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SOUTHERN INDIA  DIARY  2

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From Diary 1, and the gluttony, it is time for adventures.
25.
I get an early start (and was wide awake at one, three and five as well). Somehow, the hotel is able to display new things at the breakfast buffet as well, and that does slow me down a bit. Never the less, I am ready for adventure just before eight.

I head towards the western shore, but not as fast as I had expected: There are a lack of direct roads. My first sight is 64 kilometres away by air, but 142 by road. And the first 30 kilometres is within Pune, not fast at all. The traffic is intense, but it keep flowing - even though the lights turn red from time to time.

When I finally make it out of the town, it is still suburbs along the road, and the road is being renewed. Well, they have removed the surface, but hardly begun on the now. That last for another 30 kilometres. Then I reach the very dry bushlands, and the road drops a few hundred metres from Pune's 550 metres height.

I pass a few other cities, and then I turn into the real light populated low mountains. At first, here are a bit of farming, but that vanish soon. And the road is still being renovated. Some places by hand, others by huge machines. I follow a huge lake for a long time, but never make it to its shore.

It is a real nice drive - beside from the surface of the road, and I wished I had time to stop many more times. But when I see some huge Euphorbia bushes, I just have to stop.
I also see some animals; Peacocks, chipmunks and monkeys are the most common wild animals. Here are quite some cows, and some areas have a lot of donkeys. Sheep and goats can be seen, and hens are common in the villages.

A real pointy mountain peak is dominating the horizon for a long time, and it turns out to be my target: Raigad Fort. Here are several mountains, some deep canyons and great nature in general. It is really dry, but the yellow grass indicate a rainy season, and most trees are green still. Some are actually flowering massively. It is farmland, but I also see a lot of nature and a fortification.

The road head up the pointy mountain, but not for long. The last three and a half kilometres are by a staircase - and a lot of places, they intend to build a staircase one day. It seems like every stretch of Indian road and alike is being renewed.

It have turned twelve, and I find a couple of small vegetarian "burgers" and a milktea.  It sets me back around 0,40. Then I start climbing the stairs. Here are a few Indians doing the same, but I see no pale ones. I think I get my portrait taken around 50 times, mainly as selfies. I also get to be on live videos, but it is even more time consuming, and I start saying No. I start at 425 metres height, and end at 875 metres.

The views from the trail is fantastic. Huge, partly yellow mountains and valleys to all sides. After a long time, I finally se the fortification on the top. A fee have to be paid at the old gate - 12 times as much for me, as I'm pale.
Inside are a lot of nice nature and a few buildings, scattered over a surprisingly huge area. Most are build in the local granite, and the blocks fits perfectly, despite they are not exactly square. Here are several huge ponds, one is sill full.

I walk through the old market, to get to a large building on one peak.  It is the Jagdishwar Temple, and what appears to be a garden. In the other end of the plateau, the Queen's Palace is found along with a whole city of ancient buildings. I recon it will take at least a full day to see it all.

I don't have that, and start the long walk down. Some men are chiselling new blocks into shape, while the women carry the finish product on their heads. I make it down, and celebrate with a masala tea, before I head on.
My next target is at the sea side, and again, I chooses the "direct" road, right through the mountains.

It is yet another beautiful drive. I even remember too gas the car, before it get too remote. Here are a few villages along the road, and cows on it. Here are also a little, poor town. As I get closer to the sea, there start to be straw huts. I cross a few almost dry rivers, and meet the mangrove. Again, the road is only finished is small stretches.

As the road get close to the sea level, here start to be some water buffalos. On some fields, clay is formed into building blocks, but only a few places, they actually bothers to burn them. I pass an old temple, and meet the sea. I stop, and find a Baobab tree. While I make photo of is, I block the beach-road for a oxen wagon.

I reach the coast, and the fortress of Murud-Janjira is clearly seen out in the sea. It is too late to see it now, and I head on to the sea-village; Murud with hotels. I get a nice room, and make a stroll along the beach in the last sun beans, and then through the cosy village. Fish and vegetables are the most popular trades.

