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Old 8th May 2019, 02:31   #1
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Default 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

The summer holidays for kids was beginning, and there are very few drivable holidaying places in India reachable from Mumbai in this hot season. So I started looking at the map of India on what my options were. Few limiting factors were... I am the solo driver & I'll be travelling with my kids of 2years and 9years. A tentative plan (Bangalore - Pune - Mumbai : Route updates & Eateries) posted on Team-BHP was responded positively and the suggestions flowed in. Special thanks to member karanp23 for his pointers.

The preparation:
  • The car (Fiesta 1.6S) was serviced a month earlier, rechecked all the fluids
  • The car AC needed a service and was serviced at Unicool, Ghatkopar. No leakage found, gas was refilled
  • Fastag was procured via PayTM, was delivered in 15days post payment
  • Dry snacks for kids and adults, juice, drinking water, tetra packs of milk, etc were packed
The plan: Map link
Day 1 - From Mumbai to Davengere - 6am - 12hrs
Day 2 - Davangere to Mysore - 6hrs
Day 3 - Mysore local
Day 4 - Mysore to Bandipur - 10:30am - 1.5hr
Day 5 - Bandipur to Ooty (Kotagiri) - 11am - 3hrs
Day 6 to 8 - Kotagiri, near Ooty
Day 9 - Kotagiri to Coimbatore & Isha Foundation
Day 10 - Coimbatore to Davengere - 8am - 10hrs
Day 11 - Davengere to Mumbai - 7am - 12hrs
Most of my fun drives have been to either Goa or Hyderabad from Mumbai, which have been covered in 10-14hrs. I've been fortunate that my kids (and wife) enjoy long drives and they have been patient to bear those long journeys. In preparation for the holidays and journey, to prep the kids enthusiasm, I do let them know the brief plan, what is expected, what are the activities, etc. The younger one too likes car journeys, she feels cosy in her car seat and needs the iPad in case she feels bored. During this trip, I tried to stretch the limits by going a little out of my comfort zone and explore much beyond Goa, hence this plan. I tried to keep the travel balanced, not too much of travel on consecutive days, and give ample rest in between, hence the 4 days at Kotagiri where we just lazed

The trip was done last week of April. This is my first travelogue on team-bhp and I hope you guys will enjoy reading and watching the travelogue as much as I enjoyed the trip and the drive.

Few notes after the trip:
  • It is great happiness when your trip meter runs out of digits and resets itself. Mine got reset after 1999kms
  • Total 2866kms covered
  • Average mileage 13kmpl, with all time AC
  • Roads are better in Tamil Nadu (TN), followed by Karnataka. Maharashtra roads need lot of improvement
  • Fastag (via PayTM) worked flawlessly but dedicated Fastag lanes were not "actually" dedicated as they were accepting cash too, delaying fast users
  • Beware of Bus drivers in TN, they drive fast and rashly
  • In TN, even in an undivided 4 lane road, if you want to overtake, check that the opposite lane (2 lanes) are clear. A vehicle coming from opposite direction won't give you way on the 3rd lane even if the 4th lane is empty
  • Before booking hotels, do check online (Makemytrip, Yatra, Oyorooms, etc) as well as offline. I got a better deal by calling Ginger Hotels Mysore directly than the online rates
The journey is the destination (somewhere along the way in Karnataka)
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Day 1 - From Mumbai to Davengere
The anxiety of the trip made me wake up even before the 4:30am alarm went off, it was the special day when the plan needs execution. After last minute packing, loading stuff into the car, settling my pets for the holiday (I keep food packets for my aquarium fish and ask my maid to drop 1 packet each day), watered the plants, surprisingly the kids woke up too and got ready. We were on the road at 6:30am with the trip meter reset to zero.

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There was heavy traffic in Lonavla ghats and we lost almost 40 minutes. Rest of the drive was uneventful and peaceful and we reached Apoorva Resort Davengere by 7:30pm. The rooms are big and clean, and after a hearty dinner, retired to the bed early.

Day 2 - Davengere to Mysore
Started the day lazy, had a look around the resort and went for the included breakfast.

The breakfast has a good spread
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Fresh Dosa was served on the table
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The Apoorva Resort
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Pit stop for refuelling ourselves
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Reached Mysore before evening. Stayed at Ginger Hotel, refreshed and went to visit Nandi Hills. It started raining there which made the weather very pleasant. We skipped Chamundeshwari today and plan to come back other day. After dinner, it was rest time.

