Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moved

we have moved this is the new address

http://highwaytravels.wordpress.com/

Monday, April 13, 2009

It was a long weekend and there were lot of chores to be taken at home due to which a long getaway couldnt be planned... but we decided to do a day picnic and the destination was Our Native Village

native village is a eco resort some 45 kms from blore, they are 75% self sustaining... generate 80% of the their own electricity using wind mill and solar, grow veggies in the farm, use well and rain water harvesting for water,use bio gas for cooking, the rooms have been built with the consideration that most of the time they are cold and even fan is not needed, the swimming pool is bio pool cleansed by plants and filters... the place has a very rustic farm feeling to it... must visit for all

We started at about 11:30 in the morning, the place is Hessarghatta near Nrityagram, we reached there in about 2 hours covering 46kms... getting out of the city was bit of a problem but after u get off the tumkur road the drive is really pleasurable....

the trees in a row somewhere on the road

and just before u hit the resort, there is a large meadow which makes u feel fantastic

the cows grazing along with the birds make it look so harmonious

The minute you enter the place the old world charm beckons u... u feel good abt the place, as we had reached only at 13:30 we proceeded directly for lunch after spending some basic time looking around and the food was really yum... basic but delicious...

Post lunch ojas had a blast playing with the stones running around the place and running after the dogs...





we also did a bullock cart ride... which was the first for me too, forget about Ojas :) :)


They also do organize village games like kite flying, gulli danda :) etc

We had a blast and when it was time to come back in the evening we came back with the heavy heart that it was a day trip, would have loved to stay there in the night but alas the rooms were booked when we had called...

I surely recommend the place to everyone and I am going back there too for a weekend stay next time

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Destination Coffee Paradise

Come a long weekend and we start thinking of where we should head to, the phenomenon was slightly reduced since Ojas also came into picture but now that he is 1 we intend to get back to ourselves :)

So this Republic Day long weekend, four adults along with two toddlers planned to head out to coorg... Myself, N and O and our friends S,P and A packed in our elephant(for those who dont know thats what we call our Tata Safari) and to start at 7:30 am was the plan...

I absolutely love Coorg... This is the second time we went there and it was as beautiful as it was the first time... It never does fail to charm...

For me its the heaven in South India... a gorgeous place to say the least

so we started at about 8:20am from our house and I think that was pretty good considering I had O and N also with me ;-) the drive in the city took us pretty long and we picked up the S family at about 9 am from Banarghatta Road and then proceeded on the NICE road to meet the Mysore highway... the traffic on the road was pretty bad... I guess the whole blore was heading out for the long weekend... We stopped for the breakfast break at Barista about 10:30 in the morning and had a stumpous meal of eggs, hash browns and tea... A (about 2.5 yrs old) had a nice pineapple pastry and O had some cereal that I was carrying with me...

O had so much fun here... running around all over the place, going and making friends...

he even went behind the counter so I know if he doesnt do anything else he will atleast be able to sell pastries...


About an hour later and having wiped out all available food on the table we started back towards Mysore and then there is was a huge huge huge traffic jam near Mandya we were stuck for about 45 mins there and we finally managed to cross Mandya 12:30 (127 kms from the base) from Manday to Mysore took us about 50 mins in the midst of traffic and we hit the Mysore ORR at 13:10 (145 kms from base) and took a right turn there to head towards hunsur... the road from here was actually superb... very well metaled and brilliant to drive on and we reached Chilkunda at 14:25 (242 kms from base) and from here we took a left turn in one of the insignificant looking roads... the road was pretty thin from here on we reached Pariapatnum (coorg discrict yippe) at 14:35 (252 kms from base)... till now the landscape looked like plains... no coffee plantations to be seen and we were all getting very disappointed... as we knew that the place we have to go is not very far from here... anyways from here on we drove through a dense jungle patch where the road was just wide enough for the elephant to go if at this time there would have been a vehicle from the opposite side that it would need to go reverse till a point where the two vehicles could pass and now it was getting interesting :)

The only problem we were having was that A was having a bad motion sickness and had thrown up thrice during the trip poor girl...

We reached our friends estate at 15:00 (280 kms from base) and what a lovely place it was... the first thing that happened when we landed their was O and A playing with chickens and dogs... though A was a little scared and my daredevil was trying to catch them...



They had a lovely lake in the back of the estate


had some juice and some yummy Jackfruit sweet made by their granny in their lovely house...


the whole was so nice that I was so J of them to have a place like this to spend the weekends...

After spending about an hour their we started for our final destination the bamboo club in Pollybetta... we went through siddapur and reached Bamboo club at 17:00 (310 kms from base)... A was doing better now and we were all very hungry as lunch had not happened till now so the first thing we did was hit the dining hall and had some nice veg and chicken sandwiches and Ojas had some egg bhurji which was followed by some excellent Coorgi coffee....

