fuel - Rs. 7500

Route Details -

Day 1 - Pune - Via A'bad Ring road - Mehsana - Patan
Distance - 784 kms

Day 2 - Patan - Modhera - Viramgam - Halvad - Maliya - Bachau - Bhuj
Distance - 383 kms

Day 3 - Bhuj - Narayan Sarovar - Bhuj (Hotel Dollar)
Distance - 159X2 = 318 kms

Day 4 - Bhuj - Bachau - Samikhiyali - Maliya - Jamangar - Dwarka - Porbandar
Distance - 497 kms

Day 5 - Porbandar - Somnath - Jungadh - Jetput - Rajkot - Abad - Baroda
Distance - 643 kms

Day 6 - Baroda - Bharuch - Surat (NH8) -Manor - Bhiwandi - JNPT - Panvel - Pune (Wanowrie)
Distance - 562 kms

I would never have been able to do this without the invaluable help from HVK, the million times I pinged him for route planning, hotel recommendations and what not each time he would reply patiently answering all my questions. He was the one person who knew exactly where I was, on which highway, on what exact road. Thanks a bunch Mr Kumar, your help is greatly appreciated.

This was my very first solo trip spanning across multiple days and it showed me my fears, my doubts, my lack of preparation, my mistakes, my car, and so many other things. This was the perfect way to test my and the cars limits before the epic'est of all drives personally a 7000km drive to Bhutan and back.

Route Map --

Solo : 3187 kms across Gujarat-route.jpg

Link to google maps -- route

Last edited by moralfibre : 22nd October 2013 at 09:49. Reason: Merged as requested.
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Old 21st October 2013, 19:36   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santoshr View Post

I had 80% of today's journey ahead of me and It was close to noon already. The road from Somnath to Junagadh is a mess. First the almost dirt track around Veraval and then a gazillion diversions till one reaches Junagadh. Had I been on my original plan I would be bunking in Jungadh and checking out the Junagadh fort but it was not to be.

Just before Junagadh saw a left for Jetpur, this by far was the worst road of the entire trip. This was not a road, this was like driving on the moon
The road from Somnath right upto Junagadh is in a mess.The firm which was awarded the contract of four laning the Veraval-Junagadh highway used sub standard materials in their contract was cancelled.
After having lived in Veraval for nearly 30 years in Veraval, I can tell you the Veraval-Junagadh highways would always be bad after rains, but it was never this bad as it is now.
As you said, in some places roads do not exist at all. I visited Veraval in October first week and was shocked to see the Veraval-Junagadh highway. Speaking to the taxi driver, he said it is a nightmare to drive on that road. Having driven on this route countless number of times, it used to normally take 2.5-3 hours to cover the distance between Veraval and Rajkot( 185 kms approx), but now it takes close to 5 hours!!!
A far better and comfortable way to cover the Veraval Rajkot distance is Veraval-Talala-Mendarda-Junagadh-Jetpur-Rajkot(goes right through Gir forest upto Junagadh).
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Old 15th November 2013, 13:48   #15
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Wow !! Very nice T'log, Santhosh
Rated the well deserved 5*'s.
I am planning to do a Gj trip in end of December, and what a nice time you have put this t'log here. I have all the details about places/latest road conditions/hotels etc in my hand now with exclusive photos. The effort I should put for planning the trip is now reduced to 50 % in just one hour
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