All it takes a little courage to take the first kick, rest just happens….
Mehsana is a small town, located at about 70 kilometers from Ahmadabad, and 600 kilometers from Mumbai. I had been planning since eons to ride up to Mehsana to meet my friends at ONGC Colony, Palavasana. Using eons may look like an exaggeration of my emotions, but if you own a Bullet, have dreamt a 600+ km ride on the day you bought it, and still not able to do it in over 6months, you will understand what I mean!
The actual plan had been postponed for umpteenth time, when inspired by an utterly boring week in office, I finally decided for the trip. It was just another Wednesday, when I started working down the details of the route on Google Map, tried to learn it, browsed through some blogs for Mumbai-Ahmadabad trips, and called up my friend at Mehsana that I’m coming! :)
Wednesday night and Thursday pre-noon time, I spent studying and planning the route. In evening I got my Bull checked up at Rafeeque bhai’s garage at Koparkhairane, bought spare clutch, accelerometer cables, spark plugs; also some juice bottles and lots of chocolates and chana for the trip.
|My Route plan
Friday morning, I started for the ride at 8:43 AM. Friday is perhaps my most favorite day, and thought it was drizzling out there, I started my journey as scheduled. Plan was to get on to the NH-8, through Eastern Express Highway – Ghorbandar Road as soon as possible, because once the office-goers start for their day the roads will get jammed. It started raining when I took my first stop, somewhere on NH-8, after completing first 100 kilometers. And, it rained all through the journey. When I reached my destination, my Bull was all mud-clad and my Woodlands have lost their original color.
At about 160 kilometers I entered Vapi, Gujarat. My Bull needed some fuel that I got at an Indian Oil Pump entering Valsad. All the way through NH-8, especially in Gujarat, there are infinite numbers of Petrol Pump; at some section I even noticed 3 pumps in just about 500 m stretch. What else I noticed in Gujarat were, Chemical Industries, Temples and Cows.
Throughout the highway, from Vapi to Ahmadabad, I experienced all sort of smells; from typical hospital-type smell near Pharma-Industries, stinking H2S odor and also sweet aromatic smell of Chemical Industries, a peculiar smell of Textile industries, and mesmerizing smell of daal-tadka near some roadside motels! Gujarat is truly a state of Industries.
This was my first long solo ride, so I was a little nervous. My prime concern was to cover as much distance as possible in least possible time. So I was just riding and having glimpse of my surrounding. I was noticing number of Temples and signboards for the temples that were little off-road, and realizing that I should have stop and visit them as true Ghummakar or Traveler. But as said, while riding to Mehsana I was more concerned about timing so wasn’t able to enjoy the Gujarat along the Highway. There are a lot of diversions on NH-8 in the Vapi-Kamrej section. Kamrej to Bharuch and Bharuch to Vadodara section is awesome, it’s 6-lane and without any diversions. It’s real fun driving on these sections. I could easily ride the Bull at 80-100+ kmph for over two hours at stretch. I couldn’t ride on the new Vadodara-Ahmadabad Express Highway, and had to go through the old 2 lane NH-8. At Ahmadabad, I had to take help of local people to get on to the Ahmadabad-Mehsana highway. It was not as good as NH-8, and sun was setting on far end, so I had to check my speed a little bit. At about 7:30 Pm, I reached ONGC Colony, Palawasana – my destination, riding over 628 km in about 11hours.
