The Golden Quadrilateral highway network connecting Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai has fascinated bike riders. Former Writer at Taksheela Entertainment and Creative Director at Vitamin She, Paresh Niru Patel talks about his this epic road trip in India without hard cash and the incidences he experienced:
Tell us something about yourself and your background:
I was a Television Journalist for the last 7 years. I’ve worked with Mi Marathi, Live India and Tv9. Now, I’m a writer, rider, solo traveller and filmmaker.
How many countries and Indian states have you travelled?
I’ve been to Srilanka and in India I’ve travelled all the states except the North East region of India.
Any interesting travel moment or incidence
After one of the biggest events in 2016 (demonetization), I decided to go on bike ride without hard cash to document and check the ground reality (once a journalist, always a journalist). The journey commenced in Feb, 2017.
I decided to do a GQ (Golden Quadrilateral) ride. A few of my friends were also interested in the same ride. But due to some issues, all of them backed out. I was firm on my decision. Every biker dreams to do a Ladakh trip, Golden Quadrilateral ride, K2K and West to East bike trip. For me only West to East is left now. I started planning and the bikers’ community came forward to help me in this ride.
I started with Mumbai to Ahmadabad. I’ve been to Ahmedabad several times for the movie works, but this time it was different. Many of my film making friends (Actors, DOP, Writers) were shocked and I knew behind my back they calling me “pagal.’ I didn’t care. Ahmedabad ride was okay. But this time I welcomed by many riders on the roads. I met Dharmesh at valsad, Bhavesh Patel at Navsari, then Tau Dave at Baroda and Dipti Patel at Ahmedabad. I stayed at my DOP friend Shreedhar Bhatt’s home and in this journey no hard cash was spent (I wasn’t carrying to).
Day 2: I went to Palanpur. It was a short ride, but a big day. I met there a great friend of my Hidayat Parmar and he arranged some journalists to take my interview (1st time I was on the other side of the mike) and some intellectual minds of Gujarat to meet. They had shared their views on demonetization.
Day 3: I left early for Pushkar (Rajasthan) for the RRM (Rajasthan Riders Meet), ride was awesome, roads and views were great but first time during the journey I had to complete the ride without any food as many restaurants doesn’t have the POS Machine or any mobile wallet payment system. It was kind of tough as I rode for more than 8 hours without food. I reached Pushkar and in an event I got my meal (Haash).
In the event, I received the opportunity to felicitate the Transport Minister of Rajasthan. Everyone wished me good luck for this amazing concept ride.
Day 4: I had reached Jaipur, met so many more fellow riders and visited Hawa Mahal and so many other places. The same day I started my journey to my third home Gurgaon after Mumbai and Amalsad, Gujarat. The road was busy due to traffic jam. When I reached home, I was very much tired. But that vanished when I met my 2 sons (my brother’s sons), played and slept with them.
Day 5: I went to India Gate in New Delhi and then went to Agra via Yamuna Expressway and before that I met many more riders (Amit Puri, Vipul Bhai). The ride on the Yamuna Expressway was awesome in 10 lane road, one of the best roads in India. There was a toll for the two wheelers, but they accepted Debit Card so paid the amount 205 INR. I reached Agra little late, so could not see the Taj Mahal on that day. I received a warm welcome by riders like Tahir Bhai. We had a nice chat over dinner and he gave me some useful advice for the ride further. I slept nicely and next day early morning I went to see the Taj Mahal. I have no words to describe such an architectural brilliance. After the Taj Mahal, I went to “Sheroes Café.” It is run by an acid attack victim and all workers are acid attack victims. They served good meals and one more specialty of that cafe is that there is no rate card on the menu. It’s on our wish how much we want to pay for the food. They accepted mobile wallet. So a very inspiring place to go in Agra.
Day 6 I started my ride towards Lucknow from the unfinished expressway (Agra Lucknow). The road was smooth. But no restaurants, petrol pumps and traffic. I hardly saw a bike on that route. I was kind of scared, but as soon as I reached Lucknow I was welcomed from a well-known rider Babla Da. He took me to a place where many riders had come to meet. We had good food at home and then a night ride to the beautiful city.
Day 7 I started my journey to Varanasi but again two news channel journalists came to meet to interview. I finished that and started the journey through Raibareli and Kanpur. The road condition was not like other expressways. Again I didn’t find any restaurant who have POS machine, so I reached Varanasi with an empty stomach. There I meet many more riders (Veejay, Abhishek, etc). We did breakfast and then went to Assi ghat. It was the day before “Mahashivaratri.” So you can imagine the atmosphere. We decided to hit the bed early so I can leave the city early in the morning.