Cows are everywhere, and they do get a hard smack over their noses, every time they steel a tomato or alike, of start walking in to a shop. The beach is extremely vide, and the water so shallow. Despite the lack of light, I try to capture the people and houses in the village.

Some ask to get their photo taken, others deny my polite request. When it defiantly is too dark for photos, I find a local restaurant, and get a nice vegetarian masala. Here at the coast, the number of Muslims explodes.
I sit and work to eleven, but keep falling asleep. Guess I can finish, when I wake up during the night. The Golden Mountains, Raigad Fort and Murud town.

26. I start working before seven, hoping to finish, find breakfast at a little stand at the beach, and see the sunset over the Murud-Janjira fortress. I am sure one can hire a boat and see the fortress from inside, but I get enough from the shore. Here are several dogs with poppies and lots of nosy cows and calves. I have 424 kilometres to Ellora, and the GPS estimate a bit more than four hours. Somehow, it think 100 Km/h is possible - in average!

The first part is by known road, and it is not one of the better ones. Then I reach a newly renovated one, but it is just one lane through a forest, and real twisted. As I avoid an approaching car, I hit a rock, and cut two holes in a tire. I can easily stick my thumb through. I change tire within five minutes, but the spare tire is rather deflated. It felt hard, but not enough.

I find a tire-fixer in Puli, and despite he does not speak English, and I not Hindi, we agree; he try to find another tire, used or not. Meanwhile, I see the town. I start ordering masala tea, also known as milk tea. I get two small omelettes in buns and some fried slices of potatoes. Well, it is a bit early for lunch, but what?

Then I walk the town. It is quite clear; they are not use to tourists at all! I char with some, get photographed with more, and even find a supermarket. Biscuits, oatmeal and sugar is on demand, and then I head back to the car. He did not find another tire, but used two truck-patches and added a hose. Fingers crossed!

The next part is by the usually partly renovated road, and most is without sealing. It leads into the low mountains on the most twisted road I ever driven. Then is turns into four lane toll road, but I get through five tolls without paying? It turns out I have a gismo in the windshield. It is a four lane road, two in each direction - or that was the intention. 

The outer one is mainly for mopeds and motorcycles, tuc-tucs and tractors. The outer is filled up by just as slow trucks. Cows and alike are everywhere. The cars, like mine zigzag through it all. And the de-tours around the middle concrete wall, make the locals use any lane. My car are, like most others limited to 80 Km/t - real annoying!

I get right through the centre of all towns and cities, and the speed is low at best. And it is NOT a straight line at all! In the countryside, it is a dry grass landscape, with only a few watered vegetable fields. I pass a few camels and quite some ox wagons. Here are small trucks with people is two layers, cows and water buffalos, chickens, religious stuff and everything else. I pass some camels, and a pack-horse caravan crosses the road.

When I'm 80 kilometre from my target, which I thought I could reach in daylight, a tuc-tuc turns into me. It flips over, and the numerous passengers are hurt. My suffering front tire is cut real open this time, and I find the side of the road.

Despite I fear a lynch-atmosphere, I turn back to the incident-site. A lot of motorcycles and cars have stopped, and the tuc-tuc are turned back on its wheels. Besides from a hurt and hysteric woman, everyone is calm. The wounded are brought back to town, and everyone leaves, but five men.

What I think is the driver ask if my car is hurt - in Hindi, and we have a look at it. It is rather damaged: Front corner torn off, review mirror in the passenger seat and as mentioned: A flat tire. Another man tell me to book into the nearby hotel, and wait for the police to record my claim. I make a photo of the number plate, found on the ground.

It is a rather expensive hotel, but without shower, blanket and Wi-Fi - but what can I do way out in the countryside? I just hope, I don't get to spend much time here. It seems like GoogleMaps and my GPS are way too optimistic for once, and I get to spend way more time driving in India, than expected. If I get to drive again...At nine, I realises; the police will not turn up, and I head back and change the tire for at third time today.  Central road, Puli and more road.

I've better start on Diary 3, and shake the bad luck.

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