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Old 8th March 2015, 22:53   #1
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Default W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip

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PROLOGUE

Many of you would remember that my last travelogue had ended with the below question

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For those who do not know, links are below
2012 August
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-out-road.html (We ran out of road!)
2013 October
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...st-safari.html (N.E.W.S. Nepal & East to West in a Safari)

As answers to my question, I got many suggestions from TBHPians and many other people. I too had some plans.Some notable ones being:

1. Cross continental drive similar to the one from Malayalam movie director Laljose
2. Mongol Rally similar to the one by BHPian rejoycjohn
3. Mahindra's Tri-nation Escape (India, Nepal and Bhutan)
4. Golden Quadrilateral Drive
5. Coast to coast drive similar to the one by DBHPian hvkumar
6. All Districts of Karnataka
7. India to Thailand (As I’m writing, it’s already an expensive possibility)
8. Seven Sisters

For quite some time I stopped thinking about it since I was a busy guy and an excited first time father.

Moreover, my wife had told that she would come with me for my next trip and we also thought of taking our daughter after she completes one year.
I know, many will call this outrageous but we had actually thought of doing this.

Within the blink of an eye, one year passed by and it was decision time.
I brought up this topic to my family. As usual I got responses in negative.
My wife who had agreed before, by now had a very good idea about the difficulties involved in taking a 1-year old baby.
She too replied in Negative.
But to my surprise, everyone told me that if I wanted, I could go alone.

I wouldn't leave that opportunity would I?

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 10:14.
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Old 28th December 2015, 17:29   #2
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Default re: W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip

When to go?


The easiest time to get leaves in office was in December-January.
It was November 2014 and hence I didn't have much time for planning.
The first person I asked was BHPian avinashsg. He replied in negative for the same reason for which he had cancelled the East-West drive in 2013.
So that meant that this time I had to keep in mind that I will have to take My Punto.

Coast to coast drive was the easily doable in my car I felt.
However East coast to west coast would be a rush I felt with the limited number of days I had.
So, I decided to split it into two making it East coast and West coast.
I figured out that January wouldn't be a good time for the East coast because there is a high probability of hurricanes during that season.

That meant that West coast would be my best bet.
Also Kutch was in my radar for quite some time and the Rann Utsav would be going on during that time.
So, the decision was made. WEST COAST IT WAS.

Who all?


Now, the search for my fellow traveller/s started.
After my east-west drive, many people had told that they would come with me for my next drive.
I went to almost everyone personally and asked them if they would be interested.
As I had expected and experienced before, everyone had their own reasons to miss.
The only guy who was ready was Mohith who had come with me for the East-West drive.

We decided to go ahead even if it was only the two of us.
But we kept the options open and kept on asking whoever we met.

How to do it?


Then came the planning part of it. The first person that I went for help was none other than DBHPian hvkumar.
I shot him a quick email with my rough plans which looked something like this.

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The first of the plans

He replied back stating that his computer was down and would come back to me with a detailed plan once it was sorted out.
Unfortunately for me, his computer took too long to get back on track.
But being the helpful person he is, he gave me inputs that was more than helpful for me to plan my trip.
He sent me videos of his coast to coast drive in December 2005. The total play time of which was around 2.5 hours.
Since I was doing only half of it, I watched all the relevant parts of it and detailed my plan.
The log file of this trip of his was also on TBHP and that was also really helpful.
During this time, I also knew that hvkumar was busy planning the AIM’2014 of his forum
I could completely understand his situation and I didn't trouble him more.

Where to stay?


Then came the hotel bookings.
I used www.makemytrip.com as usual to book 9 out of the total 12 hotels we stayed.
3 others were booked by calling the hotels directly and doing an NEFT transfer of the advance.
While 11 of the hotels were booked even before we started our trip, 1 hotel booking was done on the go.
We had not done this intentionally so that we could be a little flexible in our plan.
More details will come up in the next posts.

During the hotel booking period, there was a small change in our initial plan.
Our initial plan was to drive from Mumbai to Khambat and then from there to Diu.
A stay was planned at both places. But to my surprise/shock, We were not given any rooms in Diu because we were only two males.
I actually couldn't believe when I saw even the websites of hotels mention this.
I called them to confirm. To my disbelief, they confirmed it.
Later I came to know that because of the skewed sex ratio around the place, the number of same-gender couples coming to Diu to have a good time had increased.
This had led to hotels declining bookings to Male-only groups.
We had to change our plans and decided to drive to Bhavnagar from Mumbai and then from Bhavnagar to Gir.

My final plan looked like this

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The final plan

Preparation

Pretty much nothing!
Maybe not nothing, but it was very less compared to the earlier ones.
The car was serviced in October; one month before the idea of this drive was even in my head.
Since the entire trip was not even 10k Kms, there was absolutely nothing to be worried about with regards to the vehicle.
I didn't take it lightly however. Since we would be driving on some salty conditions, I took the car to 3M and opted for their under-body coating with 3 year warranty.
The Emission certificate's validity would end when we would still be somewhere in Gujarat. So I got the emission test made a day before our trip.
A tow rope, two wooden planks, one 5 litre fuel tank, 1 litre engine oil can, some coolant liquid, spare fuses and a tool kit completed the must-carry-things list.

Since we would not leave civilization behind by a big distance, the water can that we usually carry, was left behind.
Also my hatchback couldn't accommodate so much in the boot with the rear seat empty (we didn't want to fill the rear seat).

When it came to bag packing, I took it slow and didn't start pack until the previous day evening. All it took was 3 hours to pack my bags.
For the maps, we were used to driving without a GPS and hence we were not too worried.
I had downloaded all offline maps of Google on my phone for any emergency.
However, one of my colleagues offered to give his GPS in case I wanted. I decided to take it.
This too happened a day before the start of our trip. I collected the device from him at 10PM.
It was 23:30 by the time the car was filled with all the luggage and I went to sleep. The D-Day had arrived very fast indeed.

The credits

Before I start Narrating our experiences, I would like to thank the people who were helpful in many ways. Here goes the list, in no order of importance.
  • Our Families, for allowing us to do what we love.
  • Our respective bosses at office for granting leaves.
  • www.team-bhp.com for helping me in many ways and for hosting this travelogue.
  • DBHPian paragsachania for all the information and help
  • DBHPian hvkumar for the videos of his Coast-coast drive and his log file on TBHP which had loads of information in them.
  • BHPian Klub Class and his father for being there at the right time!
If I have left out anybody, please excuse me

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 11:03.
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Old 29th December 2015, 20:39   #3
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Day 1, 09-January-2015: Bengaluru to Kanyakumari

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I woke up with a sense of excitement and happiness in my mind at the first sound of the Alarm.
I usually don’t get up before I snooze it 3 times

The baggage was already loaded in the car the previous night.
So, within no time, I was ready to go. I bid goodbye to all my family members.
The toughest one was to say goodbye to my daughter. Even though I didn't want to wake her up, my wife did so, so that I could hug her.
I gave her a tight hug and a kiss and went towards my car. Trust me, it was a very difficult 2 minutes.

I sat in my car, clicked a picture of the ODO meter and cranked the car.
With the silent humming noise of the engine in the background, I wished a happy journey to myself and moved forward.

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Let's go

Within 20 minutes I reached Mohith's room which is 15Kms away. He was ready and we packed the car’s boot in 2 minutes and drove away. Enroute, Mohith asked me to stop at a temple. In our previous drive, I had told him that I would stop at a temple but we never went to one. This time I didn't want to hurt his beliefs and I stopped at a temple close by. He went in and prayed for a couple of minutes and came back.

It was 7:20 by the time we finally hit the highway. It was a straight dash to Kanyakumari.

I was at the wheel and there was nothing eventful till our first stop for Breakfast at Krishnagiri McD.

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Ronald mcdonald

As we were having breakfast on the tables outside, I noticed couple of cargo container trucks moving slowly on the highway.
Co-incidently they had painted Coastliners on the containers which was exactly what we were going to do over the next few days.

