Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LIFE MEIN LINEA - Bhutan Trip Day 0 & 1

A Once in a Life Time Trip to the

Land of Thunder Dragon BHUTAN

17.12.2010 (Friday)
When you are on a HATRICK Trip - how would you feel?

Well.. butterflies in your stomach!!!! First time YES!!!

Or Feel like ICEMAN Quiet, Calm Composed & Cool!!!!

That feeling that I have been there & seen it earlier!!!!

We were on a Hatrick Trip this year 2010 - 2011 and since 2008 - 2009 & 2009 - 2010 we have sucessfully completed 2 long trips in our FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX Petrol.

The 1st Trip was called "A Fiat Love Story" for 15 days 3334 kms in 2008-2009

The 2nd Trip was called "Mission Impossible" for 18 days 6800 kms in 2009-2010

This 3rd trip is called "LIFE MEIN LINEA" planned for 16 days close to 7500 kms in 2010-2011

The First trip was called A FIAT LOVE STORY. It was total of 15 days covering 3334 kms.

We started from Coimbatore on 20th December 2008 and we covered Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, part of Maharastra & went on to Gokak Falls in Karnataka and returned back via Belgaum, Dharwad, Sirsi, Kumta, Mangalore, Calicut back to Coimbatore on 3rd January 2009.

You will read the complete details in a seperate blog called MNFLS

Picture below taken on 28th December 2008 at Sawanthwadi on way to near Amboli Ghat in Maharastra State

The Second Trip was called MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.  It was total of 18 days covering 6800 kms.

We started from Coimbatore on 22nd December 2009 and we passed through Bangalore, Belgaum, Pune, Nasik, Sendwah, Ujjain, Guna, Agra, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer & finally the Camel Safari Camp on the India Pakistan Border Town of SAM.

The return journey was SAM, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Surat, Pune, Belgaum, Mangalore, Calicut & Coimbatore.

You will read the complete details in a seperate blog called MNMI.

Picture below taken on 29th December 2009 on the river bank of Narmada near Maheshwar Fort of Queen Ahalya Bai Holkar in Madhya Pradesh State

In both the earlier trips we had taken our FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX Petrol Car. We got this car in 2nd March 2006 January in Chennai with an odo meter reading 31260 kms.

On 2nd December 2010 the odometer reading was 160000 kms. It has served us extremely well and needed some well deserved rest.

My wife & kids & ofcourse myself too we all simply love this FIAT Palio GTX and my wife says that there cant be a better car which we all 4 agree. I believe women love the styling of the Palio!
Both my kids literraly grew up in this GTX and when we went to buy the Linea the Senior Sales executive in TAFE Coimbnatore was telling my wife Madam you can exchange your old car you have parked outside and buy this new Linea and she was so offended she looked at me & said let's go & she told the sales guy we are here to buy a new car and not for any exchange and in fact we left and we purchased the Linea in another showroom GEM Motors.
The best part of how much as a family loves the GTX is that on 2nd Dec 2010 when we purchased the Linea it was raining heavily & I am the only driver and with my parents, wife & 2 kids  and when we took off in the Linea.
My wife & kids literraly had tears in their eyes as we were leaving behind the GTX & my wife asked me the poor GTX is it going to stand whole night outside in the rain?
I said what?
I did not know how much she loved it till that comment. I said unfortunately that showroom does not allow our car to be kept inside & we have to leave it out.
We came home by 9.30 pm and you know what neither my 2 kids & wife came out to see the brand new Linea worth Rs.10L parked inside and they were in bed saying poor (paavam) GTX in tamil.
My wife looked at me & said I don't know what you do but that Palio GTX has to be here tomorrow morning & you know what I took a taxi early in the mrong by 8.30 am and went to that showroom & drove back the GTX and parked it in its covered car parking by putting the Linea outside.
Even today I park the Palio GTX in the covered parking & Linea is still outside only. Talk of preferences!!

It was time to look out for a new car & the only choice was either a FIAT Grande Punto / Linea.
Initially we looked at FIAT Grande Punto 90 BHP Hatchback.

We had to move over to Linea as it had bigger boot space & space inside was luxurious and it was a Premium Sedan.

We finalised the top end FIAT Linea 1.3 Multijet Diesel Bossa Nova White Color Emotion Pack with Dual Air bags & Alloy Wheels, ABS, EBD fully loaded.

On 2nd December 2010, it was an auspicious day and I took my parents, my wife Jamuna, Son Uthamkumar & Daughter Shri Meenakshi to TATA FIAT Authorised Showroom GEM Motors on Mettupalayam Road.

