Photography was not something which was going through my mind at that time. Took a short unplanned break in Bargarh as i was not driving in my full senses at that point of time which could have been disastrous.
I told my partners that this 10 mins is the last break before Bhillai and they are free to do anything to get back fresh. I parked my car in safe place, emptied a ltr bottle of water on my face, lit a smoke and went for a brisk walk (almost a jog) and finally it helped. In that time i came back after walking around 1.5-2 kms. I was sweating a bit but felt fresh. Saw my partners waiting for me. Couple of chit chats, each one of us trying to encourage others and we were moving again.
In such long drives if it is a solo drive one might get a bit bored sometimes or there are phases of dull moments and the monotony sometimes gets on to you, which might be for any reason. We can plan everything but sometimes things might go out of plan but here in this case managed somehow to keep us on track.
Bargarh to Sohela was slow paced, traffic was high and 4 laning was in progress in between and there were few diversions as well. We crossed Sohela around 6.30pm. Once we crossed Sohela, the truck traffic increased and we could not speed up. Such traffic continued till Orissa/ Chattisgarh border after Saraipalli. The OR/CH border was again in a mess. Huge lorry traffic on both sides and very little space to move. Got stuck in front of a truck which suddenly started reversing. He could have easily let me pass and then do what he wanted to do and alas all communication to them fell to deaf ears. Lost 15 mins there and when he let me pass by he was in same position where he began. Did not understand what he really tried to do.
After the OR/CH border truck traffic drastically reduced. But from thereon roads were very rough and patchy till Arang. Suddenly we entered a stretch of dense jungles and the roads curving along. With not much traffic in that stretch we had a eerie feeling and i remembered Kumar Sir's advice that do not stop in that region until and unless absolutely necessary. That border section had naxal as well as dacoity issues, and frankly speaking those roads were not that great that one would enjoy but driving through that road after dark is definitely a great experience. Couple of time, it happened like locals waving their torches asking us to stop and our heart suddenly beating faster thinking about all other possibilities,but while going past them understood that they were asking for a lift. I said sorry to myself but i could not take the risk of stopping there.
Sleep was something which we did not want to remember and we calculated small milestones at a time and that really helped; as in such roads one cannot do high speeds and if you are always thinking when we would reach our destination, again you would be demoralized keeping in mind the fact that we had been driving for so long with no sleep for almost around 36 hrs now and physically and mentally we had started to tire. But i feel everything is in one's mind. Toughness or weakness, everything is in your mind. There is nothing called impossible in my book. I knew if we could reach Mumbai in time our journey after that would be much easier. The challenge was till Mumbai and this is not a easy stretch.
We crossed Basna around 8. Facilities were bare minimum in these areas and in between towns. Basna to Pithora was again a dull period for us. Trucks, trucks and trucks and very rough roads and very few private cars plying. As kilometers passed we were slowly approaching Arang. We crossed Arang around 10 pm. We were very happy once we crossed the dysfunctional Arang toll as we were expecting 4 laned roads very soon. And to our joy few kilometers after the toll around Reewa we were zooming past the 4 laned roads. It was like we were in Paradise. Saw my partners somewhat dozing off, but i did not mind then, its been a long long day. We crossed by Raipur bypass and the Raipur Toll Plaza and were zooming towards Bhillai. Roads were empty and my Manza was gunning down his horsepowers and we were running 120 +. I was getting a bit impatient then. Made a short call to the hotel that we had crossed Raipur and ordered our dinner as their restaurant was about to close.
After very little searching and the hotel guy being with us on call we reached out hotel.
So we covered a distance of around 1028 kilometers from Kolkata to Bhillai in a days travel non stop. We were very happy.
Hotel details in Bhillai: Hotel Shakun, Contact person name is Surendra Kumar and contact number is 09229233945. Hotel good enough to spend a night. Food is also good and also accepts credit cards. Parking is in front of the hotel beside the owners car.
After that i guess every one know what was going to happen. Checked in, made some mandatory calls back home to family, copied the photos to my laptop, put the batteries for charging, had dinner, put alarm in all our mobiles and at around 1.30 crashed for the day and in seconds, might be before that even we were in some other world.
Plan for next day :
Wake up at 5 and leave by 5.30. Destination Mumbai. Around 1200 kms to travel in a single day and another tough challenge in our hand. Keep reading and stay tuned as the story unfolds..