Starting 24th August 2017, we embarked on the quest to cover the ~6000 kms of road b/w the Indian Metropolitan cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Mumbai – Udaipur – Delhi – Agra – Varanasi – Kolkata – Bhubaneswar – Vishakhapatnam – Chennai – Mumbai

Special thanks to @riofusiondrink for accompanying us on this journey of a lifetime. ?

Dreams outside the window

Most people lay in their warm beds and comfy sheets, staring out of the window. Their dreams fly around like fireflies, inviting them to open the window, and take a leap. Well, this is us, taking that leap.

A wonder just around the corner
As the Gateway was just around the corner, we processed all that was happening. We had reached our first stop – Mumbai. One of the 4 main pillars of the epic that the Golden Quadrilateral circuit is.

Gateway of India

1st leg completed. .
Mumbai had never felt so refreshing and welcoming before. We made our way to the GoI, and could feel its beauty even as it stood there, shrouded in the dark.
It is, indeed, awe-inspiring and a thing of magnificence. More so in the dark, perhaps.

En route Udaipur
2nd leg begins.
Mumbai is truly a mammoth of a city. Even as we scaled empty roads, it took us more than an hour to get out of there. Also, Mumbai bade us farewell with a shower.
All said and done – Udaipur, here we come!

Breakfast stop, and meeting an old friend.
We were supposed to have our 4th musketeer with us, but had to drop out from the plan on the last day. Tough luck, you! Nevertheless, he got us some Surat special breakfast – “Lucho”, and some other names we don’t remember. What really matters is that we had a great time (and a hearty breakfast!)

One for the highway and friends.
We found the Battery+ to be much better than the other energy drinks we have had, mainly because of its roots – @riofusiondrink. And you can’t go wrong with something coming out of that stable. #riofusiondrink is the living proof. Udaipur, here we come (again!)

Oh, the view in this huge mirror!

Photos can’t do justice to the beauty this wall of mirrors reflected. Just the blue sky and the endless road, stretching beyond the eye’s comprehension.
*Puts down the camera, and continues to drive towards Udaipur.*

The Udaipur Palace, and the first proper halt.
Udaipur seemed really nice and quaint. After deciding that the bed wasn’t the only place we wanted to be at, we went ahead to have this view. Oh, it was worth the wait!

The loner cow (and us en route Delhi).
One of the highlights of sprint between Udaipur and Delhi are the very many cows who sit in collective rebellion on the highway. And then, there was this one fellow, just chilling on the sidelines and enjoying the view.

The three faces of the India Gate..
Lucky us that we got to Delhi in good time to see the India Gate! And these faces/phases on top of that. It was a charm, period!

As we let the air around the India Gate clear our heads, it was time.
Time to move to the next level.
And we did just that. By taking the next right and then the next left, and letting ourselves soak the magnificence of the Sky above the President House. It was a sight to behold.

Bye bye Delhi, and Hello to our first real meal.
Delhi was exhausting, to say the least. So when we hit the expressway on our way to Agra, we got the first taste of real food – Aloo k paranthey and paneer pakode.
The butter you see on the parantha was the realest deal we had seen so far on this journey.

Waah Taj!
Taj Mahal is one of those places that fortunately never bore me. Everytime I visit it, something new meets the eye. Also, it’s always better to visit when there aren’t many people around. Our timing was pretty good actually.

A road that led somewhere pretty!
As we started on our journey to reach Banaras, we spotted another expressway heading out of Agra, towards Lucknow. Lo’ and behold! We took the expressway, only to realize that the butter-smooth road and the pleasant vistas weren’t really in operation. There were no exits, to begin with. No civilizations (and no dhabas) either. ?
But yes, the showers helped.

Some essentials for the journey!.
It is no secret that for some people, travel is more of a ritual. A gateway to discovering things about life, places, people, and about self. And for the ritual to sustain, you need the fuel – for the machine, and for the man. The machine part we had figured out. Thanks to @riofusiondrink for helping us with our fuel!!

An unexpected visit to an unknown place!
First up: this is Bedai, with Aloo ki sabzi. It is a distant cousin of our beloved kachori. ?
Now, how many of you have heard of this place called Saifai? Only one of us had some context when we made an unexpected entry into the little village from whence a prominent politician on the Uttar Pradesh scene came (can you guess who?). Hunger and the need to get to Benaras at the earliest brought us here. And boy! This bedai and the milk cake we had here were worth the efforts.

