By Eugene Vaz
Its a Dream come true
Pros : Everything in the car
Cons : boot should be a little bigger
THE BIG TRIP
Hi, I am Eugene Vaz from Goa, was a die hard fan of my Swift VDI and when the new Swift hit the market, I immediately decided to change to the new one. I booked the new Swift ZDI in August, 2011 and was promised delivery in 2-3 months. Since I also have a Ritz VXI, I decided to sell my old Swift VDI a month later as I was offered a good price and I always change my cars every 3-4 yrs. After a long wait of 6 months I was offered the new Swift Dzire ZDI as the Swift was still not in stock. One look at the new Swift Dzire and I agreed to go for it. On the 11th of February I took delivery of the new Swift Dzire ZDI and discovered that the car was a lot more than I had expected it to be since I had not even test driven the car.
My family consists of me, my wife Erica, my 13yrs old son Erol, and my 11yrs old daughter Euphrasia. All of us are Roadies and fond of long drives. We have done almost the whole of south India with our Alto LXI and the swift VDI. We make it a point to drive out almost every vacation. On the 5th of April we decided to go on a real long drive this time, and all of us were excited about this trip. After a lot of discussion we finally decided we would be doing Goa to Ladakh with the new swift Dzire. After inquiring on the net I realised that due to heavy snowfall the road from Manali to leh was still closed and may not be open for us. Anyways we decided to go ahead with the trip and Called it THE BIG TRIP.
Day 1 First lap Goa - Mumbai
On the 9th of April my wife, 2 kids and I set out on our first lap Goa to Mumbai(580kms) at 1200hrs and after a mouth-watering seafood lunch at Sawantwadi(60kms from Goa) we continued our journey. We were in Mumbai at 2130hrs and stopped at a friends house to spend the night.
Day 2 Second lap Mumbai to Ahmedabad
The next day was the second lap. We left Mumbai at 8am and enjoyed the drive to Ahmedabad which was also a speed test for the new Swift Dzire where we clocked 170kmph on the speedo. The car was so steady even at such high speed that I could even take my hands off and click a picture of the speedometer. We reached Ahmedabad at 4pm but the weather was terribly hot (42deg). We went about seeing the pathetic city and finally checked in a hotel for the night.
Day 3 Third lap Ahmedabad – Mount Abu – Udaipur
The next day being the third lap, we left at 0700hrs had our breakfast at Himmatnagar and proceeded further to Mount Abu(288kms). On reaching Ambaji we realised that the road to Mount Abu was closed for hot mixing and we were forced to take a diversion via Virampur. The drive on this lonely road was terrific as we crossed the Ambaji wild life sanctuary from where we reached Iqbalgad . At 1300hrs we reached Mount Abu, saw most of the points and had a sumptuous lunch at Sher E Punjab. After shopping for some handicrafts we finally left for Udaipur(175kms). We reached Udaipur at 1830hrs and were overjoyed on seeing our suite at the Inder Prakash Palace hotel. The room was a Royal traditional one and the Rajasthani style dinner on the roof top complimented it. After a good drink and a lovely dinner we went for a walk as were right opposite the Lake Fatehsagar. I must say that the New Swift Dzire is an anti fatigue car.
The next morning we went to see the Udaipur palace which is the oldest dynasty and currently being ruled by the 76th generation, the crystal museum simply spelled out the kind of lifestyle the Maharana’s lived, the vintage car gallery was a treat and a wonderful boat ride on the lake to end it. After a delicious lunch we went out shopping for some Rajasthani footwear, etc. and then for the unforgettable great Rajasthani camel ride.
