My Trip to Bhimashankar

My trip to Bhimashankar was full of ups and downs. It didn’t, at all, go according to our plan.

We planned to go in the rainy season in our car. The car was checked inside out for any problems. It cleared all tests. Our plan was to depart early in the morning and arrive by late night. It’s approximately 300 kilometres from my place and it would take roughly 5 hours. Calculating everything we decided not to stay for a night. But we had to anyway.

We departed quite right with our best dresses on and everyone equipped with an umbrella. I was driving. I don’t know if my driving is ominous or not but my mom said that whenever I drive for longer distances, something would go wrong. And it did.

When I had driven for almost four hours and were very near to Bhimashankar, something happened to the car. I saw the temperature gauge on the dashboard and it was at full hot. We had to stop in between a tight incline to diagnose. “It might be because of the steep slopes”, we thought. “This 800cc car can’t tackle these slopes.”

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So we halted for 10 minutes (while I clicked the above photo) and then proceeded on to our destination. We reached there all right somewhere around 1 pm. After I had parked the car with the help of some NCC boys into a parking spot that they indicated, I again noticed the temperature gauge. It had overheated again. But we proceeded to the temple since it was raining heavily and our umbrellas were useless against those strong gusts of wind. Not to mention the blinding fog.

The moment we got into the queue, we came to know that the queue line would be halted for half an hour or so for the aarti to take place. And we remained there standing, feet in cold water.

The temple is in a valley which is surrounded by hills on all sides. After we had worshipped Lord Shiva we decided to depart immediately since we were already running late so I didn’t get much time for sight-seeing or photography (it would have been pointless anyway since it was so foggy that we could hardly see anything). I took in as much as beauty of the place as I could on the way to the parking place. But we were oblivious to the problem that we were going to face.

We had some snacks and then got into the car, all the while being pinned down by the heavy rain. I was exhausted by driving for so long so my brother took the wheel. We departed and merely after a few minutes we again started to see the overheating. “It heated on the way up, that’s seems ok. But why is it heating on the way down?” was our question. We halted in a small village a few kilometres from Bhimashankar, opened the bonnet and examined the situation. Fumes were coming out of the engine and the radiator pipe was squirting out hot bursts of coolant that had now turned from green to muddy brown.

We tried everything, we refilled the coolant, flooded the pipe so as to clear all the mud that clogged up in there, we let the car rest awhile to cool down but still there was some problem because the temperature on the gauge was not lowering. By this time a local mechanic who was passing by stopped to help us. He examined it and told us that the radiator fan has stopped spinning. That there might be some wire snapped. Without the fan the engine is bound to overheat, the coolant can’t keep the engine cool alone.

We had a little spare wire in the car. We gave that to the mechanic who then tried to bypass the default routed wiring and connect the fan directly with the battery. That method worked but it meant that the fan will spin continuously even when the engine’s off. And also the self ignition system won’t work since the fan sucked a lot of power from the battery.

We were in a small village and we had no choice. The closest place where we could get a proper car repair shop was downhill approximately 30-35 kilometres away. And did I tell you, we were running low on fuel. So I and my brother pushed the car until it gained enough momentum so that releasing the clutch would bring the engine to life. And it did. But still there was something wrong. The exhaust fumes were now more greyish and huge in quantity than before.

We thanked the local mechanic for the temporary fix that he did and proceeded downhill to the nearest city where we could repair our car. Dad kept the engine in neutral whenever possible which was quite easy since we were just descending.

My dad had an idea. We have a neighbour who was at that time at his native place “Ghodegaon” which was on our way downhill. Dad immediately called him and told him about our situation. He said, “I’m currently in Ghodegaon. I’ll be waiting at the petrol pump just outside the city.”

We finally had a saviour. Huffing-puffing our car reached the city and we halted to refuel as we met our neighbour. We asked him about the nearest mechanic and pointing towards the other side of the road he said, “There is one right there.” We took our car to the mechanic and he checked it. It was 7 pm and already dark. He told, “Your car’s head gasket is blown and I can’t fix it right now. I’ll start on it tomorrow. You’ll need to stay for a night.” That was quite a shock for us. We had never thought that we would have to stay for a night and had no extra clothes or anything that you usually carry with you when you have to stay overnight.

My neighbour said, “My house is just at walking distance from here. You may stay there. We can order our dinner from the restaurant nearby.” That was just what we needed. We reached his apartment building which was on the outskirts of a huge farm and climbed all the way up to the third floor. He opened the door and let us in. His flat was a 1 BHK with a living room opening into the kitchen and passageway which led to the only bedroom and water closet. The house was almost empty with only necessary stuff present. There was a bedsheet rolled up in a corner of the living room which we unrolled and rested upon while my dad and our neighbour went to bring dinner.

The surrounding of that area was so quiet that our ears ached with the loudness of silence. The living room had a small balcony which overlooked the adjoining farms. But it was so cold and dark that we didn’t dare going outside. Meanwhile, we discussed our adventure. If the mechanic was to start fixing the car in the morning, he wouldn’t be able to finish it till the evening since changing the head gasket requires to disassemble the whole damn engine. When dad returned, we all had our dinner together and then discussed what we should do the next day. Now the next day was a Sunday, but I had a lot of assignments to write and I had to go home anyhow. So dad decided that he would stay there and the rest of us would go by the first ST bus that we get in the morning back to home.