The children didnt seem tired at all and immediately found the small play area and had a blast there





The evening was spent drinking in our room with some nice kababs made by the chef... the original plan was to go the bar and have fun being a club they have an excellent bar but P had forgotten to get his shoes which was required to enter the place... The rooms were actually huge with private balconies and it was a evening well spent...

Fierce discussions were had on where we want to next morning...I wanted to go see the Kushal Nagar monastery as I had missed it the last time I went to Coorg too... but P and S were afraid of A's motion sickness and didnt want to drive so far which was fair and hence for the children's sake it was decided that we will go toDubare Elephant Camp

The dinner was gobbled with with dal-rice for the kids and surprising O eat without any fuss though the dal was slightly spicy for him... A did a lot of drama though and eat only french fries and kurkure for dinner... and a brilliant mutton curry and paranthas along with some goobhi aloo... the food was really good

The next morning started by O trying to cuddle with us in the bed which rare and nice in itself as he sleeps in his own cot at home... and then slowly all three of us moved from the bed to the balcony and had fun... this the coffee growing right below the balcony
onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_WGvUJd6m3zw/SY_Ox55lpSI/AAAAAAAAA7g/IpmzGma_IPY/s1600-h/DSC05117.JPG">
and here O's fav game became opening and closing of the balcony door and peeping from it :)


After gulping down the breakfast of eggs and toast and not be missed coorgi coffee... we started for Dubare at round 11:30 or so very well aware that the main attraction in Dubare i.e. the bathing and the feeding of elephants would be over by now but we wanted to show the kids elephants anyways... We reached their about 12:15 or so by the new road suggested by the club guys and the route was lovely... we encountered some beetel trees on the way and they looked so pretty



We also saw the a thin very thin Cauvery flowing, we actually couldnt believe its cauvery but then it was written so.


The first thing that stuck us all when we reached there was boy its damn hot... much much hotter than blore... which was strange and we decided that this weather demands that a ice cream be had... and we all had Chocobars and the kids shared a vanilla cup, interestingly it was O's first ice cream and he loved it...

And then after finishing the ice cream we realized that oops there's a lot of crowd here :) The main park was to be reached by a short boat ride, we took the ticket and stood in queue... S was really worried that the boat will be able to take us to the other end as it looked really shabby and overloaded...

While we waited for the boat O had fun dipping his legs in water, he actually refused to come out

My fearless son O sat on the elephants, touched them and actually wanted to go down and hold his legs...



some of the elephant pics for u :)



the elephant taking bath



The boat ride on the way back...



Post this we argued on where to eat... another fierce discussion with everyone throwing in their view :):) and decided on Orange County and at the entrance in the lobby there was a wood structure on which my son decided to model a little... check out his poses



We had some excellent food and the star of the shows were A and O whom so many people wanted to click them together... they were actually bonding very well apart some some minor fights here and there for toys... A was behaving like a perfect elder sister I guess... if O would venture a little far she would go hold his hand and bring him back... they even shared food... check out A trying to feed O cheerios...


We reached back to BC in the evening around 5:00pm and tried to put O to sleep so that we can catch up some sleep too but kids have an amazing sense of timing and he just refused to sleep infact he was so full of energy so we decided to go to the park and play for sometime we also drank two cups of coorgi coffee here (ya i know i have mentioned the coffee too many times but then what is coorg without coffee???)

The evening was again started with dear Vodka and sprite and we had a good time chilling out... Post that we went for a walk in the club and surrounding area and wow the sky was looking amazing with so many stars that one cant imagine to see in the cities... whenever u go out thats my biggest thrill...

The next morning was time to start back... alas but in the morning post breakfast we went around the BC and did some photography...

at the fireplace BC verandah

and thats the full view of the verandah

mr.hero on one of the chairs...

O and N i love this pic


there was also a 165-year old church in the BC campus... some pics in and around the church



and finally the whole group together in front of our rooms


and post this we started the journey back at about 11:45 (370kms from base) and we stopped in a place to buy some Coorg Coffee powder how could I come back without that and reached Hunsur (which we had totally missed while coming so engrossed we were in talking) at 13:20 (438 kms from base), the roads were brilliant and A was also doing fine this time as we had given her anti-vomit medicine before starting from Coorg... we reached Mysore at 14:05 (490 kms from base) and had some absolutely yummy fish at Fish Land... I still have the taste in my mouth... We started from Fish Land at 15:10 and by mistake A saw the rhymes CD in the car and the result from Mysore to Blore we heard only Wheels on the bus on repeat... We reached Mandya at 15:37 (523 kms from base) and then we reached Blore S&P's house at 17:28 (633.6 kms from base) and starting towards our home sweet home and reached back to Base at 18:15 with a total of 657 kms done...

It was indeed a great trip... coorg always is...




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Truly Asia

We had gone to Malaysia in early Apr 2007 and somehow when I came back I couldnt write do a post on that as I concivied and then the bed rest and then the baby... life got busier and busier and busier... But in the last 2 months multiple friends have mentioned multiple times that this vacation needs a post on ur blog... So I am doing the same...

