An amazing drive on Mumbai Delhi Expressway
“The car is not racing yet, says the speedometer.
The pulse is, says the smartwatch.“
It may be in a fierce monsoon, arid summer, or a super foggy winter.
The road will take you to your destination. Driving for fun and enjoying the scenery around sounds super soothing.
It feels as warm and delightful as the cup of chai some sleepy soul made for you before the crack of dawn. But the sound of car tyres slamming into freshly laid, gleaming tarmac splays on your soul like butter on toast. It simply connects you to yourself.
Mumbai Delhi Expressway
Mumbai Delhi Expressway, the beautiful newly tarred Eight laned (4+4) demonstrates that the sleepy Indian Elephant has finally woken up from its slumber and is making great strides. This Expressway would connect India’s Capital, Delhi, to India’s financial capital Mumbai in almost 12 hrs instead of the usual 24 hrs. As a result, this Expressway would be ‘India’s success highway,’ accelerating the economy’s pace. It reminds you of the Indian economic juggernaut which has recently begun.
Mumbai Delhi Expressway – The Route
The Expressway covers six states – Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Along with Sohna, Alwar, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Kota, Mandsaur, Ratlam, Dahod, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, Valsad, and Virar, it connects major cities with over 40 interchange points. It has a dedicated corridor for installing optical fibre cables, solar power generation systems, and pipelines. More than 90 exit points will be available on the highway, as it is the longest expressway in India.
Mumbai Delhi Expressway – Key Facts
The Expressway is expected to have around 20 lakh trees. These trees will be watered using drip irrigation along the entire stretch through the rainwater harvesting process at every 500 meters. The expressway is anticipated to cut about 850 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions via tree plantation. In addition, using a mix of solar energy and state grids will help operate the roadside lights on the speed zone.
The eight-lane wide Mumbai Delhi expressway will have around five natural wildlife crossings, including ones at Sariska Tiger Reserve, Mukundara National Park, and Ranthambore National Park. In addition, it will feature the country’s first animal overpasses or bridges designed to maintain the wildlife section undisturbed and unaffected by Expressway. One of the main attractions of this entire Expressway would be the 4 km long tunnels passing from Mukundara National park and Matheran eco-sensitive zone.
Mumbai Delhi Expressway – Drive Towards Jaipur
Though only the Delhi-Jaipur leg is operational now, on a lazy Saturday, we left Gurgaon early morning, around 08.00 hrs, to enjoy a leisurely drive on the newly built Mumbai Delhi Expressway, a day after an unseasonably heavy rainstorm hit Delhi in March. It appeared that the monsoons also had their annual growth targets to meet.
The morning breeze was damp but calm, and the sun played hide-and-seek with the clouds. Roads within Gurgaon city had turned into a small splash of pool with rain and sewer water mixed together, emanating a distinct pungent odour.
Mumbai Delhi Expressway – The Route
From Gurgaon’s home, we took the Golf Course Extension to join the elevated Sohna Road, which took us to the Mumbai Delhi Expressway interchange ramp. The quality of the elevated Sohna elevated road is good, but Expressway was much broader and better. As we climbed on the Expressway speed limit of 120 kmph soothed my heart, and even the XUV’s mood improved. Soon, we climbed onto triple digits and engaged cruise control. No slow-moving vehicles like tractors, tempos, autos, or two-wheelers are allowed.
The Morning Drive
The traffic was thin, and we rarely had to disengage the cruise. The road quality was terrific, so within the next two hours, we arrived at the rest area on the highway near the Alwar exit. Though not much is out there, it is still a decent rest area to enjoy a quick chai ka cup, stretch your muscles, and answer nature’s call. The time read 09.45 am.
The drive from the rest area to Dausa was flawless. You only need to hold the steering; cruise control will do the rest. Though we had planned to return from the Alwar exit, we could not resist driving more on this glittering tarmacadam. It took us an hour from the rest area to reach the Dausa exit. The Mumbai–Delhi Expressway is currently open to traffic up to this point. Time read 10.45 hrs.
Dausa – Jaipur Stretch
Dausa is a little town located on NH-21, which connects Agra to Jaipur. This is a ‘normal’ Four laned (2+2) highway with construction going on at various stretches; our triple-digit speed instantly dropped to less than 40 kmph. It resembled as if a topper was suddenly struggling to achieve even passing marks. Driving was no longer enjoyable due to the sudden influx of two-wheelers, cars, tractors, cycles, and cattle on the road, many of which traveled noticeably in the wrong direction. By the time we reached Jaipur, it was noon.
All mortal emotions of hunger and exhaustion returned, and we looked for a place to eat. We thought of driving towards Jal Mahal and finding a restaurant there but got lost in the bylanes of the old Jaipur neighborhood. These roads resembled skin and bones, with barely enough space for one car to pass.
So, instead of jostling for space and elbowing fellow drivers, we gave it a pass and drove to Pink Square Mall on Govind Marg, Jaipur. This glitzy mall had several eateries to satiate every palate, dazzling shopping stores, and ample parking. We spent around two hours there.
Back to Gurgaon
By the time we left Jaipur, it was around 02.30 pm. The drive back to Dausa was tiresome because traffic constantly slowed down. We touched the Expressway by 04.00 pm.
The return drive was equally enjoyable. With the fiery ball sun setting in the backdrop and the sky slowly turning pale crimson, the asphalted Mumbai Delhi Expressway looked beautiful in its hue. As we reached Sohna elevated expressway, it was almost 06.15 pm. By the time we arrived at Golf Course Extension Road, the traffic was at its peak, and we got stuck in the perpetual vehicular gridlock. We finally landed home by 07.00 pm.
Overall, it was a fantastic drive on Mumbai Delhi Expressway till Jaipur. Once the entire stretch becomes operational, I intend to drive all the way to Mumbai, and who knows if the Delhi-Goa road trip is on the cards too?