The Land of Thunder Dragon (BHUTAN) – Day 1

18.12.2010 (Saturday)
Chennai (Tamil Nadu) to Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh) = 520 kms

Starting Place: Chennai
Starting Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2680 km @ Chennai
Starting Time: 7.57 A.M. Morning
Closing Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 3200 km @ Vijaywada
Closing Time: 11.30 P.M. Night

We passed through Sriperambathur the Birth Place of Sri Ramanujacharya and we saw the early morning sun rise and took a snap of the Sun GOD at 7 A.M. on 18.12.2010 (Saturday). We passed Chennai towards Nellore at 7.57 AM morning. The odometer reading was 2680 kms – we had covered 520 kms so far from home. We were constantly supported by H.V.K and he directed us from Mumbai which roads to take & which flyovers to take etc. Such is the level of knowledge with him. Around 8.30 A.M. we were entering Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh is the land of Lord Venkateshwara Balaji as well as Lord Hanuman. You can see gigantic size statues of Lord Hanuman (Anjaneya) and it really gives you the power & strength by seeing the lord watch over you so majestically & blessings us and assuring us “Have No fear for I am there with Thee!!!” A welcome board sign from Eenadu news paper welcomes you into the heart of Andhra Pradesh. We saw a sign board that said Pulicat Bird Sanctuary is just 5 kms. We stopped at TADA for a morning wash & to get fresh and to have breakfast and to tank up Diesel for our Linea.

Fuel Tanked up: 36.90 Ltrs of Diesel @ Rs.1500/- @ TADA Andhra Pradesh

The kids found a park with swing & they had a jolly good time.

From TADA Vijaywada is 367 kms. At 11 AM we came across another huge Statue of Lord Hanuman and see the size of bee hive under the chin & arm. Just before we touched Nellore around 11 A.M. the entire traffic on the highway came to a stand still. Thanks to a local Political Party which decided to block the National Highway to get their demands met and we had to wait behind a lot of vehicles. I did not step out to ask the reason for blocking but it could have been the Telengana issue I suppose.

The Police were called and they came and one of the Senior Officer was seen reasoning it out with the people blocking the highway and there were quite a lot of men shouting slogans & couple of ladies too adding their voices. In this country, even the Police become helpless in such cases. We lost some half an hour and we saw that the Police was trying to pass 1 VIP Car through the blockade. Immediately I started my car & just followed that VIP Car and viola we passed through the blockade behind that car much before the people who were blocking or the Police could decide how my car had passed. Who knows who was in that VIP car! Anyway we managed to get past the block and we were on the highway at 11.50 A.M.

We passed through a huge bridge over a dried up river bed. At 12.30 PM, we were 46 kms short of Kavali & 265 kms short of Vijaywada. We saw a Lord Vishnu Temple around 1 PM and took snap of the Shank (Conch) & Chakra (Sudarshan Disc) the symbol of Lord Narayana. At 2.33 PM afternoon we were 177 kms short of Vijaywada.

At 2.35 p.m. we touched our 1st 1000 kms of our trip. Please note that all my snaps of 1000 km mark throughout our trip were taken around 3026, 4026, 5026, 6026, 7026, I made a mistake for some reason I had it in my mind as the starting km reading as 2026 instead of 2126, anyway there is a 100 km difference.

At 2.48 pm we were 26 kms short of Chilakaluripet, Guntur 45 kms & 99 kms short of Vijaywada. We drove on. Kids were having fun at the back. Some times sleeping, some times watching their cartoons in the DVD player. Jamuna was on & off awake & taking some power naps telling me to be alert & concentrate on the road. I had to be on alert all the time as I was the only driver in our car.

As I was approaching Guntur my LINEA was also approaching the 3000 km mark on its odometer & as per FIAT’s warranty requirements I should get my car checked up & serviced at an authorized service centre. I looked up into the service manual booklet & identified JASPER industries TATA FIAT authorized service centre and called up & spoke with their General Manager & informed him about my back ground about my travel & the need to get the car serviced & checked up. He was very helpful & put me in touch with the service manager and assured me all support on arrival.

We reached Jasper Industries at 5 PM and went into the service area. I met the Service Manager & explained to him about the 3000 km service that needs to be carried out. I also told him that I am sorry for coming in such late hour as I was driving from Coimbatore Chennai towards Vijaywada and beyond. He was very kind & understanding and immediately called his best mechanic and explained to him what needs to be done and said I could rest & everything will be taken care & my car would be given in shortest possible time soon as they complete all checking.

Just as they had assured the mechanic took the Linea and did the mandatory checking of all fluids, checked various other parameters as per the guidelines of FIAT for 3000 km service. After all the complete check up my car was given a through clean wash outside and dried and there it was standing spick & span all gleaming white!!!

And guess what? No charges at all! The warranty covers the expenses. I just paid some bakshish to the boys who cleaned my car and personally thanked each & every one there. They were all wondering & asked me again & again “Sir are you really going to BHUTAN?” Meru Nejanga Bhutan Potara, I had to keep saying Avannandi Bhutankay Pothanandy”

Well after the service we headed to Vijaywada town and located Hotel Narayana Swamy at 11.30 PM night and got a double room for stay. We had some difficulty in finding a hotel. Tariff: Rs.550+tax=Rs.578/- per night.

The hotel details are

Hotel Narayana Swamy,
Vijaywada – 520 003
Tel: 0866 – 2571221 Fax: 2572489

From 17.12.2010 10 PM night from Coimbatore to 18.12.2010 11.30 PM night up to Vijaywada I had covered 1040 kms.

Total Toll Gate Fees paid on 18.12.2010 from Chennai to Vijayawada Rs.258/-
You just finished reading Day – 1. Day 2 will follow soon.


  • Vibha says:

    I love the amount of details in your story Mahesh. It requires a lot of attention to details and meticulous jotting down of notes to get to this level. True sign of a traveller and a travel-writer. The pictures are awesome and add a lot to your story. How do you manage to keep your family calm during such long travels?

  • nitish says:

    wow your trip to Bhutan is the inspiration to people who are road trips freaks :)

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    A very informative post !!!

    Such a long drive with family …….real Ghumakkar !

  • once again fantastic …………………….

    Keep moving………………………………

  • Nandan says:

    It must be pretty hard to drive for almost 20 hours non-stop and without any comfort of a hotel. We normally prefer starting very early in the day (4 or 5 AM if the distance is more than 500 KMs) and retire before it gets much dark, covering not more than 650-700 in a day. I guess to do these real long distances in a 2-3 week period, one would need to drive this much to make the most of it.

    Eagerly waiting for next part Mahesh.

  • Sundar Shastry says:

    As the adage goes …Its all about journey and not the destination!! This is aptly reflected in your story. Looking forward to the other parts of your story.

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