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Old 6th December 2010, 09:36   #16
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Thanks, StarVegabond. Yes, we enjoyed each and every minute and metre of this mega trip. Cara Mia Fiat Linea fully co-operated on this strenuous task. We encountered with a puncture in Jodhpur, which was repaired within half-hour costing Rs 50. Apart from this, there was no other problem.

Now the flash-back starts.

3 December 2010, Friday. This was a red-lettered day in my life. This was the day I enjoyed the maximum during my 18-day, 6148-km long mega trip spanning across 7 states of India. Yes. I am referring to the Fiat Ranjangaon factory visit organised by Team Fiat India and Fiat India Automobiles Ltd. [FIAL], in which about 120 Fiat owners with their friends and families in their 60+ Fiat cars, participated.

We met at VITS, a business hotel in Pune. All our Fiat cars were pasted with nice Fiat stickers on both the front doors. Rajeev Kapoor, CEO, FIAL, flagged off the 60+ Fiat cars after breakfast. We drove to Fiat plant at Ranjangaon, located about 72 km from Pune on the toll-free 4-laned SH 60 to Ahmednagar.

After welcome drink/biscuits, we were taken around the engine and power transmission division, where 1.3 MJD and 1.2/1.4 FIRE engines and gear boxes are manufactured, assembled and tested. 1.4 T-Jet engines are fully imported. The Fiat engineers claimed that the Fiat Ranjangaon plant is a state-of-the-art car plant in India and the best Fiat plant in the world. The plant was clean and tidy. Robtics were used for many operations, which warranted accuracy.

Later, we were taken in a bus to car assemply plant in the same campus. Because of low volume of Fiat cars, they do not have in-house body-press shop, which needed heavy investment. FIAL supply the high tensile, low carbon steel sheets [raw material] to their vendors, who press them into different panels like doors and supply them to FIAL. However, the skin was fitted to the door panels by robots. We saw the assembly line, which was shared by three products, viz., Fiat Linea, Punto and Tata Manza. It was amazing to see the robots reconfigure themselves for different products! First, we saw robotic welding of panels with the chassis of Linea, followed by two Puntos, and then, three Manzas in the same assembly line! Fiat engineers informed us that the product details [model, variant, colour, etc.] are fed into the system before the commencement of each shift depending upon the order book.

After the plant visit, we were hosted with a delicious and sumptuous vegetarian lunch, followed by an interactive session with the top officials of FIAL including Rajeev Kapoor and Ravi Bhatia, Vice-President, FIAL. We were presented with Fiat 500 optical car mouse as memorabilia. Rajeev Kapoor shook hands with each and every one of us present. Last, but not the least, all our Fiat cars' fuel tanks were topped up with fuel!

We were not allowed in the paint-shop as it was a dust-free zone. Neither we were permitted to take photographs inside the plant.

Here are some photographs clicked by me.
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Flash-back will continue.

Last edited by J.Ravi : 6th December 2010 at 09:48.
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Old 6th December 2010, 09:49   #17
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Ravi: Super pics there!! You should be lucky to drive your Linea to it's birthplace!

As you are from Bangalore, how was the AC in other climatic conditions?

Please post more and more pics of your trip!
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Old 6th December 2010, 09:56   #18
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Thanks, COUNSEL. I have set my Linea's automatic climate control to 22 deg C. In most of the places in Rajasthan, UP and Delhi, the ambient day temperature hovered around 20 deg C and night temperature, 16 deg C. I could feel hot air coming from the vents! We were comfortable throughout this trip.
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Old 7th December 2010, 10:30   #19
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The flash-back continues.

DAY 1 - 18 NOV 2010 - THURSDAY

Please see my post # 1 in this thread.

DAY 2 - 19 NOV 2010 - FRIDAY

We breakfasted, rested, lunched, and again, rested at Oritel Serviced Apartment. We went for a drive in the night. Here are some photographs of Mumbai by night.

We liked the paintings at Oritel Serviced Apartment:
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We drove on Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link [Bandra-Worli Sea Link]. During our last visit to Mumbai, only 4-lanes for both the directions were operative. Now, all the 8-lanes, 4 for each direction, were operative. When I drove within the speed limit at 50 kmph on the second lane from the left, many big brothers [read BMWs, Endeavours, Fortuners, et al.] honked their horns and flew past me! I was the odd man out there driving at 50 kmph!
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We parked Cara Mia Fiat Linea at Marine Drive and had a walk. My son clicked a few photographs using his Canon 550D.
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We walked around Taj Mahal Hotel, Gateway of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange. We enjoyed the street food for our dinner, drove back to our abode and called it a day.

