Around the country in 9 days: A road journey on the Golden Quadrilateral

The beginning

It all began with a wish. So it does, in most of the cases, right? The wish. The wish to explore the country on wheels. The wish to do it in one drive. The wish to drive on that way, before everyone else, literally everyone else does that, just like it is with Ladakh these days. The wish, not mine, but my brother’s. He had been thinking of doing this road trip with his friends. The whole plan had been laid out. The suitable friends had been sent the invitation to join in. Two agreed. Finalized: across the country in 10 days, three young men, 12 states, 3 UT’S, one road, ONE trip: THE GOLDEN QUADRILATERAL.

So how do I come into the picture? Well, because how could I have missed such an opportunity. Post constant requests and agreeing that I’d not trouble anyone, I was given a thumbs up. The sole purpose of taking me along, probably, was because I'd be able to write it down and make the memories live a little longer.

We started from Ambala on August 4 at 5:15 pm. The two other friends of my brother were to join us from Delhi. And Ahoy! We had a very furry traveler too with us, a month old Beagle, that we were to deliver to our family friends in Mumbai. So that made us a total of five until we reached Mumbai. Entered Delhi at 7:50 pm, we headed straight towards Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib, for how could such a long journey be begun without gaining some peace of mind and the blessings of the One. We met my brother’s friends and then commenced off the real journey at 10 pm from Delhi. How life would take turns literally, this trip was to teach us. How this country envelops a diversity of people in a land of 3,287,263 km squares. How these people speak tons of languages, tons of dialects and how yet they have survived, lived, loved, for centuries and how they continue to do so, it was this one trip that taught us almost everything.

The First day- August 5

We traveled all night, amongst five of us (Chubby the Beagle didn’t yet have his license), it was only my brother who was to drive throughout the trip. We crossed the first major city, Jaipur, at 2:45 am. The first half sleepless night was exciting, exciting because it was first. This was to continue for a few more days, and in my heart, I was starting to dread that, for a lover of comfortable sleep I am, this was something I was to compromise on. And to stay awake and not do anything (not even drive) was more difficult (this is how I justify my not doing anything but trying to stay awake). We were driving continuously for our plan was to reach Mumbai by the end of the first night. We reached Udaipur at 10:45 am, stayed for a while at Lake Pichola and went to a restaurant to freshen up and have our brunch. Also, this is how we were to freshen up for most of the days later. Find a nice/not so nice restaurant, freshen up, have the meals and leave again. An important fact to be considered here, the restrooms at the Petrol Pumps of our country are still the filthiest.

The first change of states happened at 2 pm when the wheels, along with us, entered the state of Gujarat with not so great roads in the beginning. At 5 pm we were in Vadodara where we stayed for a while, visited the very famous Laxmi Vilas Palace and the local market. We had our evening snacks at a bakery shop. By this time, we had still wanted to reach Mumbai and not halt anywhere else for the night. So again we began. At 10:45 pm, we had traveled 1580 km’s since we took off from Delhi and we decided that Mumbai was still far and it had been a long day and night, it wouldn’t be foolish to halt and begin again the next day. The hotels had not been booked in advance, for there were too many destinations and it was precisely not possible to take on decisions beforehand regarding reservations. So on our way to Daman, we shortlisted a hotel for us, reached there, and were denied the room. Not because they were pre-booked, but because they wouldn’t allow our four-legged friend there. So another hotel we went in, hiding Chubby while one of us kept the manager busy. My whole purpose entire night was to keep him from crying.

The Second Day- August 6

Early morning, hiding away our furry friend, we checked out from the hotel to explore a bit of Daman. We visited the first beach of our trip, had ourselves touched by the black sand of Daman, and what a treat that was, the first waves of water, scaring us, exciting us, calling us, dreading us, making us fall in love with this amazing world, which was new to us, which had been waiting for us, for which we had been waiting. What an amazing experience that was; and we knew a lot more was yet to come, yet to greet us and amaze us.

After we had a few early morning snacks, and drying up Chubby who had the first bath of his life at the beach, we set on the journey again. Having traveled for around 47 km’s, we entered the state that proudly acclaims itself in its pride and glory and wondrous history of Rajas and Maharajas. Maharashtra, of all the states we were to travel in this road trip, had the most beautiful roads to offer us, as plain as butter and to add to the extra topping, the beautiful landscapes, the mountain ranges were a delight to be looked at and awe in wonder. We reached our family friends’ place where we were to halt for the night. The word nostalgia was only discovered to describe the feeling one has whiled away from home. And while we entered our second home in Thane, that was exactly the feeling I had. Home. Home is where your family is, and this was it. With much love and much more Punjabi love, we were greeted with the Ghar Ka Khana, these three words have more importance in the life of a traveler and a hosteller. And while they busied themselves in taking care of the newest member of their family, Chubby (who was to be named Pluto later), we had rest, we had rest at home. What a good day’s sleep that was. In the evening, we decided to go around and visit the Gateway, in order to mark the completion of the first milestone of our trip. We walked around for some time, clicked some pictures, made some clichéd poses, had fun, made fun of each other and took the local train back home.

