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LoneRanger

Weekend Trip to Belum Caves & Gandikota

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Precursor to the trip(Skip if you want to know Only about the trip) :

 

All five of us went on to a trip nearly 10 years ago. And in all these 10 years , all of us together haven't met even once. We were working at various places - Hyderabad , Chennai , Pune , New Delhi & Bengaluru. As years passed by, 4 of us moved to Hyderabad due to various commitments. Only one was left out in Chennai. 

 

At the end of Jan 2018 , Mr.Chennai , gave me a call ans started discussing about his boring and torturous boring IT life. He suddenly pops up the idea of a weekend trip from Hyderabad, only guys trip without wives. Over the next couple of days , we made whatapp group and discussed various options and finalised Belum Caves and Gandikota. We planned to go at the March 2018. As weeks passed by , each one had to drop off due to some or other reason. At the start of March , only Mr.Chennai and me were onboard ( My wife had to go to her parents place).

 

But Mr.Chennai , was very adamant, he used to share the photographs of 10 year old trip on the whatsapp group. People became nostalgic , First to say yes was Mr.Microsoft , Then Mr.NRI and a day before the trip we have a confirmation from Mr.Daddy.

 

Day 1 of the Trip

 

Plan was , Mr.Chennai would reach my house by 6 and we would have an early breakfast and leave by 7 from my house. But Indian railways have another plans. Mr.Chennai arrived at my house at 7:45. After freshening up we started at 9:00 A.M to pick up Mr.Microsoft and Mr.Nri. And last pick up of the day was Mr.Daddy , from ORR Gachibowli.(We wanted to give more time for him to spend with his daughter). By the time we picked up Mr.Daddy , it was 10:00 AM and we started cruising on ORR , towards Kurnool. 

 

My car has Fastag, and i zipped past the traffic on ORR and the Highway. At 12:00 P.M we stopped at Food Pyramid to have brunch. We had heavy lunch and then off to our first destination Belum Caves. 

 

The road till Kurnool was NH and was good , After Kurnool we has to take Rayalaseema Expressway(Toll Road) , this was beyond good. It is better than national highway.

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(Rayalaseema Expressway - Road work going on the Left lane)

 

By 3:00 P.M we were at Owk reservoir, MR.Chennai was mesmerized by scenic beauty and wanted to stop for few photographs. And indeed the place was super scenic. Its just that it was mid afternoon in Rayalaseema. The cool breeze flowing from the reservoir was a bit of relief from the hot Sun.

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(From L-R : Mr.Chennai, Mr.Daddy, Mr.NRI & Mr. Microsoft, Im Mr.Driver & designated photographer for the trip)

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(Panoramic view of the Owk Reservoir)

 

The owk reservoir has APTDC center , with restaurant , and has boating and other activities. But we wanted to head to Belum Caves before they close it down. We next stopped directly at Belum Caves. The caves close at 5:30 P.M , and you have to exit the caves before that. We Reached Belum caves at 4:00 P.M. There is an entry fee and parking fee. We were charged somewhere around R.s 285/- for the 5 of us. 

 

This is the first time im entering a cave system , and i was amazed. The caves were neatly maintained, and properly ventilated with the help of electric fans. They were well lit too. I'll tel the pictures do the talking from here. And if you are planning a trip to Belum caves , be ready to carry a huge water bottle , as it is humid as hell, and also wear stretchable clothes , You have to bend and crawl through some spaces. 

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(Map of the caves )

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(Entrance to the caves)

The entrance has a flight of stairs , at the start of which the security checks for your tickets. Once you show his the tickets , you have to walk down nearly 40-50 steps. Any body can do it, both old and young. Once you get down the stairs you will see this plaque.

