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Old 15th July 2008, 15:09   #1
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Default My Travelogue:- From Pune to Kalimpong - 2700 Kms

My Travelogue: Pune to Kalimpong (Darjeeling) - 5th to 8th Jul 2008

I had been planning for this trip for the past one month. This trip was more a necessity to me rather than a pleasure trip as I had to travel overseas to Germany for atleast 3 to 4 months and I had no option but to drop Shogun (my labrador dog) at my in-laws' place at Kalimpong.

Two days prior to the trip, I visited CROSSWORD and got myself maps of all the states which I was going to traverse (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa & West Bengal). The day before I was to embark, I visited MAA Automobiles (Hyundai ASC) in Pune and asked them to do a general checkup of my car (Santro Xing XL). The last thing I wanted to encounter was that some part of my car should fall off on the highway and I am left stranded in the middle of nowhere. I voiced this concern to the mechanic and he says with a smirk - "Aisa kabhi nahin hota saaar". He said that I needed a change of Wiper Blades and I got it replaced. My next visit was to the Chatrushinghi Petrol Pump to get my tyre pressure checked. The attendant says to me that instead of filling up ordinary Air I should go in for 'Nitrogen Air' which is new and I need not worry about my tyre pressure for the next 6 months. I said why not and he deflated all tyres completely and filled them up with Nitrogen including the spare tyre. He charged me Rs.25/- per tyre. Now, I was all ready for the trip

Initially, I had planned the following itinerary:

Day 1: Start at Pune early and reach Vijayawada (Distance 814 Kms)

Day 2: Start at Vijayawada and reach Bhubaneshwar (Distance 820 Kms

Day 3: Start at Bhubaneshwar and reach Kalimpong (Distance 1029 Kms).

Though I was skeptical of Day 3, I thought I'll try my best. In response to the above plan which I shared on the forum, HV Kumar, a ‘distinguished BHPian’, whom I'm sure most of you know, jolted me out of my dreams and said that my plan is too ambitious and I need to revise it. I thought OK, in the worst case scenario, I would have to take one more break at Kolkata. He also forewarned me about the bad road conditions in Orissa and the fuel shortages in the south and was kind enough to give me his personal mobile number in case I needed any assistance on the way. Just for the record, Thank you so much HVK for the concern and the step by step guidance which you gave me on the way. It really helped.

The night before I was to start, both I and wifey were very excited and apprehensive as this was the first time we were going on such a long road trip. Shogun somehow sensed our excitement and he was also jumping all over the house. We all had a light dinner and the packing took up some more hours and by the time we hit the sack, it was almost 1 in the night. We couldn't sleep much and were up by 3 A.M. After our ablutions and a cuppa, we hit the road at 4:30 A.M. I reset my trip-o-meter to Zero and started off on Ahmednagar road, took the bypass to Mundhwa and joined the Solapur Road.

Day 1: We crossed Hadapsar bridge and Manjari on the way and then there was a four-laned highway for the next 50 Kms. What better way to start a road trip! Shogun was jutting his head fully outside the window on the backseat and his ears were fluttering like butterflies' wings. I guess he was also enjoying the early morning ride at 80 Kmph. We experienced some bad patches on the road later due to the monsoons and crossed Indapur at around 7.30 A.M. At 8.30, Shogun started to become restless and I thought he needed to relieve himself. So I stopped on the side and took him out. We walked about for 20 minutes and still he wouldn't do it! Maybe the new soil was a put off for him. All this for just a pee??

So we started off again and crossed Solapur at 10 A.M. Trip-o-meter reading 250 Kms. We took a 5 minute break and then continued. Got HVK's message saying that it's a 4 hour ride to Hyderabad from Solapur and roads are good. He also advised me to take the ring road to circumvent Hyderabad City traffic. Experienced a bad patch of 20 Kms in between but more or less roads were OK OK. We passed places called Naldurg, Basavakalyan, Humnabad, Zahirabad, etc. At 3 P.M. reached outskirts of Hyderabad after a stretch of 50 Kms in Karnataka as well. We reached a place where the sign board said I was 30 Kms from Hyderabad.

