Driving Round the Country Side. First stop: Bijapur

Posted: June 2, 2009 in Travelogues
Tags: , , , ,

1st Leg, May 16: Pune-Islampur-Sangli-Athni-Bijapur

2nd Leg: May 17: Bijapur-Hampi

3rd Leg: May 18: Hampi-Hubli (night halt)

4th Leg: May 19: Hubli-Dandeli

5th Leg: May 22: Dandeli-Kolhapur (night halt)

6th Leg: May 23: Kolhapur-Chiplun-Dapoli

7th Leg: May 24: Dapoli-Polladpur-Pune

Just playing with the headline from an old school joke, that’s all! We called it FRCS then…

This trip was much shorter than the one we did last year around the same time. That time we had travelled from Pune to Karwar and then drove down NH 17 to Kanyakumari. From KK we drove up to Chennai, then Bangalore and back to Pune over 21 days. But considering the fact that this summer is hotter than the last one, we knew it was going to be a tiring journey.

We left Pune (Katraj bypass) at 7.10 am. Having heard the horror stories about the Solapur Highway, we thought taking the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway (NH 4) would be a better idea, even if only till Islampur. In hindsight, I think it was a correct decision. The Swift had clocked 33769 kms at that point.

Like always, rather than stop at some eatery along the highway, we munched on sandwiches in the car itself. Since driving on NH 4 is always a pleasure so early in the morning, munching at a sandwich is an easy task! If you’ve had the misfortune of driving on NH 4 while returning to Pune on a Sunday evening (a bit like driving on a busy city road at 7 pm) from an outing, you’ll know why I said ‘pleasure’!

After driving on NH-4 till Islampur we took a left off NH-4 for Sangli town, where we encountered a pot-holed, bumpy stretch all the way from Islampur into Sangli town.

But I guess the scenic beauty of the countryside made up for the bumpy roads. The long green stretches of sugarcane fields were so soothing that I drove off the road, parked near one of the fields, opened the cars doors and let the breeze in! And there’s nothing like a cup of tea to add to that moment. We were off and away 15 minutes later.

The roads in Sangli town were equally bad and we were glad to get out of the place and head towards Miraj. Once we left Miraj behind, and went past Arag, we were on our way to Athni in Karnataka. It was only after we crossed into Karnataka that the roads improved dramatically.

This was one feature of the State Highways in Karnataka – all in pretty good shape, except when one reached a village, where we slammed into multiple speed humps. We barrelled over quite a few inadvertently and I was a bit worried about the tubeless tyres. Fortunately, it was nothing serious. 

Unlike State Highway 12, once we entered Bijapur town, the roads were an even bigger mess than the ones in Sangli. To add to the usual traffic snarls, were the potholed roads and confusing road signs. Even the auto guys gave us conflicting directions to Station Road, where we were told all the hotels were situated.

We reached Hotel Pearl on Station Road at 1.10 pm. It was a nondescript place where the rent was also not too steep. It was also just a km away from NH 13, which we would have to take the next day for our onward journey to Hampi. We had driven 371 kms (34140) in 4:45 hours (15-minute tea break not included).

After lunch and a quick nap, we set out for the Gol Gumbaz, which is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah. Fortunately, it was walking distance from the hotel. Apart from the size and height of the dome, the acoustics and air conditioning inside the Gol Gumbaz, would put most of our electronics and AC companies, respectively, to shame! Not for one moment did we perspire inside the mausoleum even after climbing the 200 odd steps to reach the dome, because there was a cool breeze that wafted through the monument.

When our guide whispered something from across the hall inside the mausoleum we heard it in stereophonic sound, loud and clear where we were, almost 90 feet away! Trust me, narrating it, isn’t half as exciting as it was experiencing it.

With the benefit of technology and hindsight we call ourselves an advanced and superior race. But exploring what’s left behind of this dynasty and later the one at Hampi, one realised that they had very little to work with and yet developed infrastructure that was very advanced, which not only withstood the test of time, but the elements as well. Would we say the same about the water pipelines that run under our city even 20 years later?

Next: visiting the awesome Hampi

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Comments
  1. Joe Pinto says:

    My dear Mohan,Didn't know you were such a traveller and outdoor guy? Travel writing pays well. Send these links of your blog to the feature editors of some in-flight magazines or even Outlook Traveller. Good stuff, readable.Best of luck,- Joe.

  2. Mandira Tewari says:

    very interesting post… sort of savouring it slowly… we had also been down south, but nothing like ur leisurely paced out trip.. ours was cramped up in 5-6 days… a slice of backwaters, a sliver of tea estates and dollops of sea… and must say temple architecture in the north is not a patch on those down south mandira

  3. sudhakar says:

    Yr doing a great job, this travel reporting. Makes interesting and informative reading. Like yr car, the reading is 'swift' with no halts.Keep going, Buddy!

  4. The road from Pune to Vijapur would have been shorter via Solapur, rather than Sangli

    Also Dandeli to Dapoli, would have been shorter if you has stayed in Konkan rather than climb up to Deccan to Kolhapur and then back down again to Dapoli 🙂

    • mohansblog says:

      Khalil,
      We weren’t doing it to go from point A to B. We were just enjoying the drive. Secondly, via Solapur would ave been shorter, but the Solapur highway is a nightmare. The State Highways in Karnataka were much better. The drive from Dandeli to Dapoli was mostly on the Bangalore-Mumbai Highway, so again the roads were good. Like I said we were enjoying the drive, the distances were quite irrelevant.

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