After 30 minutes there, we continued our journey down south.
Our next stop was for the first refuelling of our drive at Madurai. I stopped at the pumping station and told him to do a full tank of Petrol.
I opened up the cap and came out of the door. He put the fuelling gun inside and asked me to check for the zero number.
As I turned to check that, I saw a black fuel gun inserted into the opening. I screamed asking him not to start filling.
He had not heard the word 'Petrol' and thought that all Puntos are diesel cars.
Luckily for us he hadn't pressed the trigger, otherwise the first fuel stop itself would have spoilt our trip.
I asked him to double check with other customers and also read the word written on the fuel cap.
He then took out the correct gun and filled up the tank with Petrol.
This incident made sure we confirm the fuel type with the attendants for all future fuel fills. With a sigh of relief, we drove forward.

Very soon, we paid the toll at Madurai bypass and stopped at a restaurant for lunch.
The restaurant was a new one and we got some good food to fill our stomach with.
After this good lunch, I sat in the passenger’s seat. Having driven 441Kms, I retired from driver duty for the day.

Enroute my car crossed 60K Kms

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60000 Smiles

Our next stop came after another 200 Kms of fast and uneventful driving.

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Coming through!

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Focus light

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Hillocks

We saw one huge windmill and then it started to increase and finally we had to 100s of them all around.
This is when I know that I'm nearing Kanyakumari. It’s a wonderful experience to stop there and listen to the sound of the rotating giant blades.
We spent around 15 minutes soaking in this view.

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Rotating blades

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Powerful

Then our next stop was for the customary photo of the board which reads “Road Ends here”.
It brings back memories of my north south drive.
While I went back almost 2 and half years backward, Mohith was excited because he had completed driving to the fourth corner of the Country!
We took some snaps here and drove towards our hotel.

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We ran out of road-again!

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Punto has reached the southern tip

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Coconut trees

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Another fan

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Pray

This is the same hotel where I had stayed previously.
The rooms are very good and more importantly the view from the balcony is absolutely beautiful.
The car was parked in the adjacent hotel since there was some big ISKCON event happening in this one.
The ODO read 60240 which was ~660Kms in around 9 hours including around 2 hours break for Breakfast and Lunch.

We checked in within 10 minutes and got fresh and relaxed for an hour or so, enjoying the views.

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People mover

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Memorials

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Blue on blue

At 5:30PM, we again started out in search of a good place for sunset.

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Some church on the way

There are many Sunset points in this place.
Since I had been to Cape Comorin Point, I knew it would be crowded. I wanted to go to a different location this time.
I asked a few people around and they redirected me to Kaps beach.
It was a nice location indeed with far less crowd and hence a clean and good beach.

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Kaps beach

We couldn't see a perfect sunset, However it was a beautiful time walking along the beach.
At a far end there were few boys playing volleyball, while some people near us were collecting sea shells.
The waves were pretty big and in the background, boats returning to the shore, all added to the picturesque environment.

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Love all!

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Foam

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Sailor man!

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Long way to go

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Leave your footprints wherever you go

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Jump!

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Getting Philosphical

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Lost!

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Gossip

I sat down for a while Mohith walked further. I saw some children begging for money from the people walking around.
But I saw one girl in that group not begging. She was collecting good seashells.
Couple of minutes later, she put them in a small paper packet and she started selling them.
I really felt good that at least she is making some better effort to make money instead of begging.
Some people actually purchased those from her.

By this time, the waves got bigger and got closer to me. It became dark too and we drove back to the hotel.

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Returning home

We parked the car and then set out on foot to the close by market and temple.
We got some shells and key chains as gifts.

By this time I had realized that I had forgot packing my tripod.
Mohith wanted to purchase a tripod from many days and so we decided to buy a tripod there itself.
Luckily we found a camera shop that had good choices for tripod. We picked an average one.

Later, we found a good Punjabi restaurant. We asked him to parcel some food.
We ate it leisurely sitting in the balcony of our room and watching the lit up Vivekananda rock memorial

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Lit up Vivekananda memorial

The day ended when at 11pm, I went to sleep. Mohith was on his phone.

Day 1 Statistics:
From:Bangalore
To: Sindhanur
Distance: 671Kms (59577-60248)
Time taken: 9hrs
Average Speed: 74.56Kmph
States: 2 (Karnataka, Tamilnadu)
Fuel filled at: Madurai ODO 60090 at ₹ 64.14/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 10:31.
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Day 2, 10-January-2015: Kanyakumari to Kochi

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We both got up early in the morning with hopes of seeing a good sunrise. In our entire trip, this would be the only day where we could see sun rise by the sea.
The balcony was the best Sunrise point we could ask for. But unfortunately the clouds spoilt it again.

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Sun rose in the cover of the clouds

We were disheartened, but we were not ready to start the day on a low.
We decided to walk down to the fish market which was buzzing with activity.
I took my camera and off we went to the fish market. This would be my first ever visit to a fish market!
Although small, there were lots of varieties of fish and other sea food.
Since it was a open-air market, it was not as smelly as I expected.
I enjoyed clicking some photos. Here they are:

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Packed

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Ready to go and sell

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Waiting for customers

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Wallpaper snap

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Fresh!

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I want 'em all

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Straight into the mouth

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Big guys take an auto

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"Fresh Fish anyone?"

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Long and sharp

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I wonder whose plate it'll go on to

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Frozen!

We also walked around the fisherman's colony.

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Taking rest

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Ready to fly

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Get-Set-Go

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Loner

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Start of the many more

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Experts watch youngsters

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Memorial

finally, we walked back to our hotel and got ready for the day.
After taking bath, we had the complimentary breakfast. We checked out at 11AM.
This was the start of our aim to trace the west coast.

This day, I had planned to drive 300kms. Having known Kerala, I knew that this in itself would take a lot of time especially when driving during the day. I started the day at the wheel

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Inspired by the neighbouring state

Half an hour into the drive, there was a small incident which made my heart skip a beat.
I was driving at around 80kmph speed (one of the very rare fast patches I can say). I was behind a Tempo traveller vehicle.
Suddenly a pot hole came from underneath the vehicle. It was just the size of a tyre and very deep with sharp outlines.
It was so sudden that I didn't have any time to react and Bang! It hit the wheel very hard.
With a big heart ache, I stopped the vehicle expecting something really bad.
But luckily nothing had happened and we moved on.

Our next stop was for lunch at Trivandrum. It was around 2PM when we stopped at Ping Pong restaurant on the NH47 Bypass road just beside the Mohandas Fiat Showroom.
The waiter was very good and he explained all the specialities they had. We got some good Kerala food and we enjoyed it very much.

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True indeed

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Pug marks

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White hands

I resumed driving till evening. Somewhere after Chavara, After having driven ~180 kms, we deviated the so called NH and went to a beach to witness the sunset.

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A small delay

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its Play time!

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Catch it buddy

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Walk along

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Poser

The beach was nice but again, the clouds played spoilsport to what would have been a nice sunset.
There were some boys playing Frisbee. Mohith joined them for a few minutes.

After this, we had some nice fried vegetable snacks by the beach and relaxed for a while.

It was dark by that time and we still had ~130 Kms more to cover.
Mohith sat in the driverís seat and we resumed the slow and irritating drive on the Kerala highway.
After 2 hours and 75Kms, Mohith got fed up with the drive and we exchanged places.

By 10PM, we reached Kochi. Somewhere near the hotel, the GPS told us that the destination had arrived but there was nothing but Metro construction work in progress.

We called up the hotel guys to ask for address.
When I told that I had a booking from MMT, the manager told that their hotel was closed because of renovation!
I was shocked; but before I could say anything, He told me that he has booked a room for us in some other hotel.
In an irritated tone, I told him that he should have told us this before itself, because we would have booked the hotel based on many good ratings.
He consoled me that the other hotel is also rated equally good on MMT and guided us to Hotel Time Square.
We checked in without any problems and the hotel was also good.

We were really tired by then and hence ordered for some Chinese food to the room itself.
We ate it and slept by 11PM

Day 2 Statistics:
From: KanyaKumari
To: Kochi
Distance: 305Kms (60248-60553)
Time taken: 11hrs 15mins
Average Speed: 27.73Kmph
States: 2 (Tamilnadu, Kerala)

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Day 3, 11-January-2015: Kochi to Muzhappilangad

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We started the drive at 06:45. The first thing we did was to fill up petrol.

