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Old 29th January 2010, 18:29   #1
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Default My introduction to Modern Highways: Black Tigress (Safari 2.2) roaming in Rajasthan

Hi All,

I am wondering as from where to start my first attempt on writing a travelogue! Let me take it up in parts:

The Prologue:

Ever since we brought our new ride - Safari 2.2, LX (so fondly named as Black Tigress, for its looks and power) in August 2009, we were longing for a long road trip. Though we have had two trips in it: One to Home town (310 km each side), and the other one to Khajuraho (again 298 kms each side), and I have enjoyed driving the Tigress; but those trips were not exciting (beacuse were not long enough and were on traditional 2 lane highways). So, those trips did nothing to satisfy my hunger to drive this beauty. It was October and my mind (and heart too) was working on continuously to squez a real long trip involving new age 4 lane highways. By the time odo also read well over 2600 kms, so all the running in of engine was over.

This was the perfect seting for a long drive. Rajasthan was obviously the first that came to our mind. Reasons being excellent roads, likes on which I wanted to drive the Tigress, promixicity, popular touristy appeal). All that goes with planning a trip like kids school holidays, own office schedules, other engagements en-route, budget, etc, came up for discussion. I also got busy on T-BHP searching, reading travelogues, route guides, pm'd a few T-BHP members like v&v, deky, for route/ acommodation advises, etc. They all helped with their inputs. Big thanks to you all.

Tha Plan:

As usual, several trip spoilers also popped up at different times of planning, but were dealt with tactfully & firmly (thanks to my enthusiasm for taking this driving trip and cooperation of family). Several plans were made and modified, fine-tuned. We had to incoorporate a couple of other social engagements into our plan. Finally, we followed this iteneary:

Day 1.
Lucknow - Agra - Jaipur - Ajmer (Night Halt)

Day 2.
Ajmer - Mount Abu (Night halt)

Day 3.
Mount Abu sight seeing and departure for Udaipur (Halt at Udaipur)

Day 4.
Udaipur sight seeing (Halt at Udaipur)

Day 5.
Udaipur sight seeing till 11.30 am and then departure - Jaipur (Night halt)

Day 6.
Jaipur - Delhi (Brief 3 hrs halt to meet ill relatives) - Meerut (Night halt)

Day 6 & 7
Stay at Meerut: catch up with relatives, attend a wedding

Day 8.
Meerut - Aligarh - Etah - Lucknow

As you can notice, this was more of a driving trip then the sight seeing trip. We also left out Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar sight seeing. Its surprising as they fall enroute, but we did that because of other engagements in Delhi, Merrut; and also we want to go to those places with other family members including mother.

The Ride : Black Tigress (Tata Safari 2.2, LX, August 209), and
The Riders: Me, wife, son 12 yrs, daughter 4 yrs

I hope, I made it clear above that this was our first long driving trip, besides the two mentioned above! So you can imagine my lack of driving experience! Though my enthusiasm, self belief, confidence in my capacity & ability to drive long distance, my handling skills of the powerful Tigress; all these were on a very high level (off course, all these optimistic self beliefs were going to be tested on this trip). But, I was already enjoying driving the vehicle.

I am taking time to build up this story so that you get a fair idea of the anxiety we might have gone through, being a newbie.

We planned to pack all the luggage well in advance, but as it happens, so many things remain to be taken care of till the last moment. I also had to be at work (completing pending tasks before proceeding on leave). Finally, we went to bed tired at midnight. Alarm was set for 4.30 am, target was to leave by 5.30 am.

Let me put a few pics and wait you all till tomorrow to tell what happened when we woke up next morning!
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Old 29th January 2010, 18:42   #2
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Here are a few photographs to start the story.
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Old 29th January 2010, 19:48   #3
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Hi Long Drive Lover,

Very good teaser to what is promising to be another great travelogue. Eagerly awaiting the next part of your narration. Bring it on....
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Old 29th January 2010, 19:58   #4
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How are the roads on the Meerut-Aligarh-Etah section? We have heard horror stories about narrow bad roads, no bypasses, etc. - what was your experience like? Would you recommend this route for those coming from Hardwar side to go to Agra side to avoid crossing Delhi?
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Old 29th January 2010, 19:59   #5
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Long Drive,

Seems quite interesting...Pics look good.. Do carry on with the log...Waiting for updates ....

Thanks,
Srini
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Old 30th January 2010, 15:02   #6
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Thanks Sami and Srini for compliments.

Yes, the rest is coming up shortly, pics are also there. But, I should mention that my pictures are ordinary taken by a normal digicam in an amateurish way! They are no where near to some of the wall paper quality stuff that we are used to see in travelogues of tsk1979, chevy_lover, adc, rahulk76, Nutty_Nair (and the list goes on). Nevertheless, pics make our journey memorable for long times to come, so, I'll share whatever we have taken. Plz stay tuned.

