The Land of Thunder Dragon (BHUTAN) – Background and Day Zero

17.12.2010 (Friday)

When you are on a HAT-TRICK Trip – how would you feel? Well.. butterflies in your stomach!!!! First time YES!!! Or Feel like an ICE MAN Quiet, Calm Composed & Cool!!!! That feeling that I have been there & seen it earlier!!!!

We were on a Hat-trick Trip this year 2010 – 2011 and since 2008 – 2009 & 2009 – 2010 we have successfully completed 2 long trips in our FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX Petrol.

The 1st Trip was for 15 days 3334 kms in 2008-2009

The 2nd Trip was for 18 days 6800 kms in 2009-2010

This 3rd trip is called “LIFE MEIN LINEA” planned for 16 days close to 7500 kms in 2010-2011.

In both the earlier trips we had taken our FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX Petrol Car. We got this car in 2nd March 2006 January in Chennai with an odo meter reading 31260 kms.

On 2nd December 2010 the odometer reading was 160000 kms. It has served us extremely well and needed some well deserved rest.

It was time to look out for a new car & the only choice was either a FIAT Grande Punto / Linea. Initially we looked at FIAT Grande Punto 90 BHP Hatchback. We had to move over to Linea as it had bigger boot space & space inside was luxurious and it was a Premium Sedan.We finalised the top end FIAT Linea 1.3 Multijet Diesel Bossa Nova White Color Emotion Pack with Dual Air bags & Alloy Wheels, ABS, EBD fully loaded.

On 2nd December 2010, it was an auspicious day and I took my parents, my wife Jamuna, Son Uthamkumar & Daughter Shri Meenakshi to TATA FIAT Authorised Showroom GEM Motors on Mettupalayam Road. On a very heavy rainy & wet evening at 7 PM we performed a small ceremony and I requested my father to take the keys from the GM Mr.Tamilarasan of GEM Motors. There was a special cake made for the ceremony and kids simply loved cutting the cake and we took delivery of our Brand New FIAT Linea Multijet Diesel Bossa Nova White Colour.

The odo meter reading on 2nd December 2010 at 7.58 PM when we took delivery of the car and take it out of the show room was 65 kms on the LINEA. Between 2nd December to 16th December 2010 I had been to Cochin, Calicut & to Tirunelveli on work & back and put 2000 kms on the odo meter. There was some initial hick up in our proposed trip. I had still not yer received the original RC Registration Papers of the new car. On 16th Dec I had to take the GM of GEM Motors to the RTO Office and we requested the RTO officer to issue us as I was travelling far. As a fall back I was desperately trying to keep my FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX ready also. We got the RC paper on 16th December 2010.

With the RC paper in hand it was now back to the LINEA as our Official Carrier Car for the BHUTAN Trip. I had a detailed check list prepared beforehand itself. I also had another detailed check list which is a must to have for any long distance driver. Preparation is more important than the journey. Thanks to B.Raveenddrra from Hyderabad for sharing that check list. Jamuna & myself had already kept all cloths ready, we purchased quite a lot of winter wear cloths including inner thermal wear, gloves & socks etc for all 4 of us. the 2 days were very hectic in packing & loading up and ensuring that we had carried all our stuff.

17th December 2010 Friday & both the kids had gone to school. Shri Meenakshi had come from her Pre-KG class at 12 noon and we were waiting for our little Master Uthamkumar to come from his 2nd Standard class. He came at 4 pm in his van all eager to go on the trip. We were now getting ready. By 6 pm we had scheduled to leave. We also had to go to town to purchase shoes, medicines etc which were pending items and finally we left Gandhipuram at 10 P.M. Night. We performed a pooja at home by praying to LORD GANESHA to ward off all obstacles and provide us a safe journey to the far away lands and bring us home back safe. Lord Ganesha is always with us. Jamuna offered prayers for our safe trip and lit the camphor to take blessings from the LORD.

The starting kilometer reading of the trip was 2126 kms. Our neighbours Balasubramaniam & Family, Devi & her daughter Sanjana, wishing us all the best & BON Voyage to BHUTAN. Honestly it was a big risk we were taking too by going into unknown lands so far away..

We went to the IOCL pump near to our house & we tanked up diesel. We put 37.54 liters of Diesel @ Rs.40.49 per liter and paid Rs.1520/- @ Suresh Agencies IOCL Pump on Marudhamalai Main Road, Vadavalli, Coimbatore. We loaded up the car what the kids wanted the most was their favourite Portable Philips DVD player with Creative Speakers connected to the DVD player. I had a 12 Volt DC to 230 Volt AC converter for power supply that was also used to charge the mobile phones & camera batteries etc for them to have a blast at the back with their favourite cartoons & other Tamil Movies.

