Monday, May 08, 2006

Mahabalipuram Calls Again - A Travelogue

Sometimes it happens. Suddenly an uneventful day concludes with an extremely exciting event. Something of that sort happened last evening.

As usual Nitin called and we fixed up a visit to Elliot Beach. Santosh and Raman also were to join us. So we decided to take out Rajan’s car (Thanks Rajan!). After a stroll on the shore we settled at Khana Khajana, had some parathas and got up to call it a day. It was nine thirty when we left Elliot Beach for home. And then Raman said, “Hey guys, how about a drive up to Mahabalipuram?” Myself and Santosh looked at each other and then towards Nitin, who with a Q mark on face had already gone on defensive and was trying to negotiate for mid-way view point for destination. He, sitting in car later, was heard telling his fiancée, “Hmmm, I am kidnapped, again, and don’t know when will be relieved!”

I pushed car in a petrol filling station near Adyar signal, filled petrol and air and left to join ECR. When passing through Adyar, Thiruvanmiyur, the road was busy even at that hour of evening. I kept a modest speed passing one vehicle after another and also allowed many vehicles to pass me. Before leaving Chennai, this road goes through crowded suburbs and one has to be alert enough to notice people crossing the road, bikes - without lamp - running into you from opposite direction; not to forget resting cows near median! The traffic was sparse after we crossed Panayur. It started with my car interestingly overtaking a bus. In no time we reached toll plaza. The car was responding well and also I found myself reasonably comfortable with the glare that was caused because of diffraction of light through not so clean glass panes surrounding me. After crossing Kovalam I could accelerate to 110 kmph. This speed is good enough to forget about any other vehicle trying to overtake you as against a speed of 80-90 kmph of my usual speed of bike. I have found that even at this speed on bike, faster cars zip past you from a distance of one or two feet from you which disturbs the riding rhythm. This time I was in a speeding car and really did not want to commit that mistake of scaring any bike rider. Despite the care I took we could manage to reach our destination, a mid way View Point, pretty quickly. To Raman's disappointment there was nothing although we stayed there for some six – seven minutes. Anyway I had expected that from my past experience! Raman wanted to continue with drive to which, it seemed, nobody had any objection and we got going to Mahabalipuram.

East Coast Road turns sharply to right just before M’puram and a straight road takes you to the town where one has to pay vehicle entry fees. The guy who collects this fees must have seen a car approaching him lazily takes a sudden U-turn and disappear in thin air! It was all funny as we had decided not to enter M’puram and wanted to have tea on the way back. We spent a few minutes in going back and forth from Hotel Mamalla and one more asking for tea which was not available in either place. Thus we left M’puram. It was 2245h by that time.

The traffic had become even sparser. The curves, sharp at some places, the glowing reflectors in the middle and both sides of the road, the road signs, all was exciting. Obviously I wanted to cut loose. I was enjoying negotiating turns as I found the car also enjoying it. It was clear from the fact that it maintained a firm road grip and responded brilliantly to my steering wheel. Although some vibration in 100 – 120 kmph range was noticeable which disappeared when the needle crossed 140 kmph. Santosh had kept an eye on speedo continuously. Here he exclaimed in sheer excitement,"One fourty now!" Very less often one gets such stretch of road where you can push your vehicle to its limit. Here I was amazed to know that with air – conditioner ON, the car had some more power in reserve at this speed. I did not expect this car to cross 140 plus speed but it had done and had overtaken a racing gray Ford Icon also much before the Icon driver realised that he was left behind by kilometers. This speed did not last for more than 30 - 40 seconds for obvious reasons of the traffic. Retarding where ever required and accelerating on stretches where my side of road was empty, I could maintain speed of 110 – 130 kmph.

I never had enough time to look at the wrist watch so can not recall exactly when we reached toll plaza. I am sure no one did look at his watch as the dynamics of wheels and road surface kept our sights locked to the scene through the wind shield over the bonnet. At toll plaza I noticed a dip in the fuel indicator position to the red zone and decided to enter the economy zone. Most drivers will know that after cruising at 130 – 140 kmph, economy zone driving, @80 kmph is like taking a walk after dinner. Later we saw the Icon, metioned earlier, going ahead. Filled petrol at Valmiki Nagar to ensure that we didn’t have to ‘push’ her at the end of the journey. We didn’t want our car to give us a run for her drink after we’d given her a run to extract an exhilarating experience for ourselves. Reached Gandhi Nagar (Adyar) in the due time, dropped Nitin and Raman and returned to campus at 1130h.

I remember a similar drive; here I am inclined to call it a ride, on Machismo on one fine Sunday morning some two years back. But as one can guess my speeds were limited to cruising at 95 – 110 kmph. We had planned a decent ride on East Coast Road but eventually ended up reaching Aurobindo Aashram in Pondicherry (Puduchchery). A reminder of a day-night one-day cricket match with Australia drove us back to campus for lunch at 1230h. I think I should recollect the details and share with you here. Watch out for that.

So was the long story of a short trip. Hope you enjoyed it and you will come back again to critically view newer photos and post comments. Till then good bye!

* The car that Rajan owns is a Maruti Alto with a 1061 cc, 64 hp engine. Now this model is not available in the market.


  1. Very well narrated! u all must have had a splendid time! looking fwd for more such travelogues n pics...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. u r crazy!!!! 140 km/hr???? baaap re!!!! btw, i am sure that when dikshit has started his channel 'maharashtri', u r going to be the anchor of a car 'n bike-cum- travel show. welcome to broadcast!

  4. I will be waiting Ashish to start something of that sort!!

  5. chhan pravas varnan aahe....pan 140 km/hr????

  6. Harshal, how do you want me to react? :)

  7. u narrated very well and it was realy exciting trip ...i enjoyed while readiing..........


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