HVK sir, thanks for joining on the thread. Yes, you have asked a very pertinent question. I'll give details of that route shortly. It has improved a lot, but still problems are there.
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Old 30th January 2010, 16:58   #7
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A very nice start to your travelogue Longdrivelover! I am eagerly looking forward to seeing your pics of Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan, that you visited.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Do not worry about the quality of your pics. No one is perfect! Post all your pics!
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Old 30th January 2010, 17:17   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongDrive lover View Post
my pictures are ordinary taken by a normal digicam in an amateurish way!
who says? you have taken good snaps.

1. first one is great (either Agra- Jaipur highway NH-11 or Jaipur -Kishnagarh NH-8) only in these two stretches this can be achieved (140 Km/ph) but I guess it is on NH-11.
2. 2nd snap should be of NH-8 Jaipur-Kishangarh highway.
3. 3rd one is snap of mount-abu from ghats
Please share more.
Happy riding with safari. (my personal slogan is ‘Mountain on Wheels')
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Old 30th January 2010, 17:27   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
How are the roads on the Meerut-Aligarh-Etah section? We have heard horror stories about narrow bad roads, no bypasses, etc. - what was your experience like? Would you recommend this route for those coming from Hardwar side to go to Agra side to avoid crossing Delhi?
Route from Meerut to Bulandshar (Via Hapur, 67 km) is a SH. It crosses NH 24 at Hapur and joins GT road coming from Delhi (Old NH 2, now NH 91) at Bulandshahar. From there on it crosses towns Khurja, Aligarh, Sikandara rau, Etah, Bewar, Chabiramau, Kannauj - to- Kanpur- then to Allahabad (here it merges with new NH 2, GQ route).

Sir, you are right. The historical GT Road (built during Shershah Suri's regime) have been known to be potholed throughout the year with heavy truck and UPSRTC Bus traffic (plying in large number to Delhi from all major towns enroute). We used to take that route by Bus to Delhi from home town, every eyar it'll worsned during rain, and potholes will be repaired after rains. It was further neglected as Agra-Etawah-Kanpur route, being part of GQ, got the VIP treatment from NHAI.

But, now things have changed. We also took this route just 10 days back, (had to go to Meerut-Hapur to attend a family wedding). Now most of the stretch has been laid fresh, so the surface is smooth. Still there are problems and it takes more time then is expected because of the following factors:

1. It has numerous small towns enroute which are spread in length (Aliogarh is worst), it breaks all your fluency of drive and takes time to pass them with local traffic.
2. Occaisional potholes still there, came up again even in newly laid surface due to their deep age old roots, specially between, Etah - Aligarh. (Though not much problem in an SUV).
3. It is a classical old 2 lane highway. No 4 lanes yet.
4. Yes, no proper bypass to those frequent towns, except Bulandshahar. One is there in Aligarh, but in very bad shape, we have not attempted to take that as advised by locals. Only some trucks take that bypass.
5. The newly laid road has still to be completed within towns. So whenever a town/village comes, you get heavily crowed traffic and extremly bad road.
6. Congested traffic at Hapur due to construction of a flyover (When complete, it will take care of two railway crossings one has to pass within the city, but currently its a problem).

Now about the distances:
Meerut - Bulandshahar 67 - Aligarh- 130- Etah- 76
Aligarh- Agra- 92 (road condition not known as we didn't traveled on it).

Thus, from Meerut to Agra is 292 kms only. One has to take a right turn to Agra from Aligarh from a circle opposite to UPSRTC Bus station.

So, if one is coming from Haridwar/ Dehradun side and going to Agra/Gwaliar/Bhopal side, this route can be taken. UP and Rajhasthan buses from Agra, Jaipur etc, take this route to Haridwar, Deharadoon, etc.

Merrut-Delhi (78 kms) is also a mess, with heavy Bus and daily commuter's traffic; then Delhi mess, again Mathura -Agra traffic section. But, for going to NH 8 or further west into Raj./Guj, one has to go via Delhi or Haryana.
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Old 30th January 2010, 18:01   #10
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Thanks Alok and C_L. That's very encouraging indeed.

Alok, good attempt to guess the teasers.

Here are the correct answers:
1. It is on NH 2 (GQ) near Etawa (Kanpur-Agra-Delhi stretch).
2. You are bang on target. It is NH 8 right on the outskirts of Jaipur towards Kishangarh.
3. It is Chittorgarh city taken from C'garh fort.
4. The sunset is just outside Udaipur, when coming from Chhitorgarh (NH 76).

