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Old 27th July 2017, 00:59   #1
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Smile Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

It was the month of December; college was closed for vacations, my routine had temporarily changed from starting my day early to lazy cold mornings. The excitement of being on vacations lasts only for a day and vanishes the very next day itself if you don’t have any plans. This vacation was nothing different!

It was a Monday, me and my parents were sipping on our evening cups of tea, discussing where could we go for a short trip to kill my vacation blues. But sadly, their tone seemed to be negative, maybe because of issues in getting their leave sanctioned. Some more sips later, my grandmother who was here in Mumbai for some routine check-ups called up my mother to ask if I could accompany her to her native in Konkan! Hearing that I was instantly glad! Finally I had a plan and also while returning, I would get an opportunity to travel alone for the very first time! All ALONE!

I decided to use the public transport this time, so that I could experience this mode of travel with the locals.

So now the day had arrived! I packed my essentials in a bag-pack, no unnecessary luggage; I generally prefer traveling light. Also, I had purposely not booked my return journey tickets, firstly because there was a big waiting list and secondly it would enable me to explore other options too for my journey back home!

The train we booked was a night train, we reached our boarding station 15 mins in advance but the train had arrived already, so we boarded the train and settled onto our berths.

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My grandma went to sleep as soon as the train started and switched off the lights; but I wasn’t sleepy at all! All I could think was what should I plan ahead! I had got this amazing opportunity to choose whichever route I want, to get back home! I was thinking of all the destinations I could cover, and while doing so I did not realize when did I fall asleep.

The next morning I woke-up to the spine-chilling breeze from the window. The sun was just rising, it was all foggy outside. The weather was just adding to my excitement!

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In a while, our train arrived at our station. We alighted the train and found out that there were someone waiting to welcome us!

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We reached home in a ‘Tumtum’ within a few minutes. The ambiance at my mother’s native place is magical I tell you! The house is surrounded by tall coconut and mango trees. My mood is always cheerful whenever I visit this place!

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In the meanwhile, the ‘Chulah‘ was lit in the backyard and my water was ready for bath. After having done with my daily chores, I sat down to finalize my course of action. The shortlisted places were Marleshwar, Ganpatipule and Mahalaxmi Temple of Kolhapur. Marleshwar is mesmerising in the monsoons and it won’t be wise to go there in the winter. Although I had been to Ganpatipule upteen times, it’s always a refreshing experience visiting this place. But again, going to the same place would mean wasting this golden opportunity!

It’s been a while since I wanted to visit the Mahalaxmi Temple and I had not explored the region above the ‘Western ghats‘ since childhood. So, I thought it would be the perfect option!

I quickly shared this idea with my grandma, but she was a bit skeptical and worried. But I was extremely determined and excited! I quickly took my phone, went to the State Transport website and booked my onward journey tickets from Kolhapur to Mumbai for that night itself! 9 p.m. departure. Times have changed, haven’t they?

Now the calculations started. The travel time was approximately 1 Hr 45 mins, so even if I reach by 6 p.m., I would have enough time to visit the Mahalaxmi Temple, have my dinner and board the bus. The frequency of buses to Kolhapur were good, so decided to catch a bus in the evening by 4 p.m. The whole afternoon was spent in dreaming about the upcoming trip, I did not even take a nap. The excitement had reached its peak!

Soon it was evening and I reached the bus stand 15 minutes early as usual. It wasn’t that crowded, just some localites waiting for their buses. The distinct sound of the ‘Ghungroo‘ from the sugarcane juice vendor near the bus stand could be heard. In a few minutes, the bus arrived and everyone rushed to the door! I was among them too, I wanted the window seat!

No, I did not get the window seat!

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I was continuously troubling the person at the window seat by clicking pictures every now and then. I’m sure he must have thought of me as a stupid over-enthusiastic tourist!

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But he did not utter a word, he rather was humble and carried a warm smile. This is what I was here for, to experience being with the locals! After a while, even I settled on my seat and waited for my stop to arrive.

I had not visited Kolhapur since my childhood, hence I had no idea about the vicinity. I checked the distance of Mahalaxmi Temple from my stop and it seemed to be a walk-able distance. Soon the conductor informed that it would reach ‘Rankala Lake’ stop in a couple of minutes! I quickly grabbed my bag-pack and stood in front of the door. As the bus halted, I alighted and asked a shopkeeper for directions to the Mahalaxmi Temple.

I started my march and checked the time, it was 6:15 p.m. Even though the temple wasn’t far from the bus stand, I did not have an idea how much time will it exactly take. Also, the bus to Mumbai was from a different depot which was a bit far from ‘Rankala’. I started walking faster. This was the time when I realized that I was alone and on my own. I was a bit anxious now about managing everything properly and catching the bus on time! I started taking larger steps. Soon I got the first glimpse of the temple!

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The wish of visiting the Mahalaxmi Temple was being realized. I entered the temple area and tried to find a way inside the shrine. There it was! A BIG QUEUE! I enquired with a couple of people about the time that the queue will take and learnt that it would take about an hour!

