Archive for January 6th, 2009

State – Rajasthan, region Mewar.

Distance from Bombay – 770 km.

Road  – NH 8 from Bombay-Vapi-Valsad-Surat-Bharuch-Baroda-Ahmedabad-Udaipur

Time Taken – 12 Hours with a one hour stopover. We started at four in the morning to beat the Bombay traffic and reached Sisarma (country roads, kuchcha dirt track for the last ten kms) at 4 p.m.

Place stayed – Mountain Ridge, Sisarma, 10 kms short of Udaipur and Anand Bhawan, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur

Camera taken Nikon D60 and Apple iPhone (to sneak in where not allowed or to avoid paying camera fee J).

We left Bombay at 4 in the morning and within one hour were beyond Virar, somewhere between Vapi and Virar. Bad roads, notwithstanding. Don’t get me wrong. Compared to the roads within the city they were a dream, but wait till you sample the real NH8 from Baroda all the way to Udaipur. The roads are world class (so are the tolls) and you can easily average 140. More if your car doesn’t start shaking and generally displaying signs of impending death.

We made good time till Valsad and were congratulating ourselves, dreaming lofty dreams of creating a record of sorts by doing Udaipur in less than 10 when we had a setback. A four inch, blunt edged bolt mysteriously penetrated the rear left tyre and ripped it to shreds. This was at around 6 in the morning and hardly any tyre repair shops were open so we wasted about an hour and a half trying to locate a shop and getting our tyre repaired.

Our dream was dented but by no means shattered. We reassessed our situation and estimated that we could still achieve our objective if we didn’t stop for lunch (we were carrying paranthas and sandwiches). So, with our recalibrated target we were once more underway.

And then we hit Surat. The NH8 stretch from Surat to Baroda is under construction and the highway is single lane on either side. Therefore, it takes about 3-1/2 hours of navigating through some pretty bad, dusty, polluted traffic to get through this painful stretch. That is, if you’re lucky and don’t get into a traffic jam. We were. But then after our early morning setback, we were due for a break, don’t you think?

From Baroda, the journey was uneventful. We just kept our foot on the pedal and didn’t take it off till we reached our turnoff for Sisarma. And at toll booths, of course. We spent about 500 bucks on tolls.

Piers Helsen, the Englishman who runs the picturesque Mountainridge property on the outskirts of Udaipur, had given us very clear directions and we found the said property without one single wrong turn. By the way, Piers is also easily the best Udaipur guide around and you would do well to talk to him before undertaking any sightseeing.

Anyway, we reached Mountainridge at 4 p.m. whence we dumped our stuff and took a quick shower. Then it was time for a beer enjoyed over a rapidly cooling air and an unobstructed view of the Aravalis. That done, we decided to take a quick reconnoitering trip into town.

You can imagine that after the long trip we were in no mood to drive. So Piers kindly arranged for a car to drop us to Rampura Chowk nearby from where we got a tuk-tuk (Vikram) to Delhi Gate. We looked around but didn’t see much as everything as shut by then. Plus I was clad only in a denim jacket and rapidly becoming hypothermic. So we cut the trip short and legged it back, not so much for the exercise but for the fact that we couldn’t find transport back. We finally convinced one old autowalla to take us back. He agreed, but for a sum of Rs 100 for a distance of less than 5 kms.

It was after 9 p.m. when we got back on the evening of December 31 and the New Year party that Piers had arranged was well underway. So it was back to warmth by a cheerful fire, some more drinks, conversations with interesting people from all over the world and bloody good food.

If there is one USP of Mountainridge, apart from the fantastic construction, the view and the unfussy service it is that you get to meet all kinds of interesting people there. Goras have their own way of networking and Piers gets a lot of guests from all over the world. We met Americans, Germans, French, Dutch and Danish people during our two day there. We all drunkenly took the Americans’ trip for creating a mess of the world. The Americans, I have to say, took it sportingly, if a bit defensively.


The party, I’m told went on till the wee hours of the morning, although I wouldn’t know. We were tired after our long drive and crashed soon after midnight.

The Lake Palace

The Lake Palace






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