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Old 11th September 2008, 16:17   #1
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Default Bombay to Chennai - The filmy adventure

Sunday night was a bit dull and gloomy for all of us as we were returning back the next morning. What a wonderful week it was to just eat sleep and laze around. Slept around 11ish and woke up at 5. By 5 40 all of us including my parents were downstairs with my father rattling off a '101 things to do / not do when you drive a car '. I kept nodding and saying yes to everything.
Now for the script and this one's going to be a surprise element like you would've watched in some of those bollywood flicks.

The plan was to complete Shirdi darshan and then head towards Belgaum (Sankam Residency) either through Pune or Satara, spend the night at Belgaum and again start off in the morning. Atleast that is what all of you and my folks knew -

Started from Thane at 6 AM and was on the Nasik highway soon. Crossed Shahpur within an hour. The roads are not the greatest and you have to do a fair amount of dodging to avoid the potholes. Touched Kasara by 7 30 and the ghats by 7 45. Had half a mind to stop at Manas Resorts at Igatpuri but decided to keep driving. Took the right turn at Ghoti and by 8 i was at the level crossing. Waited for the Mumbai - Howrah mail to pass and then got onto the Ghoti -Sinnar road. Paid the toll and almost felt like turning back. The first 8 to 10 kms is horrible. I was doing 20 odd in the 2nd / 3rd gear and then suddenly i saw smoother surfaces. Regained my speed and by 8 45 i saw some windmills just before Sinnar. Halted for a bio-break and breathed fresh air and stretched myself.

Soon I had crossed Sinnar and was heading towards Shirdi. Even till last year just at the entrance, they used to collect a toll and I used to take a left just before the toll booth towards Sun n Sand to avoid paying it. I would later take another right which would take me straight to Goradias which is where I ususally park my car. Now ofcourse,. there is no toll so I went in straight and took a left on the temple road. They have barricaded almost 70% of the road and made it a one way but its still a struggle with all the devotees and the agents running after your car to offer hotel accomodation. Somehow pulled into Goradias at 10 AM and walked in for breakfast.

Into the temple at 11 and was blessed enough to witness the afternoon Aarti which lasted a good 1.5 hours. Lunched again at the ridiculously high priced Woodlands (30 bucks for a Roti!!) and at 2 PM was on the road again towards Ahmednagar. Damn it ! What a pathetic stretch. Badly maintained roads and the 4 laning work on throughout makes it worse. I was averaging about 45 km per hour. Reached Ahmednagar by 4 15 and decided to take the road to Pune as opposed to the road via Daund to Satara. A wise decision as I could do high speeds (90 / 100) and by 5 30 or so suddenly i was on a 4 laned road with a median in between - for a minute i thought i'd reached the GQ but i saw the SH40 signboard. Good drive. As per my plan, I would reach Pune by 6 and cross over to the GQ by 7 to be in Belgaum by 11.

And then the most torturous drive began when i turned left on the Solapur road through to Swargate and evertime i rolled down my window to ask an auto driver where the Satara road was, he would guide me as if it was just 10 minutes away. I then reached a very dangerous stretch on the outskirts which was completely dark and full of potholes. It took me through a tunnel which again had worse roads and then finally after th e tunnel I was on the GQ. Time - 8 40 PM !!!! I felt like crying. I had never anticipated it would take so much time but no point cribbing. Called up Sankam who confirmed their restaurant was open till 11 30. I had my own doubts about reaching there in 3 hours (it had taken me 3 hours and 45 minutes in the day time from Belgaum to Pune). Time for RedBull 1.

