1.1 I am a retired bureaucrat, retired about eight years ago. My grandson is about three years old and a great source of joy.
1.2 One day I decided that I needed to go nowhere. It was easier to drive alone to nowhere than to somewhere: if you wanted to go somewhere, you didn’t need to drive – there was always a bus or a train or a plane that took you exactly there. And there was always a taxi available at the destination to take you around.
1.3 I own a Swift Zx, purchased in 2006, and it seemed perfectly adequate for going nowhere. I drove mostly alone except for a while when my nephew joined me. I found that I ate much better in his company. The chap kept a sharp lookout for vendors on the highway. On the road he used my Blackberry to surf the net and find out the best eating places. Company has its virtues.
1.4 I had planned a longer travelogue and have actually got down a few thousand words. But I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome: something better is likely to take time.
1.5 I had benefitted from Aditya Chaturvedi’s descriptions of his trips to Vadodra and Goa from Noida which I read on Gumakkar. I thought that it may help some fellow travellers if I immediately put down some basic information about the trip. I do intend to write in more detail a little later.
1.6 The route that I finally traversed was:
Day Date Sector
Day 1 June 4, 2010 Noida to Agra via Mathura
Day 2 June 5, 2010 Agra to Kanpur
Day 3 June 7, 2010 Kanpur to Varanasi via Allahabad
Day 4 June 9, 2010 Varanasi to Patna
Day 5 June 11, 2010 Patna to Maithon
Day 6 June 12, 2010 Maithon to Kolkata
Day 7 July 09, 2010 Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar
Day 8 July 14, 2010 Bhubaneshwar to Vizag
Day 9 July 16, 2010 Vizag to Vijayawada
Day 10 July 17, 2010 Vijayawada to Tirumala
Day 11 July 18, 2010 Tirumala to Pondicherry
Day 12 July 20, 2010 Pondicherry to Madurai
Day 13 July 22, 2010 Madurai to Kochi
Day 14 August 11, 2010 Kochi to Kozhikode (Calicut)
Day 15 August 12, 2010 Kozhikode to Mangalore
Day 16 August 14, 2010 Mangalore to Goa
Day 17 August 16, 2010 Goa to Chiplun
Day 18 August 17, 2010 Chiplun to Navi Mumbai
Day 19 August 18, 2010 Navi Mumbai to Vadodra
Day 20 August 20, 2010 Vadodra to Chittaurgarh
Day 21 August 21, 2010 Chittaurgarh to Jaipur
Day 22 August 22, 2010 Jaipur to Noida
1.7 The route grew with time and I finally ended up travelling a total of 7565 kilometres, home to home.
1.8 I spent Rs. 28,255/- on petrol:
Date Amount Cash/ Credit Location
4-Jun-10 Rs. 1,501.00 Credit Delhi
6-Jun-10 Rs. 1,686.00 Credit Kanpur
8-Jun-10 Rs. 1,250.00 Cash Varanasi
11-Jun-10 Rs. 1,397.76 Cash Patna
8-Jul-10 Rs. 1,804.20 Credit Kolkata
12-Jul-10 Rs. 1,700.00 Credit Bhubaneshwar
15-Jul-10 Rs. 1,747.31 Credit Vizag
16-Jul-10 Rs. 1,500.00 Credit Vijayawada
18-Jul-10 Rs. 2,070.00 Cash Tirupati
19-Jul-10 Rs. 1,147.47 Cash Pondicherry
21-Jul-10 Rs. 1,540.30 Cash Madurai
10-Aug-10 Rs.1,343.00 Cash Kochi
13-Aug-10 Rs.1,836.00 Credit Mangalore
15-Aug-10 Rs.1,250.00 Credit Goa
16-Aug-10 Rs.1,181.65 Cash Chiplun
18-Aug-10 Rs.1,800.00 Credit Parthan Patia
20-Aug-10 Rs.1,800.00 Cash Tind, Udaipur
21-Aug-10 Rs.1,700.00 Credit Jaipur
1.9 Contrary to my expectations I was often able to buy petrol on credit card at more than half the locations. I was gypped off, of all places, at Tirupati where I paid for 5 litres of petrol that never saw the inside of my fuel tank. I made complaint http://cpgrams.nic.in/ to and to my surprise the matter was actually investigated. I received a letter acknowledging short supply. It appears that the actual supply is electronically recorded. Things in Government seem to be looking up.
1.10 The average cost of petrol was about Rs. 55/- per litre and after adjusting for the Tirupati rip-off and the petrol remaining in the tank, I managed average kilometerage of about 15.3. I drove throughout with the AC on.
1.11 I paid toll of Rs. 2504/- for the trip. I didn’t pay toll at three places:
a) Durgapur, West Bengal;
b) Ahmedabad Circular Road; and
c) Before Chittaurgarh, Rajasthan
since I gave lift to toll booth employees going home after the shift. It appears to be a regular practice.
1.12 The best driving stretches from the scenic viewpoint were:
a) The hill portion (includes Munnar) of the Madurai-Kochi section;
b) Little beyond Bhatkal towards Goa to Goa on the Mangalore-Goa section;
c) Chiplun to Panvel on the Chiplun-Navi Mumbai section.
1.13 Generally the driving conditions were good on the Golden Quadrilateral: mostly, except in Odisa (as Orissa is known to locals), four lane with a divider in between. The older national and state highways are mostly two lane and often pass through towns. It is always a pain driving on these stretches.
1.14 In order to stay on the Golden Quadrilateral while travelling from Udaipur to Ajmer, one must pass through Udaipur town. NH 8 is not part of the Golden Quadrilateral on this stretch: it is in fact a pretty crowded two lane stretch on this section.
1.15 The Golden Quadrilateral in most of Odisa is under development and there are frequent two lane stretches.
1.16 The major problem with the Golden Quadrilateral is:
a) Trucks and tractors on the wrong side of the road;
b) Pedestrians cutting across;
c) Animals crossing the highway, surprisingly this happened more in Gujarat than elsewhere;
d) Motorcyclists suddenly cutting in or turning.
1.17 The National Expressway (NE1) from Vadodra to Ahmedabad was a bit of a disappointment. I had been looking forward to the stretch but there were trucks parked on the expressway and persons crossing the Highway. It was in essence like a good stretch say in Bengal or Andhra Pradesh of the Golden Quadrilateral.
1.18 The worst driving stretches were:
a) Kozhikode (Calicut) to Mangalore: Very crowded, road condition not good and complete intermingling of town and highway traffic. The only good-looking place on the stretch was Kasargod. God’s own country also has its own purgatory;
b) Thane to the Maharashtra-Gujarat border on the Navi Mumbai-Vadodra section. Very crowded, road condition not good and traffic not being properly controlled;
c) Jaipur to Behrod on the Jaipur-Noida section. Upgradation to six lane is underway and things should improve in a few months.
1.19 The next trip is from Noida to Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh via Dwarka, Gujarat, hopefully starting in mid/end November 2010.
1.20 Will send more detailed write-ups on portions of the trip periodically. Am working on it.