Its been really long so I really dont remember the trip in so many details... So what I am going to do is to post the trip itenary and the snaps...

We started from blore and the itenary was basically as follows:
Day 1 morning - reach Kuala Lumpur... We reached the airport early morning... Used the spa of a nearby 5-star hotel to get fresh and then went on a tour of Petrona Towers did a lot of Shopping and then took a night train to Lankawi...

Day 2 noon - reached Langkawi and checked in Berjaya Beach Resort, we had actually got a fantastic deal for this and we realised this only when we reached there as the place was superb... We spent about 3 days there and saw the Eagle Square, the different beaches, the cable car where Don climax was shooted and that indeed is a lovely place, was the aqaurium, did a day trip to Pulau Payar which has various things like snorkelling, sucba diving... I had done snorkelling before in Lakshadweep and i thought the corals were better there more colorful and pretty... but Scuba diving was a first and we both thoroughly enjoyed it :)

Day 5 start from Langkawi by boatin the evening and reach Penang by almost night. It was a one day halt there and we did all tourist thingies... went to the Snake temple, the budha temple, up on the cable train etc... and then in the night we took the train back to KL....

Day 7: Reach KL early morning... Get fresh in one of the hotel spas again :) and then went to Genting had a blast of the day there in various rides... the plan was to spend half a day in rides and half in the casino but we both got so involved in the rides that we forgot abt the casino totatlly :)

We took the flight back to Bangalore the same night :(

so here are the pics Pics

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God's Own Country

In the long independence day weekend we decided to give ourselves a little freedom from the city hussle bussle … the intial idea was to just get out of the city somewhere and then the wish to see Kerala backwaters in monsoon clubbed with our close friends daughter’s baptism in Cochin we headed towards God’s own Country…

The group this time was myself, hubby, ojas my 9-month old son, my sister Aparna and a couple friend Manish and Shivani, owing to the fact that we both had new cars (ours cedia and their city) and our craze for driving it was not a surprise that we decided to drive … We left Bangalore on Thursday i.e 14th August evening around 6:30 pm in the evening… It was one of those Bangalore monsoon days when there was a sudden crazy downpour and if u have been to Bangalore in the recent past you will now what becomes of it roads when it rains…. We got terribly stuck in city traffic and could step out the city only by 9:00 or so and that when we took some internal routes and came out on Hosur Road after Electronic City… and then all of us were hungry and hence began the search for a good place to eat, fortunately due to our previous travels on this road towards Yelagiri, towards Yercaud, Chennai etc we knew of quite some places to eat in Hosur…. We decided to stop at Hotel Renaissance and had a good dinner or Dal tadka, aalo jeera and some good tandoori rotis…. Ojas also had his milk there and then slept off….

Other important thing we did there was book a hotel in Salem for the night halt… and then we started the journey towards it… It was still pouring cats and dogs and the roads looked lovely, both me and hubby love rains and were enjoying the drive but Manish was not really happy with the night drive…. Nonetheless we reached Salem at about 01:00 in night and started searching for the hotel that we had booked and on the way we saw this very nice and huge hotel called Salem Castle and we decided that rather than going further and finding the other hotel to be not good lets checkin here if they have rooms…. Fortunately they had……. And we were all off to bed at 1:45…. Me and hubby took turns sleeping as the bed was small and Ojas was getting up and starting to crawl as soon as his eyes opened a little…… but still it was a nice rest

We started from there the next morning after breakfast around 9:00 am or so i.e after we had our breakfast and we attempted to giving Ojas his breakfast which he refused to eat… it was my birthday that day and hence I was in a happy happy mood you now…. I was also at the wheel and thought I am going to freak out today…. Little did I know what laid ahead… the roads from Salem to Coimbatore were in a really bad shape… there was construction going on to make it a four-lane highway and there were so many criss cross, so many diversions, so many pot holes that you could hardly pick up any speed… after 2 hours we had barely gone for about 80kms and we were all getting exteremly frustrated and thus decided to take a tea break… we had a tea somewhere and attempted to give Ojas something to eat again which is refused again and thus I gave him milk… and from here Naren took back the wheel and started the frustrating journey again… The journey went on , Ojas was either sleeping or playing in his car seat happily in between eating his biscuits and playing with massi… The road became good after the Coimbatore bypass and we were finally able to pick up speed… We stopped for lunch somewhere at about 15:30 and there was hardly anything available there till then… we somehow managed to stuff something in us… the sambhar and the brown rice were edible so bas kaam chal gaya, this time to I tried to feed Ojas his lunch but he refused to eat anything at all… not even one bite to taste whether he likes it or not, I was sure if he has a bite he will eat as it was his favorite Oats but he simply refused and had milk again after sometime in the car… This was getting me worried because he had eaten only 1.5 biscuits since morning and was wondering if he will behave this way in the whole trip….

