Thursday, 22 December 2011

Great Central India Road Trip - Day 1

Total Distance - 900 KMs
Departure time -5.30 AM
Arrival time - 7 PM
Road condition - Excellent
Breaks -Forty Minutes in Davanagere and twenty minutes in Kolhapur
Max speed - 130 KMPH (I never crossed this limit throughout the trip)
Best stretches - Tumkur - Chitradurga, Davanagere - Hubli, Dharwad - Kolhapur

Brinda returns from office only at 11 PM on the previous day after handing over the charge. She generally returns home by this time and plans for coming early did not work. We had completed packing all the stuff two days earlier. The idea of sleeping early and getting up early did not happen and we could get sleep for four hours as we got up at 4 to get ready to leave at 5.30 AM.

It is still dark as the Scorpio move towards NICE road. Staying close to NICE road is advantageous and within five mins we are at Bannerughatta road entry of NICE road. We had seen long queue in front of the toll gate early in the morning on earlier occasions and am expecting a repeat. I am surprised to see no crowd and could pass through it quickly.

The NICE road look lovely and the previous day’s rain has brought freshness. It is slightly misty and the sun is trying to come out in the horizon. I am expecting a beautiful sunrise but the clouds play spoilsport. The second toll gate on NH 4 - where NICE joins NH - also spring a surprise with easy pass-through. From now on, it was a blissful ride till we reach our pre-determined breakfast stop @ Sri Kottureshwara Benne Dose Hotel in Davanagere for "Davanagere Benne Dose".

I find this place is very convenient. You don't have to enter city proper at all. As you enter Davanagere Bye pass, drive slow, look for a board which says “User fee road ends" at a distance. You should now become alert to find a White board on the other side of the road and a median. (Easier to make out while coming from Mumbai side as this board has names of "Vidyanagar and Davanagere" written on it). Take right turn and drive straight for two KMs and you will reach the entrance of BDT Dental college opposite of which is the hotel.

The Benne Dose - butter dosa - is out of the world. Cooked on wood-fire - yes it is - you should see to believe the quantity of butter which is thrown on the dosa to make it crisp and tasty. We snapped up two plates of dosa each - which would sustain us till the evening.

From Davanagere to Kolhapur is a great drive as usual. Monsoon has turned the place green. The stretch between Dharwad and Hubli look lovely and so was the green expanse as you enter Belgaum. Hidkal dam on Malaprabha river near Belgaum was full and the back waters look beautiful as we leave Belgaum.

We reach Kolhapur and want to go to the famous Missal Pav stall near Shivaji University - recommended in "Highway on Plate". But the fact that we have to enter the city deterr us having had a bad experience of driving in Kolhapur ten months back. The Missal Pav here is supposed to be the best. Anyway, we will try next time. We stopp over for a bio cum coffee break at CCD in Kolhapur strategically located on the highway.

As we leave Kolhapur, we start feeling traffic hassles of driving in Maharashtra. Two wheelers increase dramatically and truckers don’t leave right side of the road. I  manoeuvre through the traffic as we moved towards Satara. The traffic increase after Satara and we slow down considerably. We reach Katraj tunnel around 6 PM.

Our hotel is in Hinjewadi on the highway as we wanted to avoid the city. We take an hour and half to reach our hotel. Heavy peak hour traffic and reckless driving make driving miserable. Hotel Sadanand Residency is decent no frill kind of hotel. We freshen up, order for some snacks, open the chilled beer bottles we had carried. It is a welcome session after a long drive. We are to do similar distance the next day.

So sleeping early and getting up early is the mission. But, "Just Dance" show hosted by Hrithik Roshan on Star Plus - it was Semi Finals - ensure that we don't hit the bed before 10.30 PM only to get up at 5 the next day!

Next post - Day 2 - 25 Sep 2011 - Blessings and Bad roads!! (Pune - Shirdi - Manmad - Dhule -Maheshwar - Dhar)

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