The streets of Banaras :: Part 1 – Getting there
Traveling in an auto is a rather humbling experience. Every time I board one, I am reminded of the defining scene from @imtiazaliofficial ‘s Tamasha. I zone out. And I zone in. We were driven to the market by our Autowala, who then parked his auto at a hotel and guided us to the ghat. (Oh yes! He’s the guy in the second shot.) That is a journey we’ll be covering in the next few posts.

The Streets of Benaras :: Unseeking God?
We, as humans, are often gullible and guilty of following that which claims to bring us closer to God. The dog? Well, it has graver issues to deal with. Finding food, for instance. And the closest the dog feels to God is when food is found right around the first corner.

The Streets of Benaras :: Why do we need friends?.
When we started planning the GQ17 trip, there were a lot of people raring to go.
On the last day, there was just 3 of us left. The ghats of Banaras would still have been beautiful, if it was just one of us traveling. But I think having a friend walking alongside you makes it a thousandfolds better. Perhaps that’s why you need friends. To take what’s good, and make it fantastic!

The Streets of Benaras :: Isn’t time the only constant?
What do you see?
The pandit sitting and waiting for his customer to come?
Or the pandit sitting and chanting mantras in front of the clueless man?
Wait. There’s also a pandit doing his thing in front of the family, while a handful of people stand witness.
That should tell you one thing about life – it changes. Today, you are an entertainer, keeping the crowd hooked with your class apart act. Tomorrow, your circumstances could be someone else’s entertainment. Time is the only constant. The all-powerful. Respect it. .

The Streets of Benaras :: The Temple we almost missed..
Do you see the temple on the left? Pracheen Shiv Mandir, reads the red on the yellow paint. While everything around us felt normal, seeing this made us realize that Ganga was on a rise. This mandir is usually pretty much accessible, but the way it appeared right then, there were two voices speaking in my ears – “See the water? It’s of that color where you won’t see shit. Get going.”, the first said. “You should probably take the GoPro for a swim.”, argued the second.
Which voice do you think won?

The Streets of Benaras :: Ganga and her Ghats
Ganga is an Indian sweetheart. We worship her, many of us start their day with a dip in her holy abode, and some even take away a fragment of her soul as Ganga-Jal. We give our all to her – our sins, our devotion, our garbage, our prayers, our waste, and everything else imaginable. And Ganga, being true to her sense of being a mother, takes it all. Standing on the ghat of Ganga and locking eyes with her – could you say that you’ve only given her the good, and nothing bad?
Could you?

The Streets of Benaras :: Temple, temple, isn’t life so simple?.
Forget Banaras – You can go anywhere in the entire Indian subcontinent, and find a temple at every nook and corner. And yet here we are – a flock of silly kids, looking for God in all these places, then moving on empty-handed every single time. What does that tell you about God?
Forget God – what does that tell you about us?

The Streets of Benaras :: Those who ask with their arms wide open – will they receive?
(This photo always cracks me up. No idea why exactly was this clicked, and what even was the story behind it. So I’ll just try and spin some words for it.) Why, are we Gods? Or are we even powerful enough to change lives, much less our own?
Begging a higher power to give us at all times, and yet we think twice before we loosen up our hand to let the alms slip into those open and resting palms. We ask for, and yet we do not give. We take, but we do not share. Why do you need all this then, Human? What will you make of it? Where will you take it, after you’re gone?

The Streets of Benaras :: Doors we hadn’t seen in a while.
Wandering in the streets of Banaras, we saw many things which we hadn’t seen in a while. House entrances like these are one of those things. While all of us hail from small and modest places, the years spent in metropolitan cities has us losing sight of small details like these. Replaced by loans, traffic, powercuts, potholes, and what not. A good reminder it is. Of home. Of family. Of little things that matter in our lives.

The Streets of Benaras :: Rituals
I once saw a TV series in which the lead followed a code set down by his father on how to lead his life. A set of rules he was never to break. They helped him live a secret life of his liking, and get away with doing what he had to do. And the same applies to our lives. There are rules we live by. Ideals. Principles. And till we keep following these rituals and doing things by the book, things keep going as they always have. And then, there are days when going by the book doesn’t feel right anymore.

The Streets of Benaras :: Artifacts
Our lives are full of stuff. Things that bind us to people, places, relations, times, et cetera. These things are the Artifacts in our lives, meant to remind us every day that the world and life isn’t just limited to us. There’s more than just I, me, mine. There’s us. And there are these things.

The Streets of Benaras :: Does life ever really stop?
What do you see? A man frozen in time. A boat stuck in the moment, its weight borne by the mighty Ganga. It’s as if time has stopped. But, does time really ever stop? As all the bright days come to an end, as people leave, does life ever freeze over, slave to a moment in time?
Perhaps it does. And some people remain there, stuck in that moment.