We started from there and the road became much better but my son decided to play havoc…. He started screaming at the top of his voice and just wouldn’t stop specially in hi car seat…. We had to stop 5 times in the next 1 hour to pacify him and then he finally fell asleep in my arms and then I put him back in his car seat…

Post that we soon reached the by pass to cochin rather Alwa just before alwa and we took a left from there and headed through the mild slopes towards the backwaters in Kumarakom … the road up there kept getting curvier and thinner as we approached ahead… it was a lovely stretch but because of the frustrating first half the journey felt like never ending to us… And finally we saw the first backwater canal… it was an amazing feeling actually… there was a sudden gush of happiness and then started the search for our resort The Backwater Resort at about 20:00 in the night… the first look at it we were happy and satisfied…. They were nice cottages and the resort was on the Vembanad Lake…….. nice small swimming pool too………

We then decided to get fresh and put Ojas to sleep and meet outside our cottage in about an hour’s time… Ojas went to sleep without any difficult, I guess he was as tired as us … we put him in his sleeping back to be tension free… afterall he cant crawl and fall down the bed in his sleeping bed… I give credit of this idea to my hubby which saved us fro 3 sleepless nights
And when I came back I was pretty surprised to see a nice cake kept on the chair with a knife and all… I cut the cake etc and then we chilled out with some drinks and food… actually all of us desperately wanted some chilled beer specially Manish…. He went to the extent of saying that his motivation for the drive was the chilled beer in the end… but 15th August being a dry day we had to do with some Absolut vodka that we had got along with us… All in all it was a very different birthday for me this time, birthday on the road… not to mention that I enjoyed it the amount I love travel and driving…….

In parallel we called multiple people and try to figure out a alternate route to go back as I was so sure I am not driving 16hrs back at a stretch having Ojas with me and we figured out a route too through which it takes about 10-12 hrs to reach Bangalore… and we cursed ourselves to have done this research before starting normally me and Naren make sure we talk to people, get enough info on the best route to take before we head out this time owing to Ojas we hadn’t got into it at all…

The next morning was our houseboat day…. We had booked a morning to evening houseboat as we were not sure how will Ojas behave on it and hence didn’t take it for the night… so after a leisurely and nice breakfast we went on the houseboat… Manish had in the meanwhile gone for the traditional Kerala massage in the resort and had a Ok Ok feedback regarding the same… even I wanted to go but decided for the evening as Ojas had to be made ready etc…

The house boat was the highlight of the trip and was truly amazing…. I had never imagined that the houseboat will be so modern… it had all the comforts and was fun to be in….. the backwaters view was amazing and we all loved every minute of it….. including Ojas who was in a happiness spell seeing so much water around him… I think he belonged there…

And then suddenly we saw lots of small small boats coming near our houseboat and we started the guess work, they would be coming to sell fish etc etc and then we suddenly saw them all getting tied to our baot and then we realized what it is… they are all fishermen going back to the villages after fishing and saving their rowing energy, truly working in tandem, in a team isn’t it…. These people know it so well and we have to teach this so much back in office……. I guess great lesson here

And then there was a brilliant truly kerala style lunch served on the boat….. and we had a truly amazing chilled out day on the boat……….


After we came back from the houseboat I went for a massage…. And it was a a mixed kind of experience……. Read abt it here and then night again was a chilled out chat cum booze session, today we actually decided to try the Gujrati and the marathi cuisine that was listed in the menu… we had seen it the first day but were not in the mood to experiment so much but today the mood was upbeat and also we had come to know that the head chef is from Maharashtra…. And the food was a pleasant surprise… we had ordered dal methi, khichdi and some other items and all were good…

The next morning was the day to start back and head towards Cochin for our friends daughters baptism and we started from the resort at about 9:30 in the morning and the route we took this time was really neat and fast we made it to Cochin in exactly 2 hours as compared to 3.5 hrs we had taken on the way up…. The baptism was in a nice hotel and ojas enjoyed himself crawling all over in the lobby of the hotel and we also had a chilled out time but it the weather was really bad there… from there we headed towards the place our friend had arranged for us to stay and it was a nice home and then we had what is called a long afternoon siesta ruining all our plans to go see Cochin fort…. By the time we left home it was about 4:30 pm already and then by the time we reached the port road it was about 5:30pm and then there was a whole lot of commotion as there was some festival going on and hence we decided to ditch the fort plan and went towards the Bolgaty Palace and from there we took an hour’s boat ride around the Indian navy boats and then came back chilled out the palace with some chilled beer finally and nice buffet dinner….

Next day morning we went for breakfast at our friends house and had nice aappams an curry and the kerala banana… we started from there around 9:00 am in the morning and started driving on the new discovered route unfortunately I have lost the log that kept on what exactly is the route we took but I remember we took a diversion somewhere from NH57 on to SH17 and then got on to another SH (me is trying to search for the log, if I get it then I will update the same)… In between we stopped at naren and manish’s common friends house for lunch at Pallghat… these guys were meeting each other after some 8-9 years and it was nice to watch the reunion and watching them getting into comfort zone in a instant even after so long… that’s what friends are isn’t it

By taking the modified route we reached Hosur at about 20:00 and that was really good as compared to what we had done in the updward journey though post that the law of averages caught up and we got stuck in a jam and reached home only by about 21:45 but nonetheless it was brilliant….

