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Old 2nd February 2008, 18:28   #1
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Default 6000 kms road trip travelogue (Mumbai-HP-Punjab-Jammu-Raj.-Ahmedabad-Mumbai)-PART-II

PART-I covered Mumbai-Mandi- Manali-Rohtang-Manikaran-Dharmsala- and upto Amritsar

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-part-1-a.html (6000 kms road trip travelogue (Mumbai-HP-Punjab-Jammu-Raj.-Ahmedabad-Mumbai)-PART-1)

Here is PART-II covering
Amritsar-Jammu -Vaishno Devi- Shimla-Jaipur-Ranthambore-Mumbai

1st November’07

Sarthak had a bad stomach last night but was OK after taking medicines. We got up a bit late & then followed up our morning rituals. Around 10:15 AM we were ready for the day. Decided to hire an auto for Golden temple visit as I was not particularly aware about the road directions & parking. We reached Golden Temple premises around 11:00 AM. So was the sanctity & vastness of the temple that we all were left mesmerized. Golden & White color combination of temple premise appeared so divine.

After taking “Prasad” from designated place in premises itself, we queued up for “darshana”. Next half an hour fulfilled our long due wish of registering our presence in Guru Sahib’s durbar. Later we sat for a while on the floor of premises appreciating our devotional, cultural lineage and obviously the architectural details of the temple.

Came out of the temple around 12:15 headed straight to Jaliyan wala bagh which is very close to the Golden temple premises. While entering the Jaliyan wala bagh, what struck us the most was the narrowness of the lane & gate of otherwise closed garden from all side. The place from where Gen. Dyer ordered firing was just in front of this gate. Memories from school days history book got revived like anything. Stories of martyrdom were all around this place. Preserved bullet marks, the martyr well is a virtually a testimony of cruelty of “Raj” on Indians. Museum inside this complex is worth a visit to understand the socio-politico situation at that time leading to Jalaiyan wala bagh massacre. We left the the garden after paying our respect to martyrs but obviously with some introspective sober mood.

We took the auto back to our hotel. After freshening up , we left the hotel for Durgyani temple in our car. Idea was to do the darshan at temple & leave for Wagah border from there with a lunch break in between. Though it was quite rush there in Durgyani temple, we could perform darshan & puja in half an hour. It was already 2:15 PM. so left for the Wagah post which is just 40kms from Amritsar. Stopped over on a highway dhaba for this fabulous typical Punjabi lunch.

Generally, the retreat ceremony at Wagah post takes place around 6:00 PM but people from both side starts arriving from 4:00PM to get the best place to sit in viewer’s gallery. We were there at the post around 4:30 PM. After parking the car, one has to walk down for half a km to reach the viewer’s gallery. We were all so excited about the fact that we were so close to Pakistan border & infact could see the Pakistani trucks inside our territory offloading cargo at custom house. A little more stretch & one can see the Pakistan territory.

Once in viewer’s gallery, the atmosphere was full of patriotic flavour. Patriotic songs from both the side was in full fervor. Fully decorated BSF soldiers were ready for the ceremony. We also joined the chorus of “Baharat Mata ki Jai”. It was so heartening to see close to 4000 people from the various part of the country came to see this retreat ceremony. And the moment came when aggressive parading started between Pakistan Rangers & BSF to close the respective gates. I tell you this sight is so rare in parading. With this the flags of respective country were brought down with full honors. The whole retreat ceremony as such will remain sketched on our mind for long.

Slowly the crowd started disbursing. After that we went to buy some Wagah memorabilia from BSF stalls & then headed back to Amritsar amid thoughts of man made border at Wagah.

It was 7:30 PM when we reached back to Amritsar. Then we decided to visit Ram Tirth temple which is around 15 kms from the city. The temple as such looks quite ordinary from outside but once inside, you have this fine display of sculpture & artistry. A few of the idols certainly left us spell bound with the detailing. After spending an hour or so we left the place for hotel.

Once in hotel, we started planning for the next day as we had to leave for Katara for Viasho Devi. Decided to leave by 10:00 AM next day so that we could reach Katara before sunset. After that we had our dinner & kept on discussing about our journey so far. Finally all of us retired to the bed.

