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Old 13th April 2024, 09:17   #1
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15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places

Summary:



After a 3 week planning, we started on our road trip spanning 16 days and 15 nights Road Trip across four states and one Union Territory. Distance travelled was 5300 kms. Fuel efficiency was about 17 kms to a litre.

We drove an Audi A4 B8 2.0 TDI with 165 mm ground clearance. We did not encounter any show stoppers on the roads, though the car did scrape the bottom against several road humps. All four Pirelli P7 AO tyres installed about 25K kms ago are in still good condition.

Our route was Bangalore-Aihole-Pattadkal-Mahakoota-Badami Caves-Pandarpur-Aurangabad-Ellora Caves-Grishneshwar Jyothirlinga-Indore-Ujjain-Dakor-Ahmedabad-Dwarka-Porbandhar-Verawal-Gir National Park-Diu-Statue of Unity Kevadia-Nashik-Pune-Kolhapur-Bangalore.

With a preloaded fast tag and a full tank diesel, we relied on Google maps and certain team bhp notes to visit seven Jyotirlingas, several other historic temples and lovely places. I was personally anxious about the Audis ground clearance in unknown terrains and much preferred to drive our Innova. Speed, ease of driving and fuel efficiency scored for the Audi. Largely, the journey was motorable, though there were ongoing construction works on several toll roads too. Additionally, my wife and me are vegetarians and do not consume onion or garlic in our foods. We did not have any issue finding foods without the duo during our long road trip. Periodic checking for cash transportation at all Highways, given the Lok Sabha elections seemed to be the norm. We simply pulled over, cooperated and asked the cops to check to their satisfaction.


Day 1:


We left Bangalore at 5-30 am and took AH 47 / 4 / 50. We quickly crossed Tumkur, Sira, Hospet. We had packed breakfast to save on time and reach our destinations soon. We took the left turn at Hungund, and hit a two way road. We reached Aihole, Pattadkal, Mahakoota and Badami Caves. We spent one hour each at Aihole and Pattadkal. Aihole has a Rs.30/- per adult towards entry and Pattadkal charges Rs.40/- per adult for entry. Both places are well maintained and security guards are deployed for visitor safety. We all enjoyed the architecture at Aihole and at Pattadkal, which is an enclosed large compound. The local villagers sell lime juice, cut fruits, home-made curd outside the temples, which we bought. We then headed to Mahakoota and had a quick Shiva Linga darshan. U have to take a detour of 4 kms from the two way road to reach Mahakoota. There are large directions on the road sides directing us to reach from Aihole to Pattadkal to Mahakoota. Local villagers sell chaas, home-made curd, tender coconut and cut fruits outside the old temple.

We drove from Mahakoota to Badami caves. Roads continued to be two way and narrow at certain places. One has to follow the google map to reach the entrance to Badami Caves. Badami caves entrance area was beautiful to look at with its reddish hue. Reminded us of our Grand Canyon trip. The detailed exploration of Badami Caves will surely involve moderate physical efforts to trek up. We chose to skip the trek, given the blistering heat and the monkeys. We clicked a few pics and left the place.
We headed towards Pandarpur via Vijaypura. We took NH 52 and reached Pandarpur by late evening, after the Left turn at Zalki.

We stayed the night at Pandarpur. I had contemplated staying at Shree Vittal Rukmini Bhakt Nivas after watching a Youtube video. I was voted out of staying in this place by family and we stayed at Hotel SP Majestic instead. We got a spacious room. Decent car parking availability within the hotel complex was a big draw to me. The hotel lift was being repaired and the hotel staff helped with our luggage. The room met our needs for a night stopover and is situated at a convenient 2 kms distance from the Vittala main temple.

Aihole:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc03826.jpg

Day 2:


We left the hotel room and checked out at 8 am. Staff were helpful and gifted us with a Vittal Rukmini small wooden idol too when we checked out. With the luggage in our cars, we drove to the Pandarpur temple parking area. I had established before the trip itself that we would be allowed only Mukha Darshana of Lord Vittala and the Pada darshan is now closed to devotees since the temple renovation was on. We did not purchase any tickets online upfront.

You can drive up to the parking lot area (quite unorganized) and some auto chap will follow your car and convince you to use his services for 200/- round trip from your car spot to the temple and back. We were convinced by him and used his services which in hindsight was a blessing since the main entrance area to temple and the exit areas are in two completely different spots and you will have to navigate the local narrow roads. Only a local can figure these nuances out. You will save time using such services too. I will highly recommend usage of the auto from your car parking area. He gave me his card which read his name as Shankar Devkar. 85301-33842. Also, mobiles are NOT allowed in the temple. You will have to leave them in the car behind.