As soon as we were on the outskirts of Kochi we spotted the famous Chinese fishing nets.
We stopped here for a while and also watched an early morning football being played by some boys.
“Chinese fishing nets+Coconut trees+Football” If you are lost and see these together, you can easily say that you are in Kerala!

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Chinese Fishing nets

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Vertical shot!

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Enjoying the view

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Let's football

1 hour into the drive and I went to a beach in search of some small shacks for breakfast.
We intentionally wanted to avoid the usual hotels and if possible have food on the beach itself.
We found a beach with some nice trees outlining it.

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Pathway

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Sunshade

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Early morning inspection

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Jump up!

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Sandflowers

We spent some time there and then found a small shack serving breakfast.
We ate some delicious Kerala Parotha and egg curry along with a huge Kerala Banana.

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Kerala Parotha

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Banana

I resumed the drive. Around 11AM, after driving exactly 100 Kms I handed over the driver’s seat to Mohith.

All was well for the next 20 minutes. At a roundabout, there was a motorcycle going on the left most lane.
A person who might be in his 50s was riding the motorcycle and was slowly coming to the right.
He wanted to turn right. We had to go straight.
Since there was no indicator or hand signal, Mohith didn't notice this bike coming slowly to the right.
Before I could shout and react, it had happened. The motorcycle's foot peg had hit my car's foot well and made a scratch.

We slowed down and I saw in the ORVM that the bike guy had not lost his balance and had not fallen down.
Since it was a very minor scrape, we moved forward and didn't stop.
In a couple of minutes, Mohith saw a bike following us and honking. He slowed down to allow them to pass.
There were two boys who were pointing at us to stop. We stopped.

As soon as he opened to window they started shouting at us for having not stopped at that accident spot.
They were not ready to hear our side of the story-After all we were in the big vehicle and appeared like irresponsible boys didn't we?
They kept on shouting at us and asked us to return back and check on him.
To avoid a big scene, I told him that we would go back and turned back the vehicle.

As we were doing this, I saw a Punto and someone from inside giving a friendly wave to me.
I saw some TBHP stickers and responded back.
I got out and immediately one guy got down and asked me if I was hemanth? “Yes I am” I said.
For us, at that point in time, a local BHPian was the most helpful person to find.
He was Klubclass a.ka. Amith ES. He was with his father.

After the exchange of pleasantries and a round of introductions, I slowly explained them what had happened couple of minutes ago.
His father told me that we can go together to that spot and he would assist us if need be.
We both hopped on to our cars and went to that spot. As we went there, there was no one and that motorbike guy had gone.

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A shot of my car captured by Klub Class' dashcam

His post of spotting my car is below
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shifti...ml#post3621022 (Team-BHP Stickers are here! Post sightings & pics of them on your car)

With a feeling of relief, we spent some 15 minutes talking and I explained our drive and asked him to keep it a secret till we finish it.
His father gave me his telephone number and told me to call in case of any emergency in Kerala.
We thanked them, bid good bye and continued.

While going back, Mohith was surprised that I was recognized in a place 400 Kms away form home.
"Such is the power and reach of TBHP" I told him.

At around 12:30, I called up our Home-stay guy in Muzappilangad where the overnight stay was booked.
He was a very friendly guy and when I told that we would reach by 2:30PM, he told that he would prepare Lunch there itself since we can’t get good hotels on the road.
It was the best suggestion and he was right-there were no good restaurants on the way.

We ended up at the home-stay which is located just on the beach at 3PM and we ate some nice Kerala style food.
At 4 o'clock, after some rest and when the sun was not at its harshest, we took out the car to the beach
It is the only drive in beach in South India and the reason why we had planned a stay in this place.

This was exactly why I made sure I have a 3M under body coating before starting.

From here on, it was pure fun on the beach with many rounds of splashing, shooting, selfies.
It was a beautiful sight to say the least and I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.

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Splash

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Spray gun

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Water water everywhere

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Arabian sea all around

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Pressure wash
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Selfie of the trip

After an hour here, I went out of the beach in search of a car wash.
Unfortunately for me it was a Sunday and no car wash was open.
I called us the home-stay owner and he helped me again.
He told that at best he can arrange a long pipe and a fresh water connection that they use for watering plants.
That was the only option for us and I used that to wash the car how much ever I could.

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Sweet water wash

Again I entered the beach but this time, there was no splashing.
Mohith went for a swim in the sea and I just clicked many pictures.
This is where we finally saw the first perfect sunset of the drive and what an amazing sight it was.
Pictures that will follow will explain the beauty better than my words.

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View from our room

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Circles

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Centre of attraction

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Going for a swim

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Evening walk on wheels

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Different strokes

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Sunset

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Taking the sun home

After it was completely dark, we went back to the home stay.

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Let's go home

By 8PM, we were sitting on the Balcony enjoying some nice snacks with a good view of the dark ocean with lights here and there.
That feeling is just amazing and so relaxing. The chef at the place was also very good and we got some really good food.

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Tail trail

By 11PM, we finished dinner and slept. The next day was going to be a really long one

Day 3 Statistics:
From: Kochi
To: Muzhappilangad
Distance: 275Kms (60553-60828)
Time taken: 8hrs 45mins
Average Speed: 34.38Kmph
States: 1 (Kerala)
Fuel filled at: Kochi ODO 60558 at ₹ 65.00/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 11:13.
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Day 4, 12-January-2015: Muzhappilangad to Goa

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We had a 600Km drive planned for this day to Goa.
We had decided to skip Karnataka because,being our Native state, we had seen almost all the places on the coast line.
There are so many places to visit in Coastal Karnataka that it would be impossible to cover all these places within the available time frame.

We had told the home-stay owner that we have to leave by 6AM.
He was a very good guy and told that by 5:30, Breakfast would be ready and served.
I couldn't believe but since it would help us a lot, I agreed.
True to his words, When I got ready and came to the dining hall at 5:40, it was ready.
This helped us a lot in departing at sharp 6:00AM as planned.

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Just before we departed

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Good morning

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Coconut trees

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Where's the pulp?

I began the day as usual. By 9AM we were in Kasargod which is 100Kms away.
I thought we had covered good ground but very soon we were in the midst of a huge traffic jam because of a broken down vehicle on a bridge. Police personnel were managing the traffic but still it consumed 1 hour of precious time for us

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Traffic Jam

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Reason behind the jam

We crossed Kasargod at 10:30AM and were very close to the Kerala-Karnataka border.

We saw many car wash centres. We went into one and asked for a complete diesel wash.
He did a very nice job and all the sand ans more importantly the salt water from the beach previous day was washed away.
Whatever the car had collected in Kerala was left in Kerala

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Car wash!

One full hour was spent to wash our car which meant 2 hours of daylight was lost for unplanned activities.
Also we filled up the tank in Kerala itself so that it saved us some money.

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Road construction going on

This lost time was easily made up once we entered Karnataka.
I pressed the pedal and we were cruising at the lowest possible triple digit speed and sometimes over that.
It was such a relief especially after the slow and irritating Kerala Traffic.
At exactly 12:00 we had reached Mangalore and making some good distance.

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Mangalore!


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Time pass

We were at Kundapur at 2PM.
Kundapur is famous for ghee roast but since we couldn't go deep into the town, we found a restaurant near the bus stand and ate our lunch which was again delicious coastal Karnataka style of food.

At 2:30PM, we left Kundapur. I had driven 250Kms till then but had not felt any sort of fatigue.
This is when I decided that I’ll test my limits. I decided to drive on.

By 2:45PM, we made a small stop at the Maravanthe Beach.
It’s one of the amazing places on this stretch where A river and an Ocean is separated just by one road.
The Souparnika river comes close to the Arabian Sea, moves parallel to the beach for a distance and flows away.
The road separating the two water bodies might be around 80 to 100 feet wide.
The river water is as sweet as it can get and the sea water is salty as usual. It feels great to be in between these two water bodies.

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Maravanthe

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Separating the two!

This time however do to road widening works, this gap between the Ocean and the river was being increased with a little land reclamation going on on the river side.