Halt destination: AMRITSAR
Total distance covered on 1stNov’07: 115 km

(Swarn Mandir- Golden temple- Amritsar)

(Innocent & Unarmed Indians were fired upon from this place in Jaliyanwala)

(Flag lowering- two nations)

(BSF jawans & Pakistani rangers- At wagah post)

(Bsf jawan & Sarthak-At Wagah)

(Artwork at Ramteerth temple-Amritsar)

2nd November’07

Though we thought to leave early today for Katra but Sarthak’s bad stomach condition persisted and set us back by couple of hours behind the plan. It took us sometime to locate some probiotic medicine for Sarthak. So we could leave only around 11:00AM. We took the same route by which we came to Amritsar from Pathankot i.e. via Gurdaspur. But this time around it was daytime and because of that rural traffic was quite heavy on this road. Tractors, bullock carts, cyclists & state bus service forced us to drive at moderate speed of 60-70-kmph. As such it was a pleasant drive because it gave us glimpses of rural Punjab specially the lush green agricultural fields with mustard seed crop.

Around 1:00 PM, we were approaching Pathankot. Refueled at the same Reliance pump at which we fueled while coming to Amritsar. Once we reached Pathankot around 1:40 PM, we took the bypass road to Jammu. After some distance this road merges with Jammu-Srinagar NH-1A. It was already lunch time so decided to take lunch break at a Vaishnavi Dhaba. Excellent dal makhani though. After lunch, we started again for Jammu. Soon we were crossing the Jammu-Punjab border.

We reached Lakhnapur toll plaza around 3:00 PM. Paid up toll of rs.70.00. As such road is good and double laned but at many place four laning is in progress leading to a number of diversions and above that heavy traffic. Avg. driving speed was close 40 kmph. One can not miss to notice the heavy presence of military vehicles on the road. After passing through couple of river bridges, we were approaching Samba sector…very famous war zone of 1965 & 1971.

In Samba sector, we saw hundreds of artillery units kept inside wire fenced highly protected garrison area. Thereon to Jammu, highly fortified gates, bunkers, watch towers with gun totting soldiers spread all over on all military & govt. installations kept us reminding that we are now inside the militancy infested area.

Around 5:00 PM we reached outskirts of Jammu. About 9 KM before Jammu town, a bypass road emerges and ultimately joins with Srinagar NH-1A. This road though in bad shape, is good option if one wants to bypass chaotic traffic of Jammu town. We took this road & after a while we bypassed Jammu & headed towards Katra which was another 30 km from here. Now, again mountainous road started. It took us another 30 minutes to reach to the junction from where we left the Srinagar NH-1A & took the left turn towards Katra.

Hereon, road condition was too bad & coupled with ascend; driving was not at all pleasurable. With 30 kmph, we kept on ascending to Katra. Our car was thoroughly checked at Police check post before entering into the Katra town. Around 7:45 we reached Katra & quickly located ourselves in Hotel Surya Palace. Good place to stay if not the best.

After refreshing ourselves, we came out for a walk in Katra market. One can see well lit roads going upto the Vaishno Mata shrine on Trikuta hills. We also enquired about the climbing distances, yatra registration & availability of Pithoo etc. After that we returned to hotel room & had our dinner. Kept on discussing, how to manage our climb upto the shrine which is about 13km from base station Katra. We decided to start our Yatra around 8:00 AM next day. Tomorrow was expected to be tough day for us but for our machine, this was going to be the first complete rest day.

Halt destination: KATRA
Total distance covered on 2ndNov’07: 208 km
Toll plazas crossed: 02

3rd November’07

At around 8:15, after breakfast, we straight headed to yatra registration counter near Katra bus stand. Hotel provided the drop facility. After registration we bought four sticks so as to get support for climbing. We also hired a person who could take my devil on his shoulders as and when required. After all these arrangements we went for security check. While security check, we were told that that handycams are not allowed and the same have to be deposited at private cloak room. After depositing handycam, we started our climb.