And all through the trip the darling was my dear Cheetah… the Cedia…. It would just rip the minute u press the pedal… be so steady even on very high speeds… I actually did my frist 170kmph in the trip… my highest speed ever… it was really thrilling and the car was rock steady at that time…….. but still after all this I would say the comforts of a SUV are brilliant for a long drive, I did miss my elephant the safari………

PS: as usual check out the snaps at Kerala Pics

Thursday, July 10, 2008

To the land of coffee

Last month sometime we packed our bags for the first vacation and long drive with our little son Ojas to chickmagalur, apprehension and anxiousness were the top feelings we had when we started, we had estimated the distance to be around 250-275 kms and were prepared for it to last above 8 hrs which is quite different that how we usually drive... always timed and fast is what we want but we didnt want to take any risks with the little one with us who was only about 3.5 months at that time.

Owing to the fact that we had to get him ready and pack a lot paraphernalia along (sterilizer, bottles, pram, car seat etc etc) we started from home at about 9:25 in the morning and started moving towards Penenya, there was lot of traffic on the road and lots of signal, getting out of the town and reaching Neelmangla took us about 1.5 hrs for 45 minutes and we were worried that if this is the rate of moving then including stops for Ojas we might not make it there by night :) after neelmangla we could pick up speed though and it was really a nice drive the average of the car was going up, but we immediately felt very sad when we looked around... the roads looked barren as compared to the last time we drove on this road which was abotu 2 years back when we went to Mangalore. All the trees on the side had been cut and that was such a sad site, now the tree cutting spree for widening roads has reached the highways too :(

After going for about another 40 kms in 25 mins we stopped for a milk heating break for ojas, basically we wanted to fix the car bottle warmer ect properly as this was practically the first time we were using it though we had experimented with it before and realized that it takes about 30 minutes for it warm milk atleast... the road ahead was good too and we were zipping at quite a good pace when we halted at the pit stop for breakfast or brunch at 12:20 which a meter reading of 130 kms. the food was ok but there were flies all around and we had to finally move inside the car as Ojas was with us, and we got our first lesson there... with a baby never stop at small places :) :) till now as a couple we would just stop wherever we wished but know I guess we have to be more careful, we had our meal and Ojas had his milk and off we went from there at about 13:10. Ojas also seemed to enjoy his ride and was either playing happily in his car seat or sleeping. The roads form here on were also decent though they could have been better... and we crossed the towns of Hassan (14:20, 200kms), Belur (15:05,243) without a break as Ojas was happily sleeping and me and hubby were enjoying chatting and the lovely country side on the way... it was a lovely day with clouds and sun together...

We reached the chickmagalur town at about 15:35 the meter reading at about 265 and were pretty impressed with ourselves and happy with the fact that Ojas was happy in the travel and didnt really become cranky at all. Now that we had time on hand we decided to have a leisure delayed lunch break at taj garden retreat chikmagalur, its a lovely property and this is where we originally wanted to stay but unfortunately it was booked... we had a pizza and a pasta there, Ojas had his next feed and we started from there about 16:30 for our destination i.e. Tex Woods which is basically a small resort in the middle of the coffee plantation adjacent to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary... and here is where the ghat road started, we crossed malandur which is a mall town at 17:15, 297 kms and from there took a left towards Muthodi... and from here on the road started becoming narrower and steeper and we were glad that we were in the safari... after sometime we actually could see no people and no traffic at all and we got really scared that are we at the right track as if we were not then there was no way we could reverse the car also :) and to top it all the cell phone was not working so we couldnt call and check if we are on the right direction... so we had no choice but to move on looking for the forest check post the resort guy was supposed to meet us at...

After going ahead for about 5 kms we finally spotted some life, a jeep was coming in the opposite direction... we were actually worried that how will we both go on this road and then on the slight curve the jeep took it as close to the rocks as possible and we were driving as close to the edge as we could... and we finally managed to cross :) we also checked with him that yes we are in the right direction. After going some more distance we finally spotted the check post and the Tex woods jeep standing there and we breathed a sigh if relief little did we knew what lied ahead of us.... the guy told us that the road ahead is a kacha road so if u want to leave ur car here u can though there is no problem a safari can easily go... so how could we leave it behind and we said ok lets get going...and trust me the next 5kms were the scariest drive of my life :) it was a completely rocky road with a 35-40 degree incline and just enough width for a safari or a jeep tp pass through, the mud on the road was slushy at points owing to the rain that had been pouring off and on from past sometime in the area... and we were sure that if the car stops somewhere here we are gone as we will never be able to start and pull it up again :) both me and naren wondered how do we always land up in these places... this time with Ojas with us we wanted to do a risk free safe trip and according to us we had planned and checked everything and still here we are in the middle of nowhere again :) we thanked our stars and god when we reached Tex woods at 18:05, 313 kms