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(This is where the Plaque is posted. After this its all dark)

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(Notice the pipe behind, circulating fresh air)

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(L-R - Mr.Daddy & Mr.Driver-Me, you must be wondering why i was wearing goggles in a pitch dark cave, i have sight , those are powered , and i forgot my normal glasses, and yes i put this picture only to point that out :) )

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Soon it was 5:20 and we were off to the entry/exit. And while we were ready to leave , suddenly there was a small power cut and everything went dark. It was pitch dark , and even with cell phone torch we couldn't figure out the exit. Luckily for us it was just intermittent power loss. And the power cut lasted for a maximum of 45 seconds to 1 minute. 

 

After coming out of Belum caves , we went to the Budha statue near by to click some sunset pics.

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(Mr.Chennai Tried to be creative)

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(Budha Statue at Belum Caves)

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(Last Pic of the sun set into the clouds)

 

 On our way we stopped at a small place called Kolimigundla to have some tea. There is a APTDC restaurant at Belum caves , it closes at 5:30 P.M along with caves. 

 

Next day we planned to visit Gandikota , and wanted to stay as close as possible. We couldn't get a reservation from APTDC Gandikota. And place nearest to Gandikota was Jammalamadugu. But we could find any hotels online to book. However during the trip we found that there are a lot of lodges and small hotels available at jammalamadugu. You can directly go and take a room for rent , without pre-booking. We could only reserve a room at Prodattur. Our reservation was at Sri Devi palace. Imagine the shock of our life when we found out that Sri Devi Palace is actually Sri Devi Palace Function Hall , and there was a wedding happening when we went there.

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(Surely made our trip memorable :) )

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(Full scale wedding with Guests outside)

Surprised and Shocked we called the contact provided on booking.com. The owner was friendly , apologized and said he would rent out the rooms on normal days, when there is no wedding and arranged us a place(lodge) within in Proddatur. There is nothing special about the lodge , the washrooms have leaky faucets. But since all of us are guys , and we wanted to enjoy the trip , we were ok with good beds and AC , for having a good night's sleep, Which it had. But if you are going with family , there are many new lodges with similar price range. You can go , check the rooms and then make a reservation. Same is the case in Jammalamadugu. You will find most of the lodges in Bus-stand road in proddatur. 

After checking in , and unloading our luggage in our respective rooms, we went out to have dinner at the Andhra Spice Restaurant. It was good for family , but there is no parking available, the security made some adjustments and arranged some space at the entrance. We has a sumptuous dinner, had the restaurant special - "Chicken Navya" , did some shopping for toiletries and went back to hotel to rest for the day.

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(Chicken Navya - Boneless Chicken curry , made in butter with roasted cashew's and stuffed in an omelette and sprinkled with grated cheese , roasted cashews & coriander)

 

Day 2 - Gandikota , Orvakal Rock Garden , Alampur.

 

Next day woke up at 5:00 A.M got ready and woke up everybody else. Everyone was ready within an hour. Advantage of not having women in the trip. Our idea is to reach Gandikota before sunrise. If you are planning a trip to Gandikota , plan to reach gandikota before sunrise. Reached Gandikota at 7:00 A.M , it was already sunrise , but God it was beautiful. The canyon, the rocks they were in explicable. I would have stayed there for eternity , enjoying the beauty. 

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(First shot of the Canyon , when we reached there by 7:20 A.M)

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(Sunrise reflection on Penna River)IMG_20190324_071935.jpg.ce64fb6172e4a3292cc3b54fe97941f2.jpg

(Mandatory Group Pic)

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(Mr.Microsoft, Mr.Daddy & Mr.NRI were happy looking at the scenery and dint want to explore any more)

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(Mr.Chennai on the other hand doesn't want to leave any nook or corner. 

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We stayed for more than an hour and we are way away from shade. It was getting Sunny and hot , hence we decided to explore the Gandikota fort. There is nothing left at the place. Only places remaining are Ranganatha Aalayam , Gandikoda Granary , and kathula Koneru. The places in pristine condition are Juma Masjid. Heard from locals that it has been redone in recent times by archaeology department, and they will soon improve the other remaining places too. 