I definitely couldn’t wait for an hour, so I tried to find a place from where I could at least get a ‘Darshan’ of Goddess Mahalaxmi! Finally, after some stunts, I managed to get a view and sought her blessings.

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I looked at the watch and it was 6:45 p.m.! I had to make a move! I quickly bought some ‘Prasad’ from the adjoining shops and started my march back to the bus stop! Now at least the road till the bus stop was familiar and reached there in no time. I then enquired at the same shop about the buses which would take me to the main Depot, but the lady suggested me to take a ‘Share Rickshaw’ which were standing just across the road. I thanked her and went to the Rickshaw stand, told him that I wanted to go to the main Depot. He nodded and directed me to sit inside. We soon were 3 passengers and I was happy that we were good to go! But no! He wanted to accommodate one more! Oh God!

I checked the time and it was 7:10 p.m. already! I was still supposed to have my dinner after reaching the Depot area! Before I could request him, came another passenger and there we go! The depot was quite far, well, more than I had expected.

I reached the Depot by around 7:35 p.m. As soon as I paid the rickshaw driver I rushed to the Depot and searched for the enquiry counter. I showed him my ticket confirmation message on my phone; he nodded in affirmation. HUSH! I didn’t have to take a printout! I asked if the bus will leave on time and he said yes.

It was 7:45 p.m. I had another wish; to have ‘Tambda/Pandhra Rassa‘ when in Kolhapur! But now I only had an hour and 15 mins in hand. I roamed around the Depot area but did not find a hotel which could serve me those rassas! Now, all the excitement that I had in the afternoon was being eaten by my fear. Fear of missing the bus! I then thought of scrapping the ‘Rassa plan‘ and grabbing some handy snacks. After roaming a bit I laid my eyes on a pile of Chicken Lollipops! I ordered for a half plate and that just lifted my mood!

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It was 8:30 p.m. now! I thought I should now head back to the Depot and wait for the bus to arrive. I took a big walk inside the Depot looking for my platform. I managed to find it easily and went up to a conductor there and asked if my bus had not arrived (not left). He told me that the bus is yet to arrive and he himself was the conductor on duty! Now finally there were no worries.

It was 8:45 p.m. and I was sitting in the waiting area.

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I was thinking of all the things that had happened that day. Right from the excitement in the afternoon, to the continuous fear of missing the bus since I had reached here in Kolhapur. I was in a constant rush! Travelling alone was not as easy as I had thought it would be. When there’s someone with you, it’s always easier. You have someone to make a plan with, so that you can blame them when the plan doesn’t work out! (Pun intended)

As I was sitting there, I did not have anyone to talk to; I had been planning everything by myself, I had been ‘Travelling Alone‘!

This travelling alone thing definitely takes getting used to. Maybe the next time when I travel alone I would be much calmer; I hope. But having this experience is quite essential to know how you manage to keep your cool when you’re on your own!

Thanks for reading!

If you have had any such experiences, do share!


Here are some bonus photographs –

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Adventures while travelling alone using public transport-img_20151213_08361701.jpeg

Last edited by nishantdlv : 27th July 2017 at 18:21.
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Old 28th July 2017, 10:10   #2
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Default re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th July 2017, 17:26   #3
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Default re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Nice and lucky of you to travel alone, I was once lucky to travel all the way in a national permit truck from Mumbai to Bangalore and that was a great trip. The first time you travel alone is always exciting and I had my chance just after my school. Keep travelling and writing, cheers.
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Old 28th July 2017, 23:08   #4
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Default re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

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Originally Posted by majumon View Post
Nice and lucky of you to travel alone, I was once lucky to travel all the way in a national permit truck from Mumbai to Bangalore and that was a great trip. The first time you travel alone is always exciting and I had my chance just after my school. Keep travelling and writing, cheers.
That's really a different experience! Even I had got a chance to travel in a Truck, and surprisingly on the same route when I had last visited Kolhapur in my childhood days. Me, my mother and my grandmother had missed our last bus from Kolhapur to our native place in Vaibhavwadi. So we had to ask a lorry driver to drop us! As much as I enjoyed the ride, I was totally in terror, thinking that he might kidnap us!
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Old 31st July 2017, 15:35   #5
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Lovely report. Thanks for sharing.

I've done a fair bit of travel using public transport. My all time favorite are our trains followed by buses. I don't believe there is a public transport system in any part of the world that is as widespread and affordable as ours . Sure; we don't rank great on punctuality or quality of service but if there is some place you need to go, there will be a bus or a train that can take you there. I am referring to the same class of travel you went on. Not a fancy Volvo or 2 tier ac on a train.

