12th Oct - Rishikesh to Lucknow
For the first time in the trip this day was a day of uncertainity for me. This is because I was not very sure of the route. There were multiple options and sub options. I had done a great deal of research on the net before. Had asked all my motoring friends and forums. And most importantly got a road update and option from HVK himself.
Had decided to start very early as was not sure about the timings between the stretches and also about the road conditions. But as it happens got up late. But still made it fast enough to be ready by 7.30 am and be on our way by 7.45 am.
Haridwar was reached very soon and we stopped for some time by the Ganges where its original path was. It was a wide expanse as compared to the channeled water which flows through the Har Ki Pauri ghat.
From here on it was the GPS and HVK's route. Was just checking which was our next point as per HVK and how the GPS was leading us to it. Of course as per my old fashioned driving I kept on asking people for there guidance also.
Went through Najibababad where the road was very confusing and we were lost in the by pass only to be redirected by some truck drivers. Roads upto Najibabad were very good though within the municipal limits it was bad and conjested. From there on we went to Nagina and went on our way to Kasipur.
In between stopped around Dhampur in a roadside Dhaba. Food was awesome and fresh. Typical North Indian Aloo Parantha sabzi and dahi / lassi. We were cutting accross the heart of North India.
From here on we reached Kashipur and till now were following HVK route. From here HVK had asked me to take the Jaspur Rudrapur route to Rampur and onward to Bareily. This was a slightly longer route but less traffic and better roads.
But we missed a turn where Kashipur was 2 km to the left. The GPS urged us to go straight as we had put Rampur as our destination so it took the shorter road through Moradabad. I would have realised but I also was chatting along with Partha and the rest and realised by mistake when I was standing in front of Moradabad station. Entry and exit Moradabad took nothing less than an hour and should be avoided under all circumstances. However we got further delayed as there was work going on in a flyover and we were rerouted. So if the flyover is on then options might be better.
From here on we carried on gamely to Rampur and then took another hour to reach Bareliy bypass. It was 2.30 pm and took an hour's break in a dhaba for lunch. From there on to Shahjahanpur to Hardoi was reached at 6.50pm.
It was already dark and the road was through some dense vegetation and forest area upto Lucknow. Traffic was less and the Xylo was speeding along merrily all alone when suddenly I slowed down as I found a big animal like a cow but slightly bigger than it crossing the road slowly. It was a Nilgai and I just could not believe my eyes that it was crossing so closely in front of me. It disappeared in the forest very soon. I did come up with another small crane type bird crouching and sitting in the middle of the road. It was pitch dark and before I could sense it the Xylo was on it. The 186 mm ground clearence saved the bird but I was not sure if other drivers would be as careful. The road was so very desolate that I also did not have the guts to get down to remove it. But thats the natural habitat of the birds and was sure that it would move away to safety.
The approach highway from Hardoi to Lucknow was very heavily forested and the atmosphere was very grim. After a long day we were also tiring though reaching a dream city of Lucknow was what was pulling us along. The Xylo was in full spirits as the car stereo started playing all Umrao Jaan / Pakheeza and similiar mujra style songs. We were hell bent on arriving in Lucknow in the typical Nawabi elegance.
Reached Lucknow around 8.15 pm but it took us another one hour to locate the hotel in Charbagh and it was almost 10 in the night when we finally got to settle in the balcony of this rather plush hotel for a relaxing time after a long days drive.
Next day was a complete rest for the Xylo though we ourselves would explore the dark secrets of the Nawabs of Lucknow
Stay tuned for the next edition..