On a very heavy rainy & wet evening at 7 PM we performed a small ceremony and I requested my father to take the keys from the GM Mr.Tamilarasan of GEM Motors.

There  was a special cake made for the ceremony and kids simply loved cutting the cake and we took delivery of our Brand New FIAT Linea Multijet Diesel Bossa Nova White Colour.

The odo meter reading on 2nd December 2010 at 7.58 PM when we took delivery of the car and take it out of the show room was 65 kms on the LINEA.

Between 2nd December to 16th December 2010 I had been to Cochin, Calicut & to Tirunelveli on work & back and put 2000 kms on the odo meter.

There was some initial hick up in our proposed trip. I had still not yer received the original RC Registration Papers of the new car.

On 16th Dec I had to take the GM of GEM Motors to the RTO Office and we requested the RTO officer to issue us as I was travelling far.

As a fall back I was desperately trying to keep my FIAT Palio 1.6 GTX ready also. We got the RC paper on 16th December 2010.

With the RC paper in hand it was now back to the LINEA as our Official Carrier Car for the BHUTAN Trip. I had a detailed check list prepared before hand itself. I also had another detailed check list which is a must to have for any long distance driver. Preparation is more important than the journey.

Thanks to B.Raveenddrra from Hyderabad for sharing that check list.

Jamuna & myseld had already kept all cloths ready, we purchased quite a lot of winter wear cloths including inner thermal wear, gloves & socks etc for all 4 of us. the 2 days were very hectic in packing & loading up and ensuring that we had carried all our stuff.

17th December 2010 Friday & both the kids had gone to school. Shri Meenakshi had come from her Pre-KG class at 12 noon and we were waiting for our little Master Uthamkumar to come from his 2nd Standard class. He came at 4 pm in his van all eager to go on the trip.

We were now getting ready. By 6 pm we had scheduled to leave.

We also had to go to town to purchase shoes, medicines etc which were pending items and finally we left Gandhipuram at 10 P.M. Night.

We performed a pooja at home by praying to LORD GANESHA to ward off all obstacles and provide us a safe journey to the far away lands and bring us home back safe. Lord Ganesha is always with us.

Jamuna offered prayers for our safe trip and lit the camphor to take blessings from the LORD.

The starting kilometer reading of the trip was 2126 kms. Our neighbours Balasubramaniam & Family, Devi & her daughter Sanjana, wishing us all the best & BON Voyage to BHUTAN.

Honestly it was a big risk we were taking too by going into unknon lands so far away..


We went to the IOCL pump near to our house & we tanked up diesel.

We put 37.54 liters of Diesel @ Rs.40.49 per liter and paid Rs.1520/- @ Suresh Agencies IOCL Pump on Marudhamalai Main Road, Vadavalli, Coimbatore.

We loaded up the car what the kids wanted the most was their favourite Portable Philips DVD player with Creative Speakers connected to the DVD player,

I had a 12 Volt DC to 230 Volt AC convertor for power supply that was also used to charge the mobile phones & camera batteries etc   for them to have a blast at the back with their favouratire cartoons & other Tamil Movies.

After 2 successful back to back long tour in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 in our FIAT Palio GTX 1.6 all 4 of us were now on a HATRICK for this Year 2010-2011 in our new FIAT LINEA.

Here we GO!!!! BHUTAN here we come!!!!!

This Life Mein Linea Trip Schedule to BHUTAN was prepared and given to me by my special friend, my light house  Mr.H.V.Kumar who is called MAHA GURU of Indian Highways and is widely travelled and is well known in many automobile & travel forums.

My blog will not be complete without HVK's photo.

A Salute to a great person (whom my father called a Noble Soul) who has been helping so many travellers like me in this country & many foreigners who are visiting India too.

This trip was made possible because of his constant Calls & Support, help, advise and being with us right from start till end talking to us from his home & office from Mumbai.

We have a great regard, respect and love for HVK.

My kids have taken a fondness in calling him "KUMAR MAMA"

He just ensured that we "JUST DO IT".

His last sms on our completing our trip successfully was "CONGRATS on a Fantastic Drive! Take a Nap & the start planning the Next One!!!!!" 

Well now you know how much confidence he has on all 4 of us. He has suggested us to do the Himachal Pradesh / Sikkim next year.

Insha Allah lets see!!!

H.V.Kumar prepared our travel plan for us to follow and a seperate very detailed excel sheet giving complete details on the roads to take, fuel stops, food stops, whether to take left or right or whether to go below or above the flyover, taking by-pass even minute details were given to us by HVK.