The Streets of Benaras :: What lies between the journey and the destination?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
We run through life, passing by each moment, thing, person at top speed.
How many times do we really stop for a moment, take a good look at any of these, and appreciate them for their infinite beauty?
The journey comprises of many such moments that we’d miss, if we wouldn’t learn to stop and stare.

Meet the team.
So, what seems like a title off a professional website for a company, is actually a tribute post to these two. For the journey would’ve fallen short of being ‘epic’, if not for these two.
Abhishek (R) is passionate about hitting the road every now and then. His enthusiasm is only matched by his mad driving skills, his crazy and enjoyable demeanour, and his stories.

Nothing says Kolkata like these yellow taxis.
For the longest time, the mention of Kolkata would bring in our heads the images of Howrah bridge and Yellow taxis. Even though we reached Kolkata in the dead of the night, it actually took us seeing a taxi for the reality to sink in. (Oh, and the approach highway to Kolkata was a true mess)

Another city, Another artifact, Another story..
Every city has stories, doesn’t it?
The story that goes with Kolkata is that we arrived at 3 in the night. Shit tired, more mentally than physically, and went to sleep by 4. We had to leave by 10 next morning, and we did just that.
Kolkata had a nice vibe to it. Oh, and in picture: Victoria Memorial, and a Lion.

Of bridges, taxis and Kolkata.
Again, typical taxi, and in background – Howrah Bridge. ?
Yes, it was incredibly intimidating to see this mammoth. In that moment, years of anticipation and imagination came alive

Hi Kolkata, Bye Bye Kolkata.
Kolkata would be a very beautiful city, and how we would’ve loved to spend more time there.
But there are other places calling. Till then… Kolkata, stay beautiful!

Honorable mention : Orissa
The route from Kolkata to Vizag was a tough one (or so we thought). So we decided to take a chill pill, and stay the night in Bhubhaneshwar. And the next day, as we were on our way to Vizag, we found this beauty – Chilika Lake! It was amazing to stand there and see the azure water extend in every direction we looked.

Vizag, a beauty of its own kind.
If you happen to meet any one of us anywhere, go ahead and ask which was the most enjoyable location in our entire journey… And without battling an eye-lid, we would say ‘Vizag’. We reached here at a respectable time. The moment the BRV rolled onto that hillock, we just got out to smell the fresh air!

A piece of the past, living in the present.
Ever wondered what happens when someone retires? Be it a man… Be it a machine… Yes, while they may no longer be at war with the world outside, there are still questions on the inside.
Life never truly ends. It just evolves, from one form to another.

We all need an anchor. A support that can keep us sane and safe. Someone to make us realize the fact that some times, you just need to take this slow.
To be stable.
To be home.
Tag that ‘anchor’ of your life.

Rusted. Dusted. And yet, beautiful…
What do you see? A dilapidated lamp? A rust facet of a mammoth machine?
You are missing out on a lot of things.
Because they have stood for things.
For trust. For might. For valor.
And they shall always be beautiful in their own ways.

Sea of serenity….
One of the highlights of the sea around Vizag is its calm nature.
Never has the sea been so inviting, so welcoming.

Some photos don’t need a caption.
This is one of them… Pure bliss!!

Early morning wave therapy!
Who else’s getting these feels?

Everyone is on a journey.
Most of us are privileged to have lived the kind of lives we were given by our parents – eating good food, traveling in comfort, and experiencing life.
There are people who don’t have those privileges.
Let’s be grateful that we’ve had a less bumpy ride than many others!!

Finding you, every nook and corner. .
On our pre-final leg of the journey, things started to settle to great depths.

We knew that we’d have to get back to the office in a few days.
This trip shall come to an end, and with it all the fun the three of us had had would be in the past.

And yet, we continued to find sights like these that assured us – “That’s okay. Enjoy the moment. Live in it”.

Chennai, you gotta wait. We’re still at this toll plaza.
Again, can’t emphasize enough on the different kinds of beauties we saw in our 8 days of driving around. People shudder when traveling is compared to meditation. We think it is a form of meditation. Because when you do it, everything else becomes insignificant. Everything else ceases to matter.

Chennai, the friend you almost don’t know or understand.
We got to Chennai, rested, dusted off the fatigue, and got back on the road the next morning. And as was the ritual, we visited the one place that was on our list – Marina Beach. And it rained.
It was a no brainer – we clicked some photos from inside the car, and drove off. But some day, I hope, we shall visit Chennai. And enjoy till all the clouds of misunderstanding vanish.

Home coming.
This puts an end to the long, tiring and yet one of the most satisfying journeys of our lives.
Golden Quadrilateral was, finally, conquered.