Live on the drive!

August 1st, 2010

Mahindra Monsoon Challenge 2010
Mumbai – Bhopal
Day Two
Mumbai – Nashik

0530 and the various alarms start ringing. Srini even attempts to wake up Kartik using the intercom but, as expected, it doesn’t exactly work wonders. It’s a long day ahead and we certainly don’t want to get late for this one. The plan was simple – 400-odd km to be covered on a journey from Nashik to Indore. That mileage doesn’t exactly seem like a lot but factor in the road conditions, traffic and more importantly, time for photography, and you have quite a bit of driving time on your hands. Keeping up the pace throughout the day was going to be critical.

The first stop for the day for Trimbakeshwar temple – a recommendation from the locals – which is set about 33 clicks west of Nashik city. The light drizzle, long sweeping roads and the flourishing plant life around you make for quite a drive. I had taken over the Bolero in the morning and was quite pleased with it because its uncomplicated, rugged and hardy character takes you deep into the world of enjoyable motoring. Roll your windows down for that hint of drizzle to come in, throw away all electronic distractions, make the engine tick along in top gear and you spot a big smile illuminating your face. Simple as that! Of course, a good breakfast comes but naturally after a fun drive and we thoroughly enjoyed the local Maharashtrian fare we had in the morning.

As it was tough to get three vehicles inside a popular temple complex, we took some shots besides a lovely Hanuman temple close-by and set off towards Dhule. It’s pretty drab until you get onto the main 4-lane highway, but once on the smoother tarmac, it’s a wonderful drive. Many kilometres ahead, you don’t realise when you cross over into Madhya Pradesh in Sendhwa but slowly but surely, little hints here and there let you know where you are. There is lots of road building going on in MP and you can tell it’s a good thing when you’re on the finished patches of the highway. The newer surfaces are vastly improved and make driving much easier and much more pleasant. In the areas where construction was going on, the sheer ability of the Mahindra vehicles to take some beating is appreciated. The M&M trio soldiered on through some bad roads (or whatever is left of them) towards Indore.

We decided to alter our course a bit and turn off the highway to head to a place called Mandu, known for its fabulous architecture from a bygone era. After you turn off the highway, it’s where the fun really begins. An awesome road with dense vegetation leads you towards Mandu, where we slowly started spotting ancient structures along the way and their frequency just goes up as you get nearer to Mandu. We went inside what appeared to be a small fort or outpost (Aman wanted to believe it’s a prison) and let the camera take in the beauty of the place. We hit Mandu late evening and it seemed like an unreal place with incredible relics dotting a landscape bathed in atmosphere so typical of the Indian monsoons. The sad part was that no hotel rooms were left in Mandu, so we had to drive to Indore before we called it a day.

And off we went towards Indore, with a promise to come back to Mandu one day and completely soak in the entire beauty of the place. So, few hours later, after about 620 km on the road, we’re in Indore and ready to hit the sack. Tomorrow, we head for Bhopal, so stay tuned as we bring you the experience straight from the drive. Till then, it’s team BSM, signing off…

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