No wonder he is known to us as walking talking GPS on Indian Highways.

MN - NORTH EAST INDIA DRIVE - Dec-10 (Travel Plan)

1 Coimbatore-Vizag 17-Dec-2010 = 1338 kms
2 Vizag-Calcutta 19-Dec-2010 = 878 kms
3 Calcutta-Phuntsoling 20-Dec-2010 = 830 kms
4 Phuntsoling-Thimphu 21-Dec-2010 = 191 kms
5 Thimphu 22-Dec-2010
6 Thimphu-Paro-Thimphu 23-Dec-2010 = 156 kms
7 Thimphu-Jakar 24-Dec-2010 = 307 kms
8 Jakar-Trashigang 25-Dec-2010 = 315 kms
9. Trashigang-Guwahati 26-Dec-2010 = 298 kms
10. Guwahati-Malda 27-Dec-2010 = 736 kms
11 Malda-Puri 28-Dec-2010 = 956 kms
12. Puri-Rajahmundry 29-Dec-2010 = 728 kms
13. Rajahmundry-Tirupati 30-Dec-2010 = 621 kms
14. Tirupati-Coimbatore 31-Dec-2010 = 488 kms

Total Planned distance = 7842 Kms
Day - 0

17.12.2010 (Friday) Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) to Chennai (Tamil Nadu) = 554 kms

  • Starting Place: Home Sweet Home Coimbatore Planned Start 6 P.M. Evening
  • Starting Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2126 km @ Coimbatore
  • Actual Starting Time: 10 P.M. Night
  • Arrival Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2680 km @ Chennai
  • Arrival Time: 7 A.M. Morning

Fuel Tanked up: 37.54 Ltrs of Diesel @ Rs.1520/- @ Coimbaore

The scheduled planned 6 PM start became 10 P.M. start due to some last minute shopping at R.S.Puram purchasing new Shoes for all 4 of us and dumping some unwanted things from our car and picking up few things from home. We were 4 hours late in our start.

We finally hit the road at 10 PM and from Gandhipuram we took the Satyamangalam, Ammapet, Andhiyur, Mettur route to touch the National Highway NH7.

This was the big mistake I made the road conditions from Mettur towards the National Highway is really in very bad shape & pathetic.

I lost another 2 - 3 hours due to extremely slow driving negotiating through a hell of lot of pot holes, finally we reached the National Highway cursing at the bad roads at mid night 2.45 AM. We were running 7 hours behind our schedule.

We drove on from Mettur to Krishnagiri and then took the route to Chennai. Initially we had planned to reach Nellore Andhra Pradesh through Tirupathi but we decided against this route as it would be lonely and took the Chenai route.

We drove from Krishnagiri through Vaniyambadi, Ambur, Kanchepuram, passing through Sriperambattur at Chennai and took the road to Red Hills driving through Anna Nagar, Ambattur and to touch the highway road that leads to Andhra Pradesh passing through Gummidipundi. Chennai to Nellore is about 130 kms.

Without any night halt at Chennai we continued onwards to Vijaywada. I just took a small nap called power nap some where before around Kancheepuram at 4.30 AM as I was very tired.

Toll Plaza Name
03.01 AM early morning
04.39 AM early morning
05.00 morning
05.58 morning
07.11 morning

Total Toll Gate Fees Paid from Coimbatore to Chennai Rs.201/-

Day - 1

18.12.2010 (Saturday) Chennai (Tamil Nadu) to Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh) = 520 kms

  • Starting Place: Chennai 
  • Starting Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 2680 km @ Chennai
  • Starting Time: 7.57 A.M. Morning
  • Closing Km Reading on the odometer of the car: 3200 km @ Vijaywada
  • Closing Time: 11.30 P.M. Night 

We passed through Sriperambathur the Birth Place of Sri Ramanujacharya and we saw the early morning sun rise and took a snap of the Sun GOD at 7 A.M. on 18.12.2010 (Saturday).

We passed Chennai towards Nellore at 7.57 AM morning. The odo meter reading was 2680 kms - we had covered 520 kms so far from home.

We were constantly supported by H.V.K and he directed us from Mumbai which roads to take& which flyovers to take etc. Such is the level of knowledge of him.

Around 8.30 A.M. we were entering Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh is the land of Lord Venkateshwara Balaji as well as Lord Hanuman.

You can see gigantic size statues of Lord Hanuman (Anjaneya) and it really gives you the power & strength by seeing the lord watch over you so majestically & blessings us and assuring us "Have No fear for I am there with Thee!!!"

