The summer season had ended by now. My last big trip had been to Hampi. Even after Hampi, I’d managed to do some short detour trips. But, deep down, I knew that something big was missing. A big trip, just like what I did last year when I did the ‘Tour of Uttarakhand’ solo for almost about 22 days.
I was pretty clueless regarding the choice of place this year when suddenly this plan of ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ came into my mind. It had been in mind for long time and for some reason, I think, that idea was in hibernation mode. Suddenly, out of nowhere it woke up and here I was, thinking of doing this year. Thank to social media, I must have read on some post which ignited this thing.
From now onwards, we will refer ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ with its abbreviation ‘GQ’ for ease of reading.
For people new to ‘GQ’, here is the info taken from Wikipedia.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayi laid the foundation stone for the project on 6 January 1999.The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) is a national highway network connecting most of the major industrial, agricultural and cultural centers of India. It forms a quadrilateral connecting the four major metro cities of India, viz., Delhi (north), Kolkata (east), Mumbai (west) and Chennai (south). Other cities connected by this network include Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Durgapur, Jaipur, Kanpur, Pune, Surat, Vijayawada, Ajmer, Vizag, Bodhgay, Varanasi, Agra, Mathura, Dhanbad, Gandhinagar, Udaipur, and Vadodara. At 5,846 kilometers (3,633 mi), it is the largest highway project in India and the fifth longest in the world.
As usual, the planning began. We charted the places to stay along the GQ route. Initially, it was just a rough plan to see how many days we were going to take to cover the whole distance along with listing of the kms between each cities.
After much iterations, we finally had a plan. We chalked out the cities in such a way that it wont be a burden for all of us everyday and that the ride would happen smooth while getting enough rest for all of us. The following was our final plan:
|Day||Location||Distance to be Covered|
|1||Pune – Chitradurga||639 kms|
So, this is how it became 12 days, 12 states, 6000 kms. Apart from this we had separate 2-3 days of backup for contingencies and sightseeing.
This trip we decided to continue with the same members of last ride “Tour of Ashtavinayak”, CSK Sir and Ganesh. However, I added one more member this time who was my school friend. His name being ‘Kartik’. So until now, we had finalized on the itinerary day wise.
One more purpose of doing this ride was, from the bottom of my heart I wanted to meet all the friends located in these cities which I had met through social media over a period of time. Plus, I had never ventured into the eastern part of India. As soon as my itinerary was fixed, I communicated the plans to all of them. Some even planned to host me in their respective cities. But all in all, we four decided to keep our stay options flexible.
Moving closer into the ride, came a shocker for all of us. Ganesh was backing out of the trip due to Marriage reason. He lately had got engaged and so we decided to move on with the trip with only 3 of us without adding an extra.
Next came the mandatory part of designing the T-shirts and the tour stickers. Which you can see below. It took quite some time for me to decide on the content and what would go at the front and back of the t-shirt. After many trials and tribulations, below is the final rendering of what was approved.
We also added a unique twist to our ride by challenging ourselves to have 60 teas/chai’s while covering 6000 kms of stretch. This idea was mine only and out of the blue moon it popped into my head suddenly one day and so I decided to incorporate into the back of the t-shirt. Only a ‘Chai’ lover can get this idea (evil laugh). And so, we decided to convert it into a hashtag.
It was tough for me travelling intensively before the start of the trip due to business reasons. Our ride was going to start the next day morning and here I was reaching home the night before and that too late. I knew, that this would happen and so I had shifted all my necessary stuff from Mumbai.
Another shocker for me before the trip was that I could not take my GoPro to record the footage since I had failed to repair the camera which suffered ‘battery dead’ issue. Long before the trip, I struggled explaining the issue with GoPro team but, all they could say was that the camera was out of warranty and the only option left with me was to buy a new one which no matter what, I wasn’t.
I had managed to manufacture a new battery with the help of some local contact, but even after he doing his part, the camera wont start. I guess there had been some problem with the connector of the battery going into the connector of the GoPro motherboard. I was so pressed against time due to my business travels that I hardly got time to dive deep in to that. Just 2 days before the trip getting started, I showed the issue to a local Mobile Camera repairmen. He somehow did the quick fix by putting plastic tape over the connectors and what seemed like the job had been done at his shop was back to square one when I had came back to hotel and rechecked. Again the camera wont start even with all this fixes. Frustrated, I decided to ditch the camera and continue with my trip and thought of working on the camera after the tip.
Pune had been battered heavily with rains a week before the start of the trip when I was on business travel to Kolhapur. I was worried about riding in rain on the very first day of the trip but luckily, the day of the ride, it was a pleasant morning with little to no clouds overhead.
We started around 6:30 am though initial plan was to start the trip at 6am since the distance to be covered on Day 1 was more than normal. We ensured that nothing had been missed out. Rain being an uncertainty in the trip, I had packed keeping in the mind that it was rainy season.
We all gathered at the decided meeting point and before we embarked on our longest journey till date, we decided to take a photo. This was the longest for all three of us, it being my first 5K+ ride.
We started comfortably without any rainy gear on us and rode around 100 kms before we decided to halt for the breakfast. Till now we hadn’t countered any rain and traffic too. We had reached Satara. In the past, I did the Pune-Satara stretch for countless no of time but, this time riding with friends, I was enjoying.
The roads upto Satara were marred with potholes but after that the roads improved and were mix of cement and asphalt. It was good to be back riding again and that too for long….
As we left Maharashtra and entered we could see vast expanse of the land just empty and filled only with small bushses. The land stretched as far as the eyes could see. You can called it ‘Savannah’.
It was getting dark and we still had a long way to go to reach Chitradurga. The roads started to get worse after we had left Hubli. At many places over-bridge construction were going on and hence we had to regularly take diversions. Moreover there was heavy dust which was arising from the vehicles passing by. At some places, it was getting difficult to breathe.
We decided to tweak the plan a little bit when we took our last tea break. It was decided that instead of pushing towards Chitradurga, we would be staying in Davangere, which was 60kms earlier. It was already late and we were still driving.
A lot of time had consumed as we took more stops for photos and all. We reached around 9pm in the city and then we had to look for hotels. We tried some hotels after finding them on Google but somehow were not convinced. CSK sir had some experience of the city in the past and he recommended a hotel which he had used in the past and so we were off to that hotel in no time.
We got 2 rooms and freshened ourselves. It was a good hotel with really comfortable rooms. After some time dinner was served at their restaurant on the ground floor.
We had egg friend rice along with Roti and Paneer ‘sabji’ and then comfortably crashed into our beds. The time was around 11:30pm. Tomorrow, we were heading towards Chennai, our 1st metro city to be encountered on the trip.