We were nearing Vadodara around 3:45 am in the morning. As mentioned in my previous post, my brother had just driven for 7 hours and was still enjoying the drive. The NH-8 bypasses Vadodara and there are series of exits in between if one has to enter the city. The highway forms like a ring outside the city. The road from Bharuch to Vadodara is very good. There are no potholes on the road and the road is just too good. I wonder how come Mumbai roads have so many potholes, while the national highways are so efficiently and well maintained. We were driving easily at an avg. of 100 kmph while bypassing Vadodara. Very soon, we had reached the exit for Vadodara – Ahmedabad express way. If the road on the NH-8 was good, this road was beauty to drive on. We were able to touch the speeds of 150 kmph on this road. The 4 lane express way is just a superb road. The best part is again the road has been very well maintained and the exits are well marked. I wanted to try a different route and there was an option to get off the expressway at Anand and take the interior road bypassing Ahmedabad altogether. But it was 4:30am in the morning and we werent any in mood for any experiments. The entire drive in itself was turning out to be a good experiment and I didn’t want to try anything different.
The distance between Vadodara to Ahmedabad is approx. 90 kms and we were able to cover the entire stretch in less than a hour. We didn’t want to go through the city as I had read about traffic police stopping vehicles which do not have a yellow tape on the right side headlight. It is a rule in Gujarat to have a yellow tape pasted on the right side headlight. This apparently helps cut off the high beam light and allows oncoming drivers better visibility. I say they should simply ban fine people driving with high beams on, just like how it is in Chandigarh. Anyways, that’s a topic for different discussion. We got off the SP road exit. The exit clearly mentions way to Udaipur. We bypassed Ahmedabad and were now again on NH-8. The road between Ahmedabad and HimmatNagar is not a good one and there is one stretch on the road which is really bad with very big potholes. We then stopped a local dhaba to freshen up. It was 5:30 am and we had driven an entire night. My brother was tired now and he asked me to take over.
After our 15-20 minute break, I started driving and almost got involved in an accident. There was bike which was turning and merging with our road and simply didn’t see the car coming. I had to swerve left to avoid colliding with him. That was like a good wake up call and any lingering sleep promptly disappeared after that. It took us about 2 hours to get to Gujarat/ Rajasthan state border. I decided to have a tea break as by that time I had started to feel sleeping and didn’t want to take a chance of falling asleep on the wheel. After another 20 min break, we were well on our way. The road condition had improved significantly and thus we were able to accelerate. However, the road is full of curves and one has to extremely careful while turning at high speeds here. The road also passes through some towns and again caution needs to be exercised. After driving for another 2.5 hours, we saw the exit signs for Nathdwara and took the exit. The road passes through the RIDCO area (Industrial area) and is full of truck traffic at any given time of the day. It is better to the take the Udaipur city exit as it would take the same amount of time. We continued through the Udaipur bypass and finally joined Udaipur. The last 50 kms of the journey were now here. This last part was probably the most trickiest for me as I had never driven on ghats before. One has to cross a small ghat before arriving at Nathdwara. We were able to negotiate the ghats without much of an issue an after 15 hours of driving, we had reach Nathdwara at 11am the next day.
I wanted to write this post right after I did this trip 6 weeks back, but somehow was too lazy to write the post. Me, along with my family members decided to drive to Nathdwara, Rajasthan on Friday evening and return back by Monday morning. The distance from Mumbai to Nathdwara is approx. 840 kms one way – so more than 1600 kms driving with one day stay at Nathdwara. You got to think, we are crazy. The reason for such a short and crazy trip was that I was joining a new organization and wanted to visit the temple before starting at the new place as I wasn’t sure that I would have leave available to go anywhere in the next couple of months. Also we got a new Maruti Swift and I thought it was a good opportunity to go on a long drive with the family. So with that in mind, I started the process of convincing everyone to join the trip. My wife couldn’t join me to due to work issues, but slowly steadily remaining members got on board with the idea.
We left on Friday evening around 8pm. Initially my brother took the wheels, with me sitting next to him. This was his first long distance trip. I had already done a trip to Pune earlier. He always had issues driving in the night and that day also it was no less. It is difficult to drive when you lights from the oncoming traffic hitting right in your eyes. However, he was able to adjust well after sometime and took to night driving like a fish in the water. In no time he was driving at speeds well over 100kmph and with extremely good control. We halted after crossing Vapi to have dinner. It took us around 3.5 hours to reach Vapi and so far the roads were excellent. Post dinner, also the smooth roads continued until we reach Surat. Post Surat, the roads until Bharuch was very bad. This was also the time when there were extremely heavy rains in Gujarat, esp. in Bharuch and Vadodara. The potholes would appear out of nowhere. We had the car fog lights on, tried the high beam on but nothing would work to allow an early sighting of the pothole. The problem was also that most of the road was very good, and thus we were going really fast. But then a pothole would appear out of nowhere and car would take a hit.
We reached Ankleshwar bridge and found out there was a huge traffic jam and nobody was sure that when the jam would be cleared. Me and my dad stepped out of the car to check out what the situation was. My brother told me to come back quickly in case we needed to turn around. I went and spoke to a couple of nearby truck drivers and they told me that the traffic jam would only be cleared the next morning. I came back and conveyed the news to my brother and asked him to turn around. However, my dad had gone further ahead to ask a few more people, so I called him. Getting no response from him, I decided to go looking for my dad and I asked my brother to stay where he was and not turn around. That was a big mistake. By the time, I found my dad and told him of the development, my brother called frantically to say the turn to the left was blocked by the truck and now we are stuck. We reached where our car was parked and requested the truck driver next to us to reverse a little so that we could take a left turn. The good driver obliged and we were able to take a left turn on to a service lane and drove in the opposite direction. In between our way was blocked by another truck. Again the same request was made and we got lucky this time too and had enough space to wriggle the car out. We drove in the opposite direction and reached a junction and asked a few local rickshaw drivers directions to Bharuch. They asked us to take the Golden Bridge, which is an old bridge and is only used by light vehicles. We duly crossed the bridge and were once again on our way to Nathdwara. When we reached the highway, the road in the opposite direction was full of traffic. Apparently due to heavy rains, the bridge had developed craters and hence traffic was being restricted. We decided to drive safely here as we were faced with oncoming vehicles. After driving for 40 odd kms, the traffic evened out again and we were on our away to cross Vadodara.
It was approx. 3:30am. My brother had driven for almost 7 hours.