The last journey I did using public transport was a mix of bus and train. I did it for the heck of it with my 5 year old. We traveled a total distance of around 250km. One way by general class on a train and the return by the lowest class of bus travel that Karnataka State offers, the Sarige bus service. The train journey was comfortable. The bus journey was a tough. We made a run to catch our bus and then our unreserved seats. We sat right behind the driver of a Leyland bus which struggled to hit even 70Kmph. The constant stop & go owing to bus stops along the way, bad roads, the loud clutch less gear shifts, the drone of the engine. It is all an experience. I sure nodded off for a few seconds by my son did not. We took almost 4 hours to cover a distance of 140km! Reached home around midnight. We hopped into a comfortable cozy Uber cab and reached home. For the 15 minutes or so we were in the cab, I was trying to picture the same journey in the quiet confines of the cab and how different it would have felt. It is such a contrasting experience.
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Old 31st July 2017, 17:27   #6
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Good t-log, reminds me of the times in my college days in Kolhapur, our journeys back to Mumbai would always be on the doors of the overnighter Mahalaxmi express. Those days this train had a lot of cops patrolling the tracks for robbery attempts with huge flashlights and always we got a reprimand from them for alighting at all and sundry stations at night.
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Old 31st July 2017, 17:31   #7
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Refreshing travelogue I must say. You have a sweet house to visit

I have a dream to travel by our ST buses ( MSRTC ) using that pass which I believe is a 7 or 15 day pass.
I some day dream to travel all the challenging Ghat routes that we have in Maharashtra by ST buses.

The place which I try to grab the most is the one next to driver. You get the best view and also get to enjoy the way that bus is being driven, only downside being engine noise.

Travelling solo by public transport is ultimate freedom, and more so in rains.
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Old 1st August 2017, 16:02   #8
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During my last leave, my family was more or less sure this time I would not set off on my wanderings on public transport as it was raining cats and dogs.

But how could I resist.?

This time it was a a brief 30 minute hop from Ernakulam to Vypin on one of these ramshackle government ferries. And the big boy you see alongside is another public transport vessel which I clicked while aboard the local ferry. It is one of the passenger ships which does the Kochi Lakshwadeep run.

And the biggest surprise - The cost of my 30 minute ferry ride with two enroute stops at Willingdon Island and Fort Kochi was only Rs 4.

The ferries are literally rust buckets and prone to breakdowns enroute . But there is going to be a big change in another couple of years as the Water Metro project is all set to be a reality with overseas funding and modern vessels.
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Old 1st August 2017, 16:06   #9
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Loved this unique travelogue and accompanying pictures. Brought back memories when i used to travel by bus and train from hostel to home. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
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Old 1st August 2017, 17:37   #10
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Quote:
Originally Posted by nishantdlv View Post

This travelling alone thing definitely takes getting used to. Maybe the next time when I travel alone I would be much calmer; I hope. But having this experience is quite essential to know how you manage to keep your cool when you’re on your own!
Traveling alone is definitely not easy and the first time is the most difficult. I still remember my first solo trip when I drove from Mumbai to Maravanthe, I stopped at the start of the express way thinking of taking a 'U' turn back home. But once I continued, I never looked back. I have done 3 solo trips since and its only getting more addictive. The feeling of loneliness is eventually replaced by a sense of calm and want of adventure.

Thanks for Sharing.

TIP: For your next adventure you can use apps which will help your loved ones keep a track of you via. GPS. There are ample around but I use Life360.
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Old 1st August 2017, 19:44   #11
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Default Re: Adventures while travelling alone using public transport

Travelling in MSRTC is a wonderful experience. They have their motto of "Gaon tithe ST" meaning where there is village there is ST, and boy they do have some connectivity! Have traveled by sitting in almost every part of the bus; seat, steps near the door, besides the driver on the engine!, even in that little place behind the drivers sear(!!!) .

Most of these bus drivers and conductors are extremely helpful. Traveling between main cities alone in bus is no big deal. Real fun is to travel remote places. Though not alone, but have lot of experiences to share. Being a trekker used to travel a lot to remote places in these buses.

I remember once we got down at a place much before the actual place, the bus went ahead a bit and stopped suddenly. Next we see driver hanging out of the door shouting at us to come back and sit as we got down at the wrong place!

There was this incident when online reservation was just introduced. We had booked one bus for a remote location. When we arrived near the bus to show our reservation printout, the conductor was shocked and said what kind of reservation is this. We had to explain him the entire online process .

Nishant, you have your native in one of the most beautiful parts of Maharashtra. Travel there locally without any fear. People are helpful beyond imagination.

Last edited by Dodge_Viper : 1st August 2017 at 19:45.
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Old 2nd August 2017, 15:17   #12
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Originally Posted by Dodge_Viper View Post
Travelling in MSRTC is a wonderful experience. ....
There was this incident when online reservation was just introduced. We had booked one bus for a remote location. When we arrived near the bus to show our reservation printout, the conductor was shocked and said what kind of reservation is this. We had to explain him the entire online process .
Great first-timers read up! Evoked many memories!

I had a similar experience when boarding an HPRTC bus Delhi to Shimla those days.

I showed him the B&W printout of the online seat reservation and his response
was "Where is the original ticket, why have you got along this xerox copy to show me?" Big face palm moment :-)

Last edited by ketantendulkar : 2nd August 2017 at 15:19.
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