The Third Day- August 7, 2017

Waking up was no easy a task that day, we were to miss that bed, that home and that feeling that we were with our family. A quick breakfast, we bid adieu to everyone, the hardest goodbye was the one with Chubby. He had been with us until now, we had got used to his sleeping in our laps and on our feet while in the car. He was one adorable travel partner, who was to end his journey with us. So there went Chubby, with his permanent roommates. And we took off for our journey without him. We reached Lonawala at 12:30 pm, visited the falls there, made some crazy videos, saw a lot of crazy Indians with their families. How I wonder, the hard work of Indian parents. Despite living in such a populous country, with amenities good or bad, they still manage to take out their families on weekend getaways and spent time with them. It's amazing. This was a long drive, for the state was big, never-ending. We entered Karnataka at 8:15 in the evening, having driven a total of 2215 km’s since we began. We were not planning to stay for the night in a hotel, so the plan was to have dinner, drive, rest for awhile in a parking, and begin again. And that we did. And what a tiresome sleep it was. This was the first time I came to regret asking my brother to take me on this road trip. But what is life without a few troubles? As much as I love to sleep, and as much as I missed a comfortable sleep on that trip, I love the fact that I took that trip, I love the fact that I’m able to jot down what I had experienced.

The Fourth Day- August 8, 2017

We reached Tamil Nadu at 9 in the morning and decided to halt at a restaurant in Vellore for our routine freshening up and eating. The Vellore Kitchen as the name was called, had the best Thali (just second after the North Indian Thali of course). Our second halt for the night was to be at Puducherry where we reached at 3:40 in the evening. What a long ride that seemed to be, from Vellore to Puducherry, with imagining myself to be given a comfortable mattress and resting for a whole two days and then leaving back for Ambala by air. Nothing of that happened though, except for the comfortable sleep. Puducherry, so far as this trip had been covered, was the best. Bustling markets, young men, and women roaming together on the Marine Drive, old men, the senior citizens sitting together, busy in their tete-a-tete, fisherwomen with their fishes, tiny beautiful cafes with that feel of French all around the city. I had the best of Pasta from an authentic Pasta couple, no one else seemed to like that Pasta though. We had our dinner at another restaurant then, and came back to our hotel, for what awaited us was a warm and cozy sleep.

The Fifth Day- August 9, 2017

A hot water bath, followed by a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel, we bid adieu to Puducherry, visiting another beach on the way back, exploring the French colonies with their yellow and orange houses and buildings, sent some love to our friends and families by mailing them some wonderful local postcards. Our next halt was Mahabalipuram at 1:20 pm, having covered 3255 km. the shore temples, with all the history attached to them, were beautiful. We managed to get some really good pictures of the temple in isolation, despite the fact that it is a popular tourist place, with both Indians and foreigners. The city as old as the legends behind it was beautiful in its own way.

Driving our way past this state, we reached Chennai at 3 and Chennai would be our third most preferred place in terms of the roads it has after Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Once we were to cross this South Indian belt, it would be a rare sight to find such roads, until the Delhi-Agra Expressway. We had the best Biryani (best because, for Punjabis, Biryanis and Pulao are the same things), went on to visit the very famous Marina Beach and playa round the sand and water. For this was the completion of our second milestone, we had the world (the few 4-5 people who were around us) know it, we wrote it large and visible on the sand: CHENNAI- 3310 KM. Wow! What a feeling that was. Even though my brother and I, along with our parents have traveled a lot, but this was different. It was crazy, and it was beautiful.

And the drive continues.

The Sixth Day- August 10, 2017

A long long night again and an even longer day followed, for we were not to halt anywhere except for the meals. Andhra Pradesh seemed like the biggest of all the states and with the most number of Black Points on the Highway. A very interesting thing to be noticed about the Highways of India, especially this one, is that one will be blessed by the sight of cows everywhere. They serve the purpose of barricades, literally and honestly. And as a matter of fact, there is no one to look into this matter. We had planned to take a detour from the Highway to Puri, in order to visit the Gurudwara Sahib commemorating the visit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Puri, and also the much popular temple Jagannath Puri. Amidst the road that went through villages, with people busy buying things from the tiny shops and vegetable vendors. Odisha was the first state where I witnessed people pooping in open right on the sides of the national highway. And we thought we had advanced! Still a long way Mr. Modi!

