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Road trip from Chennai to Chandigarh

The three musketeers were together (me a farmer, Bunny an army man, Viki an airline pilot) sitting an swirling our drinks when we hit on this Idea of checking out a part of our great country and what better way is there then to drive through it. Plans were chalked out and leave was applied for and in 10 days time we were good to go.

I took the morning flight from Delhi to Chennai, Bunny was to take the evening flight as he had to wrap up something . Viki was already in Chennai as he was posted there. This was my first trip to Chennai. After getting the car serviced and picking up a dear friend Bindu (she now flies for jet as a pilot) we were of to Mahabalipuram. The drive is stunning with the rolling ocean on one side and rolling plains full of palm trees on the other. After checking out the temples we hit the bay of Bengal. Man it is good and refreshing to just sit on the beach, water lapping at your feet as you take long cool sips of your ice cold beer .

After picking up Bunny we hit the bed hard . In the morning all of us got bitten by the shopping bug and we were off with Bindu as our guide. After checking out knick knacks we hit the motherload at Kalpadruma. It's a one stop shop for ethnic stuff. After breaking a coconut (is auspicious) we were off (after encountering Chennai traffic) .

The visual grandeur is evident, the palm trees swaying in the light breeze we took the road to Cuddapah on to Kurnool .The culture of a certain place can only be soaked in if you try the local food and cuisines. For that we scouted around for a local dhaba and gorged on rice rasam samber a vege made of ladyfinger which was fried an stuffed. Man o man did we go south or what. We drove on to Andhra Pradesh. Our motive was to cover the max distance in the first day and that's why our destination was Hyderabad\Secunderabad. On entering the city we were impressed by the well kept and clean roads. It lives up to its name. By evening time we were a bit faged out and the local hotel was the only thing visible (don't take the touts word, scout around and you will get a good deal ). A bottle of Scotch was cracked and we started planning the next leg. Vikram wanted to go at a leisure pace and soak in the culture. Sounded like a good idea and both me and bunny concurred .

It was a early morning start( after effects of the drinking binge still lingered) on to the city of Nagpur . The beauty of central India is like none I had seen earlier, roads were covered on both sides with lush green trees and you could see till miles on end on both sides of the roads. We encountered trek trains (long lines of bullock carts going up to hundreds ) the drivers sleeping, some singing ethnic songs of love and life moving at a leisure pace. The road we were traveling on runs parallel to the National Highway .

Before hitting Nagpur we stopped for a very late lunch at a local dhaba which was run by a Punjabi chap, he treated us to a lunch of Punjab . Makki Di Roti and Sarson Da Sag with loads of Nagpuri onions (the best I ever tasted man I could live here). The roads were just perfect (all that talk about M.P having bad roads is hogwash ). We were gliding on to our next night halt in the city of Nagpur . After soaking in the culture and scouting around we found a very nice hotel an kicked up your legs for a much deserved rest time. With a sumptuous breakfast of local cuisine we fortified our growling stomachs and moved on towards our next destination. The gahts are seen to be believed, the road snakes through table top hills and long stretches of nothingness onwards to Bhopal the capital of Madha Pradesh. It was founded by Raja Bhoj of the Paramara dynasty in the 11th century. The city, ringed by hills stretches along the shores of two artificial lakes, the upper and lower lakes are stunning and they take your breath away. Bhopal is divided into two quarters, the old having mazes of narrow lanes ,bazaars and mosques is north of the lakes to the south is the new city with leafy suburbs.

Onwards we moved and it was munching time, spotting a dhaba we stopped and gorged on a concotion of local dishes. The drive onwards showed the touch of Rajasthan as the landscape started getting desolate onwards from Kota . We stopped at Biaora which is at a crossroads (from here u can go to Gwalior onwards to Delhi , this road goes to Bombay on the other end). On entering Rajasthan the condition of the roads was really bad, contrary to what we were made to believe. biora to kota was 110 kms. we thought an hour and a half should do it. man!!!! it took the best part of 5 hours. we reached kota a couple down. somehow, the couple down made us believe that we could hit jaipur ( a further 240 kms away). It was around 0400h and we had done about 1100 k's for the day. better sense prevailed and we decided to drink on a little more and call it a day.

Man we had to look for the road; thankfully it was only about 40kms. Afterwards it was smooth sailing to Kota . Along the banks of the Chambal river is the imposing facade of Kota ,s fortified City Palace which dates back to 1625, recalling the princely past of this now heavily industrialized city. On locating a decent hotel we conked out. In the morning we were of to Jaipur. The roads had improved dramatically the eye could see to the end of the Horizon, lack of greener was evident but it had a charm of its own. I could not put my finger on it but it was beautiful and very serine. On reaching Jaipur we stopped at Chokidhani and had a Rajasthani Thali. It offers a great variety .. Chilla Bread, Mirchi Pakora, Fritters and Gatta Kadhi vegetables include Makki(corn) and Bhindi(okra) laalmaas and Safed Maas are spicy mutton dishes , specialities of the Rajput community. The pink city is how this labyrinth of fascinating bazaars opulent palaces and historic sights is also known as because its prominent buildings are washed in this colour. Must visit are Hawa Mahal , Jantar Mantar, Johari Bazaar, Jama Masjid, City Palace Museum .

Outside Jaipur is the picturesque Jal Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort. It isa must see and you should take at least 2 days out even that will be less after staying put. We vrromed of to the city of cities our capital Delhi . The road is a dream to drive on till you hit Delhi traffic. Man does it slow you down or what. Delhi is a somergasboard of things to do an places to visit from historic buildings to museums , markets ,parks to theatres& Art Galleries lots to do here. Minimum 3 days is required but we stayed for a night at my brothers place in

Gurgaon (adjacent town to Delhi on the way from Jaipur). Onwards to Chandigarh we took a halt at Karnal an gorged on pranthas, lassi and white butter the staple diet of Punjabis. The road is great till Ambala (its one of the oldest army cants) which is completely 4 lane. From Ambala the road till Chandigarh is single lane. Anyhow they are working on correcting this. We reached our home town Chandigarh (city beautifull). It is well planned and the things to see here are Rock garden, Lake (man made) ,Rose garden (amazing varieties of roses) an the city center but the best part of this city is its laidback attitude so come here an chill.

The entire trip was a fabulous experience (what are u waiting for, grab your car\bike an go). I will help you in any way possible


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