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Old 9th April 2014, 02:06   #1
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Thumbs up F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Here's the link to my ownership thread where you could read about all my old adventures: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...dex-page1.html

August 2013:
I'm a huge fan of F1 and MotoGP, and I'd never seen a live race at a circuit till date. I was desperate to travel to the Buddh international circuit and watch the F1 race live. I could only imagine what the experience would be like, and I just couldn't wait to put this plan in motion. I had 3 weeks of vacation days saved up, just for this event. But I also didn't want to travel all the way to Delhi just for the race, and was trying to see what other places we could visit in the region. I'd never travelled north of Goa, and was adamant to make the best of this trip. I kept bugging my wife for a long time to see if she could take the time off too. Coincidentally it so happened that she interviewed with another company, and secured a better position and offer, and her last day at her existing company would be 5 days before the race. She sought permission to join her new job mid-November. That was incredible timing. Now what we had that sorted, I also pinged a couple that we're pretty close to, just to see if they would join us on this trip. A week later, I heard a yes! 2 weeks later, they'd managed to take 3 weeks off as well.

September 2013:
The 4 of us met multiple times over dinners to plan the entire trip out properly. We explored literally every tourist destination in India north of Goa, laid everything out on the table, and drew multiple route maps that would bring us back in 3 weeks’ time. And after going back and forth over everything, we decided to cover Delhi in the first week including the F1 GP, and explore Rajasthan for 2 full weeks. F1 tickets were still available, and we booked them right away. We also booked a hotel at Noida to accommodate our stay. And since we'd decided to explore Rajasthan, we unanimously decided we would make up plans as we go, including destinations and hotels. It was an exciting plan, adventurous, and I couldn't wait to set off. Now we had to book train tickets to Delhi, and then on to Rajasthan.

October 2013:

Unfortunately though, the first 3 weeks of October were one of worst of my life. My beloved German shepherd (Shadow) feel terribly ill. The doctors couldn't initially figure out what was wrong with him, just that he had a lot of infection in his blood. Antibiotics didn't help, he kept getting worse. The finally were able to detect cancer in his spleen & abdominal aorta. Shadow was 13 years old, and surgery was very risky at his age. The doctors completely ruled out abdominal aorta related surgery, but said we should be okay to proceed with removing his spleen to give him some extra time. My brother flew in from Detroit to give shadow some morale boost. It was a tense day on Oct 1st when the surgery happened. Shadow pulled through though, and was discharged the same day. He looked like he was getting better for about a week, but things took a turn for the worse again. The doctor then said the cancer had spread to his blood, and there's not much they could do. Shadow kept his spirit up though, you could see it in his eyes, even though he couldn't walk or stand up by himself any more. A week later on Oct 16th, the doctors were urging us to consider euthanasia, and though we weren't ready to give up, we also understood that it was only a matter of time before the worst happened.

On Oct 17th, my brother's vacation days had expired, and he was forced to travel back. On Oct 18th, Shadow passed away.

The next day, we decided to make our journey a road trip; dedicated to our brother, our pal. We would drive 6000 kms. across the country in memory of my beautiful Shadow .
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F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid-img_9008.jpg  


Last edited by Rehaan : 16th April 2014 at 12:04.
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Old 10th April 2014, 00:12   #2
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Default The Drive to Noida

We decided to leave on 24th Oct, which was the earliest all of us could take leave from work. We had 3 days to make it to the race. Beyond Noida, we would make up plans as we go and explore Rajasthan. We could only afford budget hotels, so we vowed to not spend more than Rs.1500 per day per room for a couple, wherever we stayed. As always, I'd do majority of the driving, and I'm as safe as safe can be. I will not take risks, ever, whatever the situation, and I never push the car to the limit on the highway. I will always leave room for others' mistakes.

We prepared well. I bought a new 205/55 R15 S.Drive for the spare tyre since all my other tyres were S.Drives already (the spare till then was the stock Apollo 185/60). I had a set of spare 90/100 bulbs, and bought a spare relay just in case. Packed a full toolkit in case we needed to do anything, an emergency multi-function hammer, all original car documents and identity documents for all of us, a simple tyre pressure checking tool, also picked up 4 thin hooded water proof semi-jackets, topped up all fluids, ensured all wheels were aligned and balanced, and then the rest was just clothes and stuff. We went over road maps, alternate routes, studied Rajasthan in detail, and we were ready. The only thing left to do was to decide how to reach Noida. We could either take route via Hyderabad->Nagpur->Gwalior->Agra->Noida, or via Hubli->Pune->Mumbai->Delhi->Noida. A friend mentioned the former was 4-laned as well, and was also a good choice, and was shorter, so we decided to take his word. Regret that decision now.


Day 1: 24th Oct
The plan was to leave by 12 noon. Last minute shopping and packing delayed it to late afternoon. We left Bangalore around 4.30pm. The goal was to make it to Hyderabad in the night and stay at my cousin's place.
Everything went well for the first 275 kms. Around 8pm though, the skies opened up, and how. There was sudden torrential rain, and visibility was reduced to barely a few meters. The rain was so intense, that within a few minutes, there were puddles all over the highway, and it made it even more difficult to identify undulations on the road. I had to slow down drastically, and was going at 40-50kph straining to see what's ahead. To make matters worse, every butt head on the road was on high beam which reduced visibility even more. For what joy do folks drive on the highways in high beam all the time - still beats me. The rain continued for around half hour, and then exactly how it started, the rain stopped abruptly. Whew! I was finally able to speed up, and everything was going well. 300+ kms from Bangalore, there was a sweeping right hander just before a bridge. I was probably doing around 100kph on the right most lane. In the middle of the turn, we felt a huge whump!, and it completely upset the car. I was quickly able to bring the car back under control, and starting moving to the left most lane with the indicator on. There was no traffic behind. To our dismay, we started hearing something flapping about at the back, immediately followed by a lot of vibration. I came to a stop, and was getting out of the car to check what had happened, when the skies opened up again, and torrential rain again unloaded itself from above. I switched on the hazard and waited for a couple of minutes.

The rain didn't let up even after 10 minutes. The thin hooded jackets that we'd picked up were in the completely packed boot. The boot was so full of 3 weeks of luggage for 4 people, that you couldn't even squeeze a screw driver inside. It was going to be a nightmare to fetch the jackets from under all the luggage. After 15 minutes, I gave up waiting for the rain to stop, popped the boot open, and opened the door just a crack. A considerable amount of water fell in. I shook my head, opened the door and got out in a hurry. Made my way to the boot, tried my best to get to the jacket, but it was impossible without removing the luggage. My friend got out as well, and we shifted some of the luggage to the inside of the car, retrieved all the 4 jackets, and put them on. We were already soaking wet by then, so much for trying to get to the jackets, but nevertheless. My friend and I got our phones out and started walking around the car with the flash on, trying to figure out what had happened. We could hardly see in the light that illuminated from my phone because of the rain, and it was painful. Puddles had formed all around the car, and I couldn't even see the last 1 inch of the tyres as they were hidden in water puddles of their own. Finally figured out that the right rear tyre was flat. This sucked. Incredibly bad timing for this to happen... By this time, the girls had got out as well, and we shifted all the luggage into the car to access the tools and spare tyre.

