Day 1 (16.12.07)
Started from Jamshedpur at 6 AM and reached Sambalpur (471 km from Jam) around 5 PM.
From Jam, took the narrow road via Jadugora (Uranium mines) to reach Moubhandar because the stretch of NH33 between Jam and Moubhandar continues to be in a horribly dilapidated state. From Moubhandar to Bahragora the highway (NH33) is generally OK, with many newly resurfaced good stretches interspersed with some short terrible ones (probably to remind the motorist that one is still in Jharkhand).
The narrow Jadugora road is BETTER than some stretches of National Highway 33!
After entering Orissa through the Jamshola border, I found the Orissa roads (NH6) to be much better than Jharkhand but some poorly maintained stretches (around 5%) are there where one has to slow down. There are a few ghats (hill roads). The most striking feature of the 360 km stretch of NH6 between Jamshola border to Sambalpur is that there is very little human habitation along the road which passes mostly through dense forests. One sees very few people, and for this reason I think this stretch is best avoided at night.
Day 2 (17.12.07)
Started from Sambalpur (Orissa) at 4.30 AM and reached Nagpur (Maharashtra) around 5 PM, crossing the state of Chhattisgarh en route. This was the longest distance (557 km) traversed over a single day during our Jamshedpur-Bombay drive.
The stretch in Orissa between Sambalpur to the Chhattisgarh border (90 km) is not good, with lots of cracks and shallow craters on the road surface. The 300 km NH6 stretch through Chhattisgarh is very good (includes the excellent 4-lane Raipur-Bhilai-Durg toll road). However, due to heavy local traffic, one cannot do high speeds on the Raipur-Bhilai-Durg stretch.
At a temple gate in 36-garh
After entering Maharashtra, the 170 km to Nagpur is excellent. This gave me hope that all roads in Maharashtra would be equally excellent, but I found on day-3 that Maharahtra has bad roads too.
Day 3 (18.12.07)
Started from Nagpur at 7 AM and reached Jalgaon at 5 PM, covering a distance of 447 km.
The road surface on most of this stretch of NH6 is not good (with shallow craters) and one has to restrict the speed to around 80 kmph unless one’s suspension is covered by an unlimited warranty. However, there are a few excellent stretches like that Amravati bypass.
At a Reliance A1 Plaza along the highway -- early in the morning
Between Nagpur and Talegaon, 4-laning is going on. Road improvement is also going on at many other places along this route. Things are definitely getting better for Indian motorists.
A major problem (which continued right up to Bombay) is the high truck traffic density in Maharshtra. One has to keep slowing down to overtake trucks (whenever traffic headed towards you allows you) Affects one’s average speed.
Day 4 (19.12.07)
Started from Jalgaon at 4.45 AM and reached Bombay (Jogeshwari West) at 3 PM, covering a distance of 423 km.
Ab Bombay door nahin! Near Nashik.
Road (NH6) from Jalgaon to Dhule is quite good. At Dhule, one turns left into NH3 and comes across big ghat stretches till Nashik (and beyond). 4-laning is going on almost all along. Despite the good road surface, one cannot consistently do high speeds due to too many bends / curves (due to hilly terrain) on the road and excessive truck density.
After Bhiwandi, there is excellent 4-lane expressway till Thane / Bombay.
The 1905 km drive from Jamshedpur to Bombay reinforces my belief in the ‘India Shining’ story. Road surfaces have improved a great deal over the last 10 years. People everywhere appear more affluent.
My Swift VDi has performed superbly. I could overtake most vehicles on the highways with ease, including on the ghat stretches. Actually, the performance of my diesel Swift on the steep inclines on the hill stretches impressed me the most. On inclines where my Maruti Esteem would have required 2nd gear, I climbed effortlessly in 4th. And an overall mileage of 26 kmpl (measured accurately over the entire distance of 1900 km) is truly awesome.