View Directions to Mehsana, Gujarat in a larger map
|The Ol' Taurus
|When Taurus met TBTS
Next day was pre-scheduled for a general checkup for the Bull, at…. .There was no major ailment, just a little problem with the indicators and engine-oil check up. There we found that one footrest was absent, that probably have been broken off when a Ritz hit the Bull’s side while I was riding through Gandhinagar. At the garage, there were few Diesel engine RE and Taurus too. I enquired the garage-owner about those bullets, and was told that those vintage marvels deliver marvelous mileage of over 55kmpl and available in as-it-is condition for about Rs 55,000/- only, modification charges as per the design. Who would miss a chance to get snapped with those Vintage monsters, wouldn’t I! :)
My friend has already planned to visit the Mondhera Sun Temple and Becharaji Shaktipeeth. Mondhera is a small village at about 25 km from the Mehsana, road was almost straight. Later I was told by someone that straight roads are another peculiarity about the vibrant Gujarat. According to Wikipedia, areas near Modhera as Dharmaranya (Dharma-Aranyaa = forest of righteousness) have been mentioned in Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana. Sage Vasistha showed Rama this place where he can purify himself from the sin of Brahma-hatya (the sin of killing a Brahmin, Ravana was a Brahmin by birth). In the Dharmaranya, Rama settled at a village Modherak and performed yagna. Thereafter, he established a Sitapur village, which is about 8 km from Becharaji Modherak village and subsequently came to be known as Modhera. The Modhera Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki Dynasty in AD 1026. Solankis were considered to be Suryavanshis, or descendants of Sun god. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes. (More…)
The Temple was basically divided in three sections:
1. Surya Kund: A stepped tank named after Sun god Surya.
2. Sabha Mandap: A hall between Surya Kund and Guda Mandap
3. Guda Mandap: Sanctum sanctorum, which once housed the idol of Sun God.
|Modhera Sun Temple
|Modhera Sun Temple Collage
We next visited the Becharaji Shakitpeeth. Nearby this temple, Tropic of Cancer passes through. On our way back we stopped at a few other temples too. Gujarat is indeed a State of temples. Every few kilometers one can easily find lavishly designed beautiful glorious temples. Swaminarayan Sampradaya Temples enjoy the highest place in terms of architecture, establishment, beauty and extravagance too. While returning back to Mumbai, I also visited Akshardham temple, and was surprised to know that it was Temple of Bhagwan Swaminarayan or Ghanshyam Pande; I had a notion that they worship Vishnu or Krishna.
|Gujarat - State of Temples
Well, talking about Cows….when I was planning the ride, a colleague who had been to Mehsana earlier, told me about the Gujarati breed (Kathiawadi probably) Cows with long, atypical horns. While returning from Becharaji, we finally got a herd of cows, each showing off its booty. My Bull too didn’t shy while posing for a pic with those Cows. :)
I also enjoyed Guajarti style chae (tea) at a local small shop. In Gujarat people use to drink tea in the saucer and the cup is used to only temporarily keep the tea. One more thing that I observed is the number of Sari-clad women driving scooterates. For me it was a phenomenon. In fact, at places I saw women asking Trucks for lift on Highway; a rare scene, at least for me, elsewhere! I also visited Wide-Angle Multiplex, first and only, of Mehsana, and had Rajasthani churma-baati at a Rajasthani restaurant.
Sunday morning, we left for Akshardham Temple, Gandhinagar. At about 11 AM, I started my return trip to Mumbai. This time, besides enjoying the adrenaline ride on NH-8, I also took snaps of temples along the highway. Interestingly, I noticed only one small Dargah and a big white Gurudwara.
|My Ride through my Ridemeter and Milestones...
Last section of my ride, NH-8 at Manor-Virar and Ghorbandar Road, was the worst part of my whole trip. Manor-Virar section of NH-8 is in very bad condition, and it’s really difficult to ride on the patches of road defying big pot holes. At Ghorbandar Road, while entering Thane, I got stuck in kilometers long traffic. I did my last 100 kilometers in jus less than 3 hours, though managed to reach my place at Ghanosli at 9:15 PM, covering about 550 kilometers from Gandhinagar to Navi Mumbai in about 10 hours.
|Snapped somewhere near Manor...
In total, I rode over 1400 kilometers in the complete trip. I learned a lot about riding, roads and Gujarat. My last trip to Trimbakeshwar helped me lot, as in that trip only I got acquainted with NH-8. The best part of the trip was that I anyhow attempted it, I wouldn’t have known what I would have missed if I’d have postponed it once more.
Certainly, all it takes is the very first kick, wheels roll there selves thereafter….