Many many years ago, way back 1983, 29 years ago, our family undertook our first long distance drive, Bombay to Madras. At that time, it was unheard of, to do road journeys across states. One of the reasons was the quite sorry state of roads (only the heavy duty vehicles needed them was the justification:-)), another was also the lack of options in cars - there was the Ambassador or a Fiat Padmini, the only two cars people owned and drove around. But my dad was always ahead of the times, in every aspect. He very ambitiously chalked out the route we would take and decided the stopover places along the way. Mom was apprehensive, at first and then kind of reconciled when she learnt that the cost would be the same if we took the train:-)
We criss-crossed the countryside and took bypass roads of major towns en route. I learnt a lot about traffic symbols, icons for Ghat section, dangerous curves, river bridge, rumblers, petrol bunks etc., as these were non existent within city limits and I was only in class 9. It was a lot of fun, we would stop anytime, just to enjoy a scene at the Ghats or by a river, or for nature's call:-). And we would stop just to catch up with some short eats... Often, we would buy the local, seasonal fruits as pass the town, like jackfruit, and gorge on them:-). We stopped at Poona, Kolhapur and halted at Belgaum for the night. All I remember is we had dinner and slept like a log.
As with large families, there are always family functions every summer, either a wedding or 60th /80th birthday, or a thread ceremony! And 1983 was no exception, a cousin had her son's thread ceremony in Sringeri. It meant a detour but we were all game... it was fun, I still remember the awesome coffee we had in a small town called Harihar. We took the State highway and I noticed that the roads in Karnataka were slightly better than Maharashtra. Also, I found all the trees marked around their barks, neatly painted with white and red stripes, maybe aided visibility.
We reached Sringeri and spent 3 days there. Its a beautiful little temple town that is the Seat of the Southern Pontiff of the Shakaracharya lineage. Its such a calm and quiet place, with the clearest river (the Tungabhadra) that the bed was so clear and visible.
And soon, we set off from Sringeri and reached Bangalore and stayed with a family friend of ours in Ulsoor Road. And the next day, we set off for Madras and reached the city by evening! It was my first road trip and the memories are so clear like it happened a year back!
We then learnt the joy of such road trips and we did 3 Bombay - Madras - Bombay trips and innumerable trips within Maharashtra. We explored the state in our car and also did a fair bit of travel in Karnataka. Having moved to Chennai now, I now do a lot of travel by road within the state and also to Bangalore. Its a completely different experience today, with many conveniences but my first road trip is simply the most memorable!