Nandi at Nandi Hills
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Dinner: Masala Dosa at Mylari Hotel
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cont'd...

Last edited by streetfighter : 27th May 2019 at 20:05. Reason: First travelogue
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Old 20th May 2019, 02:04   #2
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Day 3: This day was supposed to be spent in leisure at Mysore. After a delightful breakfast at Ginger, we set out to explore the city. Since the weather was hot, I picked up places which would have shade or inside a building. The first place we went was Shuka Vana, a birds park which has numerous rare and colorful species of birds. Photography inside the main park isn't allowed.


The breakfast:
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Some photos inside Shuka Vana...
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A family pic:
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There was a temple next to Shuka Vana. People offer and tie coconut as per their name.
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After a couple of hours, we headed to Regional Museum of Natural History. It was a nice museum and was loved by my kids. The artifacts were well preserved and well displayed. There are a lot of lifelike animals preserved in their natural skin, this science is called "taxidermy". Let the pictures do the talking...

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A peacock in the trees nearby:
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Resting in the shade:
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Rhino's feet:
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Elephant's skull:
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Elephant's bones:
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Old 20th May 2019, 03:27   #3
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After lunch and a little rest, we set out to see the Mysore Palace. This being a Sunday, the lights of the palace are switched on. It is a sight to behold when the lights come on, we were there before 7pm and witnessed the spectacle. One needs to see it to believe the grandeur of the palace.


A temple at the entrance of the palace:
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The palace before the lights are on:
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Whoa what a sight with the lights... a police band was playing in the foreground:
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Panorama shots:
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A family potrait, using a mini tripod:
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Please see that thousands of filament bulbs are used for decoration:
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A closeup of the bulbs in action:
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Dinner was a Poojari's Fishland, food was good and satisfied our hungry souls. There is an interesting collection of some antique bikes and cars there.



Day 4: Got up early today and freshened up to go to the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. It wasn't crowded and I parked my car in the first parking spot reserved for parking, the parking was free.

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Statue of Mahishashura:
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The main temple:
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Mysore city from the viewpoint atop Chamundi hills:
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After the darshan, once when we reached our car in the parking lot, something bad had happened. Someone had bumped into my car, there was a considerable dent and scratches on the driver side door and passenger door. There was a car with driver parked next to me (he wasn't there when I had parked). I asked him and he said he didn't bump, neither there was any car when he parked half hour before. I checked his car and his car didn't have any scratches. I asked a few other drivers around, one of them said that indeed some brand new car was trying to park there and bumped into my car. We all tried searching the parking lot but the car was nowhere to be found. Finally, there was nothing I could do, I didn't want to spoil my mood and the trip and decided to move on with the hope that bad karma will punish the wrongdoer.

My next stop was going to be Bandipur and I has booked the Jungle Lodges for my stay and safari. I was pretty excited for this, and moved to Bandipur after breakfast at my hotel.

The Jungle Lodges is a great property, we got the "Peacock" room which had a huge peacock hand painted on the wall. It was truly magnificent.
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The buffet dinner:
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The "Tiger" room:
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Breakfast the next day:
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After our lunch at the Jungle Lodges, we did our first safari at 3pm till 6pm. Please check the next post for what animals we saw

About Jungle Lodges: The rooms are incredible, quite big with sit out area at the back. The toilet/bath was clean and toiletries were provided. The food is good and staff is extremely friendly. Post dinner, once we retired to our room, it started raining heavily. At this time, a lot of insects started invading our room via a gap between the door frame and wall. I called the reception and asked for a pest control, after inspection and a few phone calls, they agreed to shift us to a different room. Hence, you can see we have clicked pictures in the Peacock room, and then we got shifted to the tiger room. The rooms had lizards too. I do understand that when we are in a jungle, and such things will be seen, but looking at the amount Jungle Lodges charges, better maintenance is definitely expected.
But full points to the staff, even the safari driver and guides, who try their level best to make your stay a memorable one.
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Old 20th May 2019, 03:47   #4
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The safari is done in open jeeps, and is a 3hour safari. Our first safari was from 3:30-6:30pm. The next one was next day 6-9am. The evening safari was quite a fruitful one, we saw 2 leopards. I could only capture the first one, the second one was too quick for me and vanished into the bushes in seconds.