With zero waiting time in lines, we had a blessed darshan after climbing the customary winding steel staircase to see Lord Vittala. There was no rush and we could spend about 20 quality minutes in front of the Lord till a big bus group disrupted our quiet.

At the exit of Pandarpur temple, we were confronted with a small street with shops on both sides. We lucked out by spotting a vendor selling Hot idlies and chutney about 40 meters from the exit of the Pandarpur temple. He said he is available always. We enjoyed the unexpected breakfast treat and proceeded to visit by foot the famous Bhakta Pundalik Temple and Chandrabagha river area (About 150 meters walk one way with a flight of stairs down). Else, poha is the food to go at this place. Everyone without exception loves Poha here! Climbing down a flight of stairs, at the Chandrabagha river area, we saw a person making Tulsi mala by hand and bought one to encourage him and his craft. We encouraged the local sugarcane vendors too, several times over We could see ISKCON temple across the river. We did not visit it though. It is important to stay the temple side and not across the river since one loses time in commute.
On our way back towards the exit of the temple where our auto chap was to pick us up, we visited Dwarkadish temple of Pandharpur. The temple is old and still worship happens here.

Our auto chap picked us from the pre-determined spot/time (since we did not have mobiles) and dutifully dropped us off to the car area. He was decent and did his job. No haggling. No nonsense. Knew his stuff. I would recommend him.

We then drove 3 kms towards Vishnu Pad temple and saw the Narada Muni temple half submerged. We also visited Sant Jana Bhai Takacha Dera temple. All these 3 temples are in a cluster and you can park the car and go by foot. It is believed that Lord gave darshan to Sant Jana Bhai Takacha at this spot.

Our last pitstop at Pandarpur was the visit to the 70 foot Vittala at Tukaram Baba Kedlekar Ashram (our second visit). Roads were OK. We halted for a late lunch at a local dhaba and I ate a methi curry (Methichi Bhaji) which was delicious. I gathered that it was a local dish with crushed peanuts also added to it. It was superb.

We then drove towards Aurangabad via Beed. We encountered a very bad stretch for over 3-4 kms and finally reached Aurangabad Gymkhana Club (AGC) by 6 pm. AGC has very good parking facility manned by CC tv and a guard at the main gate. The hotel reception was spacious and staff were helpful. The restaurant was nice too. We checked in seamlessly, relaxed at the hotel and availed of a leg massage at their Spa with their kasi vati. It was the first time we got a massage of this sort. Overall, it is a decent place with helpful staff. We had booked online.

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc03964.jpg

Day 3:


We checked out of the hotel by 7-30 am and headed towards Ellora Caves. Distance was about 35 kms and took about one hour. We have to pass Grishneshwar Jyothirling on the left side to reach Ellora Caves. A big board heralded the dedicated paid car parking lot for Ellora caves. There was no shade in the parking lot and the heat was already getting to be blistering. We parked the car and walked a few meters to the entrance of Ellora caves. There was a small entry fee and then we visited the Kailasa temple and Buddha caves by foot. We were not interested in the other caves. We had carried our caps, glasses and water bottles. They really came in handy. Clearly, there was some distance to walk. There is a buggy for those who donít want to walk or for the elderly from cave entrance to cave entrance. Getting into the cave or the kailasa temple is by foot only. We enjoyed climbing to the top of the Kailasa temple from the back side for best pictures. It was tiring with the heat. All in all, we spent over 3 hours at Ellora caves and clicked several pictures. The Kailasa temple is something to be seen. Amazing human skill & craftmanship on stone is on display. The temple is carved top down from a mountain and is not built grounds up.

We headed back to the car parking lot and drove towards Grishneshwar Jyothirling which is one KM away from Ellora caves. Car parking within the temple complex was full and we parked on the road. The temple general line was quite long with devotees and we opted for special darshan and bought the tickets. Men have to mandatorily remove their shirts and be bare chested at the entrance of the temple itself. We had darshan in about 15 minutes and had temple prasadam which was being distributed. Leaving and collecting your footwear from the entrance of the temple will involve special desi jugaad skills, given the rush and vendors literally falling over you to sell you their products.

We then started driving towards Indore, Madhya Pradesh by 1-30 pm. Distance is about 400 kms and took more than 8 hours to cover with our tea/bio breaks. We had dinner at a pure veg restaurant by name Gurukripa Dhaba, on the outskirts of Indore (opposite to some college), where I ordered the same Methi Dish! The restaurant was bustling with people and several families were dining there. Parking the car outside was not difficult too. The dinner was excellent. Staff were courteous. There is a separate chaat and cold badam section too. We proceeded to Indore and checked into Hotel Aura Grand.