I tanked up my car and asked the petrol pump attendant whether there was any bypass to skirt around Hyderabad and reach the Vijayawada Highway. He said that there was one, but we passed it some 10 Kms back. Oh god, now what do I do? We decided that we'll continue on the same NH-9. Traffic was getting denser and denser. We asked our way often. People were just gawking at us, what with such a huge dog on our backseat!! It was quite hot and stuffy and we were right in the middle of Hyderabad City traffic with no inkling as to where to go as there were crossroads every few kilometres.

Strangely, there was no board indicating the way to Vijayawada or for that matter any other place. Only boards for places inside the city. One biker said that we should ask for directions to Dilsukhnagar and then continue on that road which will lead us eventually to the Vijayawada highway. Now it was 2 hours since I entered Hyderabad and still I was caught up in peak hour traffic. Also it was the time of children going back home after school and it was mayhem everywhere with children darting in between roads on foot and bicycle. Atlast I reached Nampalli Station and then continued. Took two wrong turns and it took a good 1 hr to reach the correct road. Atlast I saw a sign board pointing towards Vijayawada.

The time now was 6 P.M. Whew! A good 3 hours in city traffic. By now we were famished and tired and frustrated. Shogun also was very restless and Wifey was snapping at me for my decision to go into the city instead of taking the bypass. But what could I do? I never fathomed that I would have to endure such an ordeal. By the time we hit the right road to Vijayawada, it was 6.30 P.M. I stopped at a side road to let Shogun relieve himself since he had not done so since this morning. When he was sniffing around, and I went to the front of the car, I saw a long trickle of oil on the road right beneath my car. I bent down to have a look at the source of the leak and saw that it was dripping from the place where we drain out the engine oil. I thought, Oh my god now what! I had crossed two speedbreakers on the highway which was a bit high and I had slightly felt it scrape the bottom of the car. I thought, that had caused the oil leak now. Now where do I find a workshop? It was getting darker by the minute. I asked Shogun to get in and he gave me a look so as to say - 'Hey Moron. Don't you think you should give me atleast 5 minutes to do my business? The ground is all smelling new and I'm not getting the right place to pee!!!' But I had more important things to do. There was a PUC vehicle a few metres ahead. I asked him whether there were any car workshops on the way. The last thing I wanted was to go back into the city to search for one. He said that 3 Kms down the road, there was one. With some hope, I drove along and found one atlast. I asked the mechanic to have a look. He looked at the bottom and he said that there was no leak now. I looked at him incredulously and peeked down. He was right. There was no leak! He opened the bonnet and had a look and asked, "Airconditioner Chalaya kya saaar?". I nodded in the affirmative and in reply he said that it was not oil but the AC draining out its water. Then I remembered that the AC was continuously ON for the last 6 hours. I felt like an idiot in front of him and my wifey who was giving me cynical looks as to say "You didn't know such a simple thing?" Anyways, all's well that ends well. I thanked the mechanic and was on my way.

It was already dark and the sign board showed another 250 Kms to Vijayawada. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it to Vijayawada and asked my wife to look into the map to find any major towns on the way. She said that a town called Suryapet was marked in big letters and must be a town worth staying. Earlier, I had voiced this concern to HVK and he opined that there were some towns in between Hyderabad and Vijayawada but he didn't know any hotels. I thought OK, I'll travel for another 2 hours and whichever town would come my way which has some hustle-bustle, I'll stay the night. After travelling another 100 Kms, I saw Suryapet. It was already 9.30 P.M. and it was time I halted. I had been driving for 17 hours continuously and I was also tired.

