It all started as a typical Holiday discussion in the Ingkn household:
Me: Baba, the hills…
Baba: No… Beach…
Me: No beach , you lazy bum!
Baba: I am one!! Maybe some history then?
Me: Now we are speaking, and a safari too !!
Baba: Make up your mind bacchi… fix one destination and do it…
Me: It’s tough!
Baba: Hmm… Hey,we can do the hills, the sea, history and safari this year!
Me: Er… what do you mean?
Baba: Just make it a road trip!
In one sentence the Baba delivered a master stroke, one with far reaching consequences all of which were unknown then. As many of you know by now, the Baba and his car are inseparable. The hints and pleas for a road trip had been buzzing in the household for many a day by then, all put down by yours truly. Now an attack has been made on my weakest point, one which he knew would surely fall for the ploy. And it well, worked!The temptation was too overwhelming for my saner side to resist.
Now that we decided to do a road trip covering the above mentioned ideas , where do we go and when were the first questions that hit us. After much thought and deliberation we decided to do an approx. 3000 km road trip in a span of 10-12 days during August 2012. It was just May . The Baba , an incarnation of the God of last minute, was even willing to plan a trip in May for August!! Hallelujah!
Google Maps and http://www.teambhp.com instantly became our best friends in the quest for our destination. A week’s
search bickering research revealed the three possible itineraries that fit the bill.
1. Mumbai- Gir-Kutch-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur- Ranthambore- Agra- Delhi-Mumbai (rejected – too hot in Aug)
2. Fly to Bangalore , rent a car and drive
Madras – Pondy – Chidambaram – Kodai – Munnar -some sea shore in Kerala – Wayanad – Mangalore -Coorg – Bangalore (rejected by Baba – Because his beloved car was not a part of the trip)
3. Mumbai- Hampi-Coorg-Parassinikadavu-Bekal-Mangalore-Udipi-Goa -Mumbai -unanimously agreed.
Total distance : 2700 km door to door
Days in hand: 11
The planning began immediately at an excited, frenzied pace. Our new friends – Google Maps and Team BHP and my old ally TripAdvisor all converged to become our core consultants for the trip , with Google and our “roadly-wise” friends acting as external advisors.
Having never ever done a road trip of this scale before, we planned to the minutest possible details. The number of days/hours to be spent at every place, the night halts and the distance to be driven on any given day were all debated for hours at a stretch. Road conditions were read, re read and rechecked along with the do’s and don’ts for the car for every leg of the journey. Plans were slowly taking shape with just one niggling worry – the 407 km drive to Coorg from Hampi . Road conditions were virtually unknown for this leg of the trip which passes through a host of villages, small towns and the Ghats. It was then that the Baba came up with a stunner which eventually saved our skin while on the road trip – The Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Located midway between Hampi and Coorg , the picturesque reserve promised to be the ideal break on that unknown stretch of State Highways. At last the route was finalized! Time taken – three weeks. We were in the second week of June .
The next step of course was to fix the various night halts. TripAdvisor was consulted in earnest. Resorts shortlisted. While I fretted about resort locations, sleep quality and food ( the last two most essential ) the Baba fretted about the availability of swimming pools ( speaking of priorities!). Travelling slightly before the season began gave us an unexpected bonanza – we got 30%- 50% off on the best hotel/resort in most locations. Accommodation finalized and booked . The trip now looked like this:
Day 1- Mumbai- Hospet (740 km,The Royal Orchid Hospet)
Day 2- Hampi ( 12 km from Hospet)
Day 3- Hospet- Bhadra Tiger Reserve ( 227 km,River Tern Lodge)
Day 4- Bhadra – Suntikoppa,Coorg (240 km, Kedakkal estate)
Day 5,6- Coorg
Day 7- Coorg- Parassinikadavu-Bekkal Fort- Mangalore (259 km, The Ocean Pearl Mangalore)
Day 8- Mangalore – Udupi- Goa ( 358 km,The Leela Goa)
Day 9- Goa
Day 10- Goa- Mumbai (635km)
Day 11- Spare
Time taken- 2 weeks. We were in July.
With just 4 weekends left for the trip the attention was now focused on the car and travelling gear . The car was taken to the service centre for an extra inspection. Steering Lock, Tow Ropes, extra Coolants , Car chargers for mobiles were all bought. And so were travelling pillows, extra powerful torches, Swiss Army Knife, Food etc. Having deemed that the existing camera was incapable of capturing the momentous occasion celebrating the bond between the man and the machine, the Baba got himself a new SLR too !And we were in August! All we needed to do was just pack our bags and drive!
p.s . To be continued…