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Old 20th January 2023, 18:26   #1
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Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Wrong but Fun Solutions to my "Traveling Salesman Problems"



"Traveling Salesman Problem" (TSP) is one of the classical and oldest problems in the field of Mathematical Optimization Theory. It requires finding the shortest possible route across multiple cities that visits each city exactly once and returns to the origin city. I am fascinated by mathematical optimization theory and have studied it at the University level and also worked on it for many real-world problems. However, when faced with a TSP in my personal life, many times I prefer non-optimal and wrong solutions (at my own cost). Such wrong solutions to TSP are often a lot more "fun" (something that is not captured in the mathematical objective function).

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was faced with a simple TSP of visiting Aurangabad and Pune, starting from and ending at Bangalore. An optimal solution to this TSP exists with a travel length of about 2000km. However, ignoring that optimal solution, I preferred a totally non-optimal solution with a driving route of about 3000km. Since my main purpose of visiting Aurangabad and Pune was some work, this was a solo drive. This travelogue is a story of that solo and non-optimal drive of about 3000km (well, 2910km to be precise).

This drive, completed in the second week of January, was also my first drive of the year 2023. The first drive of the year is always special to me. I believe it sets the tone for the rest of the year. One thing I was very keen on doing in this first drive of the year was to drive on some new road. One brand new road that was on my mind was the recently opened Samruddhi Mahamarg between Nagpur and Mumbai via Aurangabad. It was opened just about a couple of months ago, and since then, I was eagerly waiting my chance to drive on this road.

So, when an opportunity came to visit Aurangabad, I made a plan that only a true blue BHPian with a "Live to Drive" attitude will understand. No, I did not take a flight (it helped my cause that there are no direct flights between Bangalore and Aurangabad), nor did I take the direct and fast four-lane highway from Bangalore to Aurangabad. I made the non-optimal plan of driving all the way to Nagpur first, just so that I could then drive on the Nagpur-Aurangabad section of the Samruddhi Mahamarg.

And after finishing my work at Aurangabad and Pune, instead of taking the direct Pune-Bangalore highway back (I have driven on that road so many times now that it feels just like a regular commute and equally boring), I decided to visit Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary (which was another thing on my to-do list for sometime) and then drive back to Bangalore via Solapur-Hospet road. However, once you start accepting non-optimal solutions, then there is no stopping. I ended up throwing Hampi in the mix at the very last minute (quite literally - Hampi plan was made on the go on the very last day of the drive), and ended up spending one evening in Hampi - my favorite place to spend an evening at!


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The map of this non-optimal drive when Aurangabad was the actual destination


Driving on Samruddhi Mahamarg was one special part of this drive for me. The second special and memorable part, which happened not necessarily by plan but perhaps by chance, was that I got great opportunities to practice my photography skills and push my skills to the next level, by my own standards. I got some memorable photos in this trip. I had just recently become active on Flickr, the online photography community. Some of the photos I got in this drive got very good reception and acknowledgements on Flickr, and I got connected to some great photographers from around the world thanks to the photos i took in this drive. This gave a huge boost to my interest in photography. I am surely going to spend a lot more efforts and resources in seriously pursuing this hobby now. I am glad that the first drive of the year set this positive tone for me.

I could not resist sharing one photograph below, which for me became the highlight of this trip. This photo was received very well on Flickr, and even got featured in "Flickr Explore", the curated section that highlights the best photos from all over the world each day. This photograph also got selected in several "by invitation only" groups on Flickr, and gave me a way to enter and participate in those special photography groups and interact with some great photographers.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_5238.jpg
Photograph that became the highlight of this trip for me!


Anyways, apologies for this long prologue. Let me stop this prologue here and get into the actual drive in the next post. But before getting into the actual drive, I almost forgot to mention my ride. My driving partner in this solo drive was my beloved red BMW 320d, that car that is ideally suited for such long interstate highway drives!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 22nd January 2023 at 11:11.
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Old 20th January 2023, 19:36   #2
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Day 1: Bangalore to Nagpur (1100km)



The first day of the drive was merely a precursor to the main drive on Day 2 - the Samruddhi Mahamarg drive. But to enter Samruddhi Mahamarg, I had to reach Nagpur first, and this first day was just that - a direct and straightforward drive from Bangalore to Nagpur.