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(Juma Masjid)

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(Inside the Masjid)

 

Came out of fort , there are multiple roadside eateries , all of us are hungry and just stormed into one of the eatery where we all will fit. The eatery is an extension to the home and is managed by father - daughter duo. We had dosas for breakfast , and had coffee right after. The eatery owner told us that there are tents available for rent , and other adventure actives are available to do during evening time. (Campfire, Canoeing, Boating etc , also sleeping bags are also available for rent). 

 

After breakfast i observed a road split off and going in the direction of the near by mountain and windmills, looked more like a service road. I inquired if tourists can drive up there , and to my surprise , they said yes. Drove to the top of the hill , and view of Gandikota fort from there is pretty awesome. we decided to take some pics before leaving.

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(The view of the fort is towards the left of the pic , with penna reservoir in the background, not quite visible)

 

We left the place at 9:30 at started towards our next destination Orvakal Rock Garden. The Rock garden is opposite to the Kurnool Airport Gate , we reached the place by 12:30. 

Google maps took us through a route with is not great  till we reached the Rayalaseema express way, but it was very scenic. Too bad we didnt take any pictures while driving , and just enjoyed the views. 

 

It was 12:30 , by the time we reached Orvakal Rock Garden. There was a APTDC resort. And entry Fee to enter the rock garden. As it was 12:30 we decided to have lunch before heading into the resort, but each one of us went and bought an ice cream or Kulfi , ( Feels like child , when wife or parents are not around). Went ahead to Orvakal Rock Garden. 

It was not big, but the rocks have been sculptured by air flow over thousands or millions of years. But since it was 12:30 in the after noon , it felt very big. 

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Entrance to the Rock Garden , stairs are neatly cut , and anyone can reach it without any difficulty

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Once you climb up the stairs , you will be greeted with this statue , and then similar statues of multiple animals

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It was so hot that we settled under the iota of shade available in the entire rock garden. 

 

Notice Mr.Chennai missing from the picture , he again went to explore every nook and corner of the Rock Garden. We waited till he came back and started off to our next destination Alampur. 

 

Alampur is one of the 18 shakthipeetas , it is the place where Krishna meets Tungabhadra , and is the place for deity Jogulamba. It is said that when Sati immolated herself , Lord Shiva carried her body across the universe. Vishnu not able to see Shiva's sorrow , cut the body of Sati with his Sudarshana Chakra. Those body parts fell back on earth. And it is said that alampur is where Sati's Upper Jaw/teeth fell. 

 

The road to Alampur was well paved , and Telangana tourism has provided drinking water and other amenities to pilgrims. Mr.Daddy who was here some years back was surprised to see the roads and amenities provided. 

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The temple has Medieval architecture , and even if you are not a religious person , but interested in history , you should visit this place. There is a Museum for History buffs. 

 

We left Alampur at 3:00 P.M and reached Food Pyramid at 4:30 P.M , had some tea , snacks , and started back to Hyderabad. 

 

We reached Hyderabad at 7:30 P.M , went to DLF to have chai. And after chai , everyone went their own separate ways . May be all 5 us will together be on a trip in 2019 next. 

 

Signing Off 

Mr.Driver

 

P.S : This is my first post , please provide feedback , on Pics , mistakes , Spelling , writing style , any thing which you felt is out of place.

 

 

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10 hours ago, LoneRanger said:

All five of us went on to a trip nearly 10 years ago. And in all these 10 years , all of us together haven't met even once. We were working at various places - Hyderabad , Chennai , Pune , New Delhi & Bengaluru. As years passed by, 4 of us moved to Hyderabad due to various commitments. Only one was left out in Chennai.

 

Brotherhood!

Can very much related to our trip in 2010. 
Enjoyed reading through it. Great writing skills :)
 



 

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11 hours ago, LoneRanger said:

People became nostalgic


Hope you guys go on more trips. Became emotional reading your trip details. :P I will start bugging my friends. :) You made my Friday more lively. 
 