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Souparnika Boat

After this small break we proceeded further. The next 2 and a half hours was a continuous drive with just a small rehydration stop of around 10 minutes.

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Rehydration stop

At 5:45 we reached Karwar, The last big coastal town of Karnataka.

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Karwar

We were just in time for the sunset at the sunset point. This view point is where the Kali River meets the Arabian sea.
We parked the car and had some nice chats while enjoying the sunset.

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Sunset point

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The confluence of Kali, Arabian sea and the Sun

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Birds returning home

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Wither away...

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Ready for a dip

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Thinking hard

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Bye bye

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Chat and Chaat

It was quite a relaxing stop after my 430Kms solo drive (almost non-stop)
Although I was starting to tire a bit by now, it was nothing that would make me lose my concentration.
I asked Mohith if I could continue to drive…he just nodded his head.
Just for the record purpose, I thought I’ll drive till I reach 500 Kms. I switched on the headlights and continued.

After some Kms, I was talking to Mohith but I somehow felt I was not getting responses from him in an usual way.
Since It was dark, I couldn't look at his face. Later I asked him directly why he was not responding in the usual manner.
He said nothing. It was now evident to me that he wanted to drive but didn't want to ask.
Poor guy, he was sitting in the passenger seat without saying any word.
I understood his problem and spoke to him about what was in my mind (driving 500Kms non-stop for records purpose).
He then opened up and told me that he was really bored sitting in the same seat from morning till evening.

By the time we had finished talking about this, I had finished 500Kms and we were inside Goa.
I stopped, apologised to him and handed over the vehicle to him.

Before this, I had visited Goa only once but Mohith was a regular visitor to Goa. I had left everything to him.

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King of Good times

By 22:30, we were at one of the entry docks to Deltin Royale…It’s India's largest and most luxurious casino.
We purchased two tickets and via a small boat we were taken to the Casino.
Before that I called up the hotel and told them that we would come very late.

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Biggest Casio of the country

The Casino is indeed lavish and nicely laid out. Photography is obviously prohibited in the Game floor.
Since it was still 11PM, crowd was sparse.
We had our dinner by which time crowd had built up and all the games were operational.

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Song and dance

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Music to your ears

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Young spectators

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Lights everywhere

We played a few games that we had a good understanding about till we had had enough.
Even at 2 PM, we were not feeling sleepy; even though we had spent the whole day driving. Such was the environment.
But then, we decided to end the day and went to the resort.

Very close to the resort, the GPS told we had reached the destination, but there was no resort.
It was not very easy to find it especially with no people on the road.
We only found a couple of them but they were high on spirits and not in a position to guide themselves.

Luckily we found police personnel who guided us to the resort. I was 3AM by the time we hit the bed.

Day 4 Statistics:

From: Muzhappilangad
To: Goa
Distance: 562Kms (60828-61390)
Time taken: 15hrs 15mins
Average Speed: 37.47Kmph
States: 2 (Kerala, Goa)
Fuel filled at: Kasargod ODO 61018 at ₹ 65.78/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 11:28.
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Day 5, 13-January-2015: Going around Goa

This was supposed to be a rest day with a little bit of sightseeing. We got up at 11AM and were ready to go by noon.
We straight away went to a restaurant to have a brunch.It was a nice little restaurant serving Goan delicacies.
The Owner was a lady with seemingly good knowledge about her food.
We told her to give the best food and she gave us some nice food.

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Cooling down

By 1:30PM, we went to the most famous sightseeing destination in Goa-The Aguada Fort.
Even though there is nothing much in this fort, it provides some nice subjects for shooting photos.
Below are some the photos that we took:

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Fort Aguada

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Shadow Play

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The guiding light

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Sepia

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Black and White

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Through the gates


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Leaning Tower...

Till 3:30PM we spent time there and then decided to leave.

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Stairway to the leading light

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Boats...

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In the arch

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Deltin and Royale

I had missed seeing Mary immaculate church during my last visit and wanted to see it.
I like the simplicity, the white colour and the criss crossing steps of this church. We spent a little over half an hour here.

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White and woderful

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Another angle

It was 4:45 by that time and so we decided to go to a nice sunset spot. We chose the Anjuna beach for this.
By the time we walked along the shopping lane and reached the beach, it was 6:00PM and the sun was ready to take a dip.

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Still some time to sunset

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Breezer

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Shopping lane

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Handicrafts

The sunset was again really beautiful. The small patches of rocks on this beach adds to the beauty.
We sat down the beach eating some snacks, enjoying the sunset. I got some nice silhouettes and sunset shots.

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Standing tall

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Selfie #n

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Lovebirds

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Goan hat

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Eat it up

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Taking a pill

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Music

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Water sport

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Sun taking a boat ride

After it got dark, we started walking back towards the vehicle and picking up some souvenirs on the way.
By 7:30PM we reached our car and started searching for a nice party place.
But since it was a weekday, there were no places that we could find.
Disappointed, we went to a snooker shop and played some games of pool till 9:00 PM.

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Let's play

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Taking a shot

After that, we went to the same restaurant where we had our brunch and ate our dinner very slowly.
By 11:00PM, we wound up early for we had a long drive planned for the next day.

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Day 6, 14-January-2015: Goa to Mumbai

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We left by 6 AM and we started the day with an adventure.
After filling up of Petrol in Kasargod in Kerala, we wanted to fill petrol in Goa just to fill petrol at the cheapest price possible.
We had planned to fill Petrol just when we were going out of the state. The low fuel warning was on for the whole of previous day.

We set the destination from Vagator to Mumbai and followed the route which was shown by the GPS.
The GPS did not take us through the town but through some interior roads with no Fuel station in sight.
The range on the instrument cluster stated showing zero. Then it started beeping. But I knew we can find some fuel station.

We found some people on the road and we asked them for a fuel station.
They showed us a road to the highway but which was different from the route shown by the GPS.
We decided to go with the route shown by the people and very soon we joined the highway.
Luckily as soon as we joined the highway, we found a fuel station.
With a sigh of relief, we went and filled up petrol. The car consumed close to 42 litres. The highest ever I guess.

I went to pay by card and he swiped it in the machine.
Unfortunately it didn't work! We had spent a lot of cash the previous day and hence I didn't have lot of cash.
I went to the car and both of us had to completely empty our pockets to get enough cash.
Since it was Goa, it worked out. If it was in Karnataka, it might have been difficult.

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Penetrating Rays

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Golden

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Floating fog

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Still sleepy

We withdrew cash at the next available ATM and started our drive to Mumbai!
After around 2 hours, we stopped for Breakfast after we had entered Maharashtra.
We ate some tasty Misal pav, pav Bhaji, vada Pav etc. They even had a mobile charging point for 1re/min

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Misal Pav

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Charging Charge

I gave the keys to Mohith and relaxed in the Passenger seat.
All the boards were directing us to NH4. But we stuck to NH66(old NH17).
The NH66 was a median-less road but it was almost free of tolls.

This highway was very nice because it brought back memories of yesteryears with traffic-free, median-less roads.
I enjoy these roads because it tests your skills and is a driver’s delight. We enjoyed it.
The Ratnagiri Ghat section especially amazing.
The road was newly laid and was winding around the hills which made it more enjoyable.

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Nostalgic highway

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They were nice...I mean the curves

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Boom!

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That rubber is gone!

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Curvilicious

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A rare straight part

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Precious commodity

After the Ghats, We stopped for Lunch at 2:00PM at a Dhabha which served us some good Marathi Style coastal food. We enjoyed It a lot.

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Tummy says Yummy

After lunch, I took over the driving duty. When we reached Mahad, We were stopped at a police checkpost.
They enquired everything and then a constable told “Saab aayenge” (Officer will come).
I thought he’ll come, check the papers and we'll have to shell out some bribe.
But this so called officer came in a civilian dress. The constable asked me to drop him ahead.
We took him in and continued driving. He got down near Nagotne.