The distance from my home in Bangalore to my hotel in Nagpur turned out to be exactly 1100km. I covered this in about 15 hours. Most of the road was excellent, with some bad patches towards the end of the day as I entered Maharashtra, about 100km before Nagpur. It was dark when I reached that bad section, and I had to be slow and careful there. But apart from that, the rest of the drive was quite nice and uneventful. By the way, it did not occur to me that time, but in hindsight, it sounds quite funny that I did this 1100km of drive first just to enjoy a 500km of drive on Samruddhi Mahamarg later. But that is the whole fun of doing such non-optimal drives.

I started from home at 5AM, and checked in my hotel in Nagpur just a few minutes before 8PM. At Nagpur I stayed at Radisson Blu Hotel Nagpur (https://goo.gl/maps/1K4gi89TRFbjeXASA), which was an excellent hotel. I would surely recommend this to anyone and I would stay there again if I am in that area.

The drive was uneventful and was quite routine one. Nevertheless, sharing a couple of pictures of my car from the Day 1 drive below.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230107_074212.jpg
At the first break of the day, after entering Andhra Pradesh, just after sunrise


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Towards the end of the day, at some dhaba for a tea break somewhere before entering Maharashtra


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Sunset time. I love it when I get to see both sunrise and sunsets in the same drive - that is my definition of an ideal full day drive!


At the end of the Day 1, after driving for 1100km, I was still eagerly waiting for the next day's drive, when I would drive about 500km on the much awaited Samruddhi Mahamarg. I went to bed a bit tired (after 15 hours on the road) and a lot excited about what was ahead the next day.

Last edited by Dr.AD : 21st January 2023 at 20:41.
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Old 20th January 2023, 19:45   #3
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Samruddhi Mahamarg and Exploring Aurangabad



I have already written about driving on Samruddhi Mahamarg in another post here (Samruddhi Mahamarg: 701 km super expressway will connect Nagpur to Mumbai).

However, since experiencing this road was one of the main motivations behind this drive, please allow me to share a few thoughts and pictures here too.

The road is just fantastic! A truly world class road! Six-lanes wide, with proper shoulder and proper lane markings, barricaded from sides, with a big wide separator between two directions. There are international standard exits and entry ramps, interchanges, exit lanes and merging lanes, appropriate signs and advanced signposts for various exits. It totally felt like driving on one of the roads in a developed country.

Another good thing here is that the speed limit is 120km/h. And given that the road is absolutely state-of-the-art and the traffic is very thin, you never really have to slow down or change your speed. Therefore, if you just cruise at the speed limit of 120km/h, you can pretty much average 120km/h in your entire trip. Thus, you can cover the distance of 500km in 4 hours and a 10 minutes or so, without exceeding the speed limits! This is a phenomenal achievement for an Indian road.

The only thing that is no so great and definitely not at the international standards is the road surface. This is a concrete road, and the road surface is quite rough. That causes the ride to be bumpy and harsh, and also generates massive amount of road noise from the tyres. This is a fast road for sure, but certainly not what one would call smooth and comfortable. This is a fast, rough and noisy road! For someone like me, who enjoys uninterrupted fast driving for hours, no matter what, this was not a big deal and I was able to ignore the noise and the bumpy ride and just enjoy the drive! However, for those who are expecting a quiet and comfortable drive, this can come as a disappointment and they might actually get annoyed by the road noise.

The speed limit of 120km/h was great to have, and at that speed, I was covering the distance in very quick times. I did not want to stop on the side of the road (which is not recommended anyways) to take pictures, but managed a few shots from the phone attached to my windscreen. Here are a few windscreen shots.


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Fast road with great visibility for miles!



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The road is fast but not really scenic. All you see are such small hills on a rare occasion. Otherwise the terrain is totally flat!



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It is fast, straight, and can get a bit ... boring! Make sure you do not get zoned away and avoid "Highway Hypnosis".


