With an aim to cover the over 1400km road length that separates India’s political and historical capital with its financial one, I set out from my Navi Mumbai residence last morning at around 9:15am. Since I had decided on achieving modest goals and because I had never attempted such a long drive, reaching Ahmedabad was my day’s task.
Of course toll stations across every 90kms are an eyesore but the road quality is decent at least.
Surprisingly, as soon as I cleared the city and hit NH8, from Thane’s Ghodbunder road, the quality of road is good – what you will find anywhere up till Gujarat. This is primarily because the road expansion and improvement work in Maharashtra has been nearly completed and bypass flyovers are in place.
Cruising at between 80-110kmph in my Hyundai Eon, I stopped for lunch after Navsari and a little before Surat exit. What I did not expect, especially in Gujrat was the lack of good options as far as restaurants are concerned. While dhabas were hard to spot, most hotels we found had their shutters down. That too on a Sunday!
While driving uptill this point was trouble-free, Bharuch was there to complete the picture for us. An under-construction bridge over the Narmada river and some really badly managed toll stations caused snarls, before Bharuch and immediately after. Cruising after dark too wasn’t bad except a few humps along the road. The authorities need to smoothen out the surface.
My best and most disappointing moment came before the much-touted Vadodara-Ahmedabad Expressway which is also a National Expressway under the Golden Quadrilateral project of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). While the tar-head road is of supreme quality (way better than the concretised Mumbai-Pune expressway), the toll station to enter it is a shame. Its ineptness takes the sheen off the world-class road which follows.
Finally, by 8:15pm,I peeled off the expressway to head for my hotel and taste some Guju food. Again, not having enough options is a setback.