After a good night’s rest, I picked up from the Best Western hotel near Ahmedabad. Before I state further, I must say that the stay at Best Western, which appears very soon after one clears the Vadodara-Ahmedabad Expressway, was a high quality one. The hotel giant is further aided by the fact that there is barely a decent hotel in the 5km stretch (though there are many ‘Hotel Decent’ types, if you know what I mean). I must however mention that the much touted buffet breakfast at Best Western did not live up to what the chain otherwise offered.
Wrapping up the formalities and tanking up my Hyundai Eon, I pushed the pedal at 9:50 am.
Gujarat manages to maintain its quality of road right through to the Shamlaji region of the Sabarkantha district which shares the border with Rajasthan, permitting a consistent speed of almost 100 kmph. It does dip for a while as the highway meanders through the state capital of Gandhinagar before a freer zone arrives. Once past that, less traffic at the time and scenic locales took the whole experience up by a notch.
While driving across the desert state I realised how under-rated the roads in there were! May be because Gujarat manages to win the publicity match hands down. But take my word for it, Rajasthan has good stuff to offer in every department that a driver needs, except food. Like in Gujarat, I did not really come across many good-quality joints. Did try out the local Dal-Baati but well, it was forgettable.
Udaipur, of which we have all heard so much, does not really have much to speak of in terms of good infrastructure. That is where my speed slipped while in that state. There is a so-called bypass in Udaipur but it manages to bypass all the good things that a high-quality road is supposed to embrace. The tourism destination is in serious need of an uplift there.
Approaching Chittorgadh district, east of Udaipur, the NH76 turns into concrete from its earlier (and lovelier) tar avatar. Tyres keep bouncing, as if resisting the surface and the drive is a bit uncomfortable there on.
On that point, was greatly helped by my better-half, Sapna, who drove through effortlessly for almost 150 kms when I seriously needed some rest.
Couple of stops, tanking up again and I returned behind the wheel before reaching Kishangarh in the early part of the evening. What followed were three full hours of sprinting across the not-so-well-maintained expressway which made me reach Jaipur by 9:30 pm, covering a distance of over 600 kms in the day.
Now, all that remains between the capital city and me is a road not longer than 300 kms.