First two kms went of in initial enthusiasm. And then slowly, climb started becoming steeper & steeper. We took few stretches of 500+ steps instead of ramp to cover up some distances. I tell you this was real tough. Slogans of “Jai Mata Di” were in air and it was of so obvious support while climbing. With some short breaks for water & tea, we kept on climbing to half way mark (about 6.5kms) called “Ardh Kumari”. It took us close to 1:45 minutes to do this stretch which was much better than the average speed.

From “Ardh Kumari”, the steepness of climb gentles down and is a bit easier to climb. Now a days battery operated autos are available from Ardh kumari to Bhavan (Vaishno Mata Shrine) for elderly people or physically challenged people. Also chopper services available from Katra to the shrine.

Slowly, taking the support of the stick, we went on climbing. Though it was tiring journey so far but we were enjoying it, especially Sarthak who was on & off from shoulders. Slowly we were approaching the Shrine. The scene from the top was truly spectacular & the weather fabulous. With blessings of Jai Mata Di, we were queuing up for darshan around 1:30 PM. Passing though manmade tunnel we reached the sacred cave temple. Once there, our long due wish come true. After taking blessings we came out of the cave virtually untired even after 13kms of climb.

Now it was around 2:30 PM, so decided to take lunch before climbing down. And we went to this so called food court nearby. So was the crowd that it took us for a while to get our stuff. Very ordinary stuff at high cost. These people take pilgrims for a ride.

Anyway, we started our descend. Up to Ardh kumari we reached really fast and there onwards, we got rid of the myth that stepping down is easier than stepping up. Our legs would virtually get locked but the sticks came on for our rescue again. After taking many breaks in between, we came down back to Katra….completely tired but feeling privileged to have darshan of Jai Mata Di.

I tell you from my heart that when we left Mumbai, we didn’t have any plan at all to visit Vaishno Devi. The visit was totally unscheduled. There is a saying that “Only when call from Mata comes then only one gets an opportunity to come to her”. In our case it was right in toto.

Came to hotel around 7:00PM & all of us put our feet in warm water so as to get some reprieve from muscle stretches. Ordered for dinner & started discussing the plan henceforth. We all decided to start early next day so as to reach Jullundher for night halt in our way to Shimla. Going back to HP again was a bit awkward if follow the optimum route map to Shimla but then this is what I call flexibility when you are traveling by your own car.
After Dinner, we could have hardly spoken a word before falling asleep.

Halt destination: KATRA
Total distance covered on 3rdNov’07: 28 km (on foot)

(View of Katra from from Ardh kumari- vaishno Devi)

(Rest at steps- sarthak,Rajan & Neeta-Vaishno Devi)

(Trikuta Hills & Bhavan- vaishno Devi Shrine)

4th November’07

We all got up early around 6:30 AM. Yesterday’s fatigue was still persisting but was manageable. After breakfast we left hotel around 8:30 AM for our next stretch of journey. In the way we stopped to load our water bottle supplies for the day. It took us some time before we got hold of NH-1A but once on highway we started cruising towards Jammu. We wanted to reach Pathankot before the lunch. As such drive from Katra to Pathankot is through very picturesque landscape. Rocky & conglomeratic rivers, Wild life sanctuary & mountains make this stretch worth a drive across.

By 1:00 PM, we were in outskirts of Pathankot again. Refueled again at Reliance bunk though the tank was still on half way mark. Decided to break for lunch after crossing Pathankot. Bad traffic condition within Pathankot city due to flyover construction. We crawled through the traffic & diversions to cross the Pathankot city. After leaving Pathankot behind we decided to break for lunch around 2:30 PM. Again we landed up on highway dhaba. Excellent food far better than these so called authentic Punjabi cuisines being served out in many metro joints. After some ice cream & rest we resumed our journey ahead around 3:30 PM.

As such the road is two laned & good surfaced but heavily infested with tractors & trucks. Overtaking operation became quite frequent. But still we could mange to do 70-80kmph in stretches. Just when we were about 40km before Jullundher, we saw a road emanating towards left hand side for Chandigrah (180kms) via Hoshiarpur.