Although stopping on the side of the road is not recommended, I found a significantly wide shoulder at one point, and could safely park the car away from the driving lanes for a quick photo. There was hardly any traffic, and I parked there barely for a minute for a couple of quick photos. But otherwise, I would not recommend stopping on this road at all as a safety measure, unless it is an emergency.


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My car on Samruddhi Mahamarg


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A parting shot on this road - the road that represents a great achievement in infrastructure development in India!


With the speed limit of 120km/h and extremely thin traffic, I covered the distance from Nagpur to Aurangabad in a surprisingly quick time, something that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. I reached Aurangabad so early that I had more than half a day still available. I decided to try some sightseeing, and decided to visit the famous Ellora Caves.

There is a well-marked exit for Ellora (and I was seeing advanced signboards for Ellora exit from a while ago), and I decided to take that exit. After that exit, I paid the toll. Another very good thing on this road is that there are no toll booths on the road every 50km or so, like they are in most other national highways in India (it gets annoying to having to stop every 50km or so on a beautiful road, and does bring down the average speed quite drastically). The tolls are only on the entry and exit, and in-between, one can enjoy a 500km of toll-booth-free, uninterrupted drive on a lovely six-lane road! Not having toll booths on the road significantly adds to the driving fun, convenience as well as legally achievable average speeds without breaking speed limits. At Ellora Exit, my FastTag got charged for a single toll of Rs. 775. This was the highest single toll amount I ever paid anywhere in India, IIRC.

After Ellora Exit, I started driving on Aurangabad-Dhule road, which is a nice four-lane road with a smooth tar surface. Driving on this road was quite enjoyable, and my tyres were back in their "comfort zone" after the rough and noisy ride on Samruddhi Mahamarg. However, a bit later, Google Maps asked me to turn right, and there were even big signboards asking to turn right for Ellora. In hindsight, that was a big mistake! That was a random shortcut with practically non-existent road (a bigger and better road was just a 1km ahead), and I ended up having to drive through some massive potholes where even tourist Innovas were struggling. The road was so bad that unfortunately I ended up getting hit on the lower portion of the front lip (under front bumper) and got some visible scratches there. Anyways, I continued slowly and then joined back the main road. After a while, I reached Ellora Caves only to see massive traffic jam and massive crowds everywhere. There were cars parked randomly for miles, and even if I could manage to find a parking, there were so many people on the road and in the caves premises that it looked a bad idea to get in that crowd! If I had to park and walk to the caves, I would literally have to push myself through that crowd to reach the caves. There was no point (in my mind) in visiting the caves when it was so crowded. I decided to skip the caves and take a U-turn and go back.

The road was narrow, and full of cars parked randomly. I had to to drive a full 1km beyond the caves just to find a little bit of an open spot where I could take a U-turn. I took a U-turn there, and again drove back through that traffic jam all the way back to Dhule highway, and then drove straight to Aurangabad. Thus, apart from the hit and scratches on my bumper, I found nothing else from this ill-timed drive to Ellora.

Anyways, later in the evening, I visited the famous "Bibi Ka Maqbara" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibi_Ka_Maqbara) in Aurangabad. It was also very crowded, but still, it was a nice place to visit. It is a beautiful place and a beautiful monument. Although it is not very well maintained, I could imagine the beauty of this place during its heyday. I wanted to take photographs of this place in the sunset light. Although I was there at the right time for sunset, and the light was perfect, I could not take any good photographs because it was just so crowded. But nevertheless, sharing one picture below just for the sake of documenting this visit in this travelogue.

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Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, in peak crowds!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 21st January 2023 at 21:26.
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Old 20th January 2023, 19:47   #4
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

To Pune and then to Bhigwan



After spending a day and half in Aurangabad for my work (which was the reason for this drive in the first place), I drove to Pune.

I started from Aurangabad at early morning, around 5:30AM, and enjoyed the winter morning drive. It was cold. The ambient temperature reading in the car was showing +7.5C for some time. For most of the morning hours, the ambient temperature was in single digits.

I love these winter morning drives. There is something magical about these. When the sun comes up on the horizon, with the morning fog and smog, it feels magical. And of course, nothing beats the pleasure of stopping at a roadside tea shop in such cold morning drives and having a cup of hot tea.