Its a lovely little quite place with just about 10 rooms I think, a nice pool, home made food, common area in the ground floor as well as first floor with lovely views... the rooms are spacious and have all basic comforts required by anyone... we just relaxed had a cup of good filter coffee and then just decided to chill... had a nice dinner and then chatted for a while in the sit out after Ojas slept and we too slept early as we wanted to catch the sunrise realizing only in the morning that we are on the other side and sunrise is not visible from here sob sob :) We just spent the day like we had never done before in any of our vacations... did nothing :) just chilled out, chatted with each other, played with Ojas... didnt even take a swim in the pool.... so it was a do nothing vacation for us... in the evening after Ojas slept we had a couple of beers before the food and then slept again :)

And the next morning was the time to pack and go again, though we had planned to start around the same time as we did when we started from home.... the super lazy us could only start at 11:50, we were shit scared of the drive down that 5 kms but it was actually easier than the climb up :) and we managed it in 25 mins as compared to the up climb which had taken us 45 mins... On the way back we stopped in the town to buy some plants (which we mostly do when we drive somewhere to remember the place), had lunch again at Taj and reached back home at 19:50, 625kms...

All in all it was a excellent break and now that we have tested that Ojas does just fine in the outdoor trips we hope to be back to our traveling very soon....

do check out the pics here......
Snaps

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Elephant (aka Safari) ride 2100 kms

Breakfast is gulped remorselessly in Hotel Pushpa villa revolving restaurant gazing at Taj Mahal with disenchantment from a distance. The mind is furiously racing over the last few necessities for the long elephant ride.

At 0915 hrs on oct 8, 2006 we set sail on our maiden north India to south India voyage. The dilapidated and crowded roads of Agra city delayed our highway driving pleasures by 45minutes. The elephant was on song upto Dholpur (60kms) on a 4 lane road with divider. In the 5th gear at 110kmph it was purring gently and mobile meditation for the occupants was feasible.

Entered MP, NH3 which was smooth as silk and well behaved metamorphosed in a pot hole ridden khacha road. The elephant effortlessly trampled the potholes believing them to be 1 inch cracks. Mobile meditation for the occupants was a trifle difficult but practicing yoga was still a possibility. NH3’s character further deteriorated and it transformed itself into no-road – an very uneven gravel path. The happily-chugging-along@60kmph-average elephant accorded only a semblance of respect to the no-road NH3 and ambled along at 30kmph average.

After Dholpur at a certain point the landscape altered from undulating green cultivated fields to unnaturally shaped sand dunes and dunes which were formed by human excavation. Chambal river bridge generated feelings stepping on the railing of the bridge and taking a plunge into the supposedly pure, clean and cool flow. Atleast about 50-100 lorry’s were devouring their (probably illegal) share of Chambal sand.

Dholpur to Gwalior (60kms) 2 lane road was well metalled. The Scindias city appeared forlorn having lost Mr.Madhav Rao Scindia its protagonist for popularity. The famous Gwalior fort stood its ground and masqueraded charmingly from a distance.

Before we hit Gwalior an ancient narrow gauge railway line was discussed by the occupants. Fundas of meter gauge, broad gauge and narrow gauge were unceremoniously dropped by the civil engineer N on the little suspecting co-travellers. The first citizens of the road, buffalos decided to delay our journey by languidly crossing.

A small chai Dhukaan on Gwalior bye-pass was startled and compelled to entertain the elephant. A constant dread of getting locked out of the elephant hovered menacingly in the minds of the occupants who had foolish forgotten to carry the second key for this long arduous trip. The elephant started out with a clean quartz black coat in Agra was mostly dirty brown in color at this stage.

N passed on the wheel to P here at about 1155hrs

The countryside modified itself to plain dry brown with intermittent sprinkling of shrubs and small trees. At 1330hrs Pujari hotel 10kms sooner than Shivpuri welcomed us with indifference. Yellow dal fry ordered with a lot of reluctance (having eaten the same for the last 7 days in the Himalayas in every meal) was palatable with the gharam phulkas The tomato fry ordered with watering added spice to the satisfactory meal. Some thumbs ups, water, etc tucked into the elephant it chugged along again at 1410hrs.

P passed on the wheet to M at 1410hrs

Thirst finally caught up with the elephant near Shivpuri and before proceeding to Guna where the road displayed bigger, better and more curvy pot holes, the elephant gulped Diesel. The scenery amended itself to dense shrubs interspersed with bigger trees. Parrot green buses startled the elephant now and then. Finally 3 women spotted on the road confirmed the presence of women in MP. Overtaking an aerodynamic lorry with both its sides unusually tall and leaning on to the right at double the degree of leaning tower of Pisa was a frightening experience.