We asked the locals about the road condition upto Chandigarh. They told us that this one is excellent road. Earlier we planned to carry on over GT road from Jullundher to Rajapura & then take turn towards Kalka road via Punchkula. We did some quick rethinking & dropped our idea of our night halt at Jullundher. Instead, decided to march ahead to Chandigarh on this road. The only problem was sun filmed windows of my car. Somehow we convinced ourselves that we would stay in outskirts of Chandigarh for the night & next morning we will cross Chandigrah with windows rolled down in our way to Shimla.

Watch was clocking 5:30PM. Next thing we did was to leave GT road & took this road towards Hoshiarpur, another 35kms from this place. The road was really superb & very well marked. We reached Hoshiarpur in no time. Took a break for tea & snacks before starting our next stretch to Chandigarh around 6:30 PM. Though we were a bit tired but spirits were still high.

Very good & well marked road continued beyond Hoshiarpur also. I again started doing 80-110 kmph band. With this speed we quickly did 70 odd km stretch in 75 minutes. We were just left with 80-90kms to Chandigarh. Then again suddenly a change of plan occurred. What happened that when we were crossing one junction from where left road goes to Nangal which is about 30kms, suddenly each of us wanted to do Bhakra-Nangal dam visit.

So we enquired locals about the availability of hotels in Nangal for the night stay. They said that hotels are available. So we left the road to Chandigrah & took the road to Nangal. Taking this pothole ridden road we reached Nangal around 8:45 PM. Idea was to stay in Nangal & do the dam sights next morning & then leave for Shimla in afternoon.

We started looking for hotels in this sleepy & small town. What we were getting was these dingy lodges near station & markets. Kept on searching for hotel but we couldn’t find any in next 45 minutes. For one thing, we all were very sure that we don’t want to stay in these dingy & suspicious looking lodges. Time was running out fast & we had to take a decision what to do next.

Ultimately around 9:30 PM, we decided to leave for Chandigrah and give a skip to dam visit. Though we were disappointed to give a miss to dam visit but considering the hotel availability, it was a wise decision. With enough fruits, snacks & water in the car, we decided to move on.

We took the road via Anandpur Sahib. Road as such was very good and we thought to do Chandigrah (about 100 kms) in one an half hour on this kind of road. But after crossing Anandpur sahib, road condition started deteriorating & became virtually nightmarish. Late night driving on this very lonely road was making us very anxious but after 5 km of bad road stretch, we again got the good road in form of highway NH-21. Now with full throttle, we reached Rupnagar around 11:10 PM. With another 30 minutes high speed drive, we were in Chandigrah around 11:45 PM. Next problem started.

We couldn’t locate any hotel in outskirts of Chandigarh & eventually had to go to sector-22 to get a descent hotel. While we were about to fix the hotel, I asked an auto driver about prevailing rules for sun filmed window glasses in Chandigrah. He said the same thing about challan & ceasing of driving license. Now it was getting tough on us to take a call whether it is worth staying in Chandigrah for the night.

Though we were completely tired, we decided to leave Chandigrah for Shimla in same breathe around 12:100AM. Decided that if we could get a hotel in the way then we will take night halt otherwise will try to reach Shimla. I asked my wife to go for sleep on rear seat. I was very tired after 17 hrs of driving & so was my brother. We washed our face with cold water after crossing Panchkula so as to prepare ourselves for night driving.

Soon were reaching Kalka around 1:00 AM & then my brother saw this freshly inaugurated hotel called “Classic” just sideway to the road. We decided to take a call if room is available. Yes it was available but expensive though. We decided to halt for the night here. Since hotel was inaugurated today itself so we were the first guest to occupy the room. Today after so many days we covered more than 500 kms in a day.
I must say, this was the best hotel of this trip. Rooms were very well appointed, comfortable beds & furniture comparable to many five star hotels.

It was clocking 1:15 AM & we all were hungry. Asked the manager & cook if something can be arranged. They obliged us by saying that they can serve ‘Uthappam” with sambar. What else one could have wished for in this late night hours. I must say that this was the tastiest “Uthapam’ I ever had. Perhaps because we were so tired & hungry that the food came as a divine booty. We thanked manger & cook for their service & headed straight to the bed. So tired we were that it took us a while before we could accustom ourselves with the comfort of the bed before falling asleep like childs.