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The Leopard in the bushes:
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The Leopard was walking in front of us:
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It vanished into the jungle:
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Next day morning safari, saw this tusker:
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Followed the paws, but couldn't see the beast:
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Another safari jeep:
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Although we didn't see many animals the 2nd day, the early morning drive within the jungle was exhilarating. Also, due to the recent fires, most animals have migrated away.

Last edited by streetfighter : 27th May 2019 at 20:10.
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Old 26th May 2019, 03:42   #5
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Day 5: After the morning safari, had a hearty breakfast. Then was time to bid goodbye to Bandipur and move on to Kotagiri via Mudumalai.

Highlights of Bandipur safari:

The Journey:


Ooty to Kotagiri:

I love offbeat relaxed holidays, hence didn't want to stay in crowded and commercialized Ooty. I was suggested Coonoor or Kotagiri. Searching online for an exotic home-stay landed me with Wandertrails. I put in an online request and was promptly emailed and called back with few options. After a couple of days back and forth, the booking was finally done at Nook and Cranny, at Kotagiri.

This was our home for next 4days:
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The home-stay was nestled between tea gardens and was on a small hill. The weather was pleasant around 20 degrees when we reached post noon. The cottage didn't have a fan inside which surprised me a bit. But after about half hour, I could feel the chill in the air and the temperature started dropping as the evening progressed.
We loved the cottage very much, it was big and super clean. It had a nice sit-out area with loads of greenery all around. You could chill on the courtyard seeing different birds and sometimes monkeys as visitors. The hosts were super helpful, food was home cooked but needed to be informed in advance.

Flowers at the property:
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Kids were super happy:
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Visitors:
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More visitors:
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This was the dining area:
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Beautifully decorated with plants:
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More tea gardens:
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The home-stay owner has a nursery:
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Trying some car pics:
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In flight:
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Greenery for your eyes:
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Getting some fresh air in the hills:
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Last edited by streetfighter : 27th May 2019 at 20:30.
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Old 26th May 2019, 04:11   #6
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We were having a relaxed time at Kotagiri. Next day, I made an impromptu plan to drive to Mettupalayam just for fun driving on the twists and seeing the Nilgiris Rail Museum. This didn't turn up well as my younger kid threw up on the ghats. Even the railway museum was not worth the effort and drive. Mettupalayam was blazing hot and humid in the afternoon.

From the Railway Museum:
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Next day, we went to Wellington which is an Indian Army Cantonment area. The War Memorial was immaculately maintained with lot of defense related installations like warship, tanks and fighter plane. It was a nice place and quite enjoyable.

The War Memorial:
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We were not allowed to enter into the institute:
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Tribute to the brave soldiers of Indian Army:
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Team-bhp means vehicle pics:
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Next we went to the Wellington lake. Due to some maintenance work, entry into the lake wasn't allowed. But the place looked beautiful and well maintained.

Ducks with ducklings near the lake:
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Indian Army taking care of the ducks:
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Back at homestay:
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3rd Day at Kotagiri, we went to Ooty to do the touristy stuff.

The St. Steaphen's Church, Ooty:
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Next stop, Ooty Lake:
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View from Dodabetta Peak (the road to the peak was horrible, and you have to pay a toll):
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Back at the homestay, the owner's daughter gave a pottery class to my daughter. This was super special and you can see how happy my daughter was:
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She wrote a thank you note:
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Last edited by streetfighter : 27th May 2019 at 20:18. Reason: Typos corrected
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Old 26th May 2019, 05:00   #7
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Day 9: We were reaching the last leg of our trip. After a relaxed and fantastic stay at Kotagiri, we set out to Coimbatore where 2 of our relatives were to meet us from Kochi. The plan was to visit Isha Foundation together. We set out from Kotagiri and reached Coimbatore around noon. Hotel Vinayak In was booked via Oyo. The hotel looked new, room size was decent and remarkably clean. A modest lunch was done at nearby Geetha Hotels.

The lunch:
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A short power nap after the hearty meal was needed, and the weather also was terribly hot and humid. The plan was to set off to Isha Foundation (a one hour drive) at 4pm to dodge the day heat and enjoy the place in the evening. I liked the place, it is very divine, scenic and peaceful. Photography is not allowed beyond a certain point, you have to deposit your phones, camera, bags before entering the main ashram (they have lockers for safe keeping). Overall the place was managed well in-spite of the crowd.