In this stretch, I was keeping an eye to look for Chris Parsons who was walking for a cause.
He is an International lawyer who was walking 30 marathons in 30 days as part of the walk for widows to raise $1 million for The Loomba Foundation charity.
I was following his walk also because DBHPian hvkumar’s forum was associated with him in this good cause.
It was his Day 5 from Kashid Beach – Diveagar while it was the 6th day for us in the opposite direction.
I thought I could meet them but they were much closer to the coast line than us.
I later realized that walking road would obviously be different.

After dropping off the Police officer, it was rather an uneventful drive to Mumbai.
When we reached the outskirts of Mumbai, it was 6:00PM and sunset time.
We couldn't find any beach nearby so this sunset had a backdrop of high rise apartments instead of a sea.

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Development!

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Hanging by a thread

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Penthouse

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Powerful

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Natural and artificial Light

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Bye bye

Our Hotel was in Juhu and since it was the first time we were driving in Mumbai (although it was my 4th visit to the city), we were just following the GPS.
Also my car reached the 60000Kms when we were close to our destination.

In front of the Nanvati Hospital, We stopped for refuelling at a HP fuel station.
While filling, the pump attendant told me that they can top up wiper washing liquid.
I pulled the bonnet opening lever and said he can fill. After couple of seconds he told me that the bonnet is not opening.
I pulled the lever again but there was no feedback about the bonnet opening. We tried a lot but the bonnet didn't open.
The last time we had opened was when the car was cleaned in Kerala.
Although there was enough wash liquid, I couldn't take a chance with this issue.
I put that as a checkpoint for the next day and we left.

By 8:30PM, we reached our hotel in Juhu. While checking in, the receptionist asked for our ID cards and we gave it to him.
He told he needs only one of ours and then returned back one.
He confirmed that a single room was allotted to us. I was shocked!
I wanted a double occupancy room and I told we were 2 people.
But he told that the system was showing only single occupancy.

I checked my booking on MMT and found that I had made a mistake and entered 1 Adult instead of 2!
I asked him if we could adjust in the same room. He told it would be too small.
Upon asking for any availability of double-room, he told there was no room available except a Presidential suite.
The prices were exorbitant and so, we decided to somehow adjust.
Extra charges for additional person was levied and we were given the room.

The room was very nice but cramped for space. Apart from the bed, there was only 1 feet of space on both the sides of the bed.
And then there was the bathroom. Luckily the bed was big enough for two guys.

We ordered food, ate it and dozed off.

Day 6 Statistics:
From: Goa
To: Mumbai
Distance: 551Kms (61457-62008)
Time taken: 13hrs
Average Speed: 42.38Kmph
States: 2 (Goa, Maharashtra)
Fuel filled at: Pernem, Goa ODO 61478 at ₹ 55.91/ltr and at Mumbai ODO 62005 at ₹ 68.86/ltr

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Day 7, 15-January-2015: Mumbai

This was supposed to be a rest and sightseeing day in Mumbai. I got up at 7:30.
Mohith had finished his early morning Jog on the Juhu Beach and returned to the hotel by that time.
We both got ready and had our complimentary breakfast at the hotel.
Then we went to the Juhu beach at 8:30 once again and spent an hour there.

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Juhu Morning

From there we went to the Gateway of India. I wanted to drive on the Bandra-Worli Sealink, so I took that route.
I had to change the GPS route because it was showing the Eastern Expressway route.
The sea link looked absolutely beautiful.
I don’t know if the reclamation has any negative impact; I just hope it hasn't got any.
Although there were many cars going ballistic on this flyover, we were following the speed limits.
I was wishing I could also drive fast, but I controlled myself.

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Beautiful!

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Converge

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Maintain speed

We had plans of going to the Elephanta caves from the Gateway of India, but cancelled it because we had to go to Torrid motors to get the bonnet issue sorted out.
Also, when we reached the Gateway of India, we found it was closed because of some event by the Indian army.
There was tight security and we were not allowed to go near the structure. We could just take some pictures from a distance.
Meantime I called Torrid motors and informed a Service Advisor that I would come there later in the day with my small issue.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-dsc_4737.jpg
Gateway of India closed!

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FREE!

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Tight Security!

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Wah! Taj

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Monochrome

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Still remember this photo but with flames on that black day

It was noon by that time and we were thinking of having an early lunch. I started to look at Zomato app for some suggestions.
But we had something right in front of us. Yes, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was right in front of us and we thought “Why don’t we go there?” Mohith asked me “Are you sure? Do we need to spend so much?”
Moreover, we had parked our car somewhere else and he asked me if we would be even allowed inside if we go by walk
I told him, that it’s not often that we come to Mumbai and let’s try it once.

We walked up to the gate and after passing through the airport style security check, we were allowed inside.
We explored all the restaurants in the hotel and there was a table available in all of them for lunch.
Although I wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant (Wasabi), we didn’t go there since we didn’t know how to handle chop sticks.
In the end we were conservative and we went to the Indian Shamiana Restaurant.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-dsc_4848.jpg
Tasty

We had our lunch and came out. After coming out, I asked Mohith where we can go next.
He said he wanted to eat something more since his stomach wasn’t full
By this time I had got some restaurant suggestions from friends and family.
The closest one and also suggested my 3 people was Bademiyan. So we went there.
The original one (small shop) was closed but another one located close by where we had seating place too, was open.

True to its name, they served us some amazingly delicious Kebabs and we both had more than our heart’s content here.

After this, we drove to Torrid motors again via the B-W sealink. We had a brief stop at the Haji Ali-Just a couple of photos and nothing else

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Haji Ali

One we reached there, we were immediately attended to by a service advisor.
He called a mechanic who tried all the things he knew. He even went under the car to check something.
But it didn’t work. After 30 minutes, he gave up and called a senior mechanic who must be in his late 50s.

That guy came and after hearing about this problem, he started banging the edge of the bonnet from left to right with his hand.
Voila! It was now alright
We tried locking and opening for 3 to 4 times and it was working without any problem.
Without any charges, they gave me a gate pass and we headed back.

It was 4:30 PM by this time. So we decided it was the right time for a sunset point. What better than the Marine drive!

Again we were on the B-W sealink for the third time now.
I spotted a Palio with Abarth Stickers on the sealink and took a photo. It was BHPian jatinpatel
When I overtook him, he saw my car and asked my handle.
When I told my name, he told “Oh you are the guy who bought the Alloys form Germany right?” I told yes and smiled.
After this, my Abarth couldn’t keep up with his Abarth.

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Abarth twin

But after the flyover, there was a jam and we caught up again and in the slow moving under construction roads.
We were driving parallel to one another and we used this time to chat about…of course Fiats We parted ways later.

A small incident with traffic police happened after this.
Very close to the Choupatty beach, we encountered a V-junction and the GPS screen was not very clear whether we had to go to the right or straight to Choupatty beach.
I zoomed in and checked that both will eventually go there and I told Mohith to go straight.
This indecision led to changing lanes just before the median started. A traffic cop saw this.

It was no way close to dangerous lane changing but the KA registration made sure he pulled us over.
He asked for driving license and since it was not at a break of any rule or any rash driving (we were crawling at 15-20kmph mind you), Mohith gave his license.
That was a mistake that we made. He took it away and started telling that it will be 3000 rupees fine for dangerous lane change and other offences.

It took me 15 minutes to talk to him and get the license back by giving 500 rupees 'fine'.
He told he’ll deposit in the court the next working day. But we knew where it would go.

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Passed Antilia on the way

We parked our car in the next available parking slot and started our walk along the Marine drive starting from the Choupatty beach.
Since it was Sankranti that day, there was a Kite flying event organized by a local politician. We too got to fly kites.
Also they gave us Til-gul-A Sankranti Speciality and also hot Vada pav. It was a nice experience.

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A common sight that day

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We got to fly one with a picture of our PM

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Tilgul Ghya God God Bola

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Vada pav

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Cotton Candy

We spent some time taking pictures of and on the tetrahedron stone wall till 7:30PM.
Instead of going back to our cramped room, we thought we will finish dinner and then go.

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Left and Right

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Sun about to set

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Going back home

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Immersed in thoughts

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Tetrahedrons

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Skyline

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Natural light gone, Man-made On!

