I’ve been driving for more than 15 years. There were years when the office commute itself was a 50 km/day affair (in Mumbai’s traffic that’s quite a distance to cover). There were also the occassional trips to Pune via the Expressway, but even on a same-day-return journey, that added up to just about 380 kms in a day. I have always harboured the desire to drive coast-to-coast across the US, and also explore India by road. But, hadn’t attempted a really “long drive”… until last week.
We had planned to do a Bombay-to-Goa with both our kids, and I’m happy to report that we all made it back in one piece, and are raring to go again!
The distance is about 650 kms, each way. And, to get the full experience of a long drive, we decided to do it in one stretch. The planned drive time was about 14 hours, each way, but we ended up clocking nearly 17 hours! It was a memorable trip, and I was really pleased that, in spite of a back operation a few years ago, I was able to do this. We chose the superb NH4 route instead of the usual NH17 one, and it was a fantastic experience…
Here’s what I learned from my first long drive:
– Start by 5 am for a >12-hour road trip; A half-hour in the morning is worth two by evening
– If travelling with kids, carry enough food in the cabin (not in the boot), in case you’re stranded
– On a long road trip, the journey is as important as the destination; Don’t be in a hurry to “reach”
– Wear comfortable attire and shoes – whatever you’re most comfortable in, including floaters
– Plan your route in advance and key-in important via points into your GPS – it will do wonders!
– Don’t start with six options and assume that you’ll decide on the way; Re read above point
– Carry enough water and consume it as frequently as possible; Car ACs dehydrate you
– Don’t take a new car / new pair of shoes / new camera on a long road trip; I didn’t
– Don’t forget to pack your sense of humour with you – no one likes a cabin full of grump
– Know a little about the kind of food you’ll encounter en route e.g. Kolhapur = Spice
– There are at least 20 people in Goa who run at 5.30 am; Watch out for them when you drive!
For the record, the best way to go from Bombay to Goa is from Mumbai to Pune via the expressway and then onto NH4 (buttery-smooth six-lane ribbon of tar!) past Satara – Kolhapur – Nipani (right turn) – Ajara – Amboli (ghats) – Sawantwadi – joining NH17 and then onto Mapusa/Panjim/Madgaon. Also for the record, the worst way to cross the ghats (mountainous region) is via Anmod.
For those of you who’re interested in our particular travel log, here’s what happened:
(All distances from Powai) Started at 5.15 am. McDonalds @ 6.12 am, 42km. Hit NH4 near Baner (Pune) @ 7.45 am, 145k. Khed tollbooth @ 8.45 am, 180k. Passed thru Khandala ghats (before Satara) @ 9.30 am, 225k. Next tollbooth @ 249k. Break for lunch @ 1.15 in McDonald’s (opp. side) at 384k. Past Hattari SEZ @ 3.15 pm, 460k. Entered Belgaum city @ 4.30 pm. Went via Khanapur road (NH4A) upto Anmod ghats. Took a few wrong turns trying to follow a “shortcut”, and got lost in the wilderness of a 133 sq. km nature reserve with no sign of civilisation until about 9 pm, when we hit NH4 again near Ponda. (This last part is entirely optional, and I don’t suggest you try it.) Then, hit the road to Madgaon and reached Colva @ 10 pm.
(All distances from Colva) Started @ 5.30am. Sawantwadi @ 92k, 7.45am. Amboli ghats end (Kamat’s hotel) @ 8.55 am. Hotel Minerva @ 2km before Ajara @ 10:15 am, 152k – very clean loo. Hit NH4 @ 12PM, 192k. No decent place to eat except McD @ Kolhapur and Sai Food Court @ 265k and some more options @ 285k. Taswade tollplaza @ 2.35p, 315k. Asal Satara has great food on the opp. side via service road @ 355 k. Last tollbooth on Mum-Pun expressway @ 8pm, 540k. Expressway ends @McDonald’s @ 8.20pm, 570k. Then, pray that the city traffic does not take all the joy out of your long drive (as it did to our’s).
P.S. Thanks for all the help, DM.
Read Also: Bombay to Goa – Part Two