Since traffic was still heavy, it was unsafe for us to jack the car up on the right side. So, I slowly manoeuvred the car around so it faced the wrong way, while positioning it to the extreme left side of the road; this way we could work on the side of the road where traffic didn't run. We setup a reflector few meters from the car so oncoming traffic would see it, we also had the hazard on so decided it should be safe enough. First, we unscrewed the wheel nuts while the weight of the car was still on the flat tyre. It was hard, whoever had tightened it was on a freaking mission! With all my weight on the wheel spanner, the nuts slowly came loose one at a time, and then we proceeded to setup the jack. With the girls throwing light on our work with their phones, my friend and I took turns to wind up the jack, and we finally had it setup. We took the affected wheel out, by which time the girls had the spare out from the boot ready to go in. All this took 30 minutes, and we were all soaking wet. We then proceeded to align the spare wheel to the hub, thinking we're very close to getting ourselves out from this situation, but little did we know. All of a sudden, the jack collapsed!

When the jack collapsed, all 4 of us took a couple of steps back in surprise, and 2 of us had actually fallen down as well because we slipped in the slush. Thankfully neither of us had a hand or foot under the car. The hub from which we'd removed the wheel was tantalizingly close to touching the road, also because the road was sloping down; but thankfully hadn't slammed into it. We retrieved our phones now covered in mud and slush and checked what had happened. Since I'd moved the car to the edge of the road where it sloped off the highway, it wasn't the hardest part of the road. It had accumulated some slush from water receding off the highway onto the side as well, and the point where the jack was sitting on had collapsed inwards by a couple of inches, and the jack had fallen out on its side. The car was resting on it now. Just great! We didn't know what to do. The jack wasn't going to get out easily for sure with all the car's weight on it, and even if it did, the hub from which we'd taken the wheel out would then collapse to the road. I had an idea. I took the wheel which had the flat tyre back out of the boot, and managed to wedge it in the gap b/w the car's floor and the ground, right next to the front right tyre. It didn't go all the way in, but at least it would support the car's weight temporarily at one end, thereby preventing the hub from hitting the floor to an extent. 3 of us then with all our might tried to lift the right rear of the car up a notch. It was hard, but we managed to get it off the ground just an inch, just enough to drag the jack out. Thankfully a portion of the car continued to rest on the wheel that we'd inserted flat under the running board.

Now, where do we jack the car up? Without being able to move the car further into the highway, we'd still risk the jack from collapsing in the slush. We had no choice though. We tried a couple of spots around the affected wheel hub and chose one which looked the strongest. Took another 15 minutes to jack the car up. This time it looked like it held. We fitted the spare, tightened everything up, and thankfully without further incidents lowered the jack and were ready to go. The entire process had taken us one full hour in pouring rain, we were beyond soaking wet at this point. Tired and weary, we shifted the luggage back into the boot, and now, the boot wouldn't close. Frustrated, I jumped up and pushed the boot down with all my might, forgetting that I was putting all my weight on the spoiler. The boot finally closed shut, but the spoiler cracked under my force. Nice, what next, bring it on!! We made our way back into the car. At this juncture, something else dawned on me. The spare was also an S.Drive, and S.Drives are unidirectional tyres, they aren't designed to rotate both ways. So I got out of the car again to see what direction the tyre was facing, and just to compliment how everything had gone till then, I found the tyre was aligned to fit onto either of the wheels on the left, not the right, and it was going to rotate in the opposite direction once we started driving. Well, there was nothing else we could do. If we took it easy and found someone to fix the flat tyre quickly, we'd swap them back and things would be okay.

We slowly made our way forward, I wanted to ensure I didn't damage the spare. 10kms later, luckily, we reached Kurnool. It was 10pm. We asked around, found directions to a dinghy makeshift puncture shop on the side of the highway with one lantern, and thankfully found he was still open. He said he was going to close in another 10 mins. , but would take care of our tyre. We breathed a huge sigh of relief. Again had to shift the luggage inside the car, take out the flat tyre, and the guy set about trying to fix the tyre. He had apparently migrated over all the way from Rajasthan , used to be a taxi driver, but was tired of driving and decided to move down south to do something else and had chosen to fix tyres - to our luck. 10 minutes later, he was shaking his head. He showed us the tyre; it wasn't a puncture, it had torn open wide about 2 inches in the sidewall. He said it was due to a sharp object, a stone perhaps. Hmmm, guess we'll have to buy a new tyre, and we obviously won't find tyres in a puncture shop. We thought about turning the S.Drive on the spare wheel the other way around so we could make progress forward, but then what would we do if we had another puncture... I decided we weren't going anywhere till we bought a new tyre, at this point any 205/55 R15 would do. The spare had to remain a spare for any future incidents like this. We asked Mr Rajasthan where the nearest tyre shop in town was, and he said there was one few kms away, but they would all be closed by now. We were really worn out, so we decided to find a place to stay and figure things out next day morning.

A km down the road, we found 2 hotels next to each other. One of them had a restaurant on the ground floor. Without any more perseverance or patience left in us, we made do with that hotel. The one we chose was extremely basic, a little dirty, but we were too exhausted to find a nicer place. Moved just as much luggage as we needed into the rooms, changed into some dry clothes, and went down to order food. But, the restaurant had now closed, and they refused to even let us pack little food into our rooms. Frustrated, we drove around town looking for any place that served food, any roadside food would be more than welcome at this point. We couldn't find anything after half hour of searching. It was now 11.30pm. The girls decided they'd look up recommendations online. The found a place called Mourya Inn which was apparently 3-star, and deep down we hoped they'd be able to pack some food. We navigated to the place using Google maps, only to find their restaurant was closed as well. Chuck it, we decided to just go crash. Just as we were about to leave the place, the receptionist came to us and said room service was still active, but they only had bread. We requested them to please make us some sandwiches, and we waited. It was going to take a little while, so I started browsing the Yokohama website for dealers in Kurnool. To my surprise, I found one, just one though! Awesome. There was a cell phone number handy, and I decided to make the call even though it was 12am in the night. I'd sleep better knowing there were tyres in my size. To my delight, the guy picked up the call, and after profusely apologizing for disturbing him late in the night, I explained our predicament and asked him if he had a 205/55/R15 S.Drive with him that we could buy. 'I do', he said, and even offered to open his shop by 9-9.30. Brilliant! This was just what I needed. We packed our sandwiches to go, wearily went back to our rooms, and crashed into a deep sound sleep as soon as we'd devoured the sandwiches.