After 2 successful back to back long tour in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 in our FIAT Palio GTX 1.6 all 4 of us were now on a HAT-TRICK for this Year 2010-2011 in our new FIAT LINEA.

Here we GO!!!! BHUTAN here we come!!!!!

This Life Mein Linea Trip Schedule to BHUTAN was prepared and given to me by my special friend, my light house Mr.H.V.Kumar who is called MAHA GURU of Indian Highways and is widely travelled and is well-known in many automobile & travel forums. My blog will not be complete without HVK’s photo.

A Salute to a great person (whom my father called a Noble Soul) who has been helping so many travellers like me in this country & many foreigners who are visiting India too. This trip was made possible because of his constant Calls & Support, help, advise and being with us right from start till end talking to us from his home & office from Mumbai. We have a great regard, respect and love for HVK. My kids have taken a fondness in calling him “KUMAR MAMA”. He just ensured that we “JUST DO IT”. His last sms on our completing our trip successfully was “CONGRATS on a Fantastic Drive! Take a Nap & the start planning the Next One!!!!!”. Well now you know how much confidence he has on all 4 of us. He has suggested us to do the Himachal Pradesh / Sikkim next year. Insha Allah lets see!!!

H.V. Kumar prepared our travel plan for us to follow and a separate very detailed excel sheet giving complete details on the roads to take, fuel stops, food stops, whether to take left or right or whether to go below or above the flyover, taking by-pass even minute details were given to us by HVK. No wonder he is known to us as walking talking GPS on Indian Highways.

MN – NORTH EAST INDIA DRIVE – Dec-10 (Travel Plan)

1. Coimbatore-Vizag 17-Dec-2010 = 1338 kms
2. Vizag-Calcutta 19-Dec-2010 = 878 kms
3. Calcutta-Phuntsoling 20-Dec-2010 = 830 kms
4. Phuntsoling-Thimphu 21-Dec-2010 = 191 kms
5. Thimphu 22-Dec-2010
6. Thimphu-Paro-Thimphu 23-Dec-2010 = 156 kms
7. Thimphu-Jakar 24-Dec-2010 = 307 kms
8. Jakar-Trashigang 25-Dec-2010 = 315 kms
9. Trashigang-Guwahati 26-Dec-2010 = 298 kms
10. Guwahati-Malda 27-Dec-2010 = 736 kms
11. Malda-Puri 28-Dec-2010 = 956 kms
12. Puri-Rajahmundry 29-Dec-2010 = 728 kms
13. Rajahmundry-Tirupati 30-Dec-2010 = 621 kms
14. Tirupati-Coimbatore 31-Dec-2010 = 488 kms

Total Planned distance = 7842 Kms

Day – 0

17.12.2010 (Friday) Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) to Chennai (Tamil Nadu) = 554 kms

Starting Place: Home Sweet Home Coimbatore Planned Start 6 P.M. Evening
Starting Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2126 km @ Coimbatore
Actual Starting Time: 10 P.M. Night
Arrival Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2680 km @ Chennai
Arrival Time: 7 A.M. Morning

Fuel Tanked up: 37.54 Ltrs of Diesel @ Rs.1520/- @ Coimbatore

The scheduled planned 6 PM start became 10 P.M. start due to some last-minute shopping at R.S.Puram purchasing new Shoes for all 4 of us and dumping some unwanted things from our car and picking up few things from home. We were 4 hours late in our start. We finally hit the road at 10 PM and from Gandhipuram we took the Satyamangalam, Ammapet, Andhiyur, Mettur route to touch the National Highway NH7. This was the big mistake I made the road conditions from Mettur towards the National Highway is really in very bad shape & pathetic. I lost another 2 – 3 hours due to extremely slow driving negotiating through a hell of lot of pot holes, finally we reached the National Highway cursing at the bad roads at mid night 2.45 AM. We were running 7 hours behind our schedule.

We drove on from Mettur to Krishnagiri and then took the route to Chennai. Initially we had planned to reach Nellore Andhra Pradesh through Tirupathi but we decided against this route as it would be lonely and took the Chenai route. We drove from Krishnagiri through Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Kanchepuram, passing through Sriperambattur at Chennai and took the road to Red Hills driving through Anna Nagar, Ambattur and to touch the highway road that leads to Andhra Pradesh passing through Gummidipundi. Chennai to Nellore is about 130 kms. Without any night halt at Chennai we continued onwards to Vijaywada. I just took a small nap called power nap some where before around Kancheepuram at 4.30 AM as I was very tired.

Total Toll Gate Fees Paid from Coimbatore to Chennai Rs.201/-

You’ve just finished reading Day 0. Day 1 will follow soon.


  • Sahil Sethi says:

    @ Mahesh, Welcome to Ghumakkar :)

    What a start of a great road trip. Very nice narration. I really liked the cake pic. It seems you love your linea a lot. Looking forward to read more from you.



