Sunday, 27 April 2014

Goa- Vasai via Pune

Goa to Vasai, can be reached via 2 highways, the undulating scenic NH 17 or the much faster,safer but less scenic NH 4- we preferred the latter. The distance can be safely completed in a day, however, we decided to halt at Pune, so that, we could arrive fresh at our destination for various reasons.

We started at 6 AM, and the drive from Mapusa to Banda, on the newly paved and widened NH-17 is a pleasure. 

Just after Banda, we took a turn towards Sawantwadi, although, a similar turn can be taken much later at Kumbharli, that one for another day.
The Drive from Banda until Sawantwadi was on SH 121 which was quite good- narrow roads, but hardly any potholes. 

The roads are flanked by trees for most of the section on SH 121 creating quite a pleasing canopy of greenery. After Sawantwadi, starts the Amboli ghat, whose bends, turns and loops are a pleasure to drive on- especially, with one side overlooking a scenic landscape. This time we had no luck with the monkeys,  didn't spot any, else, we always do stop for a while to spend time with some adorable Macaques.
On the Amboli Ghats, approximately, a ten kilometer section at the peak is quite bad, filled with potholes. This was the only bad section of our drive. 

At Ajara, we stopped for breakfast at Hotel Minerva. There are many boards on the road indicating the variable distances to Minerva. Our breakfast which comprised of masala dosa was truly lip-smacking. Below, the lovely ambiance of Minerva.

Once we reached Nipani, it was NH4 all the way until Pune. Work is in progress at some sections of Satara. Black smoke spewing, buses and trucks litter this other wise awesome road.

At Pune, we stayed at Hotel VITS which is located off the highway. The hotel is nice with a tasty spread of food that is reasonably priced.

Above a view of the VITS. Below, Aari enjoying lip smacking dinner and dessert. For Aari, the desserts were a let down, specially, the chum chum (the food connoisseur that she is), for me, though, they all tasted the same- Sweet!

At about 9am, we set off from VITS to Vasai. The drive was uneventful, except for a new development at the Vasai creek. There are two bridges that connects Mumbai to Vasai, carrying traffic in opposite directions. One of these bridges is under repairs, hence, traffic being allowed only in one direction at a time on the other bridge. The waiting period is roughly about 20 minutes, for either sides.  

Below, the final leg of our uneventful journey.

That's all folks, thank you!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Goa-Mangalore-Goa , The one who protects the law , breaks the law!

It has been quite some time since we took a long drive and hence the lull in updating the blog. During mid- April 2014, it was election and Easter time; Aari and I decided to drive to Mangalore. 
The route we followed was exactly the same as the previous one.
We started our journey at about 6 AM and had reached Mangalore by 4PM, which included a 30 and 60 minute halt for breakfast and lunch respectively. It took us the same time for the return trip.

The roads are good, and have improved considerably since our drive six months ago. Potholes are almost non-existent however, road widening work between Kundapur and Mangalore is still in progress.

Although we experienced the scorching summer heat, some respite was found as the roads are lined with green trees and a lot of green cover dots the drive.  Scores of rivers cut across the highway; while busy boatmen row their boats across the stream, numerous birds can be spotted engrossed in fishing in these rivers. 

We frequently encountered trucks which seemed to be precariously loaded, and it felt like they would topple anytime, especially, at curves.

How do they load it! We wondered! Having said that, we overtook it keeping more than a safe distance.

A large section of the road widening work is completed and the drive is mostly in these completed sections. Nevertheless, lots of diversions are present and if you happen to miss one, it can prove quite hazardous. 

As you can see above, if you miss the diversion board, you can end up on the wrong lane, facing the full wrath of the oncoming traffic
Well, even if you end up on the right lane, there is no guarantee that you will not meet idiots, who will be merrily driving on the wrong lane! These practices can be hazardous not only to those idiotic drivers, but to legitimate users of the lanes too. 
Like you can see below, many drive with their headlights on, proudly displaying their stupidity. When driving on these roads, we had to be extremely cautious. We sadly witnessed a fatal accident between a bus and an Innova. ( It seemed like the bus was on the wrong lane!!)

Wrong lane driving like this is quite frequent and we were aghast at the risk that these drivers were taking. . 

Then there were those who were dangerously overtaking! Below, a car belonging to the "Judge of Kerala High court" was been driven so rashly, that it came to near collision with us! I had to brake and bring the car to a complete halt and then decided to flash lights on her. If this is the state of our law protectors, God save our country!

On our way to Mangalore, we had breakfast at Hotel Panduranga International at Kumta at about 0945. Our breakfast was delayed, because we had picked up a hitchhiking nun, in Goa who needed a drop at Kumta.
On our return trip, we had breakfast at  "Athitya." Both the restaurants served pretty decent breakfast quite quickly. 

Other than watching natures beauty, if you intend doing some other activity on this leg of the journey, then at Karwar, there is a Warship Museum and an Aquarium. We did not visit them, but looking at the number of people visiting the Warship museum, it seemed like a decent attraction. 

Above: the entrance to the aquarium was quite cute and I could not resist putting up the photograph. Below is the warship museum.

It was a smooth drive for us. The cows, which had posed a menace during our previous drive were nearly gone (encountered only a few), we saw the same elephant though!

Overall, a nice enjoyable drive with loads of fun and memories.

P.S. : If not for Zeita's powerful air-conditioning,  this trip would not have been so much fun- Thank you Zeita!