Halt destination: KALKA
Total distance covered on 4thNov’07: 540 kms
Toll plazas crossed: 04

5th November’07

We all had wonderful sleep after tiring journey last night. We were up around 9:00 AM & ready to leave hotel around 11:00 AM after real heavy breakfast. Shimla is just about 90km. from this place so we were not in hurry. After passing through narrow & crowded road of Kalka, we started our ascend. Amid spectacular sights all over, I kept on driving at moderate speeds so as to enjoy the surroundings. No doubt that the road to Shimla is very good though quite tortuous. We stopped couple of places to have a look of valleys and ropeways. Around 12:20, we reached Solan.

Continued with moderate but steady pace and refueled at BP gas station before reaching Shimla as there is no Reliance gas station on Kalka-Shimla road. Around 2:45, we were in Shimla. This was our second time in Shimla. We took the help of the local guide agent on roadside to locate a good hotel. Ultimately we settled down to Hotel Pine view near Mall road. Though we were close to Mall road but even for this we had to climb 150+ steps to actually reach mall road. As such hotel was good and offered fantastic view of green valley. The architecture & weather in Shimla is such that, it still preserves old British charm.

After refreshing in hotel room, we went to mall road to have some bites as we skipped our lunch today. After sandwiches, chick. rolls & coffee, we kept on strolling on mall road. Though it was quite cold there but ambience at mall road was completely abuzz with tourists. I think visit to Shimla will remain incomplete if one has not spent time strolling over mall road. After some shopping we came back to hotel around 8:00PM. Asked for dinner & kept on discussing the next day’s plan for Shimla tour.

Halt destination: Shimla
Total distance covered on 5thNov’07: 92 kms
Toll plazas crossed: 1

6th November’07

After breakfast, we drove down to our first destination of the day “Kufri” around 10:30. We did hire a road guide who accompanied us. Odd 20kms of drive through picturesque landscape, we were in Kufri. We hired three ponies to take us to the sight points. In general, Kufri is at its best when snow falls take place during December but for that to happen, another month has to pass by. Nevertheless, it was quite cold there. We could see the distant mountains & valleys from Kufri. Beautiful sights everywhere.
After spending one and half hour in Kufri, we came back to our car around 12:30PM and headed to next destination.

In the way we could see the valleys covered with lush green dense forest. The view was perfect & the best what nature could offer us. We stopped on roadside bend for 15 minutes for this sight before heading to the destination where many films have been shot in the past. It took us close to one and half hour to reach the place. I actually forgot the name of the place. But it was not as tempting as the rest of sights Just those typical filmy connections on any famous hill stations. But yes the Golf course near to this place obviously, was very tempting though. It was already getting close to 3:30 PM, so we decided to go back to Shimla.

Next place in the itinerary was to visit “Indian Institute of Advanced studies” or erstwhile Viceroy’s palace. We just reached there before the last call of closing time i.e. 5:30 PM. The building is located on a hill top & its architecture left us completely mesmerized. The woodcraft worked out on interiors of the main building is so intricate that one has to touch it to believe it. Only problem that photography isn’t allowed inside. After spending about an hour or so at this extremely beautiful sight, we headed back to Shimla town.

Once in Shimla town, we decided to go for a long stroll at mall road again. But no one among us was ready to take 200+ steps from our hotel premises. But the guide told us that there are couple of lifts about hundred yards away from bus stand and can be used to reach directly at mall road after paying Rs. 7/- per person. So we parked our car in parking stand & took the lift which took us directly to mall road. Must say that this was very useful public amenity. We walked around the mall road lazily for couple of hours amid snacking, munching & shopping. After that we came back to our hotel.

Now the Shimla trip was over and we started planning for the next destination. Our next tourist destination was Ranthambore. But to reach there, we again kept our night halt destinations open for changes but would have liked to carry up to Jaipur next day. So we decided to leave Shimla by 8:30 AM. next day.