Ellora Caves:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc04134.jpg

Grishneshwar Jyothirling:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240328_125540.jpg

Gurukripa Dhabha:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3659.jpg

Days 4, 5 and 6:


Over the next three days, we visited several places in Indore like Bada Ganapathi, the 108 feet statue of Adi Shankaracharya built by L & T (also called the Statue of Oneness), Khajrana Ganesh mandir, Parashuram mandir, Hanuman Pitr Parvat (built by some local BJP honcho), Shipra River Ghat where Kumbha Mela is held, Sri Venkateshwara Balaji temple, Sandipani Muni Ashram where Lord Krishna, Lord Balram and Sudhama studied, Siddeshwara & Harihar temples (Nandi is in standing position in this temple) within the compound of Sandipani muni ashram and Harisiddhi Peeta. Indore sweets and food are awesome and the roads are broad / well maintained. Indore seemed to be thriving and we saw a lot of commercial high rises and other ongoing infra development works. Drive to Ujjain for Mahakal mandir was about 55 kms and was quite smooth. We took a tea/bio break in between. Mahakaleshwar Jyothirling mandir complex is built recently in a modern way with facilities for devotees. It is quite massive with large carvings on the wall, figurines and water bodies. Several buildings exist in the big complex and we save government officials and government vehicles ferrying VIPs. Buggies exist for the elderly and for those who cannot walk. Phones and footwear had to be left behind. It will take easily 3 hours to cover Mahakal. There is a special entry ticket for the darshan which permits one a slightly closer look at the Nandi Deva and Shiva Linga. We bought the special tickets which costed about 250/- per adult, if I recall right. Prasadam is available within the temple premises which we bought. Do not miss the VR showcasing Bhasma Aarti to Lord Mahakaleshwar after the darshan. Some 150/- is the price for this 15 minute show. Worth it. There is considerable walking to do within this temple complex. There is a special vibe to this temple.

We then headed to Omkareshwar temple. Mamalleshwar temple is also nearby, walkable distance and together are considered as one Jyothirling. The crowd was massive at Omkareshwar temple and we saw a long line of devotees standing patiently. We used a friendís help to get a slightly quicker darshan. We walked back to the vehicle crossing the bridge. You get a beautiful view from the bridge of the several boats, jutting rocks and water below. The sides of the bridge are secured well by the Government. It is like the bridge at Rishikesh. Prasadam is available within the temple premises itself adding an element of comfort that it is not being sold by some locals.


Day 7:


We checked out of Aura Grand Hotel by about 5-45 am and drove towards Ranchod Ji temple at Dakor. Driving distance was about 325 kms and we covered the same in about 6+ hours with stops for breakfast / bio breaks. Road was great. The temple closes at 12 pm and we did not want to miss the aarti. The paid Parking lot is about 350 metres away from the temple. We did the pandarpur drill and got hold of an auto who for 200/- dropped and picked us up from the temple entrance. The Temple itself is massive with four entrance gates and devotees thronged the temple. Darshan was not without the push/pull. We had a blessed darshan though. You can donate for cow care and you will be given a receipt which will entail you to get small take home laddu prasadams. There is no special entry ticket here. We collected the prasadam laddus, did our prayers and left Dakor. The temperatures were upwards of 38 degrees and we were desperate for some AC.

On the way, we booked online the tickets for visiting Amul at Anand. The drive to Amul from Dakor was 35 kms and we covered the same within the next hour. We stopped at Amul Foodland and parking was a big challenge. Our visit slot was at 2 pm and the guard at the Amul HQ gate would not permit us to enter the compound even at 1-15 pm. We parked on the street and had a quick lunch at Amul Foodland which was quite pricey. We expected the moon at Amul Foodland but were disappointed when staff who didnít care two hoots about customers served us the ordered food. The place was not kept well and seemed old.

At 2 pm, we proceeded inside the Amul building and after parking, we were asked to head towards an area where we were joined by other visitors for the Amul diary visit. Audit was ongoing and no machines were on for the tour. We were sorely disappointed at the overall visit and vowed never to return. It was more kidís stuff. The staff who was showing us around himself admitted that the visit was without its sheen. We were shown all the Amul products kept on a display window and from afar told about processing, white labelling, the 17 unions, etc. It was absolutely boring and not worth the 30 minutes of time that we spent there apart from the efforts to have driven up to there.

By 3 pm, we started driving towards Ahmedabad Kensville Golf Resort. We drove on NE 1 expressway for the first time ever. We bought mulberrys being sold on the side by a village woman, immediately after the toll and enjoyed the NE 1. Roads are fantastic and we could take the car to above 130 kms + speed. The total distance was 115 kms and we covered it in about 4 hours, after pit stops for Tea/sandwich, Sabarmati Ashram and the waterfront. The Sabarmati Ashram is quite serene, well maintained and you will take a maximum of one hour end to end. Entry is free. Good toilet facilities exist and parking is not at all an issue. The waterfront is planned out well. We prayed at Dadichi ashram enroute, from outside as we headed to Kensville Golf Resort, passing by the waterfront. You have to travel about 10 kms off the highway. The internal roads are also good. We reached the Kensville Golf Resort. The resort is awesome and spread over 900+ acres. We got an excellent room and enjoyed the resort. There is a driving range where you can hone your golf skills. If you like sports, you have a big swimming pool, indoor shuttle and squash courts. The open tennis and basketball courts are not maintained that well. There is an Amul shop across the resort for some quick shopping too.