For dinner, I was trying to look for hotels and Mohith suggested we go to Bademiyan again since he loved the food there
Also because it was a second round of lunch in that hotel, he couldn't taste everything.
So, we went to Bademiyan again-this time to the old small shop.

Upon reaching there, I found out that they do have a seating arrangement in the opposite building.
There is nothing special about it but it’s all about the food. This time, we consumed food like we had not eaten for days.

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Hog Hog Hog!

By 9:30 we finished dinner and headed towards our Hotel. Enroute, we took a photo of Haji ali at night

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Haji ali at night

We had plans to leave Mumbai after breakfast the next day. So we were in no hurry.
So after we parked our car in the hotel we went for a short walk.
During this time we purchased some essentials and more importantly an insulation tape of yellow colour because we would be entering Gujarat.

By 10:30 PM were asleep

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 13:30.
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Day 8, 16-January-2015: Mumbai to Bhavnagar

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-day8.jpg

We had our breakfast at the hotel. We packed the luggage and I put the yellow tape on the headlamps.
The security guy asked me the reason. I just told him that whenever I get an answer I’ll tell him and we left.
After 190Kms, I gave the driver’s seat to Mohith. After another 100 Kms, Mohith stopped at a good highway hotel out of many in Gujarat.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-dsc_5051.jpg
I'm back too

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01, 10, 101...

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...and 1001

The above two pictures with the binary distances are special ones for me.
It was exactly here that I had got the idea of converting our Leh drive into a North-South drive

After a good lunch Mohith continued again.

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Good bye 4-lanes, hello 2-lanes

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From cows on the road down south to camels on the road in the west

I forgot to take the Old Narmada bridge through Bharuch town and before I could do anything, we were in the midst of the infamous Traffic jam.
In the midst of the Jam, we swapped seat and I was driving. Luckily, for us, we had a swift with POLICE written on the number plate just n front of us.
at a particular place, there was a median; he went on the other side and moved forward. I followed him.
We drove past the traffic jam quickly and near the bridge, stopped beside a police post.
One guy got down and spoke something to him and they allowed him.
Without leaving any gap, I followed him too and no one stopped us. Luckily we passed the bridge and the jam. Phew!

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Infamous

From then on, I drove for 150 Kms and gave the vehicle to Mohith for the remaining 150Kms.

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Sunset for the day

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Picturesque

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Straight ahead

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Lane Discipline!

Because the roads were so good, we covered 600 odd kms in just 11 hours and reached our hotel at 7:30 PM.
We were welcomed by a comical board.

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He is Dangerous!!

We were not very hungry so we ordered and shared only one Pizza.

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Dinner for the day

When I lied down, Mohith went out to the lobby.
There was a wedding going on in the building and Mohith made friends with one person in the wedding party
They invited him to the wedding. Unaware of all this, I had slept.
But he had come back, changed his dress and attended the wedding which was lot of fun he told.
He told that they danced a lot and it seems he came back to the room at 1:00AM and that was how the day ended.

Day 8 Statistics:
From: Mumbai
To: Bhavnagar
Distance: 622Kms (62132-62754)
Time taken: 11hrs 30mins
Average Speed: 56.55Kmph
States: 2 (Maharashtra, Gujarat)
Fuel filled at: Bharuch ODO 62468 at ₹ 64.23/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 13:38.
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Day 9, 17-January-2015: Bhavnagar to Diu to Gir

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-day9_map.jpg

We left Bhavnagar towards Diu at 8:00AM. As was the practice, I started the day.
After an hour’s drive, we stopped at a Dhabha for some breakfast.
We had Thepla and chai for the breakfast-It was the first time I was eating Thepla. It was a tasty and overall nice experience.
After our breakfast, I gave Mohith the Keys for the car but since he had not slept well at night, he asked me to continue.

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Thepla and chai for the first time

By noon we had reached Diu. At the entry itself we found some Painted Storks, Purple swamp hens among others at a small lake.
I knew that we would encounter many more birds in the future days.
We took some snaps and moved on further to the Diu Fort.

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Bird watching!

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Welcome to Diu

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Bond Lives in Diu!

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Tuk Tuk

Diu Fort was relatively less crowded. The fort provided some interesting objects for photography and we spent a good amount of time here.
Some interesting facts about this fort are:
  • It’s part fort and part prison. Even today it is used as a prison
  • It has got a church as well as a Shiva temple inside
  • It also has a lighthouse within it
  • It is located at such a point that if you draw a straight line down south, no landmass exists till Antartica!
  • We can find lot of old canons all around the fort

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Welcome

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Dilapidated

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Pani Kotha
The building which can be accessed only by ferry once served as the main jail complex

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One of the many canons

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Climb down!

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TANNN!

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Shiva temple

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295 years old

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The guide

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In the line of fire!

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First line of defence

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Ready to Fire...

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Signs

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F.R.I.E.N.D.S

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Good bye

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Blue eyed Boy

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Missing someone

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Jailed!

It was 14:30 and lunch time…so we went to a good looking restaurant near the Fort.
We got to taste some nice food of the region. We spent a good one hour here.

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View from the Restaurant

After a fuel top up at Diu, we headed towards Gir.
I drove till the ODO reached 63000Kms and Mohith drove the car for the remaining 50 Kms.

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Arrow-straight roads


Since we had included Gir at the last moment, we couldn't book any Safari rides online.
To get an online booking we must try at least 2 months in advance.
DBHPian paragsachania had given us contacts of one of his friends who could help us for the Safari next day.
While on the way we spoke to the person whom paragsachania had asked us to call.
That person asked us to go to a person running a shop in front of the Gir Safari ticket counter.

We reached the Gir Safari ticket counter at 5PM. We went to the guy who would help us out for the passes.
We asked for the passes to the early morning Safari. He told that he would depute his person to get the pass.
He asked us if we want to share the Gypsy with others or if we want one gypsy for we two only.
I told him that a separate Gypsy would be preferable. He calculated everything and told us that it would cost us 6000.
Although we felt that to be expensive, seeing the difficulty in getting a ticket, we agreed and gave him the money.
Before giving him money we confirmed with him if we will get the morning slot.
This was because if we take the 9-12 slot, we can have other things as per plan.
He told that he would surely get us the morning slot and asked us not to worry one bit.

After that we went to our resort and settled down.
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Time to cool down

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Sunset

In the evening, our resort had also arranged an event with some tribal group(Siddi tribe I guess).
There was fire spitting and some other acts. We relaxed around a camp-fire watching that show

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-dsc_5243.jpg
Spitting Fire!

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Human dragons

During this time, Mohith made friends with other tourists in the resort.
He was playing a game of carom with some people when he discussed their safari plans for the next day and shared our plans.
They were surprised we had paid so much for the passes.
The group from Rajasthan also suggested that we take back the money and join them in their Gypsy.
We thought if we get one Gyspsy for ourselves, its fine or else we’ll tag along with them.
A nice Buffet dinner closed the day for us.

Day 9 Statistics:
From: Bhavnagar
To: Gir
Distance: 302Kms (62754-63056)
Time taken: 9hrs 30mins
Average Speed: 33.56Kmph
States: 2 (Gujarat, Daman & Diu)
Fuel filled at: Dwarka ODO 62959 at ₹ 61.68/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 20:06.
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Day 10, 18-January-2015: Gir to Dwarka

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-day10.jpg

To have some odds in our favour, early in the morning, we got up at 4AM and went to the Sinh Sadan-The place where they issue Safari passes.
When we went there were a total of 24 people. We saw one person standing in the queue on our behalf and he was 21st in the line.
The person issuing the passes gave everyone a sheet to fill up and told that only 20 will be allowed in the first batch
So It was decided that we would not get the 6-9AM Safari.

This early morning safari has the highest probability of a lion spotting and hence it is very much in demand.
Also for us it would be better to depart from Gir by 10’o clock to have everything else according to our plan.

Since we couldn't get the morning slot from him, we asked that guy to come out and give back our money.
He mumbled something and came out visibly angry.
He told that he can only give us 1000 Rupees since that was the cost of ticket for 2 people.

Initially we were shocked
But then we demanded the entire money back as we had already paid too much and we had not got what we asked for.