Cultivated fields dotted the setting and the suspected crops were Jowhar. Lorry with PUKARO written in bold was amusing. Bang in the middle of nowhere we found the Statue of liberty albeit green with envy (was painted green) I suppose and of course about 1/100th in size of the original in the lawns of an unknown hotel Royal Palace. It made one contemplate the extent of western influences and its rural reach in India.

Guna arrived in the elephant’s path at 1620hrs and the road became smooth which imprudently led the entourage to believe the end of pot holes. Roads progressed from bad to worse. Tea had to be consumed to share disbelief on the condition of NH3. 1645hrs launched the elephant with zest towards Binaganj where at 18hrs M lost the wheel to N.

The pot holes enroute to Biora were wretched. Many 1km to 3km stretches were completely washed away. The elephant took this fact in its stride and sauntered along without self pity. In the last 5hrs only lorrys, a few buses and exactly 3 cars were spotted on this road. The sunset in a riot of colours mesmerized the elephant as he passed by Biora.

The original plan was to reach Aurangabad (600kms from Indore) by end of day1. Indore seemed to be a viable destination & reachable destination. However the unsolicited warnings thrust upon us by one of the regular drivers in this track whom we had consulted before the start of the trip endlessly looped in our brains. Things like:

· Dewas / Indore night driving is to be avoided because drunken tribals from rock tops beside the highway chuck stones at cars for their personal entertainment,

· Don’t take the by-pass of any major city in the nights, as that is were all the city thieves lie in ambush

Suddenly our mate P a self proclaimed karate blackbelt become an all important personality. We strategized endlessly on diverse situations of attack by tribals and our counter attacks mainly front ended by the blackbelt personality. And when we didn’t stategize we transformed into Swami of Malgudi days conjuring various dangers. There were atleast 3 locations beside the highway were we could see mobile-highway-scene-of-crime police squad at work. We were thankful to almighty that these scenes had happened before we reached there. All our hearts were in our mouths when a phat-phati wala in the middle of a dark deserted highway tried to stops us…….maybe his engine gave up but we did not have the gall to stop, ascertain and help.

By 1050pm after clocking 625km we made it to Hotel president-Indore in one piece. Indore had changed a lot in the last 10yrs from the time N had visited. Some of the malls were 2-3 times the size of the biggest malls in Bangalore. The attitude of Indoris was refreshing in directing the entourage. Single women were roaming the streets freely at 11pm indicating that it was safe a city.

Burp…..Burp…………Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………

Day2

7.17am the elephant set sail after its eyes were wiped clean. P was at the wheel and took her to sea. The road up to Mhow was very busy and the area was full of military buildings and people. The day started off with nostalgic memories catalyzed by songs from Qayamat-se-Qayamat-tak and Maine pyar kiya. Enroute to Gujri the hidden achievements of P were discovered i.e. a national runner up in karate championship. M & N were honoured to be driving along in such august company and were rather glad thinking about the night drive ahead, a national champion should definitely be able to beat up atleast 10goons and that would give N, M & the elephant enough time to vanish from the scene, of course deserting our black belt friend who is capable of fending for himself. A million boards of Su-Kam were displayed in & around Gujri, we guessed that this board on top of every establishment brought good luck…..

Thanks to some school going children who were strangely staring at our rear tyre and trying to draw our attention, we realized the elephant had its first flat tyre of its life at Dhanbad. With P & N huffing and puffing to change the tyre and M at the camera shooting the out of shape men, a small circus scene was created for the passing junta who stood and discussed our predicament with mixture of amusement and bafflement.

On starting again, about 50mts ahead we found a puncture shop and let P manage the punctured tyre when M & N went ahead to fetch some food. As per P these puncture guys were the most hep puncture guys in India and they were dancing to music as they fixed the tyre. The owner looked cool with dark glasses, a sleeveless t-shirt and not a speck of dirt on him. We wondered whether he deliberately planted nails on the road and made a handsome living with the regular assured income from every puncture he created.

The road condition had not improved too much and we hoping to hit Maharastra border and wishfully hoping for better roads. We briefly wondered if we should take a diversion and go towards Nasik-Pune to catch the Golden quadrilateral, it would be about 500Kms more distance. Khalghat, Thikri, Julwania passed by eventlessly except for the slow pace and just before Sendhwa we entered Maharastra. There was collective sigh of relief as the roads vastly improved.

At Sangvi P lost the wheel to M. At Dhule we halted for lunch and the trip meter read 916km at 15.41pm. At 16.49 after a monotonous lunch the elephant chugged along yet again. The landscape changed to lush green shrubs, bathed in slanted beams of evening Sun light which soothed our senses.

Vinchur, Mehunbare, Chalisgaon, Bhamarvadi passed by and the first large ghat of the trip was loomed ahead. The verdant landscape, the evening sun and a clean ghat road made for a pleasurable drive. Midway in the ghat N took wheel to experience ghat driving on the elephant. In 3rd gear the elephant chugged along merrily overtaking crawling trucks. Some of the most spectacular views of the trip were experienced from the ghats in the evening light. It felt like we were climbing onto the Deccan plateau. Passed Ellora town in disappointment for not having seen any caves by the road side and secretly thanked humanity for having progressed to living in civilized dwellings under controlled environments. Aurangabad bypass was a long one and was quite dark. Dinner stop was on a highway hotel beyond Aurangabad at about 2020hrs.

