Adding to the vibe was the weather, which by now was much more forgiving. We were greeted by thunderstorms and the rain followed. while my car underwent wheel alignment, fluid top-ups, and a wash. It was now 7:30 pm when everything had been completed and now it was pouring.

Four States: A 1700 Kilometer Road Trip, Trhough The Heart of India

7/6/20232 min read

My 4-and-a-half-year-old son's Mundan ceremony was long overdue, given his long locks making it difficult to tell if he's a boy or a girl. We decided to travel to Ranchi, my hometown since schools would be closing for the summer break. Amidst the two usual options of flying and train journeys, we chose the less common option of cruising on the highway! Thane, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Raipur, Jharsuguda, Khunti, and Ranchi were some of the cities along the route that passed through four states: Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand.

Day One: Drive to Aurangabad: learned a few things about Google Maps again!

With Mission Mundan in our minds, we began the journey early on 23rd April. It was my first drive in my newly bought car (Fatboy), which was barely 20 days old and had 500 kilometers on the odometer. The last row of seats was folded and stuffed to accommodate the luggage before we started the 1700 km journey from Thane to Ranchi. On the first day, we covered 310 kilometers and stayed in Aurangabad.

We planned on visiting Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga but sadly ended up at GirishnEshwar temple instead of Verul which was still 40 km away! The problem was caused by choosing the wrong destination. It's my fault that I wasn't aware of the difference!

The time was 4 PM, and fatigue and hunger had taken over. We canceled our plans and went back to our hotel. VITS Excellence proved to be an excellent stay with big rooms, spacious bathrooms, and reasonable value for money. After having some Swiggy food along with in-house menu items, we retired to bed around 11-12 PM. In no time it was 4 AM the next day when we prepared for take-off after settling all the luggage into the boot - which took me a good 30 minutes - followed by cleaning up the car. Finally, at 6 AM on 24th April, we were ready to hit the road!

Day Two: Drive to Raipur: Two thoughts

We took off on our next destination, Raipur, driving along the Samruddhi Highway. Knowing it would be a lengthy journey, we comfortably settled in. It was our first go with Samruddhi and we spent an hour marveling at its size and admiring it while chatting. Our car had just completed its first 1000 km since being acquired so I decided to test out its speed; I switched to Sport Mode and throttled it up to 180 Km/hour before remembering tires bursting on Samruddhi was not unheard of. Knowing this, responsibility won out over adventure and I kept the speed down to within its prescribed limit of 120 Km/hour.

The long, empty highway stretched out ahead of us; we had just covered 150 km of the 740 km planned. Unfortunately, there were no dhabas, restaurants, food mals, tapris, or even petrol pumps in sight. Fortunately, I had filled up FatBoy's tank to the brim the night before in Aurangabad. FatBoy had plenty of diesel to get us going, but a quick stop for tea and snacks was looking impossible – until 11 am when we finally spotted a petrol station. We allowed ourselves a break here: kids stretching their legs, and us finding refreshment in some tea and Maggie plus an egg roll. All food came from a makeshift shop. Nonetheless - being incredibly hungry - none of us complained; it was good enough for us!

We had brought home-cooked Liitis with us, for those unfamiliar with this Bihari-Jharkhandi dish, it's a dough ball filled with wheat flour, gram flour, and some herbs and spices. We were getting bored of them when we couldn't find restaurants. Our journey soon resumed and we reached Nagpur in 6 hours after covering an approximate distance of 500 km. The highway leading to Raipur was good, but not as great as the Samruddhi highway which slowed our progress down. We had to make a stop to repair a puncture that I noticed around 50 km earlier, although the tyre shop owner didn't seem concerned. As time passed I grew more anxious, knowing that the FatBoy's first service was due. When twilight fell we finally spotted what we needed - a TATA Motors showroom and service center! To our delight, they were willing to take us in even though it was late in the evening.

The blog deserves a special mention about the staff, at the service center. They were not only kind enough to accommodate my car, so late in the evening, but also helped us pull all the luggage and put it safely in the reception area. Overall an experience worth mentioning. Adding to the vibe was the weather, which by now was much more forgiving. We were greeted by thunderstorms and the rain followed. while my car underwent wheel alignment, fluid top-ups, and a wash. It was now 7:30 pm when everything had been completed and now it was pouring.

With everything now sorted, we were again on the highway. Albeit this time enjoying the cool breeze and rear kids enjoying the view from the sunroof. We swiftly covered the remaining distance of 90 kilometers to reach Club Paraiso in Raipur around 9 PM. The hotel had a unique cozy feel filled with old-world charm. The room was nice and huge. After quickly ordering the food, I decided to go for a stroll. While the hotel was well-equipped, we had very limited time available, I had a drink at the bar and came back. By now the food had arrived, a nice big chicken platter. Big enough for all of us, along came chapatis and Paneer dishes we ordered, priced reasonably for the taste and the portion size. We finished dinner and went to sleep again. Unlike the last two mornings, the plan for the third morning was different.

Day Three: a 13-hour journey ahead:

For the last two days, we were waking up at four, and traveling. On the third day, we planned to start a little late in the morning. After a restful night, I woke up in the morning and I first went to clean up my car. It took me an hour to bring the car to its former glory. After some photography with Babli and the kids, we again hopped in the car. With the motivation to cover the remaining 600 km, the drive to Ranchi started at 9 AM.

Crossing Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, and Sundergrah in Orissa we entered Jharkhand. We drove through the tribal areas and crossed Simdega and Khunti. We were now driving in the night through the winding roads. We negotiated through the single-lane highway and crossed some deserted stretches to enter the city. And now that we were in the city, we were relieved. If you are wondering why? Well, empty stretches in the forest areas with not a single soul in sight, aren't very confidence inspiring. The stretch I am talking about lasts for only 10 kilometers! Well getting back to the blog...our 1700 km road trip was now nearing its end, the kids were cranky, with my little one Shaurya having enough of it and Trisha joining him. By the time we reached our home, it was 10 in the night. While pressing the lock button, I was thinking, how it was the first of the many road trips to come for the family. Not to forget we were much closer to executing Mission Mundan. In the next few days, we would travel from Ranchi to Patna and from there to our ancestral village near Gopalganj in Bihar. I Thanked God almighty for our safe travels and Fatboy for an awesome road trip.

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