We drove around Suryapet and found only one lodge with a big board. It also had a parking space. I parked outside and went to the reception to ask whether there was any room available. I asked for a AC room and he said it would cost me 500 rupees. Whoa! I thought. Only 500 bucks for a AC Room, I must be in luck. Then he asked me how many occupants would be there. I said only me and my wife. I didn't mention my dog at that point of time. Then he asks me, "Saar, Aap dono real mein pati patni hai na??" (Meaning - are you both really husband and wife?) I gave him my fiercest stare and asked him what do you mean? He said, "Sorry saar, we ask this to all the couples who come to stay here". Just a thought here - Which moron couple would take the trouble to drive all the way to a god forsaken town called Suryapet in the middle of nothing for a one night stand? Anyways can't blame them. They must be encountering such cases, otherwise why would he have asked me?? Then as a final nail in the coffin, I said that I had a dog with me. If you want to charge extra, you can do so. He thought it was a small dog and said it was not required. I asked to see the room and found it was not that good, with a broken but working Window AC and not so clean floor and sheets. But what option did I have. I said OK but change the linen atleast. Then when I parked my car inside and came in with my wife and dog in tow, he was shocked out of his wits. I think it was the first time he was seeing such a huge dog and I think he regretted his decision to not charge extra for the dog. HAHAHA!! My wife thought she'll order some chicken for Shogun and said to the room boy, Can I get Boiled Chicken with rice? He looked at her uncomprehendingly as to say 'What in the world is that dish?' Then we said never mind, we ordered Masala Dosas for ourselves and plain rice and curd for my dog. The Trip-o-Meter read 700 Kms. I thought not bad for the first day. At 11.30 p.m. we slept and I think I slept like a log because the moment my eyes opened, it was already 6 in the morning and Shogun was licking my face like hell asking to go out to do his business.

The rest of the travelogue and pictures after your comments guys. Thanks.
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Old 15th July 2008, 15:24   #2
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cool man! thats a fantastic trip! can wait to read more -
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Old 15th July 2008, 15:36   #3
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Excellent travelogue ADL, Nice that you did it safely. how about some pics as well. I know there is more adventure coming up of your 4 day trip specially your balasore - baripada - Kgp nightmares.

I also got SMS from Kumar about your status in Orissa section and your whole night ordeal there. hear about that soon.

Abhi
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Old 15th July 2008, 15:38   #4
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Not at all a bad day as you have covered 700 kms but i wish you hadnt entered HYD

Please post the 2nd day report fast
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Old 15th July 2008, 15:45   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Excellent travelogue ADL, Nice that you did it safely. how about some pics as well. I know there is more adventure coming up of your 4 day trip specially your balasore - baripada - Kgp nightmares.

I also got SMS from Kumar about your status in Orissa section and your whole night ordeal there. hear about that soon.

Abhi
Andy, you can also thank Abhi and Tirthankar who indirectly provided lots of inputs on Midnapore roads and the Siuri route.
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Old 15th July 2008, 17:51   #6
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Andy, that was one helluva trip from Pune to Suryapet. If you had planned a night journey starting from pune, you would have crossed all that traffic mayhem easily.

Hyd-pune should not take more than 9-10 hours and Suryapet is another couple hours.

Did you realize you traversed the entire length of hyderabad ( developed and what now falls under city purview) Patencheru->BHEL to Ramoji Film City is approximately 75kms and all this you have travelled in the peak traffic hours.

BHEL, KPBH on this side of mumbai pune highway and Dilsukhnagar, Hyath Nagar, Vanisthalipuram on the other side of the city towards vijayawada are considered to be mini Vijaywada ( since huge amount of people have settled down from coastal andhra like vijayawads, rajamundhry, kakinada, vizag etc on both these corners of hyderabad) and is populated like crazy, its almost like they are small towns.

Look forward to rest of the journey details and loads of pictures.

