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Old 8th November 2016, 17:43   #1
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Default Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip

Hi fellow BHPians! I am back with a travelogue on a recent trip i made to the land of speedways (a.k.a. Gujarat).

The craving to do some high speed driving was playing out in my head for a few days and while browsing some pages on bhp I came across a post on dham yatras. Checked with my loyal and like minded travelbug road trip partner and he was game to visit 2 dhams - Somnath and Dwarka.

We had a tricky situation in terms of time as I could get at best 1 day leave. Working in the stock markets, I could get permission to leave by 4 pm but nothing earlier. So we planned this sojourn in a little shy of 3.50 days.

Here is a map of our journey:

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-map.jpg

We planned to travel from Vile Parle to Vadodara in the 2nd half of a Thursday. Starting 4 pm, we hoped we could get dinner on the highway and get to Vadodara by midnight latest.

Day 2 would be the drive to Somnath, temple and sunset visit
Day 3 would be the drive to Dwarka, temple visit and drive back to Rajkot
Day 4 would be a long but fast drive from Rajkot to Mumbai

Most of our journey would be on fast highways and we werent expecting many photo-ops but rather a very satisfying drive.

In the process we discovered the following about Gujarat:

What we loved:

1. The people are probably the warmest in our country. Everywhere we asked for help or had a general conversation, we met polite, soft spoken people who always wore a huge smile
2. Kathiyawadi food - Where do I begin. A hardcore non-vegetarian, I was told to give up my love for kukkad and embrace kathiyawadi cuisine with an open mind and boy oh boy was I impressed. Everywhere from fine dine to dhaba food, Kathiyawadi food literally blew my mind!
3. Roads - Hailing from Delhi, its very hard to admit that there can be better roads but Gujarat with its sparse traffic and wide roads puts any other state to shame. Not only were the roads clean, bump free and clean, they inspired confidence at high speed with proper signages, road marks and lighting

What could be better:

1. For roads this good, we expected traffic sense to be a lot better. No one wore helmets, everyone used high beams, tons of wrong side driving, non existent traffic signals, rash driving ... you name it, we found it...

Hope you find our daywise summary useful:

Day 1: 4 pm - BKC to Vadodara (425 kms)

Wrapped up work and started from BKC to Vadodara. We were fearing snarls at Vasai bridge and Bharuch where we planned to stop for dinner.

Thankfulls, got done with Vasai in just 10 minutes and had a pretty fast drive all the way to Bharuch. At Bharuch bridge, traffic was treading along at a slow pace due to construction but thankfully no jams. Right after Bharuch, we had to turn left to visit one of the most recommended dhabas "Shree Khodiyaar Kathiyawada Dhaba". Thankfully, it was listed on Google Maps. Unfortunately, we underestimated Gujarati love for food. At 9.30 pm on the highway there was a 1 hour waiting!! We did not want to wait so much, so despite being desperate to eat there, we gave it a miss and ate at a non-descript restaurant nearby. Done with dinner ~10.30, we proceeded to the Fern Residency near Vadodara railway station for the night pit-stop. The hotel was pretty easy to locate and had very comfortable rooms.

Day 2: 8 am: Vadodara to Somnath (480 kms)

As with all my road trips, I prefer booking rooms with breakfast as it ensures cleanliness and eliminates the need for a break on the next day's journey. We had a sound sleep and had a scrumptious breakfast @ 7 am before starting our drive to Somnath.

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_20161104_073319919.jpg

Fueled up at a Shell station and started our drive to Somnath via Rajkot. The drive was pretty uneventful with a combination of four lanes, very wide 2 way roads and some under construction roads. For lunch, we wanted to satisfy our Kathiyawadi craving and found one such place on the highway around 200 kms before Somnath (hint: Just after the curvy bridge where the road changes from 2 way to 4 lane)

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1192.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1190.jpg

The pic above doesnt do justice to what we ate. It was gobsmackingly delicious! Every single item was cooked to perfection with just the right hint of spice. Notice the stuffed chili that was the highlight of the lunch. And all this for 100 INR all you can eat!!

We were beyond satisfied. We were actually grateful to the owner for serving us such wonderful with signature Gujarati hospitality.

We had another 3 odd hours journey left for Somnath (~220 kms) which was probably the best roads of the day. We cruised along and reached our hotel around 4 pm.

Checked in and freshened up to leave for Somnath temple which was only 2 kms from the hotel (Lords Inn). Somnath is actually a Z+ area and one is not allowed to carry any metals or remote controlled items. We parked at the designated spot and took the short 200m walk to the temple. Smartly, we had left our phones in the car but we even had to deposit our belts and car keys at the storage area. The one thing we did notice though was that despite the strict rules, everyone was following and things were systematic. We reached the queue around 5 pm and were really lucky that within 5 minutes, we were actually bowing down to the almighty and seeking his blessings. It should have been some sort of record that our Somnath darshan was actually complete in 10 minutes. On the way out we strolled past the promenade where we could get a glistening view of the sunset. A trip well worth it so far...

We came back to the hotel and enjoyed another round of Kathiyawadi dinner. This time went for garlic potatoes, masala bhindi and yummy butter rotis washed down with chaas! A good nights sleep was not hard to get after that treat. We thanked god for keeping us safe so far and retired for the day..

Day 3: Somnath-Dwarka-Beth Dwarka-Rajkot

We woke up to grab some simple yet yummy breakfast right at the hotel and were off to Swarka by 8 am.

