Rann of Kutch – Leg 1 – Befriending the Highway!

‘Mauke pe Chauka’ (grabbing the opportunity) is what we call this trip to date. One of the boy’s, elder brother was getting married in Pushkar, Rajasthan. The destination was about 1000 kms away from Mumbai. Such times bring old friends together. And on convincing them a little bit and teasing them with the photographs of Rann we managed to squeeze in four additional days after the wedding. Thus, the first real road trip began! A trip that lasted for about 3500 kms in all but got etched in our memories for ever. The crew with me Surendra Sharma aka Suri, Murtuza Suratwala aka Don and the fourth wheel of our car Dr Aseem Agarwal aka Doc. Not to forget the Toyota Innova our wheels for the trip.
My favourite part about such trips is that, there is no planning required! Your car should be in perfect condition and you need a device on which GPS connectivity exists. With 3G revolution, life became easier and we embarked on probably the most daring experience till date in December, 2012. The very surprising part came from our families. They were very averse to our decision to drive our self. An argument that I have never understood, a driver is going to do the same thing that I am going to plus I had one and a half standby drivers along. Don didn’t know driving too well till then . So the onus was on Doc and me.
horn ok please, truck, highway, india, colourful, mumbai, ajmer, rajasthan, gujarat, maharashtra
The most frequent site on Indian Highways!

 We heard a lot of cautious words from people who have travelled far and wide on Indian roads about driving. But, we were in for a pleasant surprise. The highway up to Ajmer was a proper 4 lane, 2 side with divider highway. The chances of an accident are minimized as compared to 2 lane highways without dividers in between. Trust me, it was the highway and its well maintained condition that gave boosted our confidence.  We left in the afternoon with a basic plan of reaching the next day evening.

There is a particular stretch just before Bharuch which is notoriously famous for its traffic. The stretch takes about 3 hours to negotiate about 8 kms of traffic. The bridge over Narmada is old, so there is constant maintenance work going on and the new bridge construction is underway. So basically limited number of vehicles are let on that bridge creating a ripple effect and that traffic snarl. We used the snails pace to the best of our advantage, singing, joking and in one instance even dancing in front of the car. I vividly remember the truckers nearby looking at us in amusement. We on the other hand, gleefully accepted it as a part of the journey!

On the first night we reached Ahmedabad. The drive took about 8 hours. The best part of this stretch is the Varodra – Ahmedabad National Expressway 1. It is a 100 km stretch and is the first national expressway in the country. The 100 kms can be very easily negotiated in about an hour and the road is expertly built with exits and entry to various cities in between seamlessly integrating into the fast flowing traffic.

Next day we were in for a delightful experience in Rajasthan. Some of the pictures below are of the sights right on the highway. There are forts, lakes, quarries that flank your way giving a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage that Rajasthan possesses. It wasn’t possible to stop and click proper photographs, However we managed some point and shoot photography.

Silhouette, Rajasthan, lake, sun, shining water, reflection, view
One of the views on the way
Doc, Don and me with cameraman Surendra Sharma!

By the time we reached it was time for lunch and there are various options available around the lake. I don’t remember which one we choose but the view as below was stunning from the hotel. It did make for a very satisfying lunch. If you are just passing by from Udaipur, this is the recommended activity. You will not be disappointed. The place is very charming with its architecture around the lake. Will most definitely be coming back for more.

View, lake, udaipur, tourist, boat, rajasthan, tourism, lunch
The lake at Udaipur – A royal view for lunch.
Even the tea in Rajasthan is special. Especially if that is given to you on a khat (Indian style bed made out of jute ropes) and hot pakoras or as the English would call it Fritters! There is a certain amount of cliche and a certain amount of joy in going back in time and enjoying food the traditional way! We had a great time in that dhaba which was the second last stop on the way to Pushkar.
Toyota, Innova, 2003, Highway, mines, view, champagne, rajasthan
Our Chariot – Toyota Innova

The final stop is a must do if you are near or crossing Ajmer! You have to visit the Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah. The Dargah is famous for granting wishes where the high and mighty come to pay their respects here. The US president also has offered ‘chadar’ here. Such is the might of the Khawaja of Ajmer and we dutifully paid our respects in the place that transcends religion.

We reached Pushkar that night with starts shining bright in our eyes with the achievement of 1000 kms under our belt! We had just increased the radius of the places we can reach by car! I’m sure back home our parents breathed a sigh of relief on hearing the news of our arrival. Moving further, we got the brother married  – the food was gob smacking and finger biting good at the wedding. Post the wedding fun, we moved ahead – Dholavira, Kandla and Dhordo. The three places that teach you a lot about History and Geography. Sometimes you have to admit that there is a higher power, who has designed the world and thou shall never be able to compete with the imagination. The seasonal salt marsh of the Rann just engulfs you in its beauty with the local culture and hospitality burying you deeper.

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