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Sunrise in the cold morning drive from Aurangabad to Pune


After spending a day in Pune and finishing my work there, I decided to visit the place that was on my to-do list for a long time, Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary! This is about 100km from Pune, on Pune-Solapur highway. Winter is one of the best seasons to visit this place. Many migratory birds arrive here in January-February time. I decided to make the best of my Pune visit in January by adding this quick visit to Bhigwan.

Next day, I again started at 5:15AM from Pune. Pune-Solapur highway is in excellent shape, four-lanes and smooth tar throughout. Although there were many trucks plying on that road in the morning hours and the traffic in general was heavy, thanks to the good road surface, I still made quick progress and reached Bhigwan around 6:40AM.

I wanted to reach the boating point at about 7AM, just at the time of sunrise (sunrise there was a few minutes past 7AM that day). Since I was there a few minutes early, I decided to enjoy a hot cup of tea, the best thing to do in a winter morning drive.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230111_064700.jpg
A hot cup of tea on a winter morning, in Bhigwan, and the tea ("Kadak Chaha" in Marathi) in this shop was awesome!


Although Bhigwan is officially a bird sanctuary, there are no official boat rides, or in general nothing official about the place there. There are many private boating services and one has to contact one of the private businesses for a boat ride. There are various boating points and locations (each boating service has their own location), and many locations marked in Google Maps too. It can easily get confusing. Best thing to do is to contact one of these boating services and their tour guides in advance and specifically arrange for a boat ride.

I had contacted one boating service, and they had sent me location of a place to reach where there boat would be ready for me. I had a whole boat arranged just for myself, and I was eagerly looking forward to that boat ride in this magical morning hour.

However, I was warned in advance that the location given to me requires me to drive on an off-road section for about last 1.5km. And it was indeed true. Last 1.5km was just an unpaved road, with plenty of stones on the road that made me worried, some huge stones jutting out here and there, and then some deep ruts and potholes to add more drama to the driving experience there. I had to be very careful, and literally crawled on that road in that early morning hour, before I could reach the given location.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230111_0700352.jpg
Driving on such roads in the morning hour added to the drama of the experience!


It surely did feel a bit funny to drive there all alone, in the early morning, with nobody else there to be seen, and meet someone at some given location in the wild. Felt like I was living some movie scene :-). After tackling that road for about 1.5km, I reached the location given to me and parked my car on some random open space in front of what was essentially a small barn.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230111_070703.jpg
My car parked where a Jeep would have felt more at home!


Anyways, the boating service and the guide I used were fantastic. A nice clean boat (and a big boat just for me) was waiting for me, and I started my boat ride in that morning hour, while chitchatting with my boatman-cum-guide.

Although most people go to Bhigwan for bird watching and bird photography, I ended up taking some landscape photos that I liked more than my bird photos. I am not a bird photographer per se, and my natural instinct is to shoot landscapes (or cars, if they are available) wherever I go. And thus, even at Bhigwan, I ended up with a bunch of landscape photos that I now show around to people rather than bird photos.

I was there at just the right time for sunrise, and watching the sunrise over the waters at Bhigwan was a magical experience. I got some sunrise shots that I really liked, and also were very well received on other photography communities such as Flickr. Please allow me to share some of these photographs below.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_5238.jpg
My most favorite shot of this drive. Sunrise at Bhigwan. This photo got me connected to many great photographers on Flickr!



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230111_072709.jpg
Boating in Sunrise



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Sunrise at Bhigwan


I was mesmerized not only by the sunrise there, but also by one fisherman who was doing his work nonchalantly in that picturesque setting. I could not resist clicking a couple of photographs of that fisherman at work there.


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Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_55963.jpg


Even the trees standing in that water body looked lovely in that morning hour, and provided me with great subjects for landscape photography.


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Birds on trees waking up in the morning hour!



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A tree with birds!


Although I enjoy landscape photography more than bird photography, sometimes, the birds can provide an ideal setting for a landscape photo. For example, this photograph below is something that I would classify as a landscape, although the birds are the main features in the photograph.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_5242.jpg
Landscape with birds!