Called up my father who suggested good hotels in Karad and advised me to spend the night in Karad itself. And then it started raining. Heavily. Gowri Visarjan Day. I slowed down, put on my parking lights and was doing a steady 70 and then these maniacs in fabias, scorpios, taveras were all overtaking me at great speeds and splashing water which had got logged at the median. They must have guts to drive at those speeds. I was not ready to take them on.
Close to 10 i did the Satara Ghats and then passed a restaurant called Milestone. Looked like a hotel straight out of a spooky movie but my wife insisted we eat there since we had no clue when we would cross Satara or Karad. Another good decision. An interesting thing happend here. There were no customers at the restaurant and there were two cooks standing and probably waiting for a customer to walk in. The guy at the sales counter told us that it was a self service restaurant and that he had only Thali (full meal) and dal rice to offer. I asked him if I would get rotis. He said yes. Then i asked him if i could get a sabzi. He said no. Smiling, i asked him what would i do with only rotis to which he replied "You asked me if you can get rotis to which i said yes. I thought you would have got your own sabzi to go with it." That lightened my mood and i started laughing. Finally settled for one thali and one dal rice and my little hero was running all over the place happily as he must have felt 'tied down' within the car.

The Twist - Called up parents and told them that we were dining at milestone and that we would also stay here for the night. Period.
11 Pm - Got back into the car and on the highway again in the pouring rain.
11 30 Pm, my wife and my hero both in the backseat - she trying to put him to sleep. Kolhapur read a 100 odd and Belgaum 220 odd. I continued driving at the same speed since it was still raining. I'd never done anything like this ever in my life but there was a reason why we were doing this. If we had checked into any hotel by the time we could have convinced our kid to sleep and slept ourselves it would have been past midnight and then again in 4 hours or so we would have to wake up and start driving again to reach home by night so my wife and me had decided that we'd keep driving and reach Chennai by afternoon and crash once and for all. It seemed perfect. Going by my plan, we would have had dinner at Belgaum, started off around 11ish and reached Bangalore early morning around 7ish, Hosur around 9ish and be in Chennai for a late lunch. But now the weather and the Pune tour had messed up all of it.

The rain stopped and i increased the speed to a steady 120. Crossed Kolhapur at 12 45 AM. I had done the Belgaum Kolhapur 110 kms in an hour on the way to Bombay. I swear this stretch has to be the most fantastic stretch in the entire route. 1 47 AM - Reached Belgaum. Took the exit to the city under the flyover and saw a petrol pump to the right side. Filled up petrol and resumed the drive. Red Bull 2. By all accounts, I should touch Bangalore by 10 and then Chennai by 4 atleast with this timing. Or so I thought.

My wife now woke up and apologised a dozen times for sleeping off. I had no problems. Just told her that she could sleep all she wanted but when we reach home, I did not want to be disturbed or given any baby handling activities. She agreed. Spotted a small tea stall and halted to have a sugary 'kheer' tasting tea. My wife acted navigator on the 2 laned stretch between a toll gate and the Hubli exit since I could barely see with all the oncoming headlights. Crossed Hubli exit by 3 45. Another 45 odd minutes should see me in Haveri. But after 15 minutes, I could not keep my eyes open anymore. Spotted another tea stall with a Volvo parked for passengers to refresh. Parked the car behind the bus, lowered my back rest and zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 15 minutes later, my wife woke me up and I realised i had to since this way i could sleep for the next 10 hours and end up reaching nowhere. Washed my face and Red Bull 3 and at 4 30 crossed the 1st level crossing at Haveri. Could not make out how to go with all the diversions and bad roads in place. Where I was struggling to do a 20kmph, a volvo overtook me at almost 70 on the bad roads. He would have surely reached 2 hours ahead of me.