Day2: 25th Oct
It was difficult to get up the next day. We were still sore from the adventures of the previous night. We dragged ourselves up, grabbed some breakfast at the restaurant below, and headed to the dealer. As promised, he did have stock of S.Drives and explained that he was the only person who had stock of them this side of Andhra Pradesh for a 200km radius. Awesome. We bought a new tyre, rotated it to the front, and plonked the spare wheel back in the boot. Gladly paid him the Rs.6500 + Rs.500 that he charged for the tyre + balancing + labour, and we headed back to our hotel. Grabbed our luggage, checked out, and we were finally on our way. What a way to start the trip! We were now over 500kms behind schedule (remember we were to reach Hyderabad the previous day, and were to move onwards further by now). We had exactly 1800kms to cover, and had 2 days to reach Buddh International Circuit for the race. It was 11.30 am. The goal was reach Nagpur, 750kms away. We had 10 hours of driving in mind, plus an hour for lunch, which meant we'd probably reach by 10.30pm. It was very smooth sailing for the next few hours. We made very good time to Hyderabad, and took the bypass to move further up. The Hyderabad ring road / bypass was sublime. It was perhaps the widest and smoothest piece of tarmac I'd ever driven on in India. It was an absolute privilege, and an absolute joy. Full kudos to whoever designed it. We moved onwards, and around 3pm found a Dawat restaurant on the highway, which served us some good food.

We continued onwards making up good time and crossed Nizamabad by 6pm, we'd covered 430kms, just another 320 to go. But, we hit bad roads. And boy were they bad. The road was riddled with potholes all over the place. Most places along the highway, contrary to what we were told before we left Bangalore, the roads weren't always 4-lane ready all the way either, and it looked like one side of the road was always under some sort of construction. Progress was now significantly slower than expected. I was extra careful to ensure we don't catch a pothole and damage another tyre. We trudged on. Around 8pm in the night, we still had 220kms to go. We had averaged around 50km/h in the last 2 hours. Due to construction on one entire section all the time, all traffic , both outgoing and incoming, was constantly diverted to share one side of the road. Whenever the roads opened up to separate lanes for both sections of traffic, the roads were riddled with potholes and it was incredibly dusty. As if all this wasn't enough, something else happened.... Around 10pm, the ABS light suddenly came on the dashboard. My first reaction was to check the brakes. They seemed to be working fine thankfully. I slowed down. The car felt normal, and I couldn't hear or feel anything unnatural. I figured the ECU must have sensed an issue and turned off just the ABS electronically, but not all of the braking system, to let me continue to drive the car. We were in the middle of nowhere, it was dark as night, and the next biggest town where I could take the car to a decent service station was in fact Nagpur, and it was still 100kms away, and the roads were still bad.

We were hungry, and tired, but decided to plough on. Nothing would stop us from making it to Nagpur that night. We couldn't afford to miss the F1 race. Around 11pm, the roads opened up, construction thinned down and at one point completely vanished, and the highway started looking beautiful and welcoming again. I decided to make up some time. It felt nice to be able to cruise at triple digit speeds again. But I spoke to soon. About 5kms into this, the road became dusty again, and at a distance of 200mts, I could see that the road dropped downward into a worn out stretch with stones and potholes again. Shucks, I was probably doing 100kph, and braked. The front wheels locked immediately! The car started pulling to the left. I lifted off the brakes, and the car immediately snapped back into a straight line. Pressed the brakes again, and the fronts locked up again! And this time the car pulled to the right! There wasn't too much distance left, I could visually see a torn up stretch ahead of me approaching rapidly. I started pumping the brakes, pressing it for a couple of seconds till the point it locked, lifting off for an instant, then pressing it again (guess I ended up imitating the ABS!). This worked, the car started slowing down rapidly in a straight line, and we stopped a couple of inches before the road swooped downward into that torn up stretch. Whew! This incident was a perfect ABS-101 lesson for me. This had predominantly happened because the road was dusty, and I realized how useful ABS was in such situations.

Thankfully, the bad patch of road didn't last for too long. It eventually opened up to a nice level 4-lane road, and we could pick up speed. The ABS light was still on which meant ABS wasn't working, but the roads were clean, and I brake checked a couple time on the road to test for any undue surprises, but there were none. The wheels didn't lock since the road was level, and relatively dust free. We finally reached Nagpur around 12 midnight. The girls had done their research en route and also called ahead and made reservations at an economical hotel (don't remember the name). We checked in. They were able to organize some food as well. We ate and slept around 1.30am, the bad roads had worn us out. Despite making it to Nagpur that day, we were still behind schedule overall due to the delay at Kurnool. We had over 1000kms to go, and just over a day to make it there.

F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid-img_0043.jpg
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Day3: 26th Oct
We woke up early after 5 hrs. of sleep, took a hot shower, and were ready by 7.30am. The debate was now to either find a Skoda service station and get the ABS rectified, or to continue forward and be extra careful while braking on dusty / wet roads. We chose the latter and set off. I was determined to drive the entire 1000kms to Noida in that very day, so we could rest that night and focus on the race the next day afternoon. I had targeted 12~13hrs of driving, with an hour and half of breaks in between for breakfast, lunch, etc. - we should reach by midnight. After all, these were the roads leading into the country's capital, they should be great, right? Wrong! and how.. It didn't take us too long to get to the outskirts of Nagpur, but post that, it was havoc. These roads that I drove through, on this day of Oct 26th, in Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh, were the worst roads I'd even driven on in my entire life. When the road was wide enough to be 4-lanes (2 lanes on each side), there was construction on 2 of the lanes, and all traffic again was diverted to the other set of the lanes, and the roads were horrible. Potholes, stones, dust, mud, everything that you didn't want on a road was here.

We passed through a dense mountain ghat for over 100kms, whose roads were so bad, my boot flung open on its own once. Many trucks had broken down on the side of the road, dozens in that stretch of over 100 kms. The Rapid's suspension took a beating, though we were as slow as can be. It took us ages to clear this green belt, and finally got back onto wider highways. As soon as we reached the highway, we again hit construction, and patchy roads with potholes. It was relentless, with no end in sight. We hadn't even stopped for breakfast, but were munching on some short eats that we'd picked up at Nagpur. By afternoon, we were already exhausted. The mood wasn't too great. It didn't look like we'd ever make it to Noida in time. We'd reached Sagar, and we'd taken half a day to get there. We asked for recommendations to a dhaba on the highway, and were recommended Bunty's dhaba. We somehow missed it, and pulled over eventually at Patel's dhaba. This was the highlight of our day. The food was gorgeous, it just melted in our mouths. My friend and I each had 8 rotis, can your believe that? It was refreshing. We thanked him for his awesome culinary skills, and moved ahead. The roads were still bad.