More to come.

Last edited by J.Ravi : 7th December 2010 at 10:34.
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Old 7th December 2010, 18:07   #20
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Lovely to know that you finally did complete the trip what with all that planning and cutting & chopping in the itinerary!Looking forward to more on the tlogue!
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Old 7th December 2010, 18:10   #21
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Thanks, ranjitp1. Your advice helped me a lot in accomplishing this mission.
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Old 7th December 2010, 20:41   #22
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Lovely pics, Ravi. Your Linea looks smashing!
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Old 7th December 2010, 21:22   #23
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Excellent Pictures Ravi Sir. Great to know you traveled so many Kilometers by car. At any point of time, did you feel tired of driving?
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Old 8th December 2010, 09:46   #24
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Default Re: If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Agra!

Thanks a lot, canonguy and MCR, for the compliments.

I enjoyed driving my Linea each and every minute and metre of this mega trip - absolutely no mental/physical fatigue at all. My daughters and son, who accompanied me in this trip, are licensed to drive, but they didn't get a chance to drive at all!
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Old 9th December 2010, 18:14   #25
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Default Nostalgia continues

DAY 3 - 20 NOV 2010 - SATURDAY

My Linea had an early morning bath at Oritel Serviced Apartments. We had delicious and sumptuous breakfast and checked out of Oritel by 9:00 am. I took the Western Expessway and joined NH 8 in the midst of heavy traffic. My MapMyIndia Lx 130 navigator guided me properly all the way to Ahmedabad.

Here are the highlights of Mumbai - Ahmedabad trip:

* How did we come to know that we entered Gujarat on NH 8? The moment, we were surrounded by big multi-axled heavy vehicles, chemcial tankers and trucks that outnumbered all other categories of vehicles, then we sure did.
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Somewhere in Gujarat, Cara Mia Fiat Linea completed 10,000 km!

* Gujarat is the only state that successfully enforces total prohibition. So, no bars, no arrack shops, no pubs on NH 8! Similarly, we found good vegetarian eateries that outnumbered mixed fare joints all along the NH 8.

* Most of the drivers of multi-axled heavy vehicles and trucks were well-mannered gentlemen to the core as compared to their counterparts in south India. The moment they saw my Linea in their rear-view mirrors, immediately they used to go to the left lane and give way to my Linea!I experienced this all along NH 8 in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Getting way from these big brothers, notwithstanding constant honking or flashing high beams, is next to impossible in south India! Invariably, I used to overtake these big brothers from the left only! But not in MH, GJ and RJ!

* I read various posts about perennial traffic pile-up while crossing the Narmada river bridge. But, I didn't face any traffic pile-up while crossing the Narmada bridge. It was a smooth drive albeit with reduced speed.
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Smooth sailing over Narmada river bridge - no traffic jam at all.

* After crossing the Narmada bridge, we drove to BP COCO retail outlet at Luvara, on NH 8, just opposite a Gurdwara. My Linea and its occupants had stomachful at the vegetarian Ghar Dhaba. The food was finger-licking and tasty. The tea was simply superb. The toilets were clean. The unleaded petrol cost Rs 56.05 per litre. I decided to have a stop-over here during my return trip.
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* The NH 8 was being widened from 4 lanes to 6 lanes all along from Mumbai to Surat by M/s IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. Although, many diversions were there, all diversions were well-asphalted, well-barricaded with good signages, resulting in dust-free diversions. There was no traffic jam in any of these diversions in the up journey. However, there was a traffic pile-up for more than two hours in the return trip!

* There was heavy traffic jam at Vadodara. Later, I enjoyed driving on Vadodara - Ahmedabad NE1.

By the time we checked in at Ginger Ahmedabad, it was 7:00 pm. After refreshing, we went for a stroll at the nearby Himalaya Mall. Then, we drove to Gordhan Thal to taste authentic Gujarati food. But, alas, it was closed, weekly holiday, it seemed. Then, we dined at nearby Hotel Dasaprakash. Yes, the same Dasaprakash of Mysore/Chennai. Then, we returned to Ginger and enjoyed well-deserved sound sleep.

More on the pipeline.

Last edited by Technocrat : 10th December 2010 at 01:40. Reason: Only 2 smilies per post allowed, thanks
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Old 9th December 2010, 19:35   #26
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Default Flash-back Continues

DAY 4 - 21 NOV 2010 - SUNDAY

We got up early, had a quick breakfast and left for half-day sight-seeing of Ahmedabad. We visited Sabarmati Ashram and Law Garden. We returned to Ginger, checked out at 12:30 after-noon and left for Jaipur.