A welcome board sign from Eenadu news paper welcomes you into the heart of Andhra Pradesh.

 We saw a sign board that said Pulicat Bird Sanctuary is just 5 kms.

We stopped at TADA for a morning wash & to get freshed and to have breakfast and to tank up Diesel for our Linea.

Fuel Tanked up: 36.90 Ltrs of Diesel @ Rs.1500/- @ TADA Andhra Pradesh

The kids found a park with swing & they had a jolly good time.

From TADA Vijaywada is 367 kms.

At 11 AM we came across another huge Statue of Lord Hanuman and see the size of bee hive under the chin & arm.

Just before we touched Nellore around 11 A.M. the entire traffic on the highway came to a stand still.

Thanks to a local Political Party which decided to block the National Highway to get their demands met and we had to wait behind a lot of vehicles. I did not step out to ask the reason for blocking but it could have been the Telengana Issue I suppose.

I believe the person in black pants is persuading the all white fatso local leader "Sir, please come & sit with us, lets block this National Highway & make life miserable for all!!!!"

The White & White fatso Saying "No No No, I won't sit down, my pants will be torn, media people & police will be here anytime & I want to be photographed standing looking as if I am directing the things here!!!"

The Police were called and they came and one of the Senior Officer was seen reasoning it out with the people blocking the highway and there were quite a lot of men shouting slogans & couple of ladies too adding their voice. In this country even the Police become helpless in such cases.

We lost some half an hour and we saw that the Police was trying to pass 1 VIP Car through the blockade.

Immediately I started my car & just followed that VIP Car and viola we passed through the blockade behind that car much before the people who were blocking or the Police could decide how my car was passed.

Who knows who was in that VIP car anyway we managed to get past the block and we were on the highway at 11.50 A.M.

We passed through a huge bridge a dried up river bed.

At 12.30 PM we were 46 kms short of Kavali & 265 kms short of Vijaywada.

We saw a Lord Vishnu Temple around 1 PM and took snap of the Shank (Conch) & Chakra (Sudarshan Disc) the symbol of Lord Narayana.

At 2.33 PM afternoon we were 177 kms short of Vijaywada.

At 2.35 p.m. we touched our 1st 1000 kms of our trip.

Please note that all my snaps of 1000 km mark throughout our trip were taken around 3026, 4026, 5026, 6026, 7026, I made a mistake for some reason I had it in my mind as the starting km reading as 2026 instead of 2126, anyway there is a 100 km difference.

At 2.48 pm we were 26 kms short of Chilakaluripet, Guntur 45 kms & 99 kms short of Vijaywada.

We drove on. Kids were having fun at the back. Some times sleeping, some times watching their cartoons in the DVD player. Jamuna was on & off awake & taking some power naps telling me to be alert & concentrate on the road.  

I had to be on alret all the time as I was the only driver in our car.

As I was approaching Guntur my LINEA was also approaching the 3000 km mark on its odometer & as per FIAT's warranty requirements I should get my car checked up & serviced at an authorized service centre.

I looked up into the service manual booklet & identified JASPER Indutries TATA FIAT authorized service centre and called up & spoke with their General Manager & informed him about my back ground about my travel & the need to get the car serviced & checked up.

He was very helpful & put me in touch with the service manager and assured me all support on arrival.

We reached Jasper Industries at 5 PM and went into the service area. I met the Service Manager & explained to him about the 3000 km service that needs to be carried out. I also told him that I am sorry for coming in such late hour as I was driving from Coimbatore Chennai towards Vijaywada and beyond.

He was very kind & understaning and immediately called his best mechanic and explained to him what needs to be done and said i could rest & everything will be taken care & my car would be given in shortest possible time  soon as they complete all checking.

Just as they had assured the mechanic took the Linea and did the mandatory checking of all fluids, checked various other parameters as per the guidelines of FIAT for 3000 km service.

After all the complete check up my car was given a through clean wash outside and dried and there it was standing spick & span all gleaming white!!!

Guesss what no charges at all. The warranty covers the expenses. I just paid some bakshish to the boys who cleaned my car and personally thanked each & every one there.

They were all wondering & asked me again & again "Sir are you really going to BHUTAN?" Meru Nejanga Bhutan Potara, I had to keep saying Avannandi Bhutankay Pothanandy"

Well after the service we headed to Vijaywada town and located Hotel Narayana Swamy at 11.30 PM night and got a double room for stay. We had some difficulty in finding a hotel. Tariff: Rs.550+tax=Rs.578/- per night.