We reached Jhansi late at night, after 14 hrs. of tired driving. We'd taken 14 hrs. to drive 600kms from Nagpur to Jhansi. We decided to continue onwards till Gwalior. It was just another 100 kms, even if there roads were patchy and bad, we'd make it in a couple of hours, right? Wrong again. Let me put it this way - there were no roads from Jhansi to Gwalior, not one km of tar. It was just mud and stones dug up from the earth and just left as is. I am not kidding. All I could see in front was just dust, extending forever as long as the eyes could see. It was just earth, dirt, mud, stones, that was all, and it was obviously completely, utterly uneven. There was no symmetry to this whole thing. This wasn't a sane pathway cut across the earth either, it was far from it. My car was angled precariously 60 degrees on the left or the right dozens of times. I even had situations when I was looking up at 60 degree inclines straight, not knowing what lay on the other side. It was worse than an off-road rally route, and believe me, I've been to rallies. You had to make your own freakin path through all this debris. After an hour of us and the car going through this torture, we stopped by a lonely bunch of shops that were catering to tired truck drivers in the middle of nowhere, and asked them how long this would last. They said it was going to be this way all the way till Gwalior. What the heck! There was no turning back. We continued on, cursing all through. I kid you not, Tata Indicas and Tuk Tuks had disappeared into sudden monster holes in his rally route, you would just about see them, bottom up, 2 rear wheels in the air, and the driver sitting on top of what portion of the car was jutting out of the hole, waving to ensure you didn't join him. It was horrible. I really felt bad for my Rapid.

The girls had done their research by then, called ahead and made their reservations at a budget hotel called 'Surbhi' We ploughed on and reached Gwalior at 3am, and woke up the folks at the hotel. They were very pleasant, courteous, and despite the time we reached, also cooked simple food for us for which we were very thankful. The rooms were nice and comfortable, so we settled in for the night. We had travelled 700kms that day, and we'd taken 20 hours to cover it. The car had already been through a lot, but despite that, there wasn't even a single squeak from anywhere. Pretty commendable build quality. We had 300 kms more to go, not much time to get there. We were way behind schedule.

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Last edited by aah78 : 10th April 2014 at 18:10. Reason: Post edited on request.
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Old 10th April 2014, 10:56   #3
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Default Re: Swift to REMAPPED Skoda Rapid (Test drove all turbocharged cars<23L) *Index on Pa

Wow this looks like a horrible drive through MP. Any day the route via Mumbai and RJ is better than through MP at least it has been like that for a number of years. Hope you had a good race day!
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Old 11th April 2014, 11:28   #4
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Default The journey continues...

Day 4: 27th Oct
We were up by 6.30, checked out and were off by 7.30am. By 9.30, were at Agra. I was nervous, we had another 200kms to go, and not a lot of time. The race was slated to begin at 3pm. I had heard that parking would be a little further off, and to be safe, we really had to be there by 1pm. We had 3.5 hrs. to cover the 200kms, and I was dreading bad roads like the ones we encountered in the last 2 days. Then, out of nowhere, we entered the Yamuna Expressway. The moment I realized the kind of road it was, I started cheering and clapping out of sheer joy. We were celebrating in the car. We'd seen the Yamuna Expressway on the map, but never knew what kind of an infrastructure it was - till we saw it with our own eyes. Wow, the most brilliant stretch of man-made road in India, period. The best high speed corridor/infrastructure I've ever seen in India. Out of sheer relief, we stopped at their restaurant/facilities that they'd setup the moment you enter the expressway, and devoured some breakfast in peace. At 10.30am, we set off. I admit, in the sheer relief of finally driving on a good piece of road after a thousand kms of crappy roads, and in the enthusiasm of making it to the F1 GP, I let her rip. We were at the Buddh circuit by 12 noon. The entire stretch of the expressway had been absolutely empty. I literally stayed on just one lane for the entire duration on the expressway, and didn't even have to move an inch off that lane.

We were here, finally! Our tickets were booked at the Star Stand 3-East, which is the section at the end of the back straight on the circuit. This was the intersection b/w the best overtaking point on the track, and a hand hander that led into a smaller straight which had also seen overtakes in the previous years. At the venue, we were told that we could take our car into the premises and park near the East stand, so we approached the gate. Unfortunately, we hadn't bought a parking ticket online when we'd booked the F1 tickets, in fact I didn't even know one existed, but apparently it was mandatory. So we were sent back out. When we exited from another gate to find parking outside the venue, cops had mandated that we could only travel in one direction, and that led us back on the Yamuna expressway! Oh man, were our troubles ever going to end? We had to drive all the way to Noida, then turn around, get back on the Yamuna Expressway, and make it all the way back to the Buddh circuit. This time, we stopped ahead and asked a couple of policemen who were regulating traffic on the service lanes when you exited the expressway near the circuit, who pointed us to an open ground a little way off from the circuit where we could park. The organizers had buses which would take you inside the premises from the parking lot and drop you off at a point, from where you'd have to walk up to your stand. Not bad at all, well organized. We finally caught the bus and made it to our stand. It was 1.30pm. We had made it!

The drivers' parade went by first. And about half hour later, the first F1 car came out to make its way to the starting grid. When I first saw and most importantly heard that car at full tick down the straight right in front of me, I had my jaw open, and I couldn't speak for about a minute. Every single strand of hair on my body was standing up, and I had goose bumps all over. My heart was pumping with adrenaline, relief, joy and mostly awe. They all came out soon after, and it was just phenomenal to see those mean machines move. The racket they made during the start of the race was unbelievable. Massa's overtake on the 2 silver arrows on the first lap on the back straight was sensational. There were many clean, impressive overtakes in the race. Wasn't too impressed with Kimi's antics on Grosjean though. Vettel won of course, which wasn't a surprise, and anyway, whatever. I am a huge fan of Ferrari, and love Schumacher, Alonso, and Kimi. I was able to see two of my heroes on this very day. It was a privilege.

When we finally made our way out, took our bus to the parking lot, and got back on the Yamuna expressway, did I realize - there was never a single traffic jam. It was all so very well put together. Kudos to the organizers for making this event such a success. It was brilliantly organized, and everything went on like clockwork. Pity we don't have a race this year or next, just a damn shame. Don't mix politics and racing guys! Let it be...

We'd booked a budget hotel a month in advance at Noida, and we made it there by late evening. Freshened up and headed to a nearby mall for dinner and later, went to bed, full of happy memories. I couldn't remove the smile from my face the whole night. Despite the challenges getting there, it had been worth it after all.

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Day 5: 28th Oct
The first thing that I wanted to sort out was the ABS. I looked up the nearest Skoda service, and headed to Nawab motors. The discussion started off well with the service rep, but took an ugly turn shortly. I didn't need a wash, I didn't need service. All I wanted was for them to diagnose why the ABS light was on, and fix it so my ABS started working. The service rep pleasantly said it would cost me Rs.2500 for the diagnosis. I was shocked. My car was still under warranty, there was no reason for them to charge me anything in the first place, but I was willing to pay nominal diagnostic fees & pay labour charges too as required. That service rep then had the audacity to tell me that they'd invested a lot of money in the diagnostic systems, and hence the charge. I was running out of patience, and was trying hard to remain calm. I explained to him that all service stations need to mandatorily have that equipment, and Nawab motors was no different. I asked him politely talk to his supervisor and sort out my issue, and reiterated that my car was in warranty, and such charges are atrocious, and uncalled for; especially because Vinayak Motors in Bangalore never charged me anything more than Rs.500 to diagnose anything. He declined, and walked back into the service station saying he will bring it in writing and that I'd have to sign it. I declined to sign anything. I had lost my cool at that point, so my friend took over, reasoned with the service rep, and eventually ended up giving him a piece of his mind as well.