Bid, Vedhsi were left behing to arrive at Solapur (at 1398km on the tripmeter) at 3am next day having experienced multiple sleep invasions was probably the most risky part of the trip. Strangely there were lot of people walking on the highways just before Solarpur whom we guessed were factory shift workers. It was also unnerving to notice people sleeping on the side of the highway in a couple of places. 1.2 billion Indians and this is the value attributed to life by individuals. A very great belief in predetermined destiny could make people act like this. High A/c, loud music were antidotes used to ward off sleep from 1.30pm onwards. The hotelwala at Solapur looked at us in mixture of disbelief and incredulousness, but quickly checked us in and promptly went back to deep slumber.

Zzzzzz…………

Day3

The day3 assault was launched by M at 1010hrs. Two wheelers in Solapur swerved on the path of the elephant frequently and it was concluded that the Solarpurians were blessed with a surplus of suicidal genes which they employed with gay abandon.

Unheard of sleepy towns like Hattur, Nanandi, Dhulked, etc whizzed past and just before Zalki we crossed over into our home state Karnataka. A round of celebration occurred spontaneously for achievements to date. Bijapur bypass met us at 1152hrs when the tripmeter said 1498). The world famous great Gol gumbaz was visible from a distance. A state of the art Indian oil company plant beside the old heritage was contrasting. Facts like Asia’s biggest, India’s biggest, Bijapur’s biggest, higways’s biggest, etc were debated and cast aside with no firm conclusions. Chai stop here was for the Bio-break.

The roads were good, the weather great, landscape excellent, the attitude was exuberant and the elephant was on song, completely in its elements, the engine smooth as silk purring away, the road grip was akin to a railway coach on rails at 100 plus kmph, the suspension gently rocked the passengers when the elephant stepped on huge craters, the speedometer was constantly above 120kmph and frequently touching 145 mark, the steering sensitive and optimally tight even at high speeds, the noise levels inside the car encouraged mobile meditation yet again.

Bijapur to hungund (at 1608 kms) happened in 1hr 20min flat. Lunch was consumed with disinterest in a dirty highway hotel amidst a lot of government bus travelers and the highway driving restarted at 1500hrs. At Gudur, Bichkal, etc Sullen sunflowers dotted landscape on either side due to cloudy weather. The CD player gave up and it was time to sing hum honge kam yab, some shayaris about optical illusions were recited by P, N recited the cycle sharayi. The passengers couldn’t differentiate sheep and cows. P had got into reciting old childhood events which incidentally is one of his favorite pastimes.

Almatti dam appeared imposing alongside the highway and the Krishna river gave the impression of being a petite tributary (poor monsoon I guess or where the dam gates shut). A tiny piece of land in the backwaters of the dam evoked delusions of virgin islands, female sunbathers, etc in P.

At hospet (tripmeter-1705 at 16.20) a chai stop was invoked. With a little of fiddling by the so called engineers P & N CD player launched into music again. The ruins of Hampi beckoned, but was dropped due to paucity of time. P grabbed the wheel from M here.

It was frustrating to be penalized for 30minutes at railway gate just beyond Hospet having pulled in 20seconds after the gate slammed shut. The vast expanse of Tungabadra reservoir loomed large wherein two of the shores on sides were invisible and made on wonder if it was a sea.

Hospet to Lakshimsagara (near chitradurga; tripmeter 1838 at 1916hrs) were NH4 (a part of the golden quadrilateral) met the entourage. N to took over from P here . A cutting chai and star gazing in 10minutes, the last leg of the journey commenced. The elephant was constantly above 130kmph often reaching 145 on this 2+2 lane (which often altered itself to 3+3 for small stretches) highway with proper divider and side railings near villages and towns. The road was brand new, markings brand new and every bit of construction was brand new. It was an amazing experience to zip past all kinds of vehicles.

Tumkur was a blur in the bye side at 2130hrs at 1981 kms as the elephant hurried to the final destination. At 2011hrs in Nelamengala & finally at 2220hrs (tripmeter=2036) the elephant triumphantly marched into Yeswantpur, Blr. Hurray, three cheers to Elephant, M, P & N

Of course the entourage were late by just a day with respect to the original plan thanx to the sickening 500km stretch in MP and of course not to forget the 1000km of breakin for the elephant which happened in first leg of this trip were it was restricted to a max of 110km on 5th gear.

Blr air and traffic, blr moon all look inviting, the smooth roads of blr though pothole ridden here and there were too boring for he elephant. With some beer & one no. Andhara meal in Nandhini deluxe the entourage was home at 23.30.



PS: check out the snaps at
Drive Photos