Halt destination: Shimla
Total distance covered on 6thNov’07: 80 kms

(On kalka-Shimla Road)

(View from Kufri-Shimla)

(View from Kufri-Shimla)

(Flying Sarthak at kufri)

(Dense Jungle view- Shimla)

(Shade and Sun view from Hotel room- Shimla)

(International Institute of Advanced Studies)

7th November’07

Got up early today & packed our bags. We left the hotel around 8:30 AM. Driving down from Shimla is equally challenging specially on those curves. But we quickly covered 45 kms. Since we didn’t had the breakfast so we stopped for breakfast. After sumptuous b/f, we were again on with the job. Around 11:30 we were crossing Pinjore town. Little traffic congestion there but not much problem. We had already developed a sense of familiarity with this road.

Around 12:30 we passed flyover construction chaos at Ambala –Chandigarh crossing and headed towards Rajpura. We got car refueled at Reliance pump at Rajpura.

From Rajpura, we got hold of GT road at around 1:45 PM and started cruising at 110kmph with. In no time we passed Ambala & were approaching Karnal then thought to break for lunch around 2:45PM. We stopped at a Punjabi dhaba & had our lunch. Around 3:30 PM we resumed our journey ahead.

After an our or so drive we reached Panipat & then our fear came reality. Huge traffic jam due to flyover construction activity. 5-6 lanes of truck-tractor-auto-cars & what not. Now we started realizing that it won’t be possible to take a call on Jaipur today. We anxiously waited to get this traffic jam to get over.

After two hours & hell lot of maneuvering, we managed to cross the jam & took the road to Rohtak. It took us about one & half hour to reach Rohtak. It was getting dark & when I switched headlights on, I found that left side bulb has gone blind. Stopped the car & changed the bulb before moving to Rohtak.

When we were crossing Rohtak around 7:30PM, we did a quick rethink of the plan ahead. We knew we could reach Jaipur in same breathe but would be mid night by then and locating hotels etc. won’t be easy. Also we were not aware about motels at Delhi-Jaipur highway (though later next day we could find many motels on the highway) so decided to call of the day in Rohtak itself. We could locate a reasonable hotel “Sagar Villa” good enough for the night. Freshened up and had our dinner. We kept watching TV till late night before falling asleep.

Halt destination: Rohtak
Total distance covered on 7thNov’07: 358 kms
Toll Plazas crossed: 03

8th November’07

We took our time today to start the day. After b/f we left Rohtak around 10:30 AM. Crossing Rohtak town itself took 45 minutes because of diversions. Now we were cruising towards Rewari. Rewari town was its chaotic best since when we reached there. People were busy for Diwali shopping making driving a bit difficult through these roads. Once we crossed Rewari, it took us another 45 minutes to get hold of Delhi-Jaipur national highway.

We kept noticing the availability of motels on this stretch highway, just to keep it handy for next time when we travel on this route. Pleasantly surprised to notice a number of nice looking motels side by to highway. Had we knew this earlier, we would have taken last night’s halt here instead of Rohtak. Anyway, good information for next time.

Since the road was good I kept on pushing the pedal to 120kmph. Around 2:45, we stopped for lunch. It took us little more time than usual to get our food at this dhaba but we were also not in a hurry. After lunch, we refueled at Reliance station & resumed our onward journey around 4:00PM. Got held up in a highway traffic jam near Kotpotli. It took us 45 minutes to get out of this jam. After that it was smooth driving upto Jaipur. We reached Jaipur around 6:15 PM.

For a while we explored the possibility of continuing upto Ranthambore (Sawain Madhopur) but decided to take a break at Jaipur itself. Jaipur at that time was having a complete festive look, so we spent some time just driving on different roads. When last time when we came to Jaipur we stayed in Hotel Araya Niwas on MG road. This hotel is excellent proposition for VFM.

As we were trying to move towards MG Road, we came to know about huge traffic jam on MG road. So we abandoned our idea of staying in Arya Niwas. Instead we moved on outer periphery of Jaipur towards Tonk road. We could locate a just okay hotel “Padmini” near Birla temple. I must say the acoustic of hotel was really bad & throughout the night even the little noise kept on coming to the room. But any way this was safer bet than facing traffic jams at MG road.