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11 hours ago, LoneRanger said:

We couldn't get a reservation from APTDC Gandikota.

This place is getting booked one month in advance. Without booking it is very difficult to get accommodation.
There are many camping options, but it will be difficult in summer. 

Fantastic report, I usually wont read entire travel story. This one I am able to complete it a single go. It is very involving and genuine. 

 

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Beautifully narrated @LoneRanger. Must have been a memorable trip. To know how it feels to do such a trip with your mates after a long time itself gives me goosebumps.. :D  

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Very well written @LoneRanger May be some day I will write a similar article about me visiting Goa which is not happening since last 12 years😁

 

Will show this article to my last minute drop out friends and motivate them by sending them our last meet up pics, thanks for this new idea to motivate

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4 hours ago, Ranger said:

 

Brotherhood!

Can very much related to our trip in 2010. 
Enjoyed reading through it. Great writing skills :)
 



 

 Thanks @Ranger ,such appreciation will encourage to write more articles. Planning more trips this monsoon and will follow up with more articles. Just noticed that my handle is similar to yours, a complete co incidence. :) 

 

3 hours ago, shiva said:


Hope you guys go on more trips. Became emotional reading your trip details.
 

 

Thank you for your words @shiva, but Mr.Nri left for Australia. But i'll keep on doing trips. 

 

3 hours ago, uday said:

Fantastic report, I usually wont read entire travel story. This one I am able to complete it a single go. It is very involving and genuine. 

 

Thank You @uday , such kind words on my first travelogue. 

3 hours ago, sagar said:

Must have been a memorable trip

Indeed a memorable trip @sagar, Any trip with a bunch of crazy friends is always memorable.

 

1 hour ago, Sridhar Tandra said:

motivate them by sending them our last meet up pics, thanks for this new idea to motivate

Thank you @Sridhar Tandra, but the credit should go to Mr.Chennai. A complete travel freak and knows the art of convincing people to travel with him. And trust me , if you meet him for the today for the first time, he will convince you to do a trip Tomorrow. 

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Thank you for sharing your experience.

In which month did you guys do the trip. There is a camping facility and secondary resort available at  Gandikota. 
Did you guys check that place?
 

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31 minutes ago, LoneRanger said:

he will convince you to do a trip Tomorrow

we here in ID do not need someone convince us for trips! we will go by the ask :D :D 

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27 minutes ago, karthik said:

In which month did you guys do the trip

We did the trip on 23rd and 24th of March. 

28 minutes ago, karthik said:

There is a camping facility and secondary resort available at  Gandikota.

We came to know about the camping facilities after reaching Gandikota. Didnt know or hear anything about secondary resort. 

 

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Guest Thota Tarun

Amazing article , I haven't read any travel posts before but this is wonderful . Immersive narration and very informative.... Hope you guys will go on More trips , so we can read more posts about them  .

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Very good Pictures and Writing. Until we don't have a couple of days trip with friends ,it's like missing something :) .

 

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      The response from the steering was spot on. Though the brakes did not inspire confidence at last minute braking for the first 5000 kms of ownership because of over sensitive ABS now they are perfect. Crisp and spot on braking performance. Or dont know if I’m
      used to it.
       
      Ford Freestyle is built to tackle bad roads and those beautiful untouched, unexplored roads. This said, the ride quality will definitely be on the stiffer side making all those shocks on the bad roads creep in. We can feel the thud sound when the car goes over speed breaker, potholes even in very low speeds. The suspension is on the stiffer side making the car super stable during high speeds and super rough on the bad roads. Space is strictly adequate in the front row and strictly average at the rear and the boot. The driving position is commendable. We sit higher than many of the hatchbacks making us see the road clearly. The car sitting at a height of 190mm from the ground makes driving on worst roads a breeze. No worries of under body hits. 
       