Last edited by mobike008 : 15th July 2008 at 17:54.
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Old 15th July 2008, 18:03   #7
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Another Interesting travelogue and definitely waiting for the rest of the report along with the pics. Keep them coming Andy.
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Old 15th July 2008, 18:56   #8
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I am getting impatient for the Day 2 report.
I was panning a trip to Rajasthan from Pune (around 1200 kms) in one day. Considering you experience, I think I was Kidding
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Old 16th July 2008, 11:08   #9
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Originally Posted by vinit.merchant View Post
I am getting impatient for the Day 2 report.
I was panning a trip to Rajasthan from Pune (around 1200 kms) in one day. Considering you experience, I think I was Kidding
There is no way you can cover more than 800 kms in a single day on Indian roads unless your HV Kumar/Tirthankar. Maybe a few more if the roads are awesome or you stress yourself like crazy!
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Old 16th July 2008, 12:21   #10
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Default My Travelogue:- From Pune to Kalimpong - 2700 Kms - Day 2

Firstly thanks Abhi and Tirthankar for helping me through HVK. You guys are real gems.

Day 2: The moment I woke up, I felt my body stiff, what with the marathon driving of 700 Kms, the previous day. We packed up quickly and swiped the car clean especially the windshields. Then we hit the road by around 7.30 A.M. The sign board said another 150 Kms to Vijayawada. After 50 Kms, we stopped by for some breakfast at a roadside dhaba. The road was quite good inspite of the monsoons and we soon cruised at 100 Kmph.

We reached Vijayawada at around 10 A.M. and continued. We crossed a junction where on the left it pointed to Kolkata and right side to Chennai. This was the NH-5. This was the road I was waiting anxiously for the past few hours. I SMSed my position to HVK and he replied saying that it was a good drive all the way upto Icchapuram Border Town. I thought, so far so good. It really was a dream drive.

Roads were pretty good

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Gigantic statue of Hanuman after crossing Vijayawada

Maintained 80 to 100 Kmph all the way. Crossed Tadepalligudem, Tanuku, Dowleswaram, Rajahmundry on the way. It was almost 1.30 P.M. and we were all hungry. I tanked up my car at Rajahmundry and after 2 Kms came by a restaurant. We stopped there and ordered Lunch to be parceled as we did not want to waste time and also as Shogun wouldn’t want to be left alone in the car. He was barking his guts out!

My Travelogue:- From Pune to Kalimpong - 2700 Kms-trip_3.jpg
Me & Shogun

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Shogun sleeping while his head is wedged between the front seats
Wifey had a glass of lassi and we packed Chicken Biryani and some plain rice and curd for Shogun. We hit the road again by 2 P.M. The roads were really really good and we were cruising at a comfortable 100 soon. But I kept my eyes open because I noticed that out of nowhere, the following objects came onto the highway without any warning: Cows, Goats, Dogs, Trucks on the wrong side, Tractors crossing into the highway from the fields, people crossing the NH-5 leisurely without a thought. So I slowed to 80 Kmph and was just enjoying the drive. In the meanwhile, wifey was feeding me Biryani by the mouthful every now and then. Wah! Biryani at 80 Kmph. This must be a new record!! Soon it was raining and the scenery was amazing.

We reached Vizag (Vishakapatnam) at around 6.30 P.M. I found it was a very clean and organized town. Must be due to the Naval presence there. My wife bought some pineapples there and then we were on our way.

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The pineapple vendor posing for a photo

The sign board showed approximately 130 Kms to Srikakulam and 375 Kms to Bhubaneshwar. As per my earlier schedule, I had planned to stay at Bhubaneshwar, but at this rate I wouldn’t be able to reach it before 12 or 1 in the night. So we decided to stay at Berhampur because we didn’t want to waste our time by checking in early. Srikakulam was just another 100 Kms away and it was just 7 P.M. At that point of time, I thought I could easily make it to Berhampur by 9 or 9.30 P.M. So we continued and after we crossed Srikakulam by 8.30, I suddenly noticed that not much of private vehicles were traveling on the route which we were taking. I could only see the occasional trucks and that too very seldom. I was quite apprehensive and worried. Wife said that we may not get good accommodation and food in the night so why not buy a packet of bread just in case. I said OK and stopped where there were a few shops lined up with candle lights. There was no electricity anywhere and I became more worried. It was pitch dark all around. I stopped and went to one shop and asked for a packet of bread. The lady stared at me for a good 1 minute before blurting out in Telugu to another man who was standing in the shop – “Emi??” (What’s he asking for?) That man thought for another 2 minutes and then interpreted to her – Roti, Roti! The lady said, sorry we don’t keep such stuff here. I thought what kind of god forsaken place is this where the people don’t know what a packet of bread means!!