En route, my Linea had tankful of petrol at HP COCO retail outlet on NH 8 after Himatnagar. We had lunch at Hotel Asopalav. The food was good. Plenty of car parking space was available. But, the toilets were not that good. We continued our onward journey. At BP COCO OSTS Soniyana, Chittorgarh, NH 79, my Linea and its occupants had bellyful. Again, the food was good and the tea, excellent. The cost of unleaded petrol was Rs 56.70 per litre.

We reached Jaipur by 12:30 am [after midnight]. By the time, we located Prem Abhilasha Guest House, Meera Marg, Jaipur, it was 2 am the next day! My host was kind enough to guide me through to the guest house at that ghostly hour. The confusion was due to the fact that there were three Meera Margs in Jaipur. The one, where we stayed, was near Jaipur Railway Station and Collectorate. Soon after we reached the guest house, we called it a day!

Now, it's time for some photographs!
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More to come.
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Old 13th December 2010, 18:27   #27
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DAY 5 - 22 NOV 2010 - MONDAY

We had good breakfast and rested in the forenoon. My Linea got a nice bath, thanks to the in-house attendent of the guest house. We left for the Jaipur city palace in the afternoon. I drove through the busy and congested old city area and market road to reach the city palace. By the time we come out of the city palace, it was evening. We drove around the city, had an early Rajasthani dinner and returned to our guest house.

DAY 6 - 23 NOV 2010 TUESDAY

After an early breakfast, we drove to Amber Palace through the same congested old city area. We returned to our guest house in the afternoon, checked out and headed for Agra on NH 11.

En route, we lunched at Khandelwal Dhaba at Hadiya, Mahwa on NH 11. The special thali costing Rs 140 each and the tea costing Rs 7 each were good.

NH 11 was 4-lane and good up to Rajasthan border. After a few km into UP, the 4 lane merged into 2-lane and it was chaos, as we expected! There was a total blockade. We waited for about one hour in the dark. Nobody knew the reason. Everybody took 'U' turn and entered some unknown village road. We too followed suit. Ultimately, we reached our guest house, GardenVilla at the outskirts of Agra after 8:30 pm, thanks to the traffic jam!

Here are some photographs of Jaipur city palace and Amber palace.
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More to follow.
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Old 13th December 2010, 19:21   #28
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Default Immortal Monument and Mortal Humans

My host, Mr Rajbansh, was a thorough gentleman. He guided us properly. He sent his son in his two wheeler to pilot us to the guest house at the outskirts of Agra! After we refreshed at the guest house, his son helped us order pizza for our late dinner delivered at the guest house! After our dinner, we called it a day.

DAY 7 - 24 NOV 2010 - WEDNESDAY

We visited Taj Mahal early in the morning. Taj Mahal is immortal and ageless. I would like to visit Taj Mahal again and again!

After visiting Taj Mahal, we returned to Garden Villa, had sumptuous breakfast, packed and checked out. We then went to Agra Fort. After that, we headed for Delhi at 2:30 pm. Here, I must record that Agra was filthier than what I had expected. Even the car-parking lot was disorganised and dirty. Wherever we went, touts and 'guides' pestered us. We withstood all these menace for the sake of Taj Mahal and Fort. We reached Ginger Vivek Vihar, New Delhi, by 8 pm. My MapMyIndia Lx130 navigator guided me to the exact spot. We checked in, refreshed and dined at Ginger roof-top restaurant with buffet dinner.

Here are some photographs clicked in Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

My first visit to Taj Mahal was in 1979, when I came to New Delhi to attend an interview at NTPC at Nehru Place:
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After a few years, I came here again with my wife and first daughter:
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Now, after a few decades, here I am with my wife and triplet children:
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More in the pipeline.
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Old 13th December 2010, 22:21   #29
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Lovely pics and wonderful narration, Ravi. Good to know you got stuck at the Narmada bridge only once
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Old 13th December 2010, 23:20   #30
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Dear Ravi,

Wonderful pictures and flash back narration till now. Your fond memories associated with Agra are indeed very dated and apears to be very nostalgic.

When i visited Taj Mahal in 1996 for the first time, the first emotion came to mind was "WoW, Is this really true ?"

After a while, going closer and spending some time around the Taj, the emotion got changed to "How small and in-significant I am in front of this ?

I have felt similar twin emotions when i visited Rome and Great Wall of China. Probably the wonders of the world make one feel like that.
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