He then started his story…
He told he had not slept the entire night and he had come from Rajkot in his taxi to stand in the queue.
So he wants the cost for his diesel, and sleepless night etc etc.

If he really had not slept, he would definitely have been in the beginning of the queue (we checked with a few people at the beginning of the queue and they had only come half an hour before us)
We called the guy who had deputed him here. It took an hour of arguments and counter arguments to finally get back 4500 rupees.

Still we had paid 1500 for nothing! We didn't want it to turn ugly so we left it there.

I told Mohith that since we will not get the 6-9 safari, and since we didn't time in the day, we can return back to the resort.
We can sleep for some time and Depart Gir by 10o'clock.
But Mohith told me that it would be bad if we don’t see a safari after coming so far.
He told me that since Gujarat roads are very nice, travel time would be much less and we can accommodate things but with a slight delay.

He had a point. So we went back to the ticket counter.
By this time, the queue was obviously bigger and even the 9-12 slot was filled up.
We could get only the 3PM-6PM slot in the afternoon. That was totally impossible considering the time we had with us.

Then, the group from Rajasthan who were in our resort were standing in the queue offered us one seat in their Gypsy.
They told that we should not miss having form so far. They were 5 and they could accommodate one other person for their 9-12 safari.
One other family group of 5 people from Bihar agreed to accommodate one more person.
So we were guaranteed a spot in the 9-12 safari; A compromise between chances of spotting and the available time.

By the time the tickets were issued, it was 7 AM. Everyone agreed to come to the Safari start point at 8:50 AM and returned to the resort.

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Sunrise

During this time, we got ready and had our breakfast.
Since the checkout time was 12:00 noon, We told the resort guy that we would checkout after returning from the Safari-He agreed.

Exactly at 8:50, we went to the Gypsy spot and immediately we left.
People returning from the early morning safari told that there was no Lion spotting
While the guides told that one another Gypsy were lucky. This is something I have seen in all forest safaris.
Anyway we were hoping for the best.

We both sat in different Gypsys that took different routes.

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Different directions

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I love this vehicle

This dry forest was different from the other forests that I've been to and it was literally a dust bowl.
As expected, we didn't spot any lion but we spotted lots of spotted deer and some other animals and birds.

List of what we saw:
  • Spotted deer
  • Changeable hawk eagle
  • Indian Scops Owl
  • Peacock
  • Bee Eater
  • And some forest Homo sapiens and their cows too
  • Sambar deer
  • Egrets
  • Herons
  • Langur
  • Red wattle lapwing

The photos follow:

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Spotted deer

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Changeable hawk eagle

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Indian Scops Owl

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Peacocks

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Bee Eater

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And some forest Homo sapiens

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Dust Bowl!

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Sambar deer

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More spotted deer

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Smells good!

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Egret

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Bee eater

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"Look Mom, Humans!"

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Winner takes it all!

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Heron

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Langur

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Bye bye Sinh Sadan

By the time we returned, we were covered by a layer of dust.
Without wasting much time, we went back to our resort and checked out.

The resort had lunch ready. The tariff included the breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The previous day, we had arrived after the lunch time.
During checkout time, I asked the reception desk if we could have our lunch and then leave.
Even though it was past our checkout time, he agreed and this saved us a lot of time. We finished lunch and left by 1PM.

Our next stop was at the interpretation zone in Devaliya.
This is a fenced area carved out of the forest with lions and some other animals.
This would give people a sure shot spotting of the lions. But at the end of the day it’s not a real forest.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-_dsc0688.jpg
Interpretation zone

The Safari here is in buses and there are more batches.
We immediately purchased tickets and took a seat in the bus.
During this we spotted more spotted deer and more birds.

We spotted:
  • Spotted deer,
  • Nilgai
  • Egytian Vulture
  • Blackbuck
  • Vulture

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-dsc_5523.jpg
Egytian Vulture

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Nilgai

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Blackbuck

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Vulture

After all these, we finally spotted the Asiatic lion. The fame of Gir.
There were two adult lioness and two cubs. They were taking rest around a small water hole and under a tree.
People in the bus started shouting seeing them.
I hated that but the lions themselves seem to care nothing. They would have got used to it probably.

Our bus stood there for 10 minutes-close enough for me to take some photos from the small 18-140 lens that I had.
Mohith was using a 75-300 lens and he took some closer pictures.

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Cuddling

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"Oh these Humas!"

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Prince

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Cooling down

After 30 minutes, we came out of the fenced area. We took a couple of Souvenirs and hit the highway by 3:30 PM.

To be continued...

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...Day 10 continued

Our next stop was Somanath. We reached there in an hour’s time.
Our Initial plan was to see the sunset in Dwarka.
But since we were delayed and also because we had seen the Sunset in Dwarka in our East west drive in 2013, we decided to stay at Somanath for the sun set.

Before that we entered the Somanath Temple.
I had heard lot of good things about the temple. And true to its name, the temple was huge, beautiful and very well maintained.
Photography was prohibited and hence we had to deposit the camera in the cloak room.

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The Somanath Temple

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Without Pigeons...

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Hero

There was tight security in and around the temple because, just a few days before, there was a boat (supposedly from the neighbouring country) explosion off the Gujarat Coast.

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One more shot from outside

Then we headed to the beach for the sunset.
After a gap of 4 days, we again saw the Sun going down into the sea.
This beach in itself was not very clean.
There were too many people and lot of commercial activities like camel ride, horse ride, chats etc.
This robs the beauty of the beach IMO.

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Colourful!

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Ready to go down!

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Nice view

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Long Hands

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Blush

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Sun Gobbler!

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Ship of the desert

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EOD

We headed back to the car after the sunset.
Mohith took over the driver duty from here on and it was a dash to Dwarka.
I called up the hotel which we had booked and told them that we would arrive by 11PM.
On enquiring about the restaurant, he told me that the restaurant would be closed at 11PM.
I asked him if we could order some food now itself.
He told me that we can call them at 10:50 and give the order.

But the beautiful and the 'almost nil-traffic' roads of Gujarat made sure we reached our Hotel in Dwarka at exactly 10:45PM.
I went to the restaurant straight away and ordered our food.
Mohith completed the check-in formalities and went to the room and took bath and came down just in time.

It was a long day for us and hence we fell asleep as soon as we hit bed at 11:30PM

Day 10 Statistics:

From: Gir
To: Dwarka
Distance: 324Kms (63056-63380)
Time taken: 9hrs 45mins
Average Speed: 36Kmph
States: 1 (Gujarat)

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Day 11, 19-January-2015: Dwarka to Mandvi

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-day11.jpg

Today the plans were not that great.
We just had to drive along the coast from the ‘Bottom half’ of Gujarat to the ‘top half’ of Gujarat. We had to drive from Dwarka to Mandvi

Mohith got up before me and he had gone for a walk around the hotel.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-_dsc0901.jpg
Surround sound

He came back by 8AM and once we got ready, we went to the Dwarka temple.
Since we had visited that temple in our east west drive, we didn’t go inside but just took some photos from the outside.

There was a nice breakfast joint which we had seen in our previous trip here.
So we directly went there and had Dhoklas, Poha, Aloo vada and Jalebis concluding with a chai. It was as yummy as it was 2 years ago.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-img_20150119_084442.jpg
Breakfast

After finishing filling our stomach, we started driving towards Mandvi
The photos below the windmills near the exit of Dwarka was also finished by 9:15 AM and we were on the highway.

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Sunflower!

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Selfie1

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Selfie 2

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Mirage!

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Desert Farming

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National flower of India

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Does anyone know what this sign means?

By lunch time, we had joined the National Highway and soon after that, we stopped at an ‘Honest’ restaurant.

The sight that awaited us was breathtaking. There were some 20-30 Harley Davidson motorbikes parked in a line.
As soon as I parked my car, the riders came out and were ready to leave.
One by one they started their Mobikes and ah! that symphony of Vtwins beating together-it makes your hair raise!

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A few of the many

We stood there till all of them disappeared into thin air and then went inside the restaurant.
A delicious Katyavadi lunch is what we had in the 45 minutes that we spent there.