After spending a couple of hours enjoying the boat ride and watching the birds (and yes, I did manage to take a few bird photographs that I will share in the next post), I started driving back on that non-paved road again. And this time, could not resist clicking another picture of my car on that road.


Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-20230111_091816.jpg
Returning from Bhigwan!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 22nd January 2023 at 09:31.
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Old 20th January 2023, 20:55   #5
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Birds at Bhigwan



Of course, Bhigwan being a bird sanctuary, the birds were the main attraction, and I enjoyed watching birds there. Bhigwan is known for the large number of flamingos that arrive there in late January and February. I was hoping to see flamingos there. And I indeed got to see a few, but very few! It turned out that I was too early in the season (this was in first half of January) for flamingos, and a large number of them would arrive only in February. I got see about 7 or 8 flamingos, but not more than that. But I did see a large number and varieties of egrets, herons, and terns.

Let me share a few bird photos here. Please forgive me in case I mention some wrong bird names below, and please feel free to correct me.


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Black Headed Gulls at Sunrise (another picture that I loved for the colors and the composition more than just the birds per se).



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Takeoff!



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Flamingos! I did get to see them after all, but they were few in numbers.



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Ready for takeoff!



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Egret, just after takeoff!



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Joy of Flying!



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Egret in Flight!



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One more in-flight egret



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"Black and White"



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Painted Stork and Glossy Ibis



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Glossy Ibis



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Black-Winged Stilt



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Painted Stork in the Sunrise Light!



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Grey heron



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Another type of heron?



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An egret flying in the morning sun



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Another photo of the egret's flight



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Flying egret under the morning light



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A river tern in flight



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Whiskered Tern



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Finally, to wrap up bird photography, a picture of a huge flock of birds flying together!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 22nd January 2023 at 11:02.
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Old 20th January 2023, 21:03   #6
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

An Evening in Hampi



My birding at Bhigwan was over by about 9AM (that place gets hot once the sun comes up, and with that open boat and sun blazing in the sky, you can not really do boating there after 9AM; best time to enjoy Bhigwan is from 6:30AM to 9AM), and then decided drive back to Bangalore. I could have reached Bangalore the same night if I drove straight to home. But I decided to give this story one last twist, by adding one evening at my favorite place, Hampi.

The point was that from Bhigwan, the route to Bangalore would be via Solapur, Vijayapura (formerly known as Bijapur), Hospet and Bangalore. And if I drove straight to Bangalore, I would be passing Hospet around 4pm. Hampi is just 15km away from there, and it felt just wrong to drive past Hospet/Hampi at 4pm and not see the glorious sunset than Hampi offers. And with that reasoning, I decided to stay back at Hampi for the night and once again see the magical sunset there, and then drive to Bangalore the next morning from Hampi. I have been to Hampi many times in the recent past, but I like Hampi so much that I would never miss a chance of one more visit!

I opened MakeMyTrip app on my phone, and found a hotel at Hampi for the same night. This time, I tried a hotel at Hampi where I had not stayed at in the past. I booked a room at "Heritage Resort, Hampi" (https://goo.gl/maps/BnHMUkDeTa7sBK9r7). The main reason for choosing this place was that this is very close to the sunset points in Hampi, and sunset is all I wanted to see in Hampi. It turned out to be a very nice place for stay and location. I had a beautiful cottage, quite big for a solo traveler. The resort location is ideal for Hampi sightseeing, and the resort is clean and well maintained. The breakfast (the next morning) was not great -it was below average at best. And that was the only negative I found. Other than the breakfast, I had a great experience here and liked the place a lot.

So I booked this place and then started driving again from Bhigwan, around 9:30AM. With a lunch break on the highway somewhere after Vijaypura, I reached Hampi by about 3:45pm. That was again a fast drive (good roads with not much traffic) and I reached well before I had expected. My 3:45pm arrival gave me plenty of time to check into my room, freshen up, have a cup of tea, and head out for my most favorite activity for evening, watching sunset in Hampi!