The Adiyogi statue:
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It is the biggest bust statue in the world:
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There were metal snakes at many places:
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The garland of Adiyogi is made of thousands of rudraksha:
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Eco-friendly transportation from the Adiyogi statue to the main ashram:
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Day 10: It was time to return back as the trip had ended, time to take the long road back to home at Mumbai. The heat and humidity of Coimbatore made me feel a little sick, but it was not too bad. I broke my journey at Apoorva Resorts, Davengere and continued to Mumbai the next day. We were glad that overall the journey was safe and a memorable one. It was our first super-long road trip and we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.

Start:
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End (the trip meter reset itself at 1999):
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TEAM-BHP... always with you:
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Conclusion: 2866.7 kms covered in total over 11days. It was an amazing experience, travel does make you richer with experience. Thank you to the members who had provided tips while I was planning the trip. Thank you to the readers who are reading this loooong travelogue patiently. The Ford Fiesta 1.6S performed brilliantly as always, even after being driven for 10years . The punchy engine provides enough power when needed and is comfortable being revved all day. The great maneuverability of the Fiesta was aptly tested on the hairpin bends and it came out with flying colors. The MRF ZSport (Ford Fiesta : Tyre & wheel upgrade thread) tyres provided enough grip but is a bit noisy on the highway. (Considering how well the 1.6S behaves, it is already being tough to think of an worthy upgrade. It has been a head turner too, I've seen people stopping by to look at the front/rear to read what brand the car is. Some have even asked if I custom painted it).

Most of the photos have been clicked using the Sony A6000, with 55-210mm lens and a Sigma 30mm lens. Some pics are from my iPhone 6S. Videos are shot mostly by my daughter using a GoPro session (she's just a kid, hence bear with the jerky videos). Videos have been edited using a software called DaVinci Resolve. If you want to extend the journey, you can check more pictures at instagram (handle: shib4u).

A big thank you to my kids and my wife who were patient and enjoyed the longish road trip. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I did, both on the trip and later while bringing this to you. If you guys need to know anything, feel free to ask. Thank you team-bhp family, keep exploring, keep posting, keep driving and drive safe !

Last edited by streetfighter : 29th May 2019 at 21:56.
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Old 29th May 2019, 23:35   #8
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Note from Support: Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 30th May 2019, 09:22   #9
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Congratulations on a detailed travelogue. I loved those photos of the flora and the fauna. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 30th May 2019, 09:59   #10
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Default Re: 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

Wonderful and crisp travelogue StreetFighter. You can add some cost details in a travelogue. It would help others immensely.

Unlike other hill stations, Nilgiris (ooty is the district headquarters) is a hill district and so one can't do full justice to exploring this great mountain in a few days. Yet you seem to have covered the base. Congratulations.
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Old 30th May 2019, 10:29   #11
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Default Re: 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

Wonderful travelogue with nice photographs. Long road trip with kids is always challenging but at the same time it is really helpful to make them become familiar with diverse Indian culture and experience natural beauty.

Fiesta S looks stunning in blue shade. Don't understand why ford discontinued blue shades (which is my favorite) in India.
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Old 30th May 2019, 10:30   #12
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Default Re: 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

Great travelogue and different places explored which generally people miss and flock only the regular tourist places. One thing to note is that you have spaced your travel perfectly which ensures the folks specifically kids don't get irritated always being on road!! Keep travelling and keep sharing!!
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Old 30th May 2019, 10:31   #13
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Default Re: 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

Thanks for the nice travelogue. After a long time, I did go through this one in its entirety. Well thought and written, and presented. Sorry about the bad experience at Mysore. My experience says that, there will be one such bad experience in every trip, and we should be thankful that such a threat goes off in such small incidents.
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Old 30th May 2019, 10:46   #14
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Wonderful and detailed Travelogue. Enjoyed reading and I am sure you all enjoyed too. All the very best.
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Old 30th May 2019, 11:38   #15
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Default Re: 10 days of a super drive - Mumbai to South India

Driving from Mumbai to South India is not common for sure, but seeing that BLUE Fiesta 1.6 S headlining the TEAM-BHP homepage doing so is rare & made me click the link to see it in action

PS - Needed more pics of the car

Enjoy !

Last edited by karan561 : 30th May 2019 at 11:56.
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