Post-lunch, Mohith drove the till Mandvi; which was our destination for the day.
Half an hour into the drive, we saw lot of huge salt farms producing…of course salt!
We stopped once in a while to take some photos of these salt farms.

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Electrifying

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Desh ka namak

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salt farm

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Salt to taste

By 5:30 we had reached Mandvi and we headed straight to the beach.
The road to the beach took us in front of the hotel that we had booked, but we didn't stop since it was sunset time.
At the beach, Mohith went on a camel ride!

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Camel on a camel

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Black and Orange

The beach was beautiful with windmills put up in a line like the fencing and this added a different dimension to the beauty.
But when we went closer to the waves, It was really dirty and smelly with all the camel dung littered all along the line.
The waves constantly coming in contact with this makes it slushy and walking close to the water is a bad idea.

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Shimmering

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Gulls

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Walk along

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Nice place to sit and relax

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Selfie guy

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Fencing

The sunset was beautiful though. Let the photos do some talking…

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Silhoutte

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Return trip

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Almost down!

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That's all folks

After it got dark, we went to the hotel and checked in. We got fresh and took some rest.
By around 8:30 we got down and went out for dinner.

As soon as we came out of our hotel, there was a multi cuisine restaurant and a roadside stall selling Chinese food and a small hotel named Mr. Dosa!
Mohith wanted to have Dosa since it was almost two weeks away from south Indian food. We decided to give it a try and ordered a dosa each.

While we were talking in Kannada, the guy preparing Dosa came to us and asked if we were from Bangalore.
He then told us that he was in Bangalore for around 5 years and that’s where he learnt to make Dosas.

The Dosa was nice but nothing in comparison with what we get in Bangalore.
We also ordered Gobi Manchurian and fried rice from the adjacent stall and that was our dinner.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-20150119_203440.jpg
Dinner for today

We went back to the hotel and wound the day up by around 10PM

Day 11 Statistics:
From: Dwarka
To: Mandvi
Distance: 456Kms (63380-63836)
Time taken: 8hrs 15mins
Average Speed: 57Kmph
States: 1 (Gujarat)
Fuel filled at: Mandvi ODO 63426 at ₹ 61.51/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 14:16.
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Day 12, 20-January-2015: Mandvi to to Lakhpat to Bhuj

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-day12.jpg

We started at 6:30 in the morning from Mandvi and As usual, I started the day at the wheel.
Our first stop was Narayan sarovar. This is the western most inhabited place of the country
The road was very nice and we took 3 ours to cover this distance of 170+ kms. Roads were narrow but nice through out

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-_dsc0089.jpg
Straight and good but wavy

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Black Drongo

We first went to the main temple - the temple for Vishnu or Narayana - from which this place gets its name.
Also the sarovar/lake in this town is one of the 5 lakes considered as sacred by Hindus.

We found some place to park our car and went inside the temple. Photography was not allowed inside the temple.
I took one photo without knowledge and one person came and asked me not to take any more.
So I closed it and went around the temple afterwards. This temple along with many other buildings is inside a fort like wall.
The wall is hardly visible because the buildings outside. The lake in itself wasn't visible-may be it is not perennial.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-_dsc0104.jpg
Narayan Temple

After half an hour we went back to our car. There was a small shop frying something in hot oil.
I had not seen it previously and asked him what it was. He told it is Fafda.
Surprisingly I had not seen Fafda previously considering that I had come to Gujarat 3 times before.

So we decided to have Fafda for our breakfast. With green chillies, the Fafda was really yummy.
We gulped down 200gms of it. He also had Dhokla and Jalebis and we happily ate a plate each of that.
I took a video of the making of Fafda to show it to my mother and wife and to make it at home

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-20150120_093209.jpg
Fafda



After this, we went to the Koteshwar temple some distance away.
The road ends here! We ran out of road!
We had reached Western End starting from the Southern Tip of the country 12 days ago
This is how the title of this travelogue came into being.

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Koteshwar temple

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Nice architecture

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View points

There is a BSF check post at this point till where we drove and parked our car.
I started taking photos of the estuary called Kori creek.
A BSF soldier came to me and I thought He'll tell me not to take photos. But asked me to park the car farther away.
I did as he said and continued taking some more photos but I avoided pointing it towards the check post.

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Abandoned house

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Hiding behind one another

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For the Gods

After spending half an hour there, we moved forward.
From here onwards, we started to see the landscape slowly change to vast expanses of land.
Just at the entrance of Narayan sarovar, there is one small such area. We got down and took some pictures.
It looked like a dried up lake. I tried getting the car down into the basin but couldn't.

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Nobody to guide this side

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Temples come in all sizes

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Bee Eater

We moved ahead. In half an hour, we reached Lakhpat Fort. Enroute, my car crossed 64K kms.
The fort wall was slowly crumbling down. I had seen the pictures of the fort before the trip and saw that the beam above the door was no more present.
The door was kept just beside the entrance. Once we entered the fort, it was almost empty.

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Lakhpat fort

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Wall standing tall!

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Emblem on the wall

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Fallen walls tell many stories!

The Gurudwara inside the fort is a UNESCO world heritage site.
This Gurudwara was supposedly used by Gurunanak as a stopover while on his way to Mecca.
I went straight to The Gurudwara and parked the car.
It was nicely maintained. One person even explained me the importance of the monument.
I spent a good 30 minutes in there before I signed the Visitor book and came out.

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Lakhpat Gurudwara

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World Heritage Site

While I went inside, Mohith wasn't interested and hiked till the end of the other end of the fort to take a look at what is outside.
He got the first view of the great Rann. The vast land space with nothing but whitish sand till the horizon.

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The other end of the fort

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One small end of the Great Rann

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Entrance from the other end...spot my car?

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Wallfie

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Hello, anybody there?

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Crested Lark

Mohith had come back by that time and we started to drive out.

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Conqueror

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Bird's eye view

I must say, we missed seeing the tombs of Pir Ghaus because we simply didn't know about it. we should have read more about the fort.

Mohith took over the driver's seat and we headed to Bhuj. It was noon at this time.
En-route, we crossed the Tropic of cancer

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Scorpion at the Tropic of Cancer

After an hour's drive, We reached Nakhatrana and we had lunch at Hotel Carnival which seemed to be the only good restaurant around.
The lunch was really delicious and sumptuous and we ate to our heart's content.
We asked the restaurant owner if there are any special places around to visit. He said nothing apart from the Lakhpat fort.

After the lunch, we reached Bhuj at 3:00 PM and went to our hotel. Here again...I had committed the mistake of booking for one adult only.
However the receptionist found out and told me that there are double rooms available.
He gave me the keys to one of them and told me that the billing would be different and the procedure for that would be explained to me later by his manager.
With this we went to the room and took rest for an hour or so.

After this, we went to the city to do some shopping.
After some enquiring, we saw a good shop with local handmade fabrics and purchased quite a few dresses for everyone back home.

W.E.S.T. - Western End from Southern Tip-bhuj.jpg
Shopping!

The shop owner's son was a young, modern, cool, educated-looking guy. So we asked him what other things we could see around this place apart from the white desert and Kaalo dungar, which are the must-go places, He also suggested Lakhpat fort and Chahri Dandh as must-visit places. We enquired more about Chahri Dandh Sanctuary and thought we will squeeze it into our plans.

After this, it was time for some shopping for the stomach.
Bhuj is famous for Khavda sweets. Khavda is basically a village from where many sweet dishes originated.
We ate many delicious sweets till our stomachs were filled up. I especially like the Anjir pak very much.
We wanted to take many back home but we were not sure it would last 4 days in the car.
Although the shopkeepers told that it will last, we were not sure because many of them used coconuts and milk and Ghee.

After this, we went back to our hotel. They had a nice restaurant.
Since we were already full with the sweets, we took a light Chinese dinner and closed the day.

Day 12 Statistics:
From: Mandvi
To: Bhuj
Distance: 355Kms (63836-64191)
Time taken: 9hrs 15mins
Average Speed: 39.44Kmph
States: 1 (Gujarat)
Fuel filled at: Naliya ODO 63908 at ₹ 62.33/ltr and at Bhuj ODO 64177 at ₹ 61.68/ltr

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 25th January 2016 at 14:36.
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