Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 14 - Abu Road to Koteshwar to Bhuj - 9 June 2017

‘Goodwill Knows No Boundaries’ is a tag line of Record Drive. I have had this since 2014, when I drove to London. I have experienced numerous instances of the tag line in my life, particularly on my travels. This morning it was no different. When the hotel vouchers were being prepared I went to the car park to put my luggage and make the preliminary checks before starting the day’s drive. The sight that greeted me there was of the security guard of the hotel cleaning my car. I had not asked for it to be cleaned; the guard said that he decided to clean it as the car had done a long journey! What can you say of such an experience? Interactions such as these make a journey worth its while and prove that, truly, goodwill knows no boundaries.

The road from Udhampur had been good, all the way upto Abu Road. A lot is said about the excellent condition of the roads in Gujarat. The border was just 10 km from the hotel. The border between Rajasthan and Gujarat was virtually seamless, in that there was no hold up there at all, unlike most others I had experienced on the way. The road condition did not disappoint and it was top class till Bachau, after which it was quite ordinary till Koteshwar.

A creeping worry as I was motoring towards Koteshwar was the attestation of the log sheet there. I knew that the place had no hotels and that the only recourse would be the police station. I connected with an old friend who is presently the Commissioner of Police, Vadodara, Manoj Sasidharan IPS. He was all grace and promised that the needful would be done, which was in a few minutes. I had the number of the SHO and was told that he would await my call. As I was near the Narayan Sarovar, which is one of the five holy lakes according to Hindu theology, I called up the SHO and told him that I would meet him in the station. I knew the location of the police station from my earlier visits to Koteshwar on the Coast to Coast and East West expeditions in Jan/Feb 2013.

The SHO wanted me to have snacks, lunch, tea, etc. I politely turned down the hospitality and got to the business end of the visit. The log sheet was attested. I had completed the third corner a day in advance of the schedule. After the formalities were completed the SHO piloted me to the land’s end in Koteshwar. Even though I had been there by foot in the earlier visits, this was the first time I was there with the car. It was an awesome experience. The Koteshwar Mahadev Shiva temple overlooks the Kori creek and its earliest mention is reportedly in the writings of the ancient Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsiang.  Well beyond is the Sir Creek which is the boundary with Pakistan.

Three corners done, one more to go. I was over the moon; the third was done within 96 hours of the second. I even mulled the prospect of extending the day’s run to Ahmedabad; felt I could do it, but decided against it in the interest of some extra rest. I had a reservation in Click Hotels, just beside the Bhuj railway station. I reached there without much ado after 725 kms in 11 hours; only another 3000 plus kms to go to complete the expedition. The hotel was quite comfortable and was adequate to recharge the body batteries before getting on the road for the final corner. It was incredibly hot and windy in Bhuj. I had to do a lot of repacking for the final days of the expedition. It was quite a task doing that in that windy condition, but I managed. The restaurant gave me excellent veg pakoras and tea. After completing the documentation and before turning in for the night I had a bowl of sweet corn soup.

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