    Great adventurous family–both the Fiat and the Mahesh Natrajan. Why not get Fiat to sponsor your trip. Its free advertising for Linea,which is still unable to get any market share.Our Linea(Emotion-petrol) has gone only upto Rishikesh & back . Would love to know how both the kids passed their time on such a long trip.Singing. Telling jokes or doing home-work?


  • Onil Gandhi says:

    hey! a roadie … much like me (in fact better)…

    i share …….

    and yes… like jitinder sethi said… “Would love to know how both the kids passed their time on such a long trip”

  • Nandan says:

    Welcome aboard Mahesh.

    There are a lot of fans here of long-drives. It indeed needs a ton of perseverance to do these kind of trips with spouse and kids. Salute to you.

    Waiting for next leg.

  • Vibha says:

    Just one word for this – Wow.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Six on very first ball !!

    I have been to couple of south Asian countries including Nepal , Bhutan is in my wish list, lets see when dream come true.

    Looking forward eagerly to the next posts.

  • Natarajan Welcome to Ghumakkar……………………………….

    The description of the post is so detailed that even a lay man can understand ………………..

    That makes the post excellent …………………………….

    Congratulations.very eagerly waiting for your next post………………………..

    Keep Travelling Keep posting……………………….

  • MN says:

    Hi All,

    First of all sincere thanks to Vibha – Editor of Ghumakkar for helping me through the registration process and for all the support.

    @Jathinder – my kids simply love such long drives – as the old saying goes always start them young and they are eagerly looking forward for DIL MANGE MORE!! This Bhutan trip was our 3rd & it was a HATRICK Trip.

    They enjoy their back seats, I have a portable Philips DVD player & attached 2 creative speakers for them to enjoy all their cartoons, movies of some leading South Indian Actors, music / nursery rhymes, color pens, crayons etc. Most important of all give them all their freedom to fight, shout, have fun and enjoy and never imposed any rules.I had made a bedding arrangement in the rear seats by completing filling in the gap with bedding, razai & bedsheets & pillows & they had a whole lot of space without worrying about falling down & they would sleep when they were tired.

    One thing I can say with great pride is the kids & my wife are a disciplined lot and when I say we have to be up by 5 am, have our bath and be out of the hotel by 5.30 AM they just to comply even from the 1st trip way back in 2008-2009 when my daughter was just 1 year few months. Now they have seen beaches, plains, mountains, temples, boat ride, camel ride well the travel bug has bitten all 4 of us hard & we will continue more such trips for sure. Lots of Time & Money is required for all such trips & it is always a challenge to find them coming together.

    Cooped up for 16 / 18 days inside the car is no joke, many of my friends have asked how is it possible – well there is no other alternate and I keep them very lively by talking to them ,asking them questions, singing to them, making jokes etc. There is nothing like a long outing with family.

    @Sahil, Onil Gandhi, Nandan & Semwal – sincere thanks for the warm welcome. Happy & proud to be part of Ghumakkar family.

  • SenthilKumar says:


    @ Mahesh, Welcome to Ghumakkar :)

    Congrats on ur new car and the great trip to Bhutan..

    Me too from Coimbatore. Would luv to be in touch. Do drop a mail to


  • Rahul says:

    I am out of accolades for such trip…admirable work with the content as well…looking forward for some more travel blogs from you…

  • Amit Mohan says:

    Dear Mahesh

    Its amazing and i really respect your strong determination to plan such a difficult trip,knowing the fact about challenges of east India.I have also done solo bike trip(p220)from Mysore to Delhi(2600 km in 56 Hr) for your help to understand the NH-5 road condition in orissa(Beharampur-Bhadrak) as i am planning for bike trip from Mysore to Patna at January end.

  • Amit Mohan says:

    Dear Mahesh Sir

    Its amazing and i really respect your strong determination to plan such a difficult trip,knowing the fact about challenges of east India.I have also done solo bike trip(p220)from Mysore to Delhi(2600 km in 56 Hr) for your help to understand the NH-5 road condition in orissa(Beharampur-Bhadrak) as i am planning for bike trip from Mysore to Patna at January end.



  • venkatt says:

    Mahesh sir, I have just read the first piece of your Bhutan travelogue. I chanced upon this post through a link on the Monthly newsletter of Ghumakkar dt. June 2012. It was a great pleasure reading your post. Also, it is a pleasant surprise to have a ghumakkar from Coimbatore.

  • jijo says:

    Oh…Great…I am also planning to make a trip from NEW DELHI to JAMSHEDPUR(Jharkhand) ..about 2800 KM …in November 2012. I have too have two kids. Thanks for the tip u provided especially for the kids.


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