The hotel details are

Hotel Narayana Swamy,
Vijaywada - 520 003
Tel: 0866 - 2571221 Fax: 2572489

From 17.12.2010 10 PM night from Coimbatore to 18.12.2010 11.30 PM night upto Vijaywada I had covered 1040 kms. You just finishes reading Day - 1

Read the next day's Blog click on this link for Day 2 & 3

These are our latest family pictures taken on 4th February 2012


  1. Wow MN,brilliant start I must say. The crisp narrative and the pictures make the blog a very interesting read. Looking forward to the next release...

  2. great... man you definitely have nerves of steel!

  3. One would have thought that describing such an awesome trip would have been tough, but MN's travelogue is brilliant stuff, we can visualise the drive through our eyes!

    I think the bad beginning - going on those bad roads via Sathy & Mettur - were a good omen! Further, revising the route to go via Chennai was also wise since the Vellore-Chitoor route would have been unsafe that late at night, and going through a city you were familiar with was also sensible.

    How did you manage for toilet facilities? And how did the kids - a big congrats to them - spent their time in the car?

    Quite a brave decision to lunge in along with the VIP car, else god alone knows how long you could have been stuck there.

    One thing in India - there is a lot of respect for the long-distance traveller, as the alacrity with which the car's service was done demonstrates.

  4. How do you have so much energy man?!! Your every trip is better than your previous one or what?!
    If I feel so excited by just reading your blog, I can't imagine how you felt when you actually experienced it.

    Waiting for your this year end's trip now ;-)

  5. Incredible stamina MN!
    Going great guns!!

  6. simply superb ! heres wishing you another great trip well in advance..

    Vijayeta Karol.

  7. Hi Friends, You must have wondered what happend to this blog, for some reasons I wasnt able to complete it. Sorry about leaving it half way incomplete & keeping you all wondering. I am sending you all a copy of the DVD movie I have made of this trip Life Mein Linea from Coimbatore to Bhutan. I kindly request you to send me your postal address so that I can send you a copy of this movie. Pl send the mail to maheshnatarajan2000 at yahoo do com. I need address of Rohan, Saber & Varshu. In case if you guys are in Chennai / Blore I am sending a master copy to some of my friends and can ask them to send you a copy. Have a nice day. Warm Regards, MN

  8. Hi Friends (Ramkumar, Saber, Rohan, Varshu, Aditya) I had posted a mail on 8th April & am repeating it again. I wish to send you all a copy of the DVD movie I have made of this trip Life Mein Linea from Coimbatore to Bhutan. This DVD is of 4 hour duration & you can see the whole trip as a movie with sub title & background music. I kindly request you to send me your postal address so that I can send you a copy of this movie. Pl send the mail to maheshnatarajan2000 at yahoo do com. Have a nice day. Warm Regards, MN

  9. Mahesh......This is unbeleivable Annae...!!! I do drive & travel a & my Bolero...! But Ur trip is mindboggling!!! Awwwwwwsommmmmmmme!!!Keep it going! My address is Apollo Air Technologies,No.1272,Manjunatha Nagar,R.T.Nagar, Bangalore-560032. Looking fwd to recv Ur sensational will be an inspiration for my next tour!!!

  10. Hi,

    Awesome trip... Unexplainable.... Proud to say I am staying very near to your house.


  11. very well written. its a complete guide for any layman to take his car and go on the road... you have a wonderful, supportive wife and adorable kids to keep you company.... wishing u more drives to come....

  12. MN awsome trip man and 1 thing I have wondered all the time reading your Day 1 blog is "don't you feel sleepy???" what do you do to avoid sleep.......
    I'm a biker and have done Ladak already 5 times on my motorcycles and have bought a Fiat Linea Diesel to have our family trips. Like you even I have a son and daughter and want to do trip with my family......
    Please share contact details of MR HVK as even I'm from mumbai and it will be awesome to meet him.
    my contact number is 9833508090 and email ID is

  13. GREAT PICTURES FROM AN AWESOME TRIP. Thanks for sharing :)

    bhutan tour operator | bhutan travel info

  14. Bhutan offers a wide range of tourist attractions. It is one of the must see destinations in the world. I have a good experience of Bhutan's tour. Last year after my washington bus tours i have been visited there with my friends.

    - bhutan tourism corporation

  15. simply superb ! heres wishing you another great trip well in advance..

    - bhutan travel guide

  16. great article, i was planning to visit bhutan in a while, this article was great. THANKS!

    - Bhutan travel info


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