After getting refreshed we went outside for dinner & came back to the room around 9:30 AM. Next day was Diwali and we had the planned to move to Ranthambore

Halt destination: Jaipur
Total distance covered on 8thNov’07: 329 kms
Toll Plazas crossed: 01

9th November’07

We left hotel around 8:30 AM after taking our water and snack supplies & headed straight to Tonk road. After half an hour of drive we were almost out of the Jaipur. Tonk is about 100 kms from Jaipur. From Tonk, Ranthambore is about 60 kms. As such the road condition is fabulous upto Tonk & but is very lonely. Not even good dhabas. Last night we took the right decision to stay back in Jaipur.

Anyway when we saw a trucker’s dhaba, we stopped for our b/f. After that we resumed our journey. Around 11:00 AM we reached Tonk and took left towards Sawain Madhopur. The road condition is particularly bad at this stretch. Rubbly surface & edgy potholes all through. After couple of hours of drive we reached Sawain Madhopur. Refueled there at Reliance pump and headed straight to Ranthambore which is about 7km from the city.

In ten minutes or so, we were standing in front of forest department counter to book ourselves a Gypsy for tiger safari as privte vehicles are not allowed inside. At the counter there was this huge crowd of local agents doing the booking for different hotel guests. There was complete nexus between forest officials at the booking counter and the agents for booking the seats on Gypsy or canter. We came to know that the last trip for day is around 3:30 PM.

We thought that it won’t be possible to get the booking today. But in meantime, we got hold of one forest official & said that genuine tourists who want to visit the park should be given preference over these agents who are doing proxy bookings. Somehow, Rajan convinced them after half an hour argument and threat of complains, they budged. We wanted to have Gypsy for our family but they said all have been booked (though they had kept a few to sell the seats after taking bribe). But we ignored their indications and settled for four seats in a canter.

I parked the car in premises of a dhaba just across the road as there was no parking space as such. Since food items are not allowed inside the park, we quickly had some bites at the same dhaba before taking up the canter around 3:45PM.

We reached Ranthambore tiger park gate within five minutes. We came to know that park has been divided into 5-6 zones. Our canter was allotted zone five inside the park after a lottery at the gate. This is done to regulate safari tourists inside the park. We quickly entered into the park and started moving towards zone-5. Riding open hard suspension canter amid cold winds & undulating pathways was really challenging but very fascinating. We had to strive hard to keep ourselves on the seat. I kept Sarthak tightly held. By this time all of us were caught up in tiger-mania.

Beautiful forest area & ideal place for tiger safari. Old fort inside the park gives a different charm altogether. Ranthambore is famous for its tigers. It is also said that if you want to spot a tiger in its wild habitat, then there is no place in the world better than Ranthambore. But sad though, relentless poaching has left just little over 30 tigers in this park.

Suddenly we saw 3-4 canters ahead of us stopped. Our canter also stopped & ignition off. Pin drop silence. We got excited that someone might have spotted the tiger but no….this was a group of antelopes. After spending close to one and half hour, we couldn’t spot any tiger…very disappointed. Apart from tigers we could see many antelopes, monkeys & birds...but no tigers!!

When we were coming back our wildlife guide spotted the pugmarks on the pathway. When he asked at near by forest post, the man informed that the tiger has just passed from here. We waited there silently for 15 minutes for a rare sight of the tiger but never happened. Since Sun had gone down, we left the park and came out. Though we were a bit disappointed, but we thoroughly enjoyed the ambience & adventure of Ranathambore.

We came back to dhaba where we had parked our car. After some snacks & tea, we decided to stay back in Ranthambore for the night. We could locate a reasonably good hotel Raj Palace Resort nearby. After freshening up we came outside for a walk to see Diwali lightings. Sarthak had his day with some crackers. Then we went to a emporium where excellent collections of paintings on tiger theme was on the sale. Spent sometime there & bought some paintings and came back to the hotel.

Then we feasted in hotel room to celebrate Diwali.

Halt destination: Ranthambore
Total distance covered on 9thNov’07: 178kms
Toll Plazas crossed: 01

(Ranthambore national park entrance)

(Deer- Around the tree-In Ranthambore)

(Curious onlookers-Antelopes in Ranthambore)

(if not the tiger let be its "pugmark")

10th November’07

Now it was time to return after covering all the places in the itinerary. We started around 9:00 AM and targeted to reach Gandhinagar for night halt. We carried upto Tonk with the same road by which came and then from Tonk we took the road towards Deoli.