I picked up my phone and called the GM of Vinayak Skoda service in Bangalore who I'd interacted with before during the replacement of my rotors under warranty. I explained the situation and requested him to share the number of someone well placed in Skoda customer service. I was put in touch with a customer service rep in Bangalore, who pointed me to the customer service head for Skoda in the Delhi region. I patiently explained the situation, after a few seconds of silence, I heard a quiet 'Stay on the line'. In about 30 seconds, he had put me in a conference call with the head of service at Nawab motors, and man, that head of service at Nawab motors received a solid beating over the phone. He was clearly instructed to 'not play games', to 'not charge me for anything out of the ordinary', and to 'first take the car in and figure out the issue'. After the call, I barged into the customer lounge to find that service rep, only to find that he was already getting screwed up by the service head for providing incorrect info, and setting the wrong expectations to me. I let it be, didn't want to add salt to injury. So, I left the car with them, and headed back to the hotel. The service rep would call me after the diagnosis.

Around 3pm, the service rep called and said that the ABS sensor on the right rear wheel was damaged. It hadn't failed, it was actually damaged, and hence it won't be covered under warranty. Since it was the right rear wheel, I figured that something must've happened at the instant the tyre burst open near Kurnool, which could've further aggravated on the horrible roads we encountered on the way to Noida. It would cost me Rs.1500 to replace the sensor, which was fine with me, and I also asked him to go ahead and check fluids and wash the car. They said they'll need a day to get this done.

Around 6pm, we booked a cab to take us around Gurgaon and back. It was party time. We spent some time at Howzat, pretty nice place. From there, we went to a pub called Stryker at Gurgaon. To our good fortune, there was a band called 'Traffic Jam' playing. We had great fun. The band was brilliant, and it was sweet because we're all fans of rock. We loved the food at Stryker. It was out of the world. Had a great time, the cab dropped us back to Noida late in the night. We booked the same cab for the rest of the next day as well.

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Day 6: 29th Oct:
We went sightseeing into the heart of Delhi. The Red fort was beautiful. We walked through Chandni Chowk, and had lunch at Karim's. That was a lunch I'll never forget. The food was flavourful, stunning, with just the perfect amount of spice, and tasted royal and exquisite. Highly recommend the place for lunch. We then drove around our Parliament & India Gate, and headed into a mall in Delhi which housed another Stryker outlet. Unfortunately, a band wasn't playing, so we ditched it and drove all the way back to the Stryker at Gurgaon - that we went to the previous day. As expected, they did have a band playing, and though the band wasn't as good as the previous day, we still had fun as we knew we would. The cab dropped us back to Noida late in the night.

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Day 7: 30th Oct
The first thing I did was to pick up the car. They'd done a neat job, thankfully. I paid Rs.2500 (1500 for the sensor, full body wash & labour) and walked away. The plan was to head to Agra. We took the Yamuna expressway back to Agra, the 200km drive was sensational as always, and we headed towards the Taj Mahal. My friend had researched the best place to eat, and so we stopped by at 'Joney's place'. It was a small cramped eatery, but I kid you not, the food was sensational. I highly recommend this place for lunch if you were to stop at Agra. We then took a tour of Taj Mahal with a guide. I don't think I can do justice to the sheer marvel of the structure that it is. That we were awestruck, was an understatement. After Taj Mahal, the guide 'highly recommended' an authorized marble shop right outside the exit. Sure enough, the ladies got carried away, and us with them, and I think it'll suffice to say we did get conned in the end ;-). We then stopped at a sweet shop that the guide again 'highly recommended', and since we were still in the process of being carried away, asked them to go ahead and pack one box of each variety of sweet that they had. When we asked for the bill, he smiled and said Rs.3200. All 4 of us looked at each other, and unanimously, much to the charging of the shopkeeper, ran from place without looking back. Ha ha! It was already dark by the time we set off from Agra, and the plan was to head to Jaipur. The 240km drive was pretty decent, uneventful, and we made it by 10.30 pm. As we entered Jaipur, we saw a hotel on our right called 'Jaypore' and they advertised a rooftop lounge and restaurant. That was enough motivation for our tired feet, so we parked and checked out the hotel rooms. It was perfect for our budget, so we checked in, and relaxed at their lounge.

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Old 12th April 2014, 12:33   #5
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Day 8: 31st Oct
The next day, we got up late, and decided to head to Chokhi Dhani for brunch. We got there after a pretty long drive in traffic, only to find they start only in the evening. So we came back into the heart of Jaipur, by which time the ladies had found a place called 'Handi' for lunch which was apparently famous for its Laal Maas. We found the place alright, but there was absolutely no parking for a km radius. I had an idea... I'd noticed a Benetton outlet which had parking for its customers and so went ahead promptly parked in a spot. Since parking was premium, and folks would have ideas such as mine, I was sure the watchman wouldn't let us park and walk away, and sure as punch, he didn't. So, we walked into the outlet. I outlined the plan to the others... 'let's pretend to shop for a bit, then 2 at a time, slowly make our way out to Handi (which was 200mts down the road)'. Everybody agreed. My friend and I stepped out first, headed to Handi and ordered some scrumptious food. It took them half an hour to serve those delicious dishes, but there was still no sign of the ladies. My friend and I looked at each other, and proceeded to polish the entire spread on the table that we'd ordered for 4 people, patting ourselves on the back for coming up with that awesome plan of parking at Benetton. Just as we finished polishing all the food another half hour later, the ladies turned up finally, but with bags in tow! My brilliant idea had just turned around and kicked me in the balls. They had ended up shopping for 10k. Boo hoo; that was the world's costliest parking, ever.

After the ladies had finished their lunch, we decided to spend the afternoon visiting popular tourist spots at Jaipur. Unfortunately, by the time we reached Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal around 5pm, they had closed. Wonder why they closed that early. We ended up learning about Hawa Mahal from a guide, and saw it from the outside. The guide then took us to a shopping place near Hawa Mahal where we bought some pretty quilts at some reasonable prices for our use back home . We then went back to Chokhi Dhani to find that it was a very nice place, but one that suited a more sober mindset, not 4 people who were in the mood to party. We should've done our research and set our own expectations before we reached there, our mistake. We left, stopped by at the resolving restaurant for an hour, then decided to hit our rooftop lounge at the hotel , and so headed back. On the rooftop, we then planned the rest of the trip. We wanted to visit Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, and a friend of mine had recommended 'Pol Haveli' at Jodhpur as an awesome place to have dinner. So, we decided to head to Jodhpur. We called up the first 'Pol Haveli' we found on Google, checked if they had rooms; they did, and was within our budget!, and so we booked 2 rooms. Jodhpur was 330kms away, and it wouldn't be too much of drive the next day.

