Road trip: Driving 5700km & touching 8 states in Mahindra XUV300 diesel

After the fabulous roads in Telangana, I was surprised at the condition of roads in Maharashtra. They were broken and had potholes.

BHPian Duckdoc recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

When you are going to be 60 in a few years, you suddenly realise all that you have spent most of your adult life doing was something called ‘work’. While work perse was and is interesting, satisfying and challenging, weird ‘close encounters of the third kind’ with babudom, in addition, can get one irritable and depressed. The antidote through most of the past year was with weekend drives of 600 kms after work. Listening to classic rock and Handel while driving with the calming presence of my wife by my side was not only music to the ears but a balm to the soul also. The audio upgrade last year made a phenomenal difference in this regard as the stock speakers were pathetic. With a stressful 2022 over, and things finally falling in place what better time to celebrate than by having a road trip now before the Indian summer starts?

‘We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.’ – Pico Iyer

The plan

Very basic and not detailed.

  • Padhar hospital, MP where my classmates have been working for 30 years.
  • Jharkhand to a village called Chandankiyari, 45 kms from Bokaro, where my daughter is working with an NGO.
  • Lake Chilika

Everything else was thrown in at the spur of the moment.

As our holiday trips had been plagued by some medical/surgical emergency in the last couple of years to either me or my wife, she was keen to have somebody else also who liked driving and relieving me. We finally found someone (DC), a cardiologist just turned 60 looking to take a break. On top of that, I had severe impingement of the left shoulder making shifting gears from 3rd to 2nd painful. I had a colleague give me a local shoulder injection after which there were no issues.

We planned a trip for 2 weeks leaving last Sunday of February. As it turned out, I started coughing 2 weeks prior with exhaustion. I postponed to Monday, but the physician gave clearance to travel only on Tuesday and I was hell-bent to go. DC’s mother fell sick and he said will join us in MP.

I was not too concerned about the boot space of the XUV 300 having packed our stuff in 2 duffel bags and a small suitcase. Other things were the TUSA tyre inflator, my ever-present Swiss Army knife, a windshield breaker and a seatbelt cutter. Our laptop bags were wedged between the seats. I had earlier changed the spare wheel from a smaller R16 to R17. The TPMS read 35.5 PSI for the front tyres and 35 for the rear at 19 degrees C.

For someone who usually booked places 3 months in advance, this lack of planning was new and actually liberating for the soul.

From my residence to Padhar, it was 1334 kms according to Google map. Hyderabad was 600 odd kms away and Nizamabad 800 odd kms away, so we decided to see our progress and book our stay for the night accordingly.

Day 1

My wife and I started at 5 am. With hardly any traffic on the usually clogged streets, we crossed the border into AP in 25 minutes and were met by a mixture of concrete and tarmac roads. We passed Cuddapah at 7.40 am (208 kms) and as we were making good time decided to keep going. Unfortunately, it was only around 10 am about 40 kms from Kurnool we found a small eating joint where they made dosas and giant pooris.

I then decided to book our stay in Nizamabad in a place called TRP Bliss as my only criterion was a safe parking space. The only time I had been to this area was back in 1990 when I spent 10 days with my friend who was working in Dichpally to watch the World Cup and Maradona past his prime. At that time we had ridden a Rajdoot from Hyderabad with the thrill of riding in the then Naxalite territory and had the most fabulous food at the roadside shacks and biriyani at Nizamabad.

Around 12.30 pm, we entered the amazing Hyderabad ORR. As everyone was cruising at 100 kmph, it looked like all the cars were at standstill.

We stopped about 20 kms after the exit and had the Hyderabadi biriyani, very different from our Ambur/Arcot ones.

We then turned off the main road around 4 pm and entered the Dichpally- Nizamabad road. The road kept deteriorating around a railway crossing and was the first of many instances where vehicles were parked blocking traffic once the gates opened.

This hotel had a steep underground parking lot, which we reached at 5 pm and the room itself was nothing fancy but clean. We went for a walk and dinner was bananas, as the biriyani for lunch reminded us we had enough.

Distance travelled 835 km

Toll 1100 INR

Day 2

The next day, we started for Padhar at 6.30 am. Once we got on the Hyderabad- Nagpur highway it was smooth sailing and kept going on and on, but couldn’t spot a single place to eat with clean toilets. And so we took comfort with dried figs looking at all the small dhabas, mostly closed go by.

After the fabulous roads in Telengana, I was surprised at the state of roads in Maharashtra, which were broken, with potholes and uneven. After a long, long time I even saw a single-lane toll and was stuck behind a lot of trucks.

Finally, about 8 km from Himanghat, we saw this welcome sight, with a very wide choice to eat with even ghee masala dosa. It also had very clean toilets. This was the only decent eating joint between Nizamabad and Nagpur.

About 40 kms from Nagpur the roads became better and we were greeted with the beauty of what became common in nearly every other state we visited, the bright orange flowers of the palash trees.

There were also hordes of motorcycles near Nagpur and once we went past Nagpur and entered MP, the roads were even, with hardly any traffic, with a mixture of some concrete but mostly tarmac. There were oranges being sold almost every 100 mts in this part of MP. We finally reached Padhar around 2.30 pm.

RC and his wife DT were my classmates in undergrad from 40 years ago and DT, from school also and we stayed in their house. They had been working in this hospital for 30 years, not for fame or wealth, providing quality services in a rural area. After lunch and a siesta, there was a dinner in their house with all their doctors.

Distance 549 km

Toll 785 INR

Day 3

After a sumptuous breakfast, I went to the hospital and I was shown around by 2 doctors who had done post-graduation in my department. The open spaces in the hospital were a welcome sight compared to the ugly concrete jungle where I work.

I also had the best-tasting samosas I ever had in a roadside shack opposite the hospital, paler than what I was used to, each with a couple of peanuts.

The evening was spent playing table tennis in the recreation room and when I reached the house, my driving partner and colleague DC had arrived by cab after a flight to Nagpur. After dinner, the time was spent swapping stories, which in college parlance was called ‘gas sessions’, till late at night.

Continue reading about Duckdoc’s road trip for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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