Day 8 I went to see the Famous BHU Campus and then started my journey to Asansol (WB). At the toll plaza on the UP – Bihar border I saw a caravan type of vehicle (not Indian license plate) with world map was on it. I was excited to meet these people, so I stopped my bike near their car and saw that they were asking some local guy the address of ‘ Bodhgaya’ and the local guy was saying you have to take a left turn now. I was shocked as I knew the left turn for bodh gaya is after 45km from there. I asked that person in Hindi ‘why are you fooling them? What’s your plan? Don’t do such kind of bad things as they are guests of our country. Don’t spoil our countrymen’s reputation!’ He abused me. I had replied in the same tone and language, then he backed off and left. The couple in the car had no idea what was happening, then I told them that he was saying ‘can you convey the address in English?’ Of course I lying as I didn’t want to show the bad side of our country. Then I met that wonderful couple Adem and Beata. They were visiting every UNESCO site in world in their car. I was amazed and inspired by their journey. Later I had lunch with them and escorted them till Bodhgaya and resumed my journey to Asansol.
Surprisingly the roads were in good condition in Bihar and Jharkhand. But one scary thing happened here. Around 8 pm near Dhanbad (one of the most dangerous places in India), my bike’s headlight and horn stopped working. I immediately changed the fuse of the bike and lights started working again. I drove the bike as fast as I could to leave that area and at night I reached Asansol. I met several bikers there and had good conversations with them.
Day 9 Those young bikers came again with famous “Rasogulla” from a famous shop called “Chachi” and a good heavy breakfast. I started my journey to the city of joy Kolkata from city of brotherhood (Asansol). On this route I found the best road so far. In the afternoon I visited the Howrah Bridge and then Eden Garden and then at Salt Lake City Stadium I got a chance to meet an enviromentalist and a biker Ratin Das. Then I started my trip to Udainarayanpur a small village near Kolkata to meet village bikers, these bikers don’t have those big bikes that city riders have. With local commuter bikes and big hearts, they have done many big rides on those bikes and surprisingly all of them are school teachers. First time in my life I was not scared of teachers. They made some good vegetarian food for me (ghar k khane ki baat thi) and arranged a room for me. I slept well and next morning I got again a “Rasogulla” and lots of blessings from those villagers. It was one of the best days of this entire ride.
Day 10: I started from Uadainarayanpur to Bhubaneshwar. Again the roads were awesome. The weather was pleasant. But no sign of food till I reach Bhubneshwar as no hotels have POS machine or mobile wallet facility. I was surprised to see the city. All I thought was it’s a poor state so the city also must be something like that. But, but it was very much happening. I saw many super bikes, big restaurant, big malls and very friendly people. Also, I met a well known biker and businessman Sugat Sathpathy and his friends. We had spent a great evening together.
Day 11: Started early morning from Bhubaneshwar to Vishakhapattnam! In this journey, the roads were okay okay and the weather was too hot and humid, again no food. I was standing near one temple in Vishakhapattnam and calling my friend. At that time, one young Pujari and one middle aged Pujari came out and offered me a filter coffee. I was amazed with their gesture. I had spent that night with friend, did local sightseeing and had some street food.
Day 12: Early in the morning, I started my journey to Chennai. From my previous experience from Bhubaneshwar to Vizag, I got to know that this journey will be even tougher in terms of weather condition. An unfortunate thing happened on my route. There was a bus accident, so a crazy traffic jams. I had to take a long diversion and after some 400 km I found one McDonalds in Vijaywada. For me that was the best McDonalds ever. I hit the road again and reached Chennai in the late evening. I stayed with my best friend and a filmmaker Faisal.
Day 13 Early morning, I went to the Marina Beach and after that a heavy heavy breakfast (2 idli, 2 medu vada and 2 dosa) with a filter coffee. Then I began my ride to the most happening city in India Bangalore. The roads were super awesome and weather was best till now. In the evening, I reached Bangalore and met one of the most famous bikers in India Ankit Gandhi. I was very happy to see him. We ate dosa and then he dropped me at my brother’s place. I met my close buddy Sandeep and later part I had fun playing with my brother’s two small daughters.
Day 14: I woke up early as I had decided that I would not take any halt now and would go straight to my home sweet home, Mumbai. My bhabhi had prepared “thepala” for me and that helped a lot in the entire journey. I had thought that I will stop at Hubali (500 km from Bangalore) but I was very much home sick by then. So I continued my ride and I reached Mumbai in just 14 hrs of drive (around 1000km)
The moment I entered Mumbai, some more bikers were there to congratulate and welcome me for this epic journey. We clicked pictures at Gateway of India and then I went home and hit the bed.
So that was my solo Golden Quadrilateral journey to Mumbai – Delhi – Kolkata – Chennai – Mumbai.
What’s your favorite travel quote?
I’m a biker, so the best quote I find is “ride hard, ride safe.”
What’s the strangest thing you tried on your travelling days?
I’ve eaten a chutney of Ants somewhere in the Sahayadri range of Maharashtra.
Any travel tips for the readers?
Make plans and follow them if you are travelling to an extremely offbeat destination. Choose your food option wisely during the journey, and in cities if you are not happy with the behavior of the locals, then just ignore them and don’t argue or involve in a fight.
Where are you off to next?
North East of India, but before that I am travelling to Kutch and Spiti Valley.