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Day 9: 1st Nov
We woke up lazily and was 11am when we checked out and were ready to leave. Since we had time, we visited Jantar Mantar, which was very impressive. We also drove as close as possible to the Lake palace, took some photos and we ready to leave for Jodhpur by 1pm. I navigated directly to 'Pol Haveli' and then.....literally fell down from the seat. It was almost 600kms away! What the heck had happened! We were pretty sure we booked some 'Haveli' at the very least. After putting our heads together, and with a lot of help from Google, we finally figured out that the Jodhpur place was 'Pal Haveli', which was a 5-star hotel that we would never have been able to afford anyway. The one that spelt 'Pol Haveli' was in fact in Jaisalmer. We had ended up booking 2 rooms at a place which was twice as far as we originally planned to drive that day. Hmmm, just great. Well, we took off. The new target was to now make it to Jaisalmer by late night that day. We hoped the roads were good all the way. But, just as our luck would have it, they weren't. Everything was good for about 200kms beyond Jaipur, then we ran into construction, diversions, and bad roads and so on. It was nightfall when we finally got back onto good state highways. We drove through Pokhran which I fondly remember from Mr.Vajpayee's announcement of our successful secret nuclear test (it was an awesome 'TAKE THAT - USA & CHINA' moment for me), and through some beautiful windy roads from there on and finally reached Jaisalmer around midnight.

The folks at Pol Haveli were incredibly friendly and accommodating. We checked into our rooms, and settled down in their rooftop garden. They were game to source whatever we needed, and also cook anything for us through the night. It was awesome. The rooftop had an awesome view of the Jaisalmer fort, and the fort looked beautiful, lit brightly in the night, and it's a memory that's still fresh in my mind. We were very glad to have landed here on account of a spelling mistake, the place was perfect for us budget travellers. A special mention of Ricky, who's one of the key members of this hotel. He took very special care of us, and didn't discriminate us from the foreign crowd that formed the majority of the dwellers at the hotel. He was a great person to talk to, had some incredible experiences to share, and we didn't know how the time flew by. My wife and our friend couple retired to bed late in the night, and I continued interesting discussions with Ricky for another hour or so. It was 4am, and though Ricky had abundant energy left to share more of this life's adventures, I decided to finally hit the sack, I was tired. So, I went down to my room, and knocked on the door. But my wife didn't come to the door despite me resorting to banging the door at this point. Tried calling her, but she didn't pick up. I didn't know if anything was wrong. I strained at the door to check if I could hear her, and finally heard her snoring away to glory. Oh well, so instead of breaking the place down, I went hunting for an empty room, found just one, and crashed. My wife woke up eventually in the morning, alarmed that I hadn't turned up to sleep yet, and finally found me in an unoccupied room snoring away to glory myself. We had a laugh about it later.

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Day 10: 2nd Nov
One of the most memorable days in Rajasthan. We woke up late, so we headed to the rooftop for brunch. They said Laal Maas was their speciality, so we chose that, and for my wife who's a vegetarian, they said they'd make a special curry called 'Ker Sangri', so we chose that too. Everything was incredibly delicious, some of the best food we ever had in Rajasthan, and it tasted like quality home cooked food. We then debated on whether to head to the fort, or to hit a sand dune and camp for the night. Camping in the desert was something we always wanted to do. Ricky said we could go to 'Sam' dunes, and said he could organize the transport to the place up to a point, from where we could take a camel ride to the dunes. The camping though would be amongst other tourists. Somehow, we weren't too keen on going to a crowded place to which everyone would head to by default, so we asked him if we could explore a private dune. 'Sure', Ricky said. The foreign crowd who stayed at their hotel apparently don't prefer Sam dunes either, and so he always took them to a private dune which involved a long camel ride, and also camped with them for the night to cook for them personally. 'Hell yeah, exactly what we wanted', we said. Alrighty then, so Ricky set about organizing the whole thing including transportation, the camel ride, food, water, mattresses, the works - all at a very reasonable Rs.1500 per head.

And so we set off in the afternoon in a Jeep which was stacked with supplies that we needed to accommodate a night's stay in the desert. They first took us to a temple (did I mention I'm an atheist, but I'll admire architecture), then to an abandoned village, and then we headed towards the spot where the camels were waiting. On the way, Ricky told us we'd probably be the only people on the dune, not many knew about the location. It was exciting. We reached the spot, and saw 4 camels waiting for us with their mahouts. One of the camels looked really cross, and was snarling about. He reminded me of my uncle for some reason, he looked the part too. I think I spotted the beginning of a beard as well on that camel. I took that camel of course, and when it stood up with my 6 ft., 105kgs frame on it, it made its displeasure felt by trying to bite the saddle, which was millimetres from my leg. That bugger, what a nightmare. The last thing I wanted was to be bitten by a freaking camel in the middle of nowhere. The others got on their camels finally, and we set off. It was a weird ride, about 2kms or more in my estimation to the dunes. The others seemed to enjoy it, but I could never get used to feeling my weight bouncing up and down. More importantly, my butt kept slipping off the saddle, one cheek at a time to either side. The others enjoyed their ride, but I honestly didn't. I'm just not built to ride a camel; ask the camel - he'll agree. The mahouts, who were village kids, seemed to get the biggest kick out of my discomfort. Oh well, at least I made someone laugh. After that unforgettable journey, we finally reached the dunes, just as the sun was setting. The moment we reached the dunes, my camel promptly sat down flat on all fours. He'd given up. I got the hell off his back before he had other ideas.

Ricky and his team had taken the long way out and had reached with the Jeep. The dunes were beautiful, with the purest sand we'd ever seen and felt till date. The dunes had perfect symmetry, were beautifully continuous, and the entire spectacle from the top of the tallest dune was something to behold. Stunning. The sunset was extraordinarily clear. It was an awesome experience, and we made our way to a place where Ricky and his team had setup mattresses, and a place for us to chill out and unwind through the night. It was an unforgettable evening in that desert, just us, with the dunes to ourselves. The sky was unusually clear, and I don't think I'd ever seen as many stars in one sight as I did that day. We insisted that Ricky and his friend should join us, and we laughed into the night, sharing many experiences. We ran out of supplies around 2am I think, and Ricky promptly went, took the Jeep, disappeared for half hour and came back. On the way back, the Jeep got stuck on a baby dune, and he ended up walking the rest of the way. What irony... My grumbling camel was sitting not too far away from us, and I suggested he could ride it back the next morning. That night, when we were finally ready for dinner, Ricky and his guys made us some unbelievably tasty wood burnt rotis which were cooked on top of boneless chicken sizzling on top of forest wood, and when they were done, the rotis had become infused with the their surroundings. I had never, ever tasted something this surprisingly good in my life. The roti had inherited the flavour of some delicious wood and chicken at the same time. It was phenomenal. They then made us very comfortable with thick mattresses laid out on the sand dune, and provided us with 2 thick quilts per person for protection against the cold. We didn't realize the cold at the time we slept, but I remember being adventurous and just using one of the quilts, waking up in the middle of the night and gasping at the cold that hit me like Mike Tyson would have. I snuggled in with the second quilt on top and slept soundly.
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Default More Rajasthan, Daman, and heading back home...