We reached Deoli around 1:15 PM after driving 170 odd kms from Ranthambore. Tonk-Deoli road was good one .We took lunch break at a dhaba just before Deoli. After Deoli we took turn towards Jahajpur. This 20 km. road was single lane & full of potholes but somehow negotiating with them, we reached Jahajpur.

From Jahajpur, we took the road which connects to NH-76 stretch of GQ near Bhilwara. This road was in general good and took us one and half hour to do 70kms.

Once on GQ, we started cruising effortlessly at 120 kmph and in no time we reached Chittorgarh. Around 4:15PM we crossed the Chittorgrah & kept cruising towards Udaipur. Excellent road coupled with power of Fusion, we were touched Udaipur around 5:45PM. We took a tea break.

And after refreshing ourselves we resumed our journey again. GQ has virtually changed the way do the road travel. Very well marked & four lane road for safe & speedy drive. After refueling at Bichuwada, we reached Gandhinagar and quickly put ourselves in Hotel Haveli for the night. We knew this comfortable hotel since our last trip so it didn’t take us time to locate it. Dinner & then the bed.

Halt destination: Gandhinagar
Total distance covered on 10thNov’07: 667 kms
Toll Plazas crossed: 07

11th November’07

Once in Gandhinagar, we felt that we are in our backyard though 500+kms still to go. We left hotel around 10:00 AM and went for Akshardham temple visit before heading to Mumbai around 11:45AM.

Crossed Bharuch around 3:00 PM. Since this trip was getting almost over, we started planning destinations to our next trip so as too keep ourselves engaged. Refueld the car near Vapi. We reached Kharghar, Navi Mumbai residence safe & sound around 10:30PM after taking the last dinner of this trip. We covered almost 580kms today.

Halt Destination :
Total distance covered on 11thNov’07: 582 kms
Toll Plazas crossed: 09
Total Distance covered in this trip: 5828 Kms
Fuel consumption (after leaving the remaining): 422 liters of petrol
FE= 13.85 kms/l (except for HP & Jammu where AC was on 25% time & rest of the journey it was on for almost 90% time)

This was a quite a long trip from any sense of measurement. Our machine (fusion) has given no trouble to us. After this trip, my confidence on Ford engineering has futher increased. This car, it seems are meant for this kind of trip. 13.85 km/l with 1.6 liter Duratec is excellent considering the mountainous roads & AC usage pattern.

To us, the only inspiration for this kind of trip is to see and indulge in the variety which our great country has, to the extent possible in our lifetime.
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Old 2nd February 2008, 22:27   #2
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Nice report and good pics. Too big a report dude...
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Old 3rd February 2008, 10:41   #3
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wonderful travelogue. One gets the feeling that he is travelling with you. Thanks for the descriptive narration making it very easy for anyone wishing to undertake the same route. Planning of night halts and estimation of distances that can be covered on a particular stretch becomes relatively easy on this route now.
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Old 3rd February 2008, 13:16   #4
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I was looking forward to this after reading Part I and enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing it. Reports like this are inspiration to a lot of us who would like to do such long trips.
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Old 3rd February 2008, 14:02   #5
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nice report of an awesome trip !! Hope fully I might just do a road trip this year after reading this !!

ps- anyone want to join in ?
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Old 3rd February 2008, 14:30   #6
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WOW!! What a beautiful building.
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Old 3rd February 2008, 14:31   #7
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Originally Posted by normally_crazy View Post

ps- anyone want to join in ?
When do you plan to do it?
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Old 4th February 2008, 12:21   #8
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Originally Posted by khanak View Post

WOW!! What a beautiful building.
I think that is the Vice-Regal Lodge, where the India Pak partition was signed, and also the Shimla agreement.
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Old 4th February 2008, 13:25   #9
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@vnabhi- Yes, this is Vice Regal Lodge only. In 1965, "Indian Institute of Advanced Studies" ( & not international as i wrote in caption of pics) moved here and so the present name.

You are right that India-Pak partition was signed here but the Shimla agreement was signed at "Shilon Resort".

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