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3737.jpg 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240401_150621.jpg

Day 8:


The entire day was spent at the Golf Resort. We went to the golf driving range for an hour, played shuttle badminton for two hours and soaked in the resort. Though we were tempted to hit the city and explore, the resort was captivating and we spent good family time at the resort.

Kensville Golf Resort:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_6242.jpg
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3783.jpg

Day 9:


We checked out of Kensville resort by 8 am and headed to Dwarka. Distance was 415 kms. Took us about 7-8 hours to cover. We toyed with the idea of visiting Narara but gave it up, given the terrible heat. We had breakfast at Gogi Sher E Punjab Dhaba at Limbdi. Great place. Alu paratha and Panner paratha were mind blowing. They were desi versions of a pizza in size. We loved the place so much so that on our return trip too, we stopped by this place and parceled the food!. Thanks Team BHP for this reco in some thread.

We passed by Reliance Jamnagar facility and reached Dwarka Resort by 5 pm. Roads up to Dwarka for about 80 kms are superb. Well laid. Cattle is a nuisance on the highway in Gujarat. We passed by twice, a convoy of Armed Regiment vehicles occupying the right most lane. After freshening up, we headed towards the Dwarkadish temple. The distance from our resort was 5 kms. Parking is unorganized at Dwarkadish temple and we parked a good 800 meters from the entrance to temple. We left behind the phones and there is a dedicated shoe stand near the entrance of the temple. It is quite chaotic with street dogs, beggars, vendors surrounding the devotees who want to drop their footwear and head to the temple. There are separate lines for men and women. We agreed with my wife to regroup at the footwear stand and then entered the temple. Darshan was smooth with a wait period of 30 minutes in the line. We bought prasadam from the temple premises itself, saw the flag hoisting and returned to the car parking lot. We saw Gomti Ghat near the temple.

We drove back to the resort, had dinner and rested.

Gogi Sher E Punjabi Dhabha:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3791.jpg

Day 10:


We left the resort early and headed towards Beyt Dwarka. It was a 40 km ride which we covered within the hour. It is a two way road, after Dwarkadish temple. You can maintain an avg speed of 50 kms per hour only. There is only one big arterial road and you cannot miss. There is a Mithapur Tata Chemicals salt factory and a Tata Township bursting with labour force and their families. Random two wheelers with utter disregard to one way signs can be seen plying. Soon, we crossed over the Sudhama Setu bridge to Beyt Dwarka and took several pictures on the Sudhama Setu bridge. There is an impressive massive parking lot at Beyt Dwarka, where one has to park. There is no charge for parking. E-rickshaws and autos will come scurrying towards you for the ride to Beyt Dwarkadish, Makardwaj (Hanumanís sons temple) and chaurasi mandir. Private vehicles are not allowed to visit Beyt beyond the parking lot area. We got an e rickshaw and visited the 3 temples as above. There is always the haggling and negotiation with these auto chaps for the rates. We agreed on the win win price. Dwarkadish temple at Beyt Dwarka was crowded. A 20 foot lane leading to the temple was clogged with autos, honking two wheelers and stray cows sauntering. Phones had to be deposited at a shop across the temple for a Rs. 5/- fee. Chappals could be deposited a bit further. Entry to the temple is separate for women and men. We again agreed to regroup at where we dropped off our footwear. After the darshan, we located our auto chap and headed back to the parking lot. We subsequently bought Amul ice creams at the parking lot.

We then headed towards Nageshwar Jyothirling. Distance was about 22 kms. Roads were very bad. One side road work forces you to share the balance half of the potholed road with other oncoming vehicles. We reached Nageshwar temple and there is a big area outside the temple for car parking. We had a seamless darshan and headed towards Gopi Talav. Gopi Talav is a quaint place with its own fan following. We bought Gopi Chandan and headed back to the resort.

After resting for some time, we headed towards Shivrajpur beach. We visited Rukmini temple with a detour of 800 meters from the main road and reached the beach. There is an entry fee to this beach. Dedicated paid parking area exists. We spent about 2 hours at the beach till sunset, saw the lighthouse from far, wet our feet at the beach and headed back to the resort. We had a buffet dinner at the resort and rested.