Day 11: 3rd Nov
It was still very cold when we woke up in the morning, and relieving yourself behind a large dune was another experience I'll never forget. We managed to free the Jeep from the dune, opted to drive back in the Jeep, and tipped the mahouts well for their support, they had stayed back in case we wanted to ride the camels back in the morning as well. We returned back to the hotel, freshened up, and after another delicious brunch, decided to drive to Tanot. The drive to Tanot was highly recommended by a friend who'd toured Rajasthan before, and I desperately wanted to do it. Tanot is at the border of India & Pakistan, and is heavily reinforced by the army. We set off around 2pm, and hit beautiful smooth roads. It was crazy that at such a remote place in the country, the roads could still be this good. Full credit to Rajasthan's infrastructure and commitment to tourism. The scenery was breath taking on either side. From tamer desert like surroundings, the scenery shifted to wild inhospitable deserts with dunes, rocks, sand, wild cactus and midget like trees painting the horizon with incredible pictures. It was a very humbling experience.

When we reached Tanot, we heard that there was a temple which housed bombs (that had landed decades ago in the area, but hadn't exploded; due to the temple & the deity they said) from one of the old Indo-Pak wars, so we went in to take a look. The face of the pujari when he called me offer my blessings to the deity in the temple was incredulous and very angry when I said a sincere 'I'm good, thank you'. I took photos of the bombs, saluted the still stunned priest and made my way out politely. No disrespect at all buddy, but this is just the way I am. I'll never get in your way or disrespect others' beliefs or sentiments, but I won't pray in front of a statue and wish for something that I can't work hard and earn for myself. I'll make my own luck. Anyway, I think I ranted on unnecessarily for a bit there, but was just trying to offer an explanation to the priest in case he got around to read this on team-bhp. Back to the story, 20kms from Tanot was apparently the border and they used to let you drive up pretty close. Due to some recent tensions between Indo-Pak and recent firing, to our dismay, they'd blocked access, and that was the end of our journey. We turned back, hit those beautiful roads again and reached Jaisalmer. Another F1 GP was going to air in some time, and we scrambled to find an online streaming link, finally managed to catch one, and watched the entire race in 320x240 via a tethered 2G connection. We slept early for a change, lights out by 9.30

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Day 12: 4th Nov
We got up early the next day. Tipped Ricky and gang generously for making our stay very memorable, checked out, and headed to the fort. No disrespect, but the fort inside was a stark contrast to how it looked outside. It was dirty, crowded, noisy and claustrophobic. We didn’t bother to explore it any further than the entrance. We decided to move on and head to Jodhpur. The roads were beautiful, single lane on either side, but smooth as butter. Traffic was deserted (no pun intended). My friend had done his research, and we froze on 'Hotel Govind ' for our stay at Jodhpur. It was a cosy place, just perfect for us. Their rooftop restaurant served some great food. I highly recommend this place if you're ever at Jodhpur. It was too late to visit the fort, so we decided to get some rest in the afternoon and visit the 'Pal Haveli' that my friend had originally recommended, for dinner that evening. We booked a table in advance.

We reached Pal Haveli at 8pm sharp, the exact time that we'd booked the table for. Yet, they'd conveniently handed over our table to a foreign couple. Nonsense. We made a fuss, and eventually got another table by 8.30pm. It was a beautiful place, with an excellent view of a lake, the clock tower, and the fort. And boy oh boy, did that fort look beautiful. On the rooftop of that restaurant, the fort loomed majestically before your eyes, rising high up, brilliantly lit up in the night. What a spectacle, what an incredible place to have a restaurant. But the accolades end there, at least from my perspective. Majority, if not all of the crowd, were foreigners and they ended up catering to them with priority. Why have any bias folks!!! The place was brilliant, but the service, at least at our table was horrible. It was always delayed, and neither the starters nor their famous 'mutton pulao’ was any good. It was bland, and tuned to tastes of the international crowd. It was disappointing, more so because the place was very expensive. It wasn't worth it at all in my opinion. I DON'T recommend this place.

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Day 13: 5th Nov
We woke up early, so early in fact that we decided to go out for a jog. Err, my wife wanted to go for a jog, I walked. We went up till the railway station and back, it was nice to see Jodhpur starting to wake up, bustling with energy. We freshened up, and headed straight to the fort after a brilliant continental breakfast at Govind's rooftop. The fort was a good experience, it was well maintained, well organized, with some breath taking views. We weren't feeling adventurous enough to experience the zip-lines, but if you are, you definitely should. I've heard some good things about it. We took the elevator instead. We didn't spend too much time at the fort, and we decided to leave, especially because we'd heard that a minister's car was approaching the fort and traffic would be blocked. Grrr.... We made it back down just in time, checked out of our hotel, and were contemplating on what our next destination would be. We tried to check hotels at Mount Abu, but every single hotel we called had the same response 'Gujjus are coming, they've booked the entire place'. We had no idea why, but it was the same response everywhere. We then tried to check if there were rooms at Daman, but we heard the exact same response from all the hotels. It was crazy. I hereby termed this the phenomenon 'The Mysterious Gujju migration'.

We set off anyway, heading towards Daman. En route, we encountered some construction on the NH, and some truckers told us the road was pretty bad from there on to Daman, and suggested we go via Udaipur where the roads were better. So, we did, and regretted it. The roads were worse here, especially in the middle of the ghats b/w Jodhpur and Udaipur. It was really bad. We got tossed around in the car, all over the place, like dressed chicken. We took 5 hrs. to travel 250 kms to Udaipur, and we were so tired by the time we got there, that we decided to break the journey and stay. My friend found us a place, and we ended up taking the world's narrowest winding road up to the place. I was wondering why they'd have a hotel on such a road, but later in the evening found out that all the best budget hotels in Udaipur were on the narrow, winding road that curved upwards towards the palace. Anyway, the place we stayed at had very nice rooms, but had a crappy kitchen. So, after spending the afternoon there, we started hunting for the best place for dinner. We stumbled upon 'Jaiwana Haveli' and decided to head there.

Jaiwana Haveli was awesome. They were great hosts, and was possibly one of the best places to stay in that part of Udaipur. We learnt later that they're almost always booked, so you needed to book way ahead. The view in the night from their rooftop restaurant was breath taking. That was the first time we actually saw the beautifully lit Lake Palace hotel from there, and I vowed that someday in the future, we would afford a weekend stay there, guaranteed. I'll work towards it. The food was stunning, they knew exactly what we wanted. We could even see the palace from there as well, lit up in the night, and it was an incredible experience overall. I highly recommend this place, though it's slightly expensive. One weird thing though. The restaurant is on the 4th floor, but the rest rooms are on the ground floor, so you need walk down all the way if you need to go. Of course, their rooms have attached rest rooms. Just a heads up in case you're travelling with aged folks and decide to just visit the restaurant.

