Sunday, December 16, 2012

The winding road to the land of music, romance and bloodshed - Mandu.

Anything vaguely related to history; gets my personal history encyclopaedia, aka Pooja, rattling off facts and stories at speeds unknown. So, naturally a lot of our holidays (not that we take too many of them) have a historical perspective to those.

So, this one, that we took on the second weekend of December to मान्दवगढ़, popularly known as Mandu was a relaxing weekend away. About 300kms due east from Baroda, the drive to Mandu takes one through the culturally rich, agrarian tribal belt of the Chhota Udepur region and upstream the Narmada.

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A planned 6am departure, was delayed to half past noon, owing to a sleepless night spent managing one of our servers, but we were in no rush; and started our journey along the quick Baroda - Halol toll-way; and then further on to Bodeli along the Jambhughoda wildlife sanctuary was a breeze, doing those 70kms in about an hour.

A 7km hardly carpeted stretch just after Bodeli failed to dampen our spirit about the smooth roads much; and soon after our completing that painful stretch, we were back at cruising speed all the way to Chhota Udepur, where we stopped for lunch.

That was Simba's first stop out of the car too; and our man, well, dog, didn't much but went to sleep under Pooja's bench.

Simba hiding under Pooja's bench
A leisurely, more than ample, 45 minute lunch break later, we were back enroute Mandu; wondering what sunset would get for us; and worried about the road quality, but the next 100kms to Kukshi; was an unexpected discovery. A road that could be smooth enough for you to sip coffee from a glass without spilling it. And spotting a lovely valley here, some drying chillies there, we were at Kukshi by sun-set; around 6 in the evening.
Chhota Udepur - Alirajpur - Kuskhi Stretch

Chillies being dried; shot nearing sunshet

And many more such curves

Lets not get too happy, the road post Kukshi, about 80 kms left for Mandu; was just about the opposite. Couldn't take pictures for the night, but well, the last 80kms, including a 25km stretch, which was again good quality, took us another 3 hours. So that's about two and a half hours for the remaining fifty odd clicks.

The Kukshi - Singhania (20kms) - Manawar (20kms) stretch was under construction and the Safari was the smallest four wheeled vehicle we could spot on the road. This portion was a little pain in the bum, literally. The Kukshi - Singhania section is under construction, so hopefully by mid next year it should be good to drive through. And so was the Singhania - Manawar route, slightly better, but patches that made one brake hard. Later, I heard that its the soil in this area that's soft and which makes road not stay too long.

At Manawar, there was a direct road to Taraghati (the start of the climb to Mandav), but we were advised to take a 30k de tour, via Dharampuri and then 15km to Taraghati and another 9km to Mandu. The Manawar - Dharampuri stretch was again good, like the earlier Alirajpur route. But turn from Dharampuri to Taraghati; and you knew it was a long 25km ahead. A single lane (both-ways) road; wide just enough for just one vehicle in any direction to be on the road, or whatever of it was left took us about 45 minutes to Taraghati and commence the uphill drive to Mandu. If we thought, the road could get any better, well, we were in for a surprise; another six kms uphill, which we did at not more than 10kph. The last three kms to Mandu were slightly better and after an enjoyable relaxed drive with Pooja and Simba were finally at the Malwa Resort (read my review on Tripadvisor) for a good night's rest.

So much for the long blog hiatus. Hopefully, will post soon two more blogs, one of Mandu and the other one of the drive back.


seemat said...

seems like one interesting journey .. love your detailed description .. makes one feel a part of the whole experience...

seemat said...

very interesting account of your journey.. the details just make one feel part of the experience...