For going to Dwarka one needs to drive back from Somnath towards Vadodara for a few kms and take the left turn to head for thwe coastal route via Porbander. Most of the photo ops were actually on a short 5-8 kms patch at Porbander. Yours faithfully posing with the reliable machine below:

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1194.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1196.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_20161105_093800756.jpg

We reached Dwarka around noon and drove through the grand entrance and parked at the huge well managed parking space. It was a short walk to the temple and just like somnath everything was manage beautifully. Even though very crowded, we did not waste time in any process right from depositing our phones to our footwear. There was a security check and a disciplined queue which kept moving. The Dwarkadheesh temple shuts for a few hours at 1 pm and unfortunately we just missed the darshan. However, we did pray outside the temple and paid our homage to smaller surrounding temples. On the way back from the temple, there is a bridge we can walk on to get excellent views of the river.

Stomachs were rumbling by the time we were done with the darshan and we couldnt wait to get to the popular AmrutRas restaurant located a short hop away. The food was served by some priests who ensured excellent quality and speed. The food was yet again mind blowing. Never before had a hardcore non vegetarian inside me enjoyed vegetarian food so thoroughly before! Here is a glimpse on what we sampled:

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_20161105_130348152.jpg
This was an unlimited thali and yes had an unlimited serving of incredible cardamom shrikhand and chaas. Full to the hilt, we kicked off our drive to Beth Dwarka (~30-35 kms) to catch the ferry to the holy island.

The drive passed through an undivided road for a decent bit and we crossed the industrial portion around dwarka. Notable was the expansive Tata Chemicals Setup (Mostly for Salt I guess) and a city built for staff that stretched for a few kilometres!

The road was patchy in bits and there was a bridge construction that left around 200-250 mtrs mud road that was bumpy but driveable. We managed to reach the ferry departure point by around 2.45 pm. The parking lot is around 400 mtrs from the actual point so one needs to take a short walk to get to the boats.

The boats are actually stuffed to the hilt with worshippers and general commuters. What was heartening to see is that people of all religions visited beth dwarka and we could even see a masjid at the end of the island from our boat ride.

The boat fare (if you were ready to travel as a commoner) is Just INR 10 for a 15 min journey. However, you could also rent a private ride for around INR 1500. Here is a look of the ferry and jetty:

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1214.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_20161105_152449215.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_20161105_152452957.jpg
Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1207.jpg

Our dwarka darshan however had some upcoming barricades. We reached the temple steps around 3.30 but then realised it wont open for another hour!

We had to return to Rajkot and wanted to minimise night travel so we again paid homage from outside the temple and proceeded back from the same ferry system. However, had to make a pakoda pitstop for munching on some of these

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1208.jpg

We were back to our car now and had to traverse the 260km journey to the Fern Rajkot. We fuelled up at a Reliance pump (our last fuelling before entering Mumbai. And headed our to Jamnagar where we would take the left turn to leave the road to Dwarka and reach Rajkot via Padadhari. The drive was uneventful and we came via a mix of four lane and undivided roads which were good throughout. Reached our hotel at around 9 pm, grabbed the buffet dinner and retired to our room for a Mumbai departure on Day 4.

Day 4: Rajkot-Mumbai

We were acutely aware that this would be our longest (700 km) for the trip and were were up quite early. An early morning breakfast and seamless checkout later, we left for Mumbai around 7.30.

Given the quality of roads in Gujarat, I was pretty happy with my car's consistent 13-14 kmpl mileage which meant we could get to almost 1000 kms per tankful. We did not need fueling before reaching Mumbai borders.

The road back was fabulous and we were crusing in 3 digit speeds all day. Even bharuch was fine and we crossed that within 5-10 mins. On the way we stopped at a famous fast food chain called Jagdish (aka the Haldiram of Gujarat) and literally bit into everything we had yet not tasted in Gujarat. Here's an image to make you drool:

Divine Blessings - 2100 km Gujarat Road Trip-img_1217.jpg

Post this scrumptious lunch, the drive upto Vasai bridge was again fast yet busy and we wasted around 1.5 hrs stuck on the Vasai bridge (7-8.30 pm on Sunday!!).

Overall, this was my first experience driving in Gujarat and I absolutely loved the wide fast highways that satiated all my needs to rev my car to my liking.

Plus points on the car:

* New tyres made a world of difference to the ride quality and handling: I upgraded to Pirelli Scorpion ATRs (OEM size) at 33ks and did this trip around 46ks. See my rants on the crappy Apollo Apterra HPs here (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...st-sikkim.html (Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim))

* I also added suspension firmers from Roger Car Accessories which helped the notorious XUV bounciness to a large extent

* Braking quality was fantastic as we had a couple of heart in mouth moments when traffic came out of nowhere with no sense of speed or direction

Negatives on the car:

* Despite suspension firmers and imported tyres, XUVs ride quality is at best average. It pitches on every bump and has no ability to handle bad roads without jarring every passenger irrespective of his position within the car. In terms of ride quality, I believe the first row is the most comfortable followed by the second row and the third row

* The infamous system reboot happened again when we were using all the car Head Unit to the fullest. It took a good 3-5 mins to get the phones syncing and GPS working back to normal but we had to park on the side to get all this sorted

* During the journey, the driver's door suddenly lost correlation to the central locking system. Now when I lock the car, all doors lock except the drivers side and I need to use the key to lock it. Similarly, despite unlocking the window lock, my copassenger wasnt able to roll up/down the windows and I had to do it from the drivers side. This isnt a big deal but just another addition to the XUV niggles

Hope you enjoyed reading my travelogue!

Until next time, astalavista!!

Last edited by vikram31 : 28th November 2016 at 17:02.
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Old 28th November 2016, 19:21   #2
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