The Road to Chittorgarh…

Posted: May 21, 2010 in Travelogues
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So, after a night’s rest, we set off from Vadodara for Chittorgarh via Ahmedabad and Udaipur, on the second leg of our holiday. Not as long as the one from Pune to Vadodara, but still 476 kms. We had no idea what the roads would be like, so before leaving we asked the receptionist, who told us that the roads were very good.

Leaving Vadodara at sunrise...

We left the hotel at 6.10 am and reached the expressway exactly 17 minutes later, after following the very precise directions from the security guard at the hotel entrance — “Go straight out of the gate, turn right at T junction, take third left turn and go straight till you reach the Expressway to Ahmedabad.”

And the receptionist back at the hotel, wasn’t just making up a tall story about the roads. Having driven on the Pune-Mumbai e-way, we were looking forward to a similar experience but the drive on the Vadodara-Ahmedabad quite simply took my breath away. It was till then the best stretch of road we had driven on. Once we cleared the Toll Post, it was one long, smooth stretch with no exits every few metres, no diversions, and even more surprisingly, no ‘U’ turns. There were just two exits for Nadiad and Anand.

We were sailing along so comfortably that we missed the exit for Udaipur, and landed up at the Toll Post at Ahmedabad! With no way to go back we were forced to drive through Ahmedabad and lost 75 minutes in which we covered just 27 kms. In normal circumstances we would have covered at least 70 kms in that time. But as luck would have it, we crawled through Ahmedabad through stretches of road under construction, got caught in a jam at a level crossing and had a terrible time in the traffic.

Since we were stuck, we decided to stop for tea at a restaurant with a kitchen that had seen better days. It was tepid tea, but what the hell – tea is tea! Finally at around 9.15 am we reached the intersection, from where we would take the NH 8 to Himmatnagar and then to Udaipur.

At the gates of Rajasthan

Once again, what struck us was the smooth road. And that continued all the way to Himmatnagar. After driving 180 kms we reached Himmatnagar, from where we continued to Ratanpur which is on the cusp of Gujarat and Rajasthan. As we reached Udaipur we took a right towards Chittorgarh. The left turn entered Udaipur town. We would be back there later, from another route.

This was the worst stretch we had encountered so far, but mercifully just 11 kms. It was bumpy, potholed and narrow till we reached the intersection that brought us on NH 76. Once we were on it, the road staged a miraculous recovery. I thought we had seen it all on the e-ways, but this stretch was another engineering marvel.

Just before we reached Chittorgarh we came to a point on the road where we just stopped and gaped. Right in front of us was a maze of elevated roads crisscrossing the desert. One road went to Mumbai, the other to Jaipur and the third to Kota and I think we just lost count. We had to take a left turn at NH 76 and drive down a small road to Chittorgarh, a little town with a big history. We reached RTDC’s Hotel Panna at exactly 1.30 pm. and would have reached at least an hour earlier had we not missed the Udaipur exit on the expressway!

At Rani Padmini's fort, feeding the monkeys, which carefully picked the nuts they wanted to eat!

Since we were there just for a night, we rushed off to see Rani Padmini’s fort. We were shown the 13-km long fort situated atop the hill by an extremely polite guide. The kid gave us a pretty good recount of history and by 6 pm we were back in the hotel.
Next: Ranthambhore…and the tiger trail.


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