Shivrajpur Beach:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3837.jpg15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc04380.jpg

Day 11:


We checked out of the resort after a great breakfast by 8-30 am. We drove directly to Jambuvan Caves. We spent an hour at the caves. It is like Luray Caverns, Virginia with a spiritual dimension to it. We then drove to Sudhama temple Porbandhar and had a blessed quiet darshan. There were not many devotees and absolutely peaceful darshan. The car parking is across the temple in a compound and the local policeman directed me to park there. We subsequently drove towards Madhavpur beach and my wife bought some seashells from a vendor at the beach. It was blistering heat and we didnít dare step onto the beach.

We drove towards Somnath Jyothirling temple, believed to be the First of the Twelve Jyothirlings. The ride was 135 kms on NH 51 and quite decent. We reached Somnath and the infrastructure for covered parking was awesome. We left our phones in the car and after dropping off our footwear in the stand, stood in line to enter the temple. I was asked to deposit the Audi car key also in the deposit stand by the friskers and I had to go through that drill. I was skeptical that the luggage deposit counter chap would lose the key. It is strange how car lovers have this feeling of possessiveness with even a car key custody, compared to all other familial itemsí custodies! There is a long walk to the Somnath temple from the entrance. The temple is beautiful and the architecture is marvelous. One side of the temple faces the sea and the temple is massive. We had a blessed darshan and we could stand in front of the Shiv Ling for more than 15 minutes.

We bought prasadam chikki and laddus from the counter. The chikki prasadam is packed well and costs Rs.25/- only per pack of 4. I found that useful to give out as prasadam post our return to friends back home. The prasadam place had a queue and we had to wait at least 15 minutes for our turn. We headed out to the car, took our camera and clicked pictures from the massive front porch of the temple. We watched the sun set at Somnath. My wife bought a small Shiv Ling for her memory of this divine place. After a tea break, I drove towards Verawal. There is a small temple dedicated to Lord Krishna who left his body after being shot in the foot by Jara, a hunter. Bhalka Teeth Verawal was a quiet place and we had a good darshan of the Lord. There were several bhajans in the background and it was almost time for the temple to be closed for the day. The priests distributed flowers from the deity to all devotees and we headed back to the car.

We then drove to Sasan Gir. It was a dark highway and was thankfully just one straight road from Verawal via Talala. We had dinner at Talala and reached the resort by 10 pm. The roads are desolate and I drove carefully noting not to cross 50-60 kms given the night. We rested at the resort.

Somnath Jyothirling:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc04453.jpg

Day 12:


We had made bookings for the Gir Jungle Safari for the 6 am slot at Bangalore itself. Our reporting time was at 5-30 am. We drove the 8 kms to sasan gir, Sinh Sadan and located our guide and jeep. After the basic formalities of showing ID cards, buying water (no plastic water bottle is permitted), allocation of the jeep #, etc, we set forth on the 3 hour jungle safari. To our luck, we spotted a male Lion, two male lion cubs and a lioness. The overall safari was very enjoyable. We were allotted Rout No. 3 and the safari ride was spread over 35 kms. Our guide and driver seemed quite experienced. They pointed out the paw marks on the road and stopped for our pics at various places. At exactly 9 am, the safari ended and after the customary clicks with the safari jeep, we had breakfast at Annapurna Veg hotel at Sasan Gir. Decent parathas, Poha and hot tea was available. We returned to the resort and our kids packed their bags to Bangalore. We drove to Diu Airport, 110 kms away and dropped them off at 2 pm. 4 pm was their Indigo flight to Bangalore via Surat. My wife and me then drove back the 110 kms to the resort and took the Google map suggested shortcut instead of via the NH, Veraval and Talala. Roads were very good. The absence of our kids were weighing on us, especially after having spent the past 12 days waking time together. We were concerned that the Indigo flight from Diu should not be cancelled. Very few flights take off from Diu. I think just 3 including the Govt Helicopter from Daman land/take off from Diu. We had an early dinner closer to Sasan Gir at the local dhaba tasting Gujarati foods and rested the night at the resort. I ensured that the car was clean inside/out and braced for the long drive the next day.

Gir Jungle Safari:
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc04681.jpg15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3947.jpg
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-dsc04746.jpg


Day 13:


By design, the day was for a long ride to Kevadia to see the Statue of Unity (SOU). My wife and me checked out of the Resort at 5-30 am and started the car. Resort to SOU distance was 530 kms via Junagadh, Rajkot, Limbdi, Bagodara, Arnej, Varasda, Vasad, Vadodara. We stopped by at Gogi Sher and parceled the alu and panner paratha. There are several other food options on the stretch before Gogi also. SOU is closed on Mondays. We had to reach SOU by 3 pm since the entrance closes at 5 pm and SOU itself closes at 6 pm. We were told that we would require end to end at least 3 hours. Roads are decent and we covered good ground. We reached SOU by 3-15 pm. We were told to park in the parking area with a Rs. 100/- parking fee. We then proceeded towards the ticket counter for tickets. We did not buy express tickets since the counter clerk mentioned that there was no rush that day. We bought the 380/- per adult ticket and walked up to the entrance of SOU. It is quite some walk. All have to compulsorily take the free bus ride to SOU and one cannot use a personal car to reach SOU. Upon reaching SOU entrance, we rode the elevator up to the viewing points. The Government guide explained that there were 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly and hence the height of the statue was 182 feet, the Narmada dam was the dream of the Iron Man of India and so he was facing the dam, his efforts to unite the princely states was recognized and the SOU is an ode to him, etc etc. This is a place for history buffs. Lot of historical information is shared. There was also a movie screening area in the ground floor, which was well appointed. We spent time till about 5-30 pm at the viewing gallery. We also visited the feet level using the escalator. The first basic level ticket entails one to visit the ground floor and up to the feet level only. The 380/- ticket entitles the tourist to use the high speed escalator to the 45th floor. The toilets were clean in the ground and the 45th floor. After customary clicks, we then headed back to board the courtesy bus back to the car parking area. We of course encouraged the local vendors who sold cut fruits and some nuts. We were not very keen on the laser show...anyways, they were sold out too.

We had booked Ramada Encore Wyndham built by L&T which was adjacent to the parking lot and we rested the evening there. The hotel is lovely and positioned very near to the bus boarding point to visit SOU. One can walk from the hotel to the bus stop. Staff are very obliging and doled out cold welcome drinks. We requested for a room with the Narmada view which the hotel reception staff obliged. Hallways were broad, the interiors were nice with fresh sheets and the hotel smelt great. We could see some flickers of lights at the Narmada arathi time. We rested the night at the lovely hotel. I will highly recommend this hotel for SOU visitors and will gladly stay here again.


Day 14:


After a fantastic breakfast at Ramada, we drove towards Nashik. Distance is 335 kms and estimated drive time was 9 hours. The roads are mountainous, like ghat sections and this by far was the grueling stretch of the entire journey. At several places, there was no phone connectivity too. Thankfully, we still continued to have the GPS. Several speed breakers ensured average speed being quite low. We passed by Vansda National Park. For a small fee, one can drive through the park, we were told. The staff at the reception however dissuaded me from driving in with the Audi given the low ground clearance. We left the place soon. However, we could not cover ground and lorry traffic was clogging both lanes in most places. We were quite tired by the time we reached Nashik and crossing the Dwarka circle was another challenge at Nashik. We finally checked into Holiday Inn express-Indiranagar, parked the car safely, had dinner at Hari Om Dhaba (200 meters from the hotel) on the highway itself and took an auto to visit Kaala Ram Mandir. In about 20 minutes ride time, we had a blessed darshan at the mandir and saw Sita Gufa cave from the outside since it was closed for the day. The auto chap charged 275/- for the to and fro to Kala rama mandir at Panchavati. Distance was about 8 kms one way. The roads were narrow and we were glad that we did not drive the sedan. Ramazan related feasts post sun set in the late evening added to the rush on the streets. We rested the night. The Hotel was not very great. The AC did not kick in right. We had to call the staff who came in and asked us to wait another 20 minutes for the AC to kick in, etc. Toilets and bed were clean.

Day 15:


We had a decent buffet breakfast at the hotel and after checking out, headed towards Triyambakeshwar Jyothirling. 29 kms away. We also visited the Hanuman temple enroute (Anjaneiri). We were told the overall trek distance to the top was 7 kms. We did just the 30 steps and proceeded to Triyambak. We reached Triyambak. Entry fee is charged by the corporation for the car and then we parked for free on the street. We were advised to purchase the Rs. 200/- donation ticket for speedy darshan, which we did. True enough, the blessed darshan was quick and we left the place after 45 minutes. After our darshan, we saw a long line of devotees still waiting for their turn. The 200/- ticket surely helped. We got a receipt for this donation ticket and no tout was involved midway.

We mapped to Bhimashankar, the next Jyotirlinga on our trip sheet. The distance showed 237 kms and about 5 hours drive time. We followed google maps via Narayangaon to reach Bhimashankar. There is a board on the NH which says to take the detour to Bhimashankar and the distance shown was 62 kms. We took the detour and the last stretch of ~ 60 kms from the NH 60 is a two way road. Roads are good. But we had to be careful since vehicles were speeding up and we had to cross through several small villages where people casually were sauntering across the street. I noted that there were a few fuel bunks on this stretch too. On the way back, I topped up. Bhimashankar was a smooth darshan with not much rush. We completed the darshan in about 30 minutes time and headed back to the car parking lot. Elderly may find it difficult to walk down the slope to the temple and hike up to the car parking lot.