We reached the temple premises and parked our car. Walked through the extremely busy road, with Dharamshalas and Lodges on both the sides, flower vendors covering their entrances, and soon we were greeted by an out of nowhere Priest (that he called himself), and he requested us that he show us around the temple for a simple fee of hundred bucks, to which we agreed. Not knowing, that he was to forcibly make us buy the Prasad worth some 500 bucks (that was the lowest amount, the highest went up to 51000 bucks!!!).

He did show us around, told us some interesting facts, the most interesting one is the temple having one of the largest kitchens in the world. We had already planned our halt at a historical Gurudwara in Puri, constructed near the place where Guru Nanak Dev Ji had written some of the verses. Had our dinner at a very basic local dhabha, because it was quite late in the night. Before calling it a night, we went to the beach where the only sound was that of the waves.

The Seventh Day- August 11, 2017

Early the next morning we paid our regards at the Gurudwara Sahib, had tea langar, and set off again. The beach was right in front of the Gurudwara Sahib and how it was the same place which was so tranquil the night before, was gushing with the sound of tourists now. The next major halt was the last metro city of this route- the city of Joy, the city of No Refusal Taxis, the city of Tagore, the city of laid-back days and underground metros- Kolkata. Without any stop on the way, we reached Kolkata around afternoon, had our lunch, parked our car and took a taxi to the India Museum, followed by another to the Victoria Memorial and then to the College Street. Roamed around the markets, the narrow bookstore lanes, visited another historical Gurudwara, roamed a little more, and off to K.C. Das sweet shop to buy Roshogullas for our dear families and friends at home. It is one of the most famous sweet shops in Kolkata and what is Kolkata without Roshogullas. To not forget was that this city had us stopped by a policeman for we unknowingly had trespassed the tram lane. But Indians always have their ways, I hope we understand what I’m trying to imply here. The night was spent in a very budget Oyo room.

The Eighth Day- August 12, 2017

We quickly got ourselves ready, had the free Oyo breakfast and headed over to the Princep Ghat. Apart from us, there were only two other people there. What I said about laid back Kolkata was indeed true. Kolkata to Varanasi without a halt was our plan for we did not want to miss the very famous Ganga Arti. The roads of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh were definitely not a treat for our journey. Had it not been the roads, we wouldn’t have missed the Arti by just a few minutes. Yes, we missed it. it was sad but then, satisfying ourselves with a thought of coming back exclusively to Varanasi again was the only option. We had a quick dinner and visited the Ghats and the market, bought a few Silk scarves and sarees. The night was to be spent in a hostel, and it was a good one.

The Ninth Day- August 13, 2017

We had our breakfast on the streets of Varanasi, the local food. The cheap and the best one. Not to be missed is the special Lassi. The trip was to come to an end by the end of this day’s evening. The highway that our car drove on from Allahabad till New Delhi was laden with butter, a bit of exaggeration here, though the worst highway patches were also in Uttar Pradesh.

Had our lunch on the way at some dhabha on the way near Kanpur. Lucknow expressway joining Lucknow and Agra of 300 km does not have a fuel station on the entire way. We clicked a few last photographs before entering Delhi, marking an end of our trip. We entered Delhi in the evening. A hell of a trip this was indeed and it came to an end, like a full circle.

The End, and a new Beginning
Of all the things we experienced on the roads and cities of this country, the one that has stayed with us forever is the true realization of a fact we are being taught since childhood in our schools: that India is a diverse country. Prior to taking this trip, this fact lay hidden in our books and in the back of our minds but having traveled far and wide has actually made us believe it. Language, religion, states, customs, and traditions are not barriers, these are what make us different and our differences are what make us stand strong as a nation. We ended this trip with a hope of embarking on new journeys, with better thoughts and better vibes and a hope of collecting more memories and gaining as much expereince as we can while we still have the time life and journey.


Vivekananda House, Chennai​


Chubby, the furry being who gave us company till Mumbai​


Victoria Memorial, Kolkata​


Fishermen of Odisha​

The magnificent Thali at The Vellore Kitchen, Vellore​


It was a surprise to see such a place in Rajasthan.

The Ghats of Varanasi​

Mahabalipuram, the Sunken City​


Fuel- Rs. 27451

Food- Rs. 8407

Stay- Rs. 6723

Toll taxes- Rs. 5546

Miscellaneous- Rs. 4216 (Cab in Kolkata, tickets to museums, parking in Kolkata, Puri and few other cities, metro in Kolkata, Boat ride in Odisha, State taxes, train tickets in Mumbai, Prasad at Puri, beach ride at Daman)

Total- Rs. 52343 (for four people)