Decided on spur of the moment to visit Ambaji close on the gujarat & rajasthan border, a place that we normally visit twice a year, but had not visited since last september.

With vacations coming to an end so tickets being a problem & having travelled by road once earlier from mumbai, decided to drive down the 800 kms one way with a break at Baroda to meet up with old friends.

Before leaving the more knowledgeable of friends, acquaintances who had rarely travelled on the highway, but had heard it 3rd 4th hand from someone – ” Till Surat, you will zip past, then till Bharuch it is a nightmare, before it eases out till Baroda”

Left Mumbai at 7.00 am on the 24th May, made good time till Dahisar check naka, where the night mare started. There was a long line of trucks, cars & what have you.

The first 80 kms & 3 tolls took 4.0 hours.

Finally exhausted took a break at Kamat’s udipi restaurant(on the opposite side) for some steaming filter coffee & vada.

Whilst waiting, the two accidents which though not obstructing the highways, were thought to be by the good Samaritans who diverted all traffic from the opposite side; were finally cleared.

Without a stoppage made good time, crossing Surat by 2.30 pm & then the speed came down to 50-60 kmph which was still good, crossing bharuch by 4.30 pm.

Stopped at the famous Nyay Mandir for some hot cuppa of masala tea & methi bhajiya’s.

Leaving the restaurant reached Baroda/ Vadodara by 6.45 pm.

Spent the night & the next night in Baroda leaving for Ambaji on 26th May with some definite directions of the new by pass road.

Picked up a Sumir a old school friend, from Karelibaug, zipped up the expressway, taking the Ring Road By Pass before Ahmedabad, going by the Himmatnagar by pass straight to Ambaji. The entire trip including pit stops took us 5 hours, which earlier used to take anything between 6-7.5 hours.

The entire road was lush with greenery, with extremely good roads, enough fuel & pit stops BUT with absolute horrifying Road Manners – Imagine seeing 16 wheelers coming the wrong side on the express way; cars stopping to sight see on the expressway; besides picnics.

The return was just as quick the next day, though had a bit of scare since petrol pumps on highways stock more diesel & less petrol, giving you directions to try the next one.

Overnight stop at Baroda & left Makarpura on the outskirts from a friends place on 28th May @ 10.30 am. Reached Nyay Mandir for a brief pit stop by 12 noon, which due to phone calls etc. extended into a long one.

However the rest of the journey was smooth sailing, reaching Malad inorbit on link road by 7.30 pm.

AND the nightmare began – Took us 2.30 hours from there till Lokhandwala.

SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE TRIP:

1 The toll booths are always over manned – 2 inside, 1 outside to collect the money.
2 The trucks & so called logistics, supply chain firms have their trucks painted but no knowledge or sense
of road safety at all.
3 The lines at the Toll Booth would always be caused by everyone jocking to get into a different line – Truck Drivers opting for the lines where car/jeep was written & vice versa.
4 Change seems to be a perpetual problem
5 Different car numbers seem to have appeared on the receipts – does this somehow signify improper accounting??
6 Why can there not be a single toll payment for national/state highways to avoid long lines.
7 The so called MP/MLA etc. are a bunch of free loaders with their over extended families barging in & going away without paying the toll.
8 The Important numbers on expressway were not answered – No highway patrol was seen during the 1600 kms trip
9 The Roads are getting better & work on them is constant – visible to a person who has made enough trips during the past 1 year.

10 Cars are getting better, BUT CIVIC SENSE IS STILL THE SAME!

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