We started driving towards Pune retracing the 60 kms to the NH and then joining the NH towards Pune. The final stretch to Pune was horrible. We got stuck in the evening traffic and it was bumper to bumper for over 2 hours. Pune seems to have expanded big time. Our original plan was to detour to Dehu and visit Sant Tukaram babas birthplace. We cancelled that plan given the traffic. Slowly, we navigated towards ISKCON NVCC Pune, parked the car in the basement (parking here is a big challenge..the basement is not clean and I was worried about rodents) and had darshan of Lord Vrindavanachandra. We had booked acco earlier itself. Lovely kirtans, Mrudanga were in the air. The place was bursting with people and the famous Govindas restaurant was packed. There were a few cows tethered which we being fed and patted by children and adults alike. We had dinner at Govindas and after my wifeís shopping at their Natural Oils Shop and Gift shop, we rested the night. NVCC accommodation is spartan. Unless you are a devotee of Krishna and want to visit the temple, you are better off staying elsewhere. The NVCC Pune accommodation reception staff also did not have any customer service attitude. Locating the basement to park the car in itself was challenging.

Day 16:


We checked out of the accommodation and headed towards Kolhapur. We left at 6-30 am to beat the morning traffic. It was to be a 5 hour drive for the 230 km stretch via Satara on NH 48. There is construction work ongoing and traffic was diverted every 3-4 kms to the side roads. We visited Shree Ambabai Mahalakshmi mandir and had a quick darshan. We had to take the detour and travel about 6-7 kms to reach the temple. The paid parking near the temple is guided, but very tight. I was worried about dents and scratches by others to my parked car. To accommodate further cars being parked side by side, the parking attendant was urging me to park as close to the side car as possible. Argument with him was quite futile since he was conversing in pure Marathi and refused to speak Hindi.

We entered the temple by noon and by 12-30 pm, we were seated back in the car and headed towards Bangalore. Without footwear, we realised the ground heat quite immediately and literally had to run from one shade to another. We began driving towards Belgaum. Till Belgaum toll, the roads were with the diversions for construction works. After Belgaum, the roads were great. In certain stretches the suggested speed limit was 100 and I could drive the car up to 150 kms too. We reached Blr after dinner at 10-30 pm and after 850 kms of driving for the day. We gratefully rested the night at home, looking back thankfully at the lovely family time spent, the bonding and the many pictures that will repeatedly take us back to those memory lanes.

A few more pics
Attached Thumbnails
15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_3554.jpg  

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240327_121604.jpg  

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240327_121843.jpg  

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240328_153527.jpg  

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240401_073742.jpg  

15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely places-img_20240401_100048.jpg  


Last edited by Seeker108 : 13th April 2024 at 17:52. Reason: Added photos and edited title
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Old 13th April 2024, 19:11   #2
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th April 2024, 21:45   #3
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

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Originally Posted by Seeker108 View Post

Summary:



After a 3 week planning, we started on our road trip spanning 16 days and 15 nights Road Trip across four states and one Union Territory. Distance travelled was 5300 kms. Fuel efficiency was about 17 kms to a litre.

A few more pics

15 day Roadtrip in a car is simply awesome.
I went to Kerala for 3 days along with my parents and my XUV700 was choke full with luggage just for those 3 days.
Packing clothes for 15 days would have been the biggest challenge I guess
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Old 14th April 2024, 22:11   #4
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Superb writing and what a trip. I would like to know from your wifeís perspective as regards any backpain she faced while traveling long distances in a sedan. My wife develops tailbone pain in our long distanced runs in my Fortuner and I was wondering if doing that instead in a sedan would help ease the problem. We havenít had a sedan in the last 10-11 years and so I thought of asking you as I donít want to give up my long distance travels (and my wife either) . What we have started now is to limit our travel distance to 6 hours at the maximum but that means we need more days for any long distance trips.
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Old 14th April 2024, 22:58   #5
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

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15 day Roadtrip in a car is simply awesome.
I went to Kerala for 3 days along with my parents and my XUV700 was choke full with luggage just for those 3 days.
Packing clothes for 15 days would have been the biggest challenge I guess
------------
Yes, I agree. The sedans boot was packed. Additionally, we always carry a small electric rice cooker too during our travels, since I am a rice lover and that added to another additional small bag. We also had the travel munchies hanging in cloth bags (covers make that noise when they move back and forth and I find that irritating). When our kids flew back to Bangalore from Diu, with their luggage and our laundry, that eased up some boot space.
We promptly filled up that luxury with shopping new stuff on the way !