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Day 14: 6th Nov
We had some brilliant breakfast at a nearby French bakery on that same winding road in the morning, and we checked out and set off. We weren't sure what our destination would be that day. The goal was to see how far we'd make it, then decide, but we were on our way back finally, and definitely didn't want to take the MP route. We planned to catch the golden quadrilateral all the way to Bangalore. The roads were good en route to reaching the GQ, but there was so much traffic, GJ vehicles everywhere! I felt like Simba on that ledge in The Lion King, with all those wildebeest roaring around him, doing their thing, ha ha!. I wanted to call one of my closest friends who hails from Gujarat to find out what this was all about, but never got around to it. Because of traffic, we only covered 550kms that day, and we stopped at nightfall at a tea shop to decide where to stay the night. We were 10kms from Daman, so it was logical we head there. We went through one hotel at a time, but just as they'd said on the phone, everything was booked. Finally, we found a hotel which had 2 rooms that had just been checked out of. These rooms were booked from 12noon the next day again, but that was good enough for us. We just wanted to stay the night. We had fun though, the restaurants were surprisingly inexpensive with good food.



Day 15: 7th Nov

We woke up early, and headed to a beach that everyone recommended. We were expecting shacks on the beach like Goa, but when we got there, we found that the entire beach was a dirty old place. The shacks weren't very welcoming either, and were mostly dirty as well. The most surprising thing though at the beach was that, there was no water. We could see the water, very far away on the horizon, and we could actually see people a km deep in the ocean bed near the water. The beach was an endless piece of damp sand stretching deep into ocean. You could actually walk a long way into the ocean, straight, on just damp sand before you encountered water. It was very weird, one of the most visually confusing natural anomalies I'd ever seen. Apparently water comes right up to the shacks for only 4 hrs. a day starting in the afternoon, then recedes back again in the evening. Weird, just weird. We tried to grab some breakfast at a beach shack, but gave up after horrible delayed service. Goa had spoilt me with expectations of what a beach shack should be. I'm never coming back to this place. We grabbed some lunch back at the hotel, and set off again.

We were on our way to Bangalore now, though we knew we'd have to break somewhere for the night. We spent a long time crossing Mumbai though, traffic was insane. We finally got onto the Mumbai-Pune expressway which offered some relief (beautiful roads), but the traffic was still incredibly heavy. It was 9pm when we crossed Pune, and by this time, we were dead tired. The traffic had taken all the strength out of me, and many idiots with high beams on all the time had worn me out. We had reached Shirwal just outside Pune, and we saw a well lit place called 'Vegas' approaching. We decided to halt for the evening. We managed to strike a deal with them for half price because we were going to stay for only 12 hrs... and we had good fun there. It had been a long, hard drive that day, was a good place to unwind.

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Day 16: 8th Nov

We woke up well rested, grabbed some breakfast and took off towards Bangalore. The traffic was insane till Kolhapur. After which, we entered Karnataka, and things were much more peaceful. We reached Dharwad late in the afternoon, and deviated into the city towards 'Mayur Aaditya' resort, which was a highly recommended place by my college mate. It was truly awesome, we had some great food, and we were tired and lazy. We'd driven a lot over the last few weeks, we just wanted to relax at this point. So after late lunch, we set off and decided to halt at Davangere at 'Shankar Comforts', despite only covering 450kms that day on the GQ. Shankar Comforts is great value for money. We went to Sai International to unwind in the evening. Davangere commands a special place in my life because my wife and I met there when were in college, and so it was good to visit this place after a long time.

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Day 17: 9th Nov

We woke up early, and after some mouth-watering Davangere style 'benne dosa’ headed straight to Bangalore non-stop. It was a beautiful drive early in the day. By the time we reached our home, all of us were praising the car for its stability, behaviour, poise and tolerance. We never really had any issues beyond the unforced puncture and resulting ABS failure. The Rapid took everything we threw at it, with grace, agility and aplomb. Kudos Skoda!

We are very proud of the journey, of the fact that we explored, changed plans on the fly and didn't let this vacation become a pre-planned point A to B every day. The views I've presented are based on my own experiences, they're unbiased, and don't intend to offend anyone at all. I hope you've enjoyed the text and the pictures, as much as I have putting them together. This memorable journey was again dedicated to Shadow, our friend, our brother. We will always love you buddy.

Here's a map of our journey.

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Photography:
Full credit to my friend. I'm pretty bad at it, so I let him do all the hard work.

Last edited by GTO : 9th March 2017 at 23:13. Reason: As per recent PM
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Old 16th April 2014, 12:12   #7
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Default re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th April 2014, 10:50   #8
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If you're interested in reading about how I won the Valley Run and the Drag Wars - 2 drag races, 3 trophies - in 1 week - head here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...o-tronics.html

Cheers!

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Old 21st April 2014, 15:40   #9
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Default re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

This makes for an absorbing read too! Can imagine how it is to drive around that distance and varied landscape. The farthest I have driven is to Goa.

Last edited by DDIS : 21st April 2014 at 15:42. Reason: Realised the term "Adventures of Kryptonite" is already used by the author in another thread!
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Old 28th July 2014, 23:58   #10
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Default re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

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This makes for an absorbing read too! Can imagine how it is to drive around that distance and varied landscape. The farthest I have driven is to Goa.
Thanks mate. I'm glad you enjoyed the write up.
Looks like not too many others did ;-)
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Old 31st July 2014, 17:41   #11
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Default Re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Killer drive dude. Specially driving through 2 different routes. I am sure the Nagpur would have been more taxing then the Mumbai route in terms of quality of the route. Although have never been but know only through reading on team bhp. Cheers
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Old 31st July 2014, 20:37   #12
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Default Re: More Rajasthan, Daman, and heading back home...

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It was still very cold when we woke up in the morning, and relieving yourself behind a large dune was another experience I'll never forget.
I was supposed to study but your writing kept me anchored. Hats off to you for undertaking such a long drive filled with so many incidences.

It's good to read that your Rapid didn't give any other major trouble and kept on going strong.

-Bhargav
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Old 31st July 2014, 22:34   #13
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Default Re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Very well written travelogue, must apreciate the time you have put behind it. For me, tt was also a lesson how not to plan a trip. I can never imagine myself doing it this way, unplanned and driving well into the night. Kudos to you and your companions.
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Old 1st August 2014, 01:27   #14
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Default Re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Awesome drive bro. Hats off to your courage to drive in such difficult conditions!
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Old 22nd October 2014, 22:11   #15
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Default Re: F1 @ Buddh + exploring Rajasthan: 9 states, 6000 kms, 3 weeks in a remapped Rapid

Well now this is truly an adventure drive, with little to no pre planning, as well as those experiences you encountered, boy I felt like I was there. Especially in the beginning stages where you slam, ed the brakes ABS style. Nice write up man. You did something that I always dream of and also congrats on those 3 trophies for your shelf
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