Day 5 Fourth lap Udaipur – Chittodgarh – Ajmer - Jaipur
We checked out our royal suite at 0700hrs and headed straight to the famous Catholic Bishop House where we visited the Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral Church and the underground Prayer Chapel. We accidently happened to meet the parish priest who was overjoyed to see us and invited us for a cup of tea. He was amazed to learn that we had driven down all the way from Goa and was equally excited to hear of the trip ahead. After a beautiful moment of prayer at the Chapel we left for Chittodgarh(120kms). On reaching Chittodgarh we saw the ruins of the old city and stopped at a handicraft outlet. There we saw some exotic fabric sarees made from bamboo, banana and custard apple skin. My wife was amazed at the work of Japenese gold and zinc and quickly did her bit of shopping. Chittodgarh is famous for its zinc and the work on these sarees is done by a tribe of adivasi women by inserting sharp blades in their finger nails. From there we headed straight to Ajmer(260kms) and after visiting the Dargah Sharif we had a delicious lunch at the Mango hotel which is one of Ajmer’s oldest restaurant. On reaching Ajmer the temp. was 32deg. and by the time we finished our lunch in Ajmer and we leaving for Jaipur, it began raining with small hail stones. The temperature dropped to 16deg. in a matter of 10-15mins. On the way we saw sculptured articles made of the pure white famous Makrana Marble. We had a wet drive and finally reached Jaipur(245kms) at 1900hrs at checked in a lovely 3 star hotel.
The next morning we set out at 0800hrs and headed straight to the Authorised Maruti service centre as the second free service of my new Swift Dzire was due. By 1030hrs we were done with the service at the state of art service centre where the staff was very hospitable and more than happy to receive us. Then we went on to see the Pink city and covered almost the whole of Jaipur by 1800hrs.
Day 7 Fifth lap Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra – Delhi
We set out at 0800hrs after a mouth watering breakfast at Mc Donalds and headed straight to monument city of Fatehpur Sikri(215kms). On reaching Fatehpur Sikri we met a very friendly guide who took us around the ancient monument and briefed us about the history of the place. From there we left for Agra(45kms), the land of the wonder. We parked at the parking lot with great difficulty and then took the Green battery operated electric vehicle to see the Taj Mahal. We met another tourist guide who helped us bypass the long queues and with his influence got us inside. The first sight of the Taj was breathtaking and we gradually saw the whole architectural monument with all minor details being told to us by the guide. The guide then took us to one of the best places in Agra to have our lunch. After lunch we went to a sweet shop who sold the genuine traditional famous Agra Peta. We then saw the Red Fort and at 1600hrs left for Delhi(300kms). We arrived in Delhi at 2130hrs. and checked in a very comfortable hotel at Janpath close to Conaught place.
We had a tempting breakfast at Haldiram’s the next morning and then went on to see the important places in Delhi. By 1900hrs we had covered almost the whole of Delhi including tasting the famous Delhi chat, local sweets, gol guppas, and of course the variety of Pan, etc.
Day 9 Sixth lap Delhi – Chandigarh – Kullu Manali
Early next morning we checked out at 0630hrs and had a lovely breakfast of Parantha’s and desi Makhan at a dhaba just after entering Punjab. After a good fill we headed straight to Chandigarh(265). Wow Chandigarh is a beautiful city and after going around the city we proceeded to Manali(300kms) via Bilaspur. We had desi Murg makhanwalla for lunch at a dhaba on the way which was an awesome treat. We reached Manali at 2130hrs after a scary, lonely night drive and finally checked in to Hotel Lords Residency which was again a royal treat. Our hotel room overlooked the Beas river and the sound of the melting snow gushing down could be heard even with the doors and windows closed. The temperature on arrival was 9deg. and we all had to get into our warm clothing.
The next morning we witnessed the snow capped mountains from our balcony and the gushing water of the Beas river. The scenery of the conifers was breathtaking and so was the cold weather. We headed straight to the snow point at 14 mod as the locals call it after which the road ahead to Rothang pass and Leh was closed due to excessive snow, by military forces who had camped right in the middle of the road. We enjoyed playing in the snow, skiing, a Yak ride, an ATV ride and then headed to the another point where they have para – gliding activities. The gliding is done from 2 levels. For the high level gliding you are taken up the mountain by a cable ropeway where as to reach the point for the low level gliding you are taken up on donkey back. On our way back to the hotel we were stranded in a traffic jam due to a landslide. We then went to see the hot water spring and had a good dip.
The Climate of Manali lured us to spend yet another day and after the lovely non-veg breakfast we left for Naggar palace the Old capital of Manali(35kms). There we witnessed the ancient techniques of architecture and also saw at the museum the traditional lifestyle of the locals. The people were very friendly and warm hearted. We returned and spend the rest of the day exploring almost every nook and corner of Manali and also freaked on their local chicken and lamb delicacies. Since the road to Leh was closed, instead of returning home we decided to drive further and explore even more.