My latest trip to Hampi (before this one) was just a couple of months ago, documented here: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...chase-sun.html (Solo Drive to Hampi, to Chase the Sun!). That time, I had spent the evening watching sunset from Hemakuta Hill, which is one of the most popular sunset points in Hampi. This time, I wanted to try some new (to me) sunset point, and therefore, decided to visit a temple called "Sri Malyavanta Raghunatha Gudi" and watching sunset from there. This temple, which is located on a small hill, offers a great spot for both sunset and sunrise views. In addition, the temple itself is very beautiful and a nice place to visit when in Hampi. This is also relatively lesser known place with a very few tourists (unlike the Hemakuta Hill where tourists flock for sunset views) , and that was an added advantage!

I drove to Sri Malyavanta Raghunatha Gudi an hour before the sunset time, and spent about an hour and half there exploring the temple and the views all around. This was the classical "golden hour" for photography, and I enjoyed watching the Hampi landscapes lit up in the golden hues.



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6232.jpg
Sun setting behind the 16th Century Temple!



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6244.jpg
Door to History (views from one of the doors in the temple)



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Lush green farms of Hampi lit up in the golden hue of the evening



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6297.jpg
A small temple, located on top of a massive bounder, under sunset hues



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A stone structure within the temple complex



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6318.jpg
Hampi boulders in the golden hour



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The famous boulders, characteristic to this land



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6326.jpg
Another characteristic Hampi landscape



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Sunset time! The entire landscape was lit up under that golden sunset light!



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Tourists enjoying the sunset from the sunset point behind the temple complex



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The magical sunset in Hampi!



Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg-dsc_6407.jpg
A parting shot of the "layered sunset"


After watching the sunset at Hampi, I went back to my hotel. I enjoyed my dinner there, while lost in my thoughts and reliving the memories of the last few days. Next morning, I drove straight to Bangalore from Hampi, which was another routine drive. I have driven that stretch many times in the recent past, and there was nothing new to write home about. It was an uneventful drive.


Epilogue



Overall, it was a memorable drive. What started as a simple visit to take care of some work expanded into a longish drive of about 3000km and I came back with many happy memories and some photographs that I loved.

Samruddhi Mahamarg is definitely something that is worth experiencing, and I was really happy to see this in India. This represents a great leap in the Indian infrastructure development, and if this paves way for many more such roads in India, that would be a dream came true. I couldn't help but feel proud when driving on this road. I was driving on a road in my own country that was as good as anything I have seen in the developed world! We often rant about bad roads. But when something of this scale is built and made operational, I stand up and applaud it! And of course, Nehru Outer Ring Road in Hyderabad is also a great example of such world-class roads in our own country. And I enjoyed driving on that road too during my Bangalore-Nagpur run. Absolutely fantastic road!

In general, the national highways are improving fast and this drive was another pleasant reminder of that for me. Out of the 3000km or so I drove, almost 90% of that was on smooth four-lane highways, running across four states! I could achieve average driving speeds comparable to what one could do in the developed world. That is not trivial.

Yes, there are still several issues (lack of traffic discipline and the random and unscientific speedbreakers are the two biggest issues in my experience), but overall, we are still making progress. This drive that I did, in the time that I did, was unthinkable 10 years ago!

Speaking of my car, my partner in this drive, the car did just great here. Such smooth and fast highways is what the car was built for, and for a change, the car enjoyed playing in the "home ground", if I could put it that way. I often use this car on bad roads and roads ridden with slow and messy traffic. Although I still enjoy the car there, the true strengths of the car are hidden in those conditions. But here, with wide open highways for hundreds or thousands of kilometers, and with thin traffic, the car could play to its strength and it was just amazing! The dynamics of the car are perfect for the highway speeds. At those speeds, the ride quality is very good without sacrificing handling - a perfect blend of ride and handling at highway speeds. Lane changes at high speeds were a breeze. Overtaking slow vehicles was a breeze. I never felt tired even after driving many hundreds of km in one go. I was also getting a range of about 1000km on a full tank, and the car, while doing very good average speeds, returned a fuel economy of 17 km/l across the entire drive! This was indeed the ideal car for this drive (for a change, else many times I end up using this car on roads where an SUV would be more ideal!).

