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.