      The performance from the engine on offer is something else. It effortlessly touches 80 kmph in the second gear itself and 0-100 kmph in under 10 seconds making it one of the fastest car in India. This car even outshines VW Polo in terms of performance. This is the most economical, fun to drive car in India giving good fuel efficiency numbers.  Even Ford EcoSport doesn’t offer the low end torque and that jump this car offers. Reason being same engine for a lighter car. 
       
      Capabilities:
      Ford calls the Freestyle a Compact Utility Vehivle and in my opinion its justified. It is not just a raised hatch/hatch with cladding or hatchback in SUV cloths as claimed by few online forums. Having used this for almost a year, clocking 20,000 kms, going for some unexplored areas, I can confidently say that this means some serious business, built for a purpose, a very practice vehicle. If not for serious off-roading, this is made for serious travelling and to glide on those beautiful untouched roads... 
        Safety:
      Ford is known for this. It’s always ahead of the other cars in the segment when it comes to giving safety features if not fancy features.
      2 airbags ABS with EBD Reverse parking sensors Driver and passenger seat belt alarm is standard across all the varient in all the models of Ford Central Locking  Speed sensing door locks  Child safety locks  Making it the most value for money varient. 
       
      The top of the line varient Titanium comes with added features like 
      TCS HLA ESP  
      And the even premium varient the Titanium Plus comes with added features like
      6 airbags SYNC3 system With all the above features. 
       
      Road Trips:

      I’ve done many road trips in this 10 months. Multiple trips to Hyderabad-Vijayawada but there are few trips that standout, that tested my skills, that took me to places I’ve never thought I would. 
       
      The first one being 
       
      Hyderabad to Maredumilli

       
      This remains my favourite trip of all. This tested my skills on the ghat during heavy rains and low visibility, took me to a beautiful place called Pamulery Vagu inside the forest.

      It was fun driving this car in those ghats. Steering feel and feedback was really good and was spot on. This trip will be forever remembered. The engine sound coupled with cool breeze and nature sounds made this a really wonderful and memorable trip with my Ford Freestyle.

       
      Hyderabad to Yanam via Ramachandrapuram 
       
      This place is really beautiful. I’ve been to Yanam in 2012 in our Swift Dzire. I was siting beside my father and was observing him cruising in that beautiful cool, rainy weather. I was 16 back then. Learning driving from my father in our colony roads. I was amazed by the way it cruised, clicked many pictures  in my father’s Galaxy S3. I couldn’t know more about the place. All I knew was the beach and the beautiful Jesus statue. Nothing beyond that.
       
      This is 2019 and I was on the wheel with my father sitting beside me and my Sony A6000 DSLR in the rear seat to click the beautiful places. It was 4:30 in the morning, I fired the loud TDCi engine waking up others in my house at Ramachandrapuram. We hit the roads and it was all nostalgic.
       
       
      The roads were bad, full of potholes and very bad curves. This gave me a new experience to drive on those village roads full of potholes and truck traffic from the opposite direction with high beam. Made me explore Yanam and the nearby mangroves and getting to know the place beyond beach and of course the beautiful Jesus statue, reminded my father of his childhood and the hotel where he used to sometimes eat and now we having  our breakfast which is still running with the same quality at Drakshramam. This also proved how beautiful my car is gliding  over those big potholes with very loud and uncomfortable sounds in the cabin and  zero underbody hits. making this another memorable road trip. 
       
      Vijayawada to Hyderabad
       

      I’ve done multiple trips between Hyderabad-Vijayawada on our Honda City as well as Ford Freestyle as my father is posted there. But this will be remembered.
       
      This unexpected drive for few minutes under the railway bridge tested my knowledge on flood water driving, knowledge can be acquired by learning but not experience. And this kind of experience is very rare. This tests our skill, It’s a do or die situation. Drive well and come out of the pool or get stuck ruining your car permanently. 
       