Anyways, let me stop that longish epilogue here. That is all folks. Thank you very much for reading!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 22nd January 2023 at 11:18.
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Old 22nd January 2023, 11:25   #7
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd January 2023, 18:25   #8
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

I read the title and thought, wait what? Bhigwan and Hampi? In what universe does this have any kind of logical connection? Then I realised, it must be Doc at at again and I was right.

As always, lovely crisp narration with superb pics. Absolutely made my evening. Thanks for sharing Doc!
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Old 22nd January 2023, 19:11   #9
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

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Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
I read the title and thought, wait what? Bhigwan and Hampi? In what universe does this have any kind of logical connection? Then I realised, it must be Doc at at again and I was right.

As always, lovely crisp narration with superb pics. Absolutely made my evening. Thanks for sharing Doc!
Thank you very much, RedTerrano for your kind words!

Bhigwan was on my mind for a long time, and I was waiting for an opportunity to visit there in the winter months. I will most likely visit there again next month, just to see the flamingos which would arrive there in February.

Hampi is one place that I genuinely love, and anytime I am driving on Bangalore-Solpaur highway (which passes just 15km from Hampi), I am sure to stop by at Hampi no matter what my destination is. Thus, Bangalore-Solapur highway is my connection between Bhigwan and Hampi :-)

Last edited by Dr.AD : 22nd January 2023 at 19:25.
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Old 22nd January 2023, 21:05   #10
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Oh wow! What a start to the year.

The Samrudhi is on my wish list too. Hopefully soon enough.

Incredible pictures. Simply beautiful. Loved every click.

I had stayed at heritage a couple years back. Even then, their negative was the food. Looks like they continue in the same way.

Great start AD. Am sure we will get to read more from you this year too.
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Old 23rd January 2023, 05:59   #11
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
Samruddhi Mahamarg is definitely something that is worth experiencing, and I was really happy to see this in India. This represents a great leap in the Indian infrastructure development, and if this paves way for many more such roads in India, that would be a dream came true. I couldn't help but feel proud when driving on this road. I was driving on a road in my own country that was as good as anything I have seen in the developed world! We often rant about bad roads. But when something of this scale is built and made operational, I stand up and applaud it! And of course, Nehru Outer Ring Road in Hyderabad is also a great example of such world-class roads in our own country. And I enjoyed driving on that road too during my Bangalore-Nagpur run. Absolutely fantastic road!

In general, the national highways are improving fast and this drive was another pleasant reminder of that for me. Out of the 3000km or so I drove, almost 90% of that was on smooth four-lane highways, running across four states! I could achieve average driving speeds comparable to what one could do in the developed world. That is not trivial.
Another 5-10 years I think India would have roads like this across the length and breadth of the country. The New Delhi-Bombay, Pune-Bangalore, Bangalore-Chennai, Surat-Chennai are just a few mentions.

But yes it's extremely satisfying to see such huge infrastructure development which is visible to the eye.

I have no intention to make this thread into a political debate. But since roads are something we all love to see, it's amazing to see how such a spectacle like the Pune-Nagpur Mahamarg will become a commonality in times to come! May be we would be that generation which would have seen the good the bad and the ugly!

Amazing drive indeed AD! More miles to you!

Last edited by ampere : 23rd January 2023 at 08:20. Reason: Typo Fixed
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Old 23rd January 2023, 08:26   #12
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

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The Samrudhi is on my wish list too. Hopefully soon enough.
You should definitely drive there in your Audi A6. The Audi A6 will absorb the road roughness quite well and you will have a great ride. That is one car that can just glide over such surfaces at a great speed and comfort.

Quote:
Incredible pictures. Simply beautiful. Loved every click.
Thank you very much your kind words!

Quote:
I had stayed at heritage a couple years back. Even then, their negative was the food. Looks like they continue in the same way.

