Friday, July 26, 2013

The most memorable road trip of my life

Travelling was, is and will always be my passion. Be it with friends or family I love exploring new places and meeting different souls.
But this time it was different as it was a contest organised by Audi India in accordance with Channel V.

I was selected among the top 5 people who along with a partner were going to contest for a grand prize which was an amazing “Audi R8”.  Sahil my best friend was my companion for the trip.
The contest was a road trip whose starting point was Mumbai and destination was Ladakh.

Between Mumbai and Ladakh there were 4 halts and 4 tasks associated with them. The 5th and final task was to reach Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, the quickest. The one to have the best overall standing in the tasks was the winner. It was mandatory to complete all the tasks before you get to the final stop. Every contestant was given an Audi A4 to complete his journey. Man I couldn’t sleep the whole night before the day we were going to start for the ultimate Road trip.

The first stop of our journey was Gir national forest of Gujarat and along with that came the first task which was to click a pic of the king of animals “The Lion”. Gir is famous for its lions but taking a snap of the king requires a lot of courage.

Distance from Mumbai to Gir is around 800 kms. The journey is smooth and comfortable. Everything was normal till the time we hit national highway NH8. We had just traveled 5 kms when a girl came right in front of our car. We had goosebumps as it was night time and we had watched a lot of horror movies in the past. Scenes of Chudels stopping cars and killing drivers started revolving in my mind. Some how we gathered courage and got down from the car.
As we got near to her , she started sobbing. I asked her what was the matter. After 10 minutes of continuous crying she finally stopped and told us the story.
"I and my bf had decided to go on a long drive but it didnt end that long. He dumped me right here on this highway and left me alone to suffer. I tried to kill myself by getting in front of your car but that too didn't work", saying this she started crying again.
I told her that he were going to Gir National forest and will drop her on the way.

She hesitated first but having no other option agreed to come along.
Well she was a smart lady with an enormous sense of humor. I was amazed by the fact that someone dumped her. I told her about the trip and the grand prize. We exchanged numbers and off she went.

All the teams reached the first spot at the same time. We were to report at the Gir sanctuary main entrance where each one of us will be given a jeep to travel in the forest and complete our task.  We were to travel on our own and there was only a map of the forest for our aid.

We had a trick in our mind to disguise other teams. The plan was to plant a tape recorder which produces sound of roaring lion. In the starting as everyone was a bit frightened so they decided to stay together but we parted ways as we had to execute our plan. After travelling for couple of kms it was time to make the fake lion roar. But we hardly expected what was coming our way. As the fake lion roared, an original one jumped right out of the bushes and came roaring in front of our jeep.
We were so frightened and excited at the same time that none of us could hardly blink. Understanding the criticality of the situation, I kept my nerves and clicked a pic of the king without any flash and even sound.  We waited for the lion to depart and quickly drove back to the starting point.
We were happy to finish first in the task and take lead from the start of the journey.

The next spot was Udaipur.
The distance from Gir National Park to Udaipur is around 650 kms.
Rajasthan has always been a place known for its hospitality but this time we were proved wrong. We entered Rajasthan border with great memories of the awesome rajasthani food but it didn't last long as our car was stopped by a group of dacoits who only had bullets for breakfast.
Well driving an Audi has its cons also and the first one was right here.
We were asked to come out and hand over all our belongings to them.
Within 10 minutes police came there. Wondering how?

Let me tell you that Audi cars has this amazing technology where you can feed in the mobile numbers of your relatives in its memory. When in danger just press the white button on your car's key and an sms will be send to those relatives along with your location details.
Isn't that impressive ?. Absolutely yes and this is how we got out of trouble.

We were 2nd to reach the City palace of Udaipur, the spot to report at on arrival. The task was to get two pics. First was of the horse of Maharana Pratap , Chetak at the City Palace and second was of the Rolls Royce Phantom II at the vintage car collection. But that was not it. Another condition was that pic should also have people of 3 nationalities together in it. So at once we set off to find foreigners who would be glad to click a pic with us. Well girls never say no to 2 handsome hunks so our first target was a group of beautiful college girls and the tricked worked for us. It was a different thing that we also promised them for a drive in Audi A4. This time we came second in the task after John and his wife Jasmine who easily got foreigner boys go mad for her and stood first.