Next installment will follow soon.
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Old 30th January 2010, 18:34   #11
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Just before I start about our journey from Day 1, continuing from what I wrote yesterday, a couple of more things to be pointed out, so as to complete the perspective in which this trip was taken:

I have to not only make my family agree to such a long trip alone (easily achieved ), but also encounter all the rumors/ foolish logic/ genuine safety concerns of well wishers, etc.

Taking such trips looks all that easy for a 'petrolhead' that every T-BHP member is! (By the time I was already one of them). But, one has to encounter logic like, will you be able to drive so much?, It is risky!, Better take a driver along!, What if you have fever en rute and unable to drive?
As expected, I gave a to all such views, though they were genuine concerns of well wishers, but I was confident about myself, and, off course, all the empowerment that T-BHP does further fueld my self confidence.

Day 1


As I told, alarm beepd at 4.30 am, despite lack of sleep, we woke up full of enthusiasm, only to find that daughter was running fever! Oh my God! this was exactly our reaction. What to do now? Everything was ready, cancelling the trip was difficult as planning another one again is not easy; but then taking sick daughter was also not easy what if her fever prolongs and whole trip is spoiled!

After spending few minutes amidst such depressing thoughts, reason prevailed over emotions, decided to take care of her fever first, bring it under control and proceed when situation warrants. gave her available medicine, delayed the start, her fever came down, left at 7.45 from home, took other required medicines from market, gave another required dose and finally left at 8.15 from Lucknow.

So with this delayed start, all the advantage of early morning less traffic was gone, but at least daughter was feeling ok and we were confident that she'll recover with medicines.

Lko -Kanpur was a pleasent drive with moderate traffic. In Kanpur, only trouble spot was jajmau bridge over Ganga, after that we took a right turn from under the GQ bypass bridge after Ramadevi circle, and climbed onto that fantastic Kanpur bypass to Agra coming from Allahabad. I have read about it in HVK sir and other group's GQ travelogue. Being on it with a powerful Tigress and seeing the messy Kanpur city from a height for good 15-16 kms was quite an experience.

Actually, have to move out, so will leave you all with few more pics of NH 2 from Kanpur - Agra stretch. more will follow soon.
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Old 30th January 2010, 18:41   #12
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A few snaps of NH 2 from day 1
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Old 30th January 2010, 20:16   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongDrive lover View Post
A few snaps of NH 2 from day 1
Bring it on, it has been sometime now since we had a SAFARI travelogues...had been wondering how come everyone is quiet.
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Old 31st January 2010, 00:34   #14
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Suspense at the beginning of the journey itself. Glued to the thread. Pls. continue the Safarilog. Er.. more pictures pls.
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Old 1st February 2010, 11:22   #15
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Thanks harendra and Nutty_Nair.

We cruised at a very good speed at beautiful expressway type NH 2 and hit Agra with trip odo reading 365 at 1.05 pm (with 2 pits stop 5 min each), askde for directions to Jaipur, negotiated city traffic and finally got out of city onto Jaipur road.

I was told that Jaipur have been widened now, but we couldn't see it, it was an old 2 lane road with old milestones. I was little worried at this time thinking that if the road is going to be like this then it'd take more time and will be tough for family. Family was asking for a break I told them to first come out of city limits on a clean stretch then we'll stop. Amidst this anxiety, we took a break (1.55 pm, odo 378), had fruits, biscuits, fruit juice etc, that we carried in plenty. But still we badly needed tea (I am very fond of tea), so after crossing Kuravali village, we stopped on a very small roadside tea shop at Medhakur village/town for tea (2.15 pm, odo 387). These two breaks costed us 25 mints. Soon after we started from tea break, a few kms before Fatehpur Sikri, we were surprised to join a beautiful 4 laner. It was complete in all respects including white lines, and there were several good looking eateries on both sides! We were happy as rest of the journey was going to be smooth, but, cursed our decision to have consumed our break times lil too early on those dusty small places.

We passed by Bharatpur at 3.10 pm and hit Jaipur at 6 pm with odo 608. The drive was super smooth. Because of delayed start and daughter's fever, we have already modified our plan and decided to halt at Jaipur instead of Ajmer. We filled fuel on outskirts of Jaipur and proceeded inside the city from the old road (a silly mistake, for which we paid heavly by negotiating heavy slow traffic for next 1.5 hr). Finally reached Jaipur railway station area and took accomodation and called it a day.
Actually, we should have taken the bypass, and later enter the city from bypass for accommodation. Realised it later. Family was tired and got a much awaited relief. Even I was tired because of pressing clutch for those 1.5 hrs in old city traffic, but we were satisfied with our progress. Daughter was also ok now.

In the night we discussed our plan and decided to further change it. So, instead of going to Mt. Abu first, we'd be going to Udaipur next day and visiting Chitorgarh en route. This was to make next day lil lighter (less kms, 4 lane roads instead of 2 lane).
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