Great start AD. Am sure we will get to read more from you this year too.
Thanks again. Yes, Heritage Resort is a good place except for the food. For dinner, I ordered some simple a la carte dishes and those were not bad. But the breakfast buffet was quite bad. But I still liked that place because the rooms/cottages were quite spacious and nice (even in a dry place like Hampi the cottages are under thick trees and the resort is lush green), and the location is ideal for visiting sunset/sunrise points in Hampi. The sunset point is just 15 minutes drive away from this hotel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Another 5-10 years I think India would have roads like this across the length and breadth of the country. The New Delhi-Bombay, Pune-Bangalore, Bangalore-Chennai, Surat-Chennai are just a few mentions.

But yes it's extremely satisfying to see such huge infrastruction development which is visible to the eye.
Very true. I agree 100% with you.

Quote:
Amazing drive indeed AD! More miles to you!
Thank you very much for your kind words!

Last edited by Dr.AD : 23rd January 2023 at 08:32.
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Old 23rd January 2023, 10:59   #13
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

An amazing first drive of the year, thanks so much for sharing these updates

As I said in the other Samruddhi thread, you driving 1100 km from Bangalore to Nagpur just to experience 500 km on the Samruddhi highway from Nagpur to Aurangabad is the quintessential definition of "Live to Drive" for BHPians!!

And to top it up, the super sunrise pictures of the Bhigwan bird sanctuary and the glorious sunset Hampi pictures are a very good panacea for the boring 'IT' industry's Monday morning blues.
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Old 23rd January 2023, 12:16   #14
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

Yet another fantastic travelogue, AD, thanks for sharing!

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The road is just fantastic! A truly world class road!

Another good thing here is that the speed limit is 120km/h. And given that the road is absolutely state-of-the-art and the traffic is very thin, you never really have to slow down or change your speed. Therefore, if you just cruise at the speed limit of 120km/h, you can pretty much average 120km/h in your entire trip.
I think the problem with such amazing roads, combined with a constant speed and scenery that is not too exciting - is the tendency to cause drowsiness inspite of being adequately rested. Personally, I prefer 2 lane roads with varying scenery, and interesting places to stop for a few minutes!

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Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
However, I was warned in advance that the location given to me requires me to drive on an off-road section for about last 1.5km. And it was indeed true. Last 1.5km was just an unpaved road, with plenty of stones on the road that made me worried, some huge stones jutting out here and there, and then some deep ruts and potholes to add more drama to the driving experience there. I had to be very careful, and literally crawled on that road in that early morning hour, before I could reach the given location.
Invariably, in most of the (touristy) places, if at all the roads are bad, it is usually in the last few Kms. It's very unlikely that roads would be bad for a long distance (in which case you would either abort the trip, or arrange for a rented transport/jeep/taxi )

What I generally do in such cases, where the distance to the destination is less than 3-4 Kms, and the roads deteriorate suddenly (and you can generally make out that it's not going to improve because there's a clear demarcation) - simply park the car and walk the rest of the distance. Less stress, and also an nice opportunity to explore the areas leading to your destination.
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Old 23rd January 2023, 15:57   #15
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Re: Solo & Non-Optimal: Bhigwan and Hampi via Samruddhi Mahamarg

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An amazing first drive of the year, thanks so much for sharing these updates
Thank you very much, JoshMachine!

Quote:
And to top it up, the super sunrise pictures of the Bhigwan bird sanctuary and the glorious sunset Hampi pictures are a very good panacea for the boring 'IT' industry's Monday morning blues.
Thanks for your kind words. I must be one of those rare guys who went to Bhigwan and came back with more sunrise pictures than the bird pictures. But I hope to be back there next month to see many more flamingos!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PearlJam View Post
Yet another fantastic travelogue, AD, thanks for sharing!
Thanks for your kind words!

Quote:
What I generally do in such cases, where the distance to the destination is less than 3-4 Kms, and the roads deteriorate suddenly (and you can generally make out that it's not going to improve because there's a clear demarcation) - simply park the car and walk the rest of the distance. Less stress, and also an nice opportunity to explore the areas leading to your destination.
Agreed. If it is feasible to park and walk, I prefer that too. However, when you are in deep forests or some unknown areas, you are alone, and there is nobody around (say in the pre-sunrise hours), then even parking randomly in the middle of nowhere and walking alone may not be very safe or ideal. So yes, it depends on the situation and circumstances. But if feasible, I also prefer walking the last mile, so to say.
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