Day 12 Seventh lap Manali – Kullu – Mandi – Jahlori pass – Dharamshala
While checking out the next morning I happened to mention to the manager at the hotel, my disappointment of not being able to go to the Rothang pass due to heavy snowfall. The manager told us that we could try taking the risk of doing the Jahlori pass from Mandi, which is considered a difficult test for driving skills. We left for Jahlori pass(115kms) and discovered a really dangerous and narrow road. At some places we had to reverse 50-100 metres to let the oncoming vehicles pass. The destination was breathtaking and after 20mins we left for Dharamshala via Palampur(185kms). The steep winding non barricaded road was scary at some points but we enjoyed every bit of the drive. At 1700hrs we were at Dharamshala and went on ahead towards Mcleodganj. Again we were blessed to get a room with the view of snow capped mountains at the Uno Group of Hotels. We checked in and later went off to see the Dal lake, Kunal Pathri temple, and the Museum of Kangra Art.
Day 13 Eight lap Dharamshala – Dalhousie
After a lovely breakfast we checked out in the wet rainy and foggy weather to see the Buddhist Monastery, St John’s Church and Talnoo-Naddi. We then proceeded ahead on our way to Dalhousie(138kms) but unfortunately we took a road that was under construction and so we had to go almost 22kms on rough stones. In spite of this kind of bad roads we did not have a single flat tyre on the whole trip. The weather at Dalhousie was very pleasant and we saw most of the tourist points and also shopped at the Mall road. At 2000hrs it started raining and it rained the whole night.
Day 14 Nineth lap Dalhousie – Amritsar via Pathankot
We checked out at 0900hrs for Amritsar(190kms) and enjoyed the decent with the birds chirping and the sounds of the forest and gushing water cascades. We reached Amritsar at 1300hrs and decided to see the Wagah Border(35kms) the same evening. At 1530hrs we left for Wagah Border and after a tough struggle in the over crowded custom area we finally reached the gate. The lowering of the flag etc. was a wonderful experience where we were a stone’s throw away from Pakistan. Just before the Wagah Border there is a Toll Booth which registers the entry and exit of every vehicle. The 20year record at the booth showed that no car with a Goa registration had crossed in the last 20 years. It was a pride to hear that and they even clicked a picture of our Dzire and us.
Day 15 Tenth lap Amritsar – Manesar(Gurgaon)
We got out early next morning and paid a visit to the Famous Golden Temple and the Jalianwalla Baug. It was a wonderful experience to see these places, which we had read and learned about in school. At 1000hrs we checked out and hit the road to Manesar(520kms). The road was horrible as we encountered a lot of traffic due to construction of the new highway. Overall the drive was enjoyable and we reached Manesar at 2030hrs and checked in at Ginger Hotels for the night.
Day 16 Eleventh lap Manesar – Jaipur
We got up late next morning and after breakfast we headed straight for the Maruti Suzuki Plant. After a long wait we were welcomed by an retired Ex Army General who looks after a section of the plant. We were more than happy to be at the birthplace of our Swift Dzire. After some Tea and snacks we saw a glimpse of the Dzire assembly section and then when we had finished we left for our next destination Jaipur(240kms) . At 1930hrs we reached Jaipur and stopped at a hotel to spend the night.
Day 17 Twelfth lap Jaipur – Ahmedabad – Mumbai
Early next morning we hit the road and it was a wonderful drive with scenic beauty. With just 4 halts we reached Mumbai at 1800hrs and after such a long drive we were still fresh and went out for dinner to the Baggecha Restaurant in Malad, Mumbai to celebrate our 14th Wedding anniversary with some friends since this was the same place where we had our wedding reception 14 yrs ago. We stayed for 6 days in Mumbai and then finally did the last lap Mumbai – Goa to finish the BIG TRIP as we called it. The Car was simply unbelievable and made no fuss to do any kind of terrain. The total distance covered with local sight seeing etc. was 6980kms and I did the whole trip driving alone . Oh! what a trip.