I came back to the car and frantically SMSed HVK regarding my position. He was also quite worried and suggested that Srikakulam would have been the best bet and it’s not safe to travel at such late hours in that particular belt as it was a Naxalite infested area. This information got me still more worried and I could understand the shortage of private vehicles plying on that route at that hour. Then another SMS came from HVK saying that why don’t I try a place called Tekkali. But I thought I had passed that place also and I was approx 50 Kms from Icchapuram. HVK opined that Icchapuram would be my best bet, but basically it’s a Truckers’ town and I may not get good accommodation there. But since there was no other option and to reach Berhampur, it would be around 10.30 p.m. and by that time all the hotels would have closed down, he said I should just try Icchapuram. It was already 9.30 P.M. and I thought I should reach Icchapuram at the earliest. At that time I really regretted my decision of not staying at Srikakulam. I think I put my family and myself to such a high risk which was not worth it. So we went on our way and atlast a board said, Icchapuram – 3 Kms. I took the detour and went into the village and to my amazement saw trucks and trucks lined up on both sides of the road till my eyes could see. HVK was right. It indeed was a Truckers’ town. I saw a lodge soon and enquired for a room. He said it was available but there was no parking. What the hell. I’m lucky to get a room in the first place. He said the rate was Rs.450/- for a AC room. I said fine and we checked in. We ordered some rotis and chicken and soon were asleep. The Trip-O-Meter read 1460 Kms. Today I had traveled 760 Kms. Whew what a day!!
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:09   #11
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Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
There is no way you can cover more than 800 kms in a single day on Indian roads unless your HV Kumar/Tirthankar. Maybe a few more if the roads are awesome or you stress yourself like crazy!
Hey common, there is many who keep on doing Blr - Mumbai/Pune in a day which are close to 1000kms.

Abhi
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:19   #12
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Nice day2 update and pics but I must say you started late. You should have been on the road by 6AM sharp. Then you could have easily covered till Berhampur if not Bhubaneshwar.

And ya the food part is amazing, I am fed by my wife at about 100kmph or more in GQ in every trip and it is fun !!

Eager to hear Day3/4 from you which was very very crucial !!

Abhi
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:33   #13
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Hi! andy_dog_lover

Naxal problem in these areas is confined to interior areas. not to NH 5. further in general they (naxals)do not bother about you and me unless you are a big shot whom they may kidnap. but never in the history of naxalism in AP ( since 1975) they have kidnapped ordinary guys and harmed them. especially on NH5. srikakulam is one of the backward districts of AP. there are several places like Tekkali - 30 Km -Palasa ( reasonably big town. cashew export area)- Sompeta big town , but you must have bypassed it- icchapuram -10-15 Km berhampur

Independent India's first armed struggle ( or Naxalite movement) started in Srikakulam district in 1975 when tribals revolted against money lenders and killed some of them. but those areas does not even remotely connected to NH5
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:42   #14
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Nice travelouge, Andy! When you are driving, try to start early always! Waiting for the next part and more photos.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
There is no way you can cover more than 800 kms in a single day on Indian roads unless your HV Kumar/Tirthankar. Maybe a few more if the roads are awesome or you stress yourself like crazy!
Quite possible to do 1000 kms in a day. I have done the Goa - Trivandrum stretch in a day! I got delayed due to bad roads and it took me about 3 hours to cross about 30 kilometres in Mangalore!!!
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Old 16th July 2008, 16:06   #15
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Fantastic travelogue - I have done Mumbai Pune Solapur Zaheerabad Hyderabad Kodad Miryalguda in one day (including a mini meeting in Zaheerabad) in some vehicle. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to your remaining experiences.

Best regards,

Behram dhabhar
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