There was a good Turmeric outlet from Nashik to Pune. My wife shopped there for a lot of farmer produce. Apparently, the turmeric was of high quality and better in pricing as compared to Bangalore rates.
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Old 14th April 2024, 23:04   #6
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

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Superb writing and what a trip. I would like to know from your wifeís perspective as regards any backpain she faced while traveling long distances in a sedan. My wife develops tailbone pain in our long distanced runs in my Fortuner and I was wondering if doing that instead in a sedan would help ease the problem. We havenít had a sedan in the last 10-11 years and so I thought of asking you as I donít want to give up my long distance travels (and my wife either) . What we have started now is to limit our travel distance to 6 hours at the maximum but that means we need more days for any long distance trips.
------------
Thank you! We enjoyed the long trip. My wife did not experience any back pain. Audi A4 seating is good. However, I personally prefer my Innova's lumber support for the mid row. Sedan is definitely more nippy, hugs the road and surely faster on the road. In hindsight, we could not have covered the distances in the speed we did if we had opted to drive the Innova out. We could have got more boot space by folding the last row...but that would have meant no reclining seats in the second row.

With the good roads in India, I would vote for a automatic sedan for long distances.
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Old 15th April 2024, 10:59   #7
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Car-riedAway View Post
My wife develops tailbone pain in our long distanced runs in my Fortuner and I was wondering if doing that instead in a sedan would help ease the problem. We havenít had a sedan in the last 10-11 years and so I thought of asking you as I donít want to give up my long distance travels (and my wife either) . What we have started now is to limit our travel distance to 6 hours at the maximum but that means we need more days for any long distance trips.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeker108 View Post
------------
Thank you! We enjoyed the long trip. My wife did not experience any back pain. Audi A4 seating is good. However, I personally prefer my Innova's lumber support for the mid row. Sedan is definitely more nippy, hugs the road and surely faster on the road. In hindsight, we could not have covered the distances in the speed we did if we had opted to drive the Innova out. We could have got more boot space by folding the last row...but that would have meant no reclining seats in the second row.
I sincerely think it's not about the sedan being comfortable over an SUV. For me, it's the other way around in fact where i find high seating position is more relaxed comparison to low slung sedans for long(and very long) road trips. This topic has been discussed in other threads too. See e.g.- https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techn...onsible-3.html (Back pain & joint pain: Is a low slung car responsible?)

I used to develop lumbar/tailbone pain in my Rapid back in 2019/2020 on our weekend travel to Pondi/Chickmaglur from Bangalore. That doesn't even qualify as a long trip. However things changed drastically after switching to Compass where high seating position, AT transmission, cruise control & a 12 way adjustable front seats added a lot of comfort to long drives.

Having said that Fortuner seats do lack a proper lumbar support. I got a chance to drive my cousin's T-fort in our last Sikkim/darjeeling trip for a good no of hours and could fill the difference easily. What came is rescue was a adhoc lumbar support used in the front 2 seats, like this one- https://www.amazon.in/Orthowala-Chai...7&sr=8-38&th=1
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Old 28th April 2024, 09:34   #8
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Quote:
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------------
There was a good Turmeric outlet from Nashik to Pune. My wife shopped there for a lot of farmer produce. Apparently, the turmeric was of high quality and better in pricing as compared to Bangalore rates.
-------

The outlet name is Ambika Haldar Farms. The outlet is run by some Surat start up and they have several farms/farmers on their fold.

The outlet is on the way from Kevadia SOU (about 200 kms from SOU) to Nashik & not from Nashik to Pune, as earlier mentioned...
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Old 29th April 2024, 11:29   #9
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Nice travelogue. I am sure it would be an experience you would cherish for long.
In my opinion, if you are passionate about traveling and are used to the vehicle being driven, then whether it is a sedan or a SUV does not matter much. The travel excitement would heal all the back pain during the journey :-)
Last year-end I did 6K-14 day-Bangalore to Gujarat trip on my 15yo Scorpio and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Wishing you many more happy trips in the future!
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Old 30th April 2024, 08:04   #10
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Re: 15N-16D, 5,300 km road trip to Maharashtra - Gujarat covering 7 Jyotirlings and other lovely pla

Thank you!

Yes, time spent with family is precious and this trip will always be memorable.
Being on the wrong side of 50, back pains take over the travel excitement slowly but surely .

If covering the distance quickly and effortlessly are not major criteria then we choose the Innova over the Audi. Also, for over 4 passengers in the trip, Innova becomes an obvious choice. Most of our South India Divya desam trips, Kerala trips, etc where certain state highways or internal roads force us to drive slow (Example: Trivandrum to Guruvayoor or towards Poovar etc) were on our manual transmission Innova. Average speed would be sub 40 kms per hour in such areas.

Another example is when we covered Bangalore to Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, (950+ kms) same day in the Audi which would have taken another day on the Innova, with a break in between.

Finally, I guess it is a personal choice like most things.

Wishing you too safe driving in your future trips.

Last edited by ampere : 30th April 2024 at 08:30. Reason: Removed Non-forum emojis
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