5 30 am crossed Ranibennur. By 6 30, I was speeding on all the done up stretches yet there was no sign of Chitradurga. In my original trip log, I had mentioned that the distance between the windmills at Chitradurga till Haveri was done in 2 hours. Clarification - it takes 3 hours. Finally, around 7 30, could see the windmills at a distance and heaved a big sigh of relief. At the back of my mind, I was still calculating the time it would take for me to reach home. Just at the exit point of Chitradurga, the inevitable happened. The engine indicator next to the fuel indicator showed full bars and a red anchor like symbol came on. I guessed it was because of all the non stop driving with AC on so pulled over. I saw smoke coming out of the bonnet so switched off the ignition. A quick call to my friend and he asked me to check if the fan or the belt was still running. The bonnet wouldn't open. I didn';t want to damage the lever so let it be as it is. AFter 15 minutes, restarted the car and drove down a kilometer when the bars went up again and the red light flashed. Stopped. Turned off the engine. My kid woke up. Wanted to fiddle with the music system and insisted on putting the cd on full volume. My wife gave me a worried look. I was tired, frustrated, angry, irritated and above all SCARED. We were in the middle of nowhere and had no clue what to do. Alternatively messaged my dad that we had resumed our journey at 5 ish in the morning and were nearing Belgaum for breakfast

Called up the Ford helpline. The lady was placed in Gurgaon. Pleasant tone. Intelligent questions. Scripted response. No help. Here's what happened. She asked me what was the problem. I explained to her. She then suggested that I get the car to the nearest Ford dealer. i asked her where tha twas. She said Bangalore. I said if I could do that i wouldnt call you. Line disconnected.
Half an hour had passed. I told my wife we had no choice but to keep driving and stopping everytime it flashed red. Tumkur was atleast a 100 kms away. The time was 8 45. Said a prayer. Started the car. No red light flashed. Drove on, increased speed and cruised at 90 without AC. After half an hour spotted a restaurant and pulled over. Loo breaks and a refreshing face wash. Some dosas and a filter coffee and in an hour we were ready to leave again. Messaged my dad tha tbreakfast was over and that were were on the way to Hubli.

10 30 AM On the road again. 11 15 AM crossed Tumkur. Phew ! atleast we reached somewhere. Called up AK Roy who guided me on the Dobbespet detour to cut through Bangalore city. The road was narrow but trafficless and i was doing 100 odd. Reached the junction of the Bangalore - Hyd highway at 13 15. Stopped to call AK Roy again and asked for directions from a localite. Car was idling for 5 odd minutes. The familiar red sign and all the bars were up. Decided to give the car a break and finish lunch. 14 15 PM lunch over and back on the road. Messaged my dad that we were lunching at Chitradurga. Roy suggested that I should get into th ecity, cross the hebbal flyover and then on to the Hosur Road through Atibelle. Somehow got lost and ended up going on the new airport road. Called up Roy a dozen times and by the time I crossed Hebbal, the red sign again. Stopped. Gave my wife the option of dropping the car off at Ford and resting at the relative's place though I really wished that I could reach home and crash. My wife was having none of it. "Take me home first even if it takes all night" she said. My son started being cranky with all the truck noise and smoke all around (No AC remember?). After all it was not fair to him that he spend almost 2 whole days in the car.
There were tears in my eyes and I prayed again. Suddenly it hit me ! You may ridicule me for what I'm about to say but I will always believe it this way. Afterall it is only the Lord that we look upto when we are in deep trouble. This is the story of 3 devotees. One very sincere, one a believer but no so sincere and the last one very sweet and innocent - My father, me and my son. I started thinking this way that I had gone to Shirdi where my father goes almost every month and despite him advising me to rest at night and continue the next day, I thought I'd make a smarter move by driving all night and resting the next day. And so all along while I was on my way, the messages to my father were almost at a place 4 hours away which would mean that I would reach Chennai by evening and message my father at night saying that I reached Chennai. A voice inside me then started saying " you fooled your father once whilst going to Bombay and now you are trying to do it again. Not done. I will now ensure that you reach home only at the time you message your father." However since I also had the sweet and innocent devotee with me, I was now sure that I would reach home somehow since the Lord would not want to agonise the little kid for my fault. I had learnt my lesson. I closed my eyes an dsaid a silent prayer an dresolved never to lie ever again to my father albeit it was a white lie. My only request was to take me home. Fast & Safe. Messaged my father that I was crossing Bangalore - The Truth

Started my car. Crossed Atibelle onto Hosur. 5 45 pm. Continued driving at 90kmph and switched the ignition off at all toll posts. 9 45 pm touched Poonamalee - 310 kms done in 4 hours flat. Zigzagged through the city traffic to cut through Guindy, Adyar and at Sangeetha in Alwarpet at 10 30 for a hot dosa for my hero.