      The experience was all together a very different one. This kept me in a situation where It was all on me. No one to help me, guide me or drive the car. This proved the capabilities of ford Freestyle and my driving skills. The punchy low end torque never worried me or gave a feel of stalling. It never lost the grunt. I successfully came out of it which doubled my confidence in driving and my love towards the car.
       
       
      Accidents & Incidents 
       
      It was 24th of April, 8:45 in the morning. I was driving towards Suchitra Junction to meet my father’s colleague and take my internship certificate which I forgot in her cabin the previous day. I tuned into 98.3 radio mirchi my favourite radio station and was just 5 minutes away from my home when the unexpected saddest thing happened.  

       

       

       
      A construction truck which was coming from the opposite direction taking a 90 degree banged into my car’s rear third quater leaving a really bad damage. It was a hit and run case. Many villagers ran behind him but he fled away leaving me in utter grief. The impact was huge but the damage was small considering the impact.
       
      Did anyone remember this? “the impact was small, but the damage was really huge” “A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind” and this proved to be the right choice, the safer vehicle. 
       
      It was 31st of July, 3:30 in the evening, I was driving  from Tellapur towards Kompally on ORR. An incident which taught me the meaning of hydro planning, made me realise the power of water and yet again made me fall in love with my car.   
      It was raining, the road was good obviously because it’s the ORR a Hyderabadi drivers favourite, the road was empty and there’s a water pool that can be seen on the left most lane.
       
      A child in me touched triple digit speeds (100kmph) from 80kmph wanted to spill the water and went straight onto the waterlogged pool only to loose control over my car. The vehicle immediately lost traction, drifted towards the right, steering was out of my control for few seconds, I tried very hard to steer the car to the left keeping it in the lane and I succeeded.
       
      All thanks to the traction control that my car has. This taught me how much dangerous water can be and the force of water. Never after this incident I touched triple digit speeds during rains. 
       

       
      To sum it up, Freestyle is a car that definitely puts a smile the drivers face. Particularly the TDCi. It’s rightly called a pocket rocket. 

      Freestyle is not about luxury, its rugged, rough, not so comfortable when compared to the competition, the interiors are hard, the plastics are not placed well but as said before its lal about ruggedness and practicality. Once you are behind the wheel of a Ford you’ll forever be the fan of Ford.
       

       
      Srikrishna Bhavaraju
      A true Ford Lover


    • By Ranger
      Current status:

      Hyderabad to Tuni : Good
      Tuni to Chilka : under construction
      Chilka to Kolkata : Good
       
      Information shared by @ARAY
       
      ***NH 16 - Route update***
      Folks planning for a road trip via NH16 to WB next weekend for Durga Puja, please be aware of the latest road conditions. Post Tuni till South Chilka is getting a major road expansion for last 8+ months as we all know.
       
      Diversions and all are manageable, however with the recent torrential downpour in the region the soft soil has washed off exposing the cemented Culverts and small bridges that are constructed at the first phase of any NH build or expansion.
       
      Due to the absence of proper markings and boards this is more risky. Absence of soft soil or temporary soil in general will further make the cemented bridges even more harder to climb and slush and soft mud can make the situation tricky.
       
      People driving low slung sedans and hatchbacks please be careful, there is a high probability of underbelly hits while making the ascend to and decent from the bridges. People with FWD SUV be careful of lateral torque steer in the slush making the car go sideways and out of control.
       
      A close friend of mine while driving to Assam has severely damaged the front left lower arm, track rod for steering and partially the ball joints of Honda city. He took that ascent at roughly 32kmph as per his GPX data.
      Use caution drive slow post Tuni and have a very safe trip everyone !
       
       
    • By Indrasen
      Hello travelers,
       
      I am planning for a trip from Hyderabad to Varanasi, does anyone has idea about which route to take? I have to visit Nagpur for sure.
       
      Thanks in advance!!!
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