MP Diaries - Prologue

 "MP Diaries" is a chronicle of our recent road trip to the magnificent state of Madhya Pradesh. Our journey in and across MP felt like home. We owe our sincere thanks to the  people of Madhya Pradesh. Until the evening of 23rd  December 2016, the plan was uncertain. Almost every day in December, we planned/ unplanned for this trip due to various reasons. Looking back, we know we made the right decision. As we had lost our camera along with all its accessories during our Chikmagalur trip long back, we went ahead to buy another DSLR on 24th of December for our upcoming MP trip. This apart, the car was not even serviced owing to the dilemma of our trip, although the much needed engine oil change and coolant top up was done on the morning of 25th December just before we hit the highway.
Our Best Friend in MP
During our return journey to Bangalore, our vehicle (Xylo) which had behaved well through out the trip developed fuel leakage about 150 km away from home. We realised about the leakage only after the smell of the fuel intensified.  Being a Sunday noon, the chances of finding of a service center were meager. My wife kept an eye for any operational garage as we drove and we found one in Devanahalli. Thanks to the heroics of this mechanic, the leakage which was manageable priorly, only increased as we drove although he had convinced us that we could drive till home safely.  At about 12 km  to home, we observed fumes coming out of our vehicle's engine, which rang an alarm bell to stop immediately. We had to park our vehicle and book a cab to reach home, thus ending our wonderful journey.
Madhya Pradesh Route Map (click here)
Two other important aspects for planning our trip were our 20 month old kid and demonetisation. Though our little one enjoys traveling, the next fifteen days would be a testing time for him as well as us with regards to food, drinking water and sleep. We three, together, managed it quite well.  Though he caught cold due to the extreme cold in Gwalior, the hotel staff were cooperative in setting up a heater at the middle of night, without which the situation would have only worsened. Thanks again to the staff at hotel Ambassador, Gwalior who were helpful and responsive with the heater, it was a savior!. This apart, he enjoyed well through out our journey. Demonetisation made most of us go cashless, hence we had to be prepared for overcoming this. As we decided late about our journey, we had little time to go the bank and draw money. We had to be dependent on undependable ATM's for the rest of our journey in addition to not being sure  about how far plastic currency/wallet would be accepted. Most of the fuel stations accepted cards/e-wallets, except for one in Andhra state. Almost all toll booths accepted cards/ e-wallets payments. Most of the budget hotels we stayed in were quite hesitant to accept any form of digital pay mode and preferred cash invariably. Many ATM's across the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were operational and issued money, Maharashtra being an exception where long queues in front of banks were a common sight. On the whole, the effect of demonetisation on our journey was nil.
 Madhya Pradesh like all other states in India is blessed with rich natural, cultural and historical heritage. Driving across Madhya Pradesh was a pleasant experience as described in our previous post. While researching on  places to visit in MP, we realised that finalizing our itinerary was a tough job. Since it was a road trip, we had the freedom to go around as we wished (which we always enjoy) and explore the lesser known places. We made a list of places we  wanted to visit. We also made sure to be prepared for the harsh winters of North India during December. A major disadvantage to us while traveling during winter was that the days are shorter and we had to manage our timings accordingly. Gwalior in the Northern part was the coldest place during this trip and we had to use a heater, both in our room as well as our vehicle during travel (rarity for us). Driving from Orchha to Khajuraho was a challenge in itself owing to the zero visibility due to smog. To add to our misery, my wife realised at the right time (being quite sarcastic!) that I  hadn't collected my ID from the hotel we checked out last. Thinking wise, we drove back to get the ID rather than getting it couriered to our residential address. We will surely remember this drive for long and will always cherish it. 
List of the Places we planned to visit 
1) Pilgrimage - Omkareshwar and Ujjain
2) Architectural, Hindu - Maheshwar, Khajuraho, Shivpuri, Orchha, Gwalior, Indore, Udaipur, Gyaraspur, Padavali, Bhojpur, Bateshwar
3) Architectural, Buddhism/Jainism - Sanchi, Udayagiri, Badoh Pathari, Budi Chanderi 
4) Architectural, Islamic - Mandu, Asirgarh, Dhar, Burhanpur, Chanderi  
5) Prehistoric - Bhimbetka 
6) Natural Wonders - Marble Rocks and Dhuandhar Falls
7) Wildlife - Bandhavgarh, Panna and Chambal 
Unfortunately, Bandhavgarh and Panna didn't happen since the online safari booking was full. We thought it wasn't feasible to travel to Bandhavgarh/ Panna and try on the spot safari  booking. Also, the prices of guaranteed safari via resorts was way too high. We didn't make it also to Ujjain due to paucity of time.
Places to visit in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh - The Heart of Incredible India (Click on the image for Enlarged View) 
Our companions of the trip
1) Information partner - “Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent " by Takeo Kamiya, India - Eyewitness Travel of DK, books we bought locally during our journeys across MP and a  few details collected from various websites/ blogs
2) Clicking partners – Nikon D3300, Lenovo K5 Note
3) GPS partner - Eicher Road Atlas (wonderful road atlas) and Google Maps
4) Music partner -  iPad Mini with 16GB songs
5) Telecom partners - Airtel and Idea - Connectivity was very good which ensured we kept in touch with all our loved ones
6) A travel diary for writing down details of places visited, etc., including expenditure (unfortunately we didn’t use it as usual!).
Our Travel Oath
1) Not to exceed a speed limit of 100 kmph (Result: Roads were too good to keep a tab on speed limit)
2) No night driving beyond 10 pm. (Result: Had to break this oath on two nights only to keep pace with time)
3) Calling home every day (Result: Did not dare to break this one, if not this, the reverse surely happened!)
Total Cost: Under Rs.65,000/- per couple +child. Fuel expense (Rs.24 K) and Accommodation (Rs.17 K) being the major contributors, toll fee too significantly contributed to the expense
Road Conditions:  Do we need to speak about this again? Although most of the roads were good to  drive, there were many stretches of NH which were under repair or in a bad shape. Sadly, the caution/diversion boards too were not clearly visible. Two such stretches were from Mandu to Indore via Dhar (we hated this stretch!) and Shivpuri to Gwalior
Total km: 5243
Number of Days: 14,  (25 December 2016, 9:15 am to 08 January 2017 6:30 pm)
Total No. of photos taken: 10162 clicks 
Team G Cube in MP 

Comments

  1. This is really a treasure. Thanks for compiling and showcasing India's wonders.

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  2. Inspiring journey and blog as usual. with little Adi is courageous trip. I really appreciate your way of travelling and feel jealous.�� Keep moving.. Will see those clicks and listen to stories when we meet ��

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  3. Replies
    1. You can click on the image for the enlarged view. Thanks for pointing it out have updated accordingly.

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  4. Thanks for sharing , Nice post and photos.

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  5. Very Interesting account. I have been planning on doing some long drives as well. Your posts encourage me tho think seriously about them.

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  6. Wow! An amazing drive indeed! Glad that the fuel leakage happened close to home and you did not have to waste time in attending to breakdowns during your trip.
    Looking forward to more interesting tales!

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  7. That is quite a distance travelled, a rich experience, thanks for sharing!

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  8. This sure is a very grand tour of MP.

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  9. Very interesting. Can you recommend guides you may have used? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. @Saurabh - Many of these places have Government nominated guides. You can use their services depending your choice and language preferences.

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