After exploring the city of lakes, Udaipur it was time to head to the city of golden temple, Amritsar.
The distance between Udaipur to Amritsar is 900km and it takes around 16 hours to complete the journey.  Amritsar is a beautiful city and spiritual centre for the sikh religion.
But for us it was neither spiritual nor beautiful but tragic. A woman on cycle got hit by our car. She was riding in the wrong direction and on seeing the car lost her balance...bang.!!! came the sound. Quickly tall police men with turbans came running in our direction.
I had cracked lot of jokes on sardars and this time I was sure they will return it back with due interest. Slap...Slap was how they started the conversation. We tried to explain them that it was not our mistake but words didn't do that for us, though 5000 bucks did. Again one of the few cons of driving an Audi. Quickly we got off and drove our way to Wagah border, the 3rd spot of the race.

Unfortunately we lagged behind and were 3rd to reach the destination.
The task here was to click a pic which had both India’s and Pakistan’s flag together. This happens daily during the retreat ceremony called ‘lowering of the flags’ but timing was the most important part in this task. Quickly we took our seats in the stadium and waited for the moment to occur.
This time 3 teams stood first and we were also one of them.
The competition was getting tougher between us and the couple from Goa, John and Jasmine.
3 Tasks were over and we were left with the last 2.

Next destination was Shimla, the queen of hills which was 325 kms from Amritsar.
We were enjoying the beautiful sight seeing of Shimla when something unusual happened.
Amid the hills we saw a small red shaped hill which was radiating heat from its sides and bottom.
Before we could guess what it could be, the hill shot up like a supersonic missile.
I was damn sure of spotting a UFO as it neither looked like a satellite or a newly added ammunition in India's kitty. Anyways we moved on.

We were the first one to reach Kufri , our destination in Shimla.
This time the task was a bit difficult. One person from each team had to Ski down the snow laden slope and the one to reach the finish line quickest was the winner.
I had learnt skating but was not sure if it could be of any help here. Anyways I decided to give a try.
To my amazement I finished 1st and man this brought us back in the game.
It was time to leave Shimla and had towards the final destination, Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh.

Ladakh is 710 kms from Shimla and it takes around 12 hours to cover the distance.
The most amazing part of this 710 kms is the beauty of Ladakh. Though Himalayas has lot of variety and beauty to offer, some places stay quite close to your heart and Ladakh is one of them.
One our way we were the witness to some incredible and breath taking sites.
No blue sky is like what we saw here. The beauty of brown hues and snow capped peaks is just amazing. The never ending plateaus, monks in their maroon robes and the predominating ochre colour leave an indelible imprint on the mind.

Amid the mountains while we were driving our way to LEH , we saw something suspicious.
There were movements along the valley of the hill on the far right side. I pulled out my binoculars and was terrified to see the sight. Around 20 people, fully loaded with rocket launchers and other heavy ammunition were moving swiftly. I donno how did it happened but I was spotted by the only person carrying binoculars in that group. After 2 minutes a rocket went flying just 3 feet from our car. Fortunately we had taken a local sim so I quickly called the jawan who's number I took in case of any emergency. Listening to the rocket blast sound the battalion at the nearest post were already in action. I could hear helicopter buzzing , the thump thump sound was all over the valley. We wanted to wait and see how those bastards were crushed by our army but we had our job done. Audi R8 was calling and we could hear it loud and clear, so we were back on track.

Pangong Tso is a 5 hour drive from LEH. The mountain roads are rough and dramatic.
There are lot of security checks along the path and an Inner permit is also required to visit the Lake as it lies on the Line of actual control.  

In spite of having so many beautiful things around our focus was determined on the grand prize “Audi R8” and we were just a step apart from it.
But this time there was no one to stop us from reaching first at the final destination “The splendid Pangong Tso lake” and winning the contest. As we reached the lake , Channel V team announced us the winners. The feeling of winning and seeing one of the most amazing place in India was just out of this world.
We were the proud owners of Audi R8. This was the best and will remain the most memorable road trip of my life.

 This post is part of contest "Perfect road trip" on Indiblogger.


  1. nice journey. i wish i was a part of this contest.

    1. well I too wish for the same to happen in real..;)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. too good..even my road trip was from mumbai to ladakh

    1. thnx it seems everyone is heading to ladakh this day..:)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Its always amazing to see Asiatic lions. Visit United-21 Vanvaso Gir Resort for affordable accommodation near Gir National Park.

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