Incredible India: Mission 7000 km — planning phase
Neha and I have developed a flavour for going on long drives and since we got married, we have only once travelled by train (with family) and not yet by air. Neither do we like the idea of someone driving us around. We like to move at our own sweet pace (for some the pace is not so sweet) and take turns while driving so that we both can enjoy the beauty of the journey. Most of our road trips, long or short begin with the premise of no fixed destination. Our only goal is to go as far as we want and our stopovers can change at random, depending upon the traffic encountered, weather, and time on hand. Our trip to Lansdowne, Haridwar and Rishikesh was one such random trips.
Our personal best was to successfully complete a road trip to Ladakah in a sedan back in 2010. (see blog post http://puneitsinghthukral.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/the-ladakh-odyssey/). And, then came the trip to Bhuj - this time we officiated in Desert Storm Rally conducted by Northern Motorsports. I would not divulge here and digress by penning down about the numerous short trips that we have taken so far. However, some trips need meticulous planning due to the sheer distance one shall be traversing on the road and the limited time on hand (Job commitments).
In the beginning of 2012, we bought a new car – Force One SUV in order to suit our needs of going on road trips. In the five months since we bought the vehicle, we could only go to Abhaneri, Lucknow -Kanpur and then to Chakrata. The Chakrata trip gave us such an adrenaline kick, that we decided to leverage it into planning for a kind of trip we have never done before.
August 2012, is going to give us scattered holidays which when combined with few days off from work, is giving us 17 days time. Taking advantage of this situation, we chalked out a rough plan on July 1st, 2012 for a road trip. In mid-April, Neha mentioned to me about some caves in Andhra Pradesh and also about Dhuadhar falls in Madhya Pradesh. So our initial plan hovered around covering these two places, however, with the time in hand, we eventually landed at Kanyakumari. Having completed engineering from Belgaum, Karnataka and extensively travelled the west cost of Karnataka and Goa, I always wanted to show Neha where I studied as well as the beautiful west coast of India. At the same time, Neha wanted me to see Pimpalgoan and Nasik, the places where she had grown up. And, then we squeezed in Kerala on the route and the following route was prepared. (Point W is overlapping Point A)
Day 1: 600 km: We head towards Khajuraho on the first day to see the “Kamasutra” Temples and stay a night in the erotic city then head towards Dhuandhar falls on day 2.
Day 2: 500 km We would start from Khajuraho and then head towards Dhuandhaar falls. After enjoying the falls we intend to spend the night at Pench Tiger reserve.
Day 4: 400+ km Upon reaching Belum, we intend to do caving. I sincerely hope that Belum caves are easier than caves in Sahiya (see http://puneitsinghthukral.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/do-pictures-really-speak-a-thousand-words)
From Belum, we shall head to Dharmapuri, again for a night halt.
Day 5: 550km The next morning we shall drive down to Hogenakkal water falls and then to Kanyakumari for the night.
Day 6: 250 km After viewing the sunrise at Kanyakumari and spending some time the beach, we shall be checking around some tourist spots. Later in the evening we shall head towards Alleppey
Here on, the scenery would change as we would be travelling through what is commonly known as “God’s own country” – Kerala. The planned halts in Kerala are – Alleppey, Athirapalli, Bekal, Cochin and Kasargod. My college buddy, Hari Sadashivan, a Keralite settled in Prague, has sent a long list of places to visit in Kerala. We do intend to see as much as possible from his list.
Day 7, 8, 9 & 10: 1200 km: We will be travelling within Kerala for 3 days before entering Karnataka, once again, to see Jog Falls on Day 10
Day 11 & 12: 350 km: From Jog falls we shall head towards Karwar and reach Palolem Beach Goa. Next day we shall move to North Goa and spend the night there
Day 13 500+km: From North Goa, we shall take the Calangute, Mapusa, Thilahri Nagar route to enter Belgaum. I studied engineering in Belgaum and thus, we shall go see my college and then head towards Panchghani to crash for the night.
Day 14: ~500 km: From Panchghani we shall head towards Nasik, Ozar & Pimpalgaon and visit Neha’s school before heading for Daman for the night
Day 15 & 16 : 850 km We shall explore Daman and its surroundings and if possible cover some distance North, else head for Jodhpur the next day
Day 17: 550 km: Back to Home Sweet Home
We realise that we will be travelling during the peak of monsoons which will not only be dangerous but also beautiful especially the parts of the country we intend to visit. We would span over 7000 km during these 17 days.
Having chalked out a rough route, we prepared a long list of “essentials” comprising of more than 100 SKU to be carried on the trip.
During our 5 month ownership of the new car, we realised that there are some blind spots due to the massive size of the car and it helps if one of us is navigating other during parking or reversing in narrow parking lots/lanes. A two way radio would be of great help during the trip at such occasions and otherwise and thus we arranged that as well.
During the month of March, Delhi Hams (Amateur Radio) operators conducted a meet where CB Radio demonstration was given by President Electronics. Citizens Band radio though existing technology is seeing a comeback in India especially amongst motorsports and adventure groups. Of course ham radio operators always welcome different modes of radio and we have also planned to install a CB radio into our car for the trip. If this works out, we can then be able to map the pockets of activity along the route. Over and above all this, we shall be available on mobile APRS network (http://aprs.fi/#!call=a%2FVU2TUM-9&timerange=3600) (SSID- VU2TUM-9) as well as we shall be live streaming (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mission-7000) parts of the trip which we feel are worth.
Follow us on Twitter – @puneit & @nehapthukral and also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/puneit & https://www.facebook.com/neha.sonkar for regular updates on the trip depending upon the internet connectivity. Also check out, https://www.facebook.com/events/386346294766032/
If we are successful in completing this trip, we would have gone as north as the road shall take us and as south as possible in mainland India. The only unexplored area would be the Northeast which we may travel by road in the future.
This is the plan so far. We welcome comments, suggestions and tips especially reviews on possible rest-overs and restaurants en-route.
Wish us bon-voyage!