Yes i know a lot of you will say that the car may have had a coolant issue or a fan belt issue and that I should have serviced it at Bangalore and not taken the risk of driving through the night. I agree in advance to all of your advice but at that moment I just went with my gut instinct. Thank God it worked.

Total Time - 40 hours. Total time in the car minus breaks and Shirdi visit - 33 hours. Distance covered 1650 kms. Fuel consumed - 126 litres. Mileage - 13.

Bangalore - Mumbai route break up with time taken -
Bangalore - Neelamangala - Roughly 1 hour (depends on what time you exit) , Neelamangala - Tumkur - 1 Hour, Tumkur - Chitradurga - 1 hour, Chitradurga - Haveri - 3 hours (whichever way you drive), Haveri - Hubli - 0.5 hours, Hubli - Belgaum - 1 hour, Belgaum - Kolhapur - 1 hour, Kolhapur - Satara - 1 hour 10 minutes, Satara - Pune - 1 hour 10 minutes, Pune - Expressway - 45 minutes, Expressway - Lonavala toll post - 45 minutes, Lonavala toll post - Panvel - 20 minutes.

Special thanks to AK Roy & HV Kumar - Kumarji, I still cannot believe you cover Bom-Blr in 12 hours. unless you let your scorpio fly in the bad patches.

Thanks for reading. God bless.

Last edited by Technocrat : 11th September 2008 at 16:38. Reason: Removed Size & font tags. Please give proper pargraph breaks for better reading.
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Old 11th September 2008, 18:17   #2
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Hats off to you Vijay ! Excellent write-up. Felt like watching a nice thriller movie. That was really an adventurous journey. In the end, glad that you reached home safe.

What did your father say about those false messages? Also, what went wrong with the car? Just curious.
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Old 11th September 2008, 18:45   #3
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Dude awesome one man. Thats some amt of bravery to carry on with the engine check light on. I loved the part where you spoke of devotees and all. Happens with me always
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Old 11th September 2008, 19:48   #4
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Looks like a pain more than a pleasure for me. Salute to your gut and belief.
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Old 12th September 2008, 07:04   #5
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Good Writeup. I regularly undergo the experiences that you went through, so can understand what you felt like.

Appreciate your spirit.
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Old 12th September 2008, 08:32   #6
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Thats an excellent writeup Vijay. Why didnt you tell me about the problem even though I was pestering you to tell if you are in trouble? I am really interested to know about the problem.

Regarding the timings of Bom - Blr, I am not surprised by Kumar ji's timings. There are a few guys I know who do 13-14.5 hours in big / small cars with 2 breaks. I think nonstop driving is the key. If you stop then you loose lots of time and distance.

During my Goa trip I personally did Home(Blr @ 2:55AM) - Ranibennur A1 plaza (7:25AM) with 4 adult and kid and load in Alto with normal driving (you mentioned 6 hours for Haveri from Bangalore). return journey also Chitradurga A1 (11:45PM) - Home (2:45AM) via Neelamangala.

Where are the pics coming?

But I must appreciate your spirit to change your plans midway and take up the journey without night-halt

Last edited by akroy : 12th September 2008 at 08:34.
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Old 12th September 2008, 11:01   #7
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Hey, let us know what happend to your car. Why didn't your bonnet open anyway?

Overheating is quite harmful for any engine. Hope no permanent damage done.
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Old 12th September 2008, 11:39   #8
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Good write up. These are the experiences that make us richer for our future trips to be more cautious. BTW, how did you father react when you told the truth ?
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Old 12th September 2008, 11:53   #9
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Hi Vij,

Good to know you are back home safe. These things happen and the best medicine is to grin and bear it. I went through a similar dilemma of stop over at Kharagpur and due to shortage of time and practical situations, spent 2 hours on the road at midnight near a petrol pump and then was off on my way. HVK & Abhi know of my ordeal.

Just thank your stars that your car didn't have any other problems like a complete breakdown in the middle of nowhere especially at night!

Kudos to you for your guts and your family who supported you all the way
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Old 12th September 2008, 15:39   #10
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Great write up, Vij. BTW, what was the issue in your Fusion diagonized as?
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Old 12th September 2008, 16:03   #11
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Awesome stuff Vijay. But I still feel you should have checked the problem before proceeding. Atleast you should have informed Roy when you had reached Bangalore, possibly he could have suggested a solution. Anywas all is well that ends well.

OT: I remember once when I was driving my first car M800 with my wife from Bangalore to my hometown Villupuram (near Pondicherry) in the days when the GQ work was happening between Hosur and Krishnagiri. All the diversions meant we took a good 2 hours to cover Hosur - Krishnagiri, on an ideal day I would have reached Villupuram by 10.30 PM, but here I was in Krishnagiri at 7.30 PM. With no option but go little faster than normal ended up putting the car into a decently big pot hole while I was setting up a 407 for an overtake. Immediately had a rattling noise which was increasing with the speed.

Not sure what to do I rolled my way upto Chengam to realise that there is only 1 decent car mechanic in the town. The first thing he reminded me was how he put a car onto a NP lorry & sent back to Bangalore because it broke down. Not a good sign at all I suppose. After listening to my story he decided to get under the car with lights and knock all over the suspension. All this trial and error meant he found a lose bolt in the suspension bracket(thats what he claimed). After a round of tightening a trial run gave us no sound. With faith in god we went ahead only to reach Villupuram at 2.30 in the night.
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Old 13th September 2008, 17:36   #12
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it was adventure.
its your misfortune that you had taken pune road rather baramati road and ended in mess otherwise you would have been at belgaum at 11 pm.
what was problem with your car?
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Old 19th September 2008, 19:53   #13
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okay sorry for the late reply. Took me almost 4 days to get back to a state where i could once again like going to work.

In so far as the car problem is concerned, it may be worth sharing with all of you that in my previous service, the water pump was found to be broken. At that point the Ford guys quoted me 6 k odd which I couldn't afford. I continued driving with the condition. The only hitch was that the humming noise of the fan (which usually comes on if the engine is overheated) used to be almost perpetually on.

I spoke to a few others in the Ford forum and i got different answers like Belt, coolant issue etc but today finally i started the car after a week, idled it for 5 minutes and took it to the ford centre here in Chennai.

Told him that the water pump needed to be replaced as they had recommended in the last service. Basically the car makes as much noise as you would get from a diesel car. Will know by tommorow if that really was the problem. 99.9% it is as the coolant etc seem to be fine.

Planning my next trip to Varanasi sometime early next year. But would not want to do NH 7.

Also have clicked pictures which im transferring on to my laptop and posting over the weekend.

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Old 19th September 2008, 20:21   #14
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Whew, 40 hrs on the road that too with a kid, single driver and a problematic car to boot. Guess you did not pray hard enough at Shirdi.
All said and done, must appreciate your mental application to continue despite all trouble.
Good you made it safely back home. Nicely written, keeps you glued.
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Old 19th September 2008, 20:29   #15
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The frustration was first from Shirdi to Ahmedanagar with the condition of the roads. Secondly crossing Pune.

I really enjoyed the night drive and was hoping to be in Bangalore for breakfast. The problem only occurred at 8 am in the morning at Chitradurga where I had no choice but to continue.

And after reaching Bangalore without hiccups, I was sure that I'd reach Chennai too. You see, the problem never happened on the highway drives but only in the city drive owing to frequent gear change, idling etc.

I disagree on the prayer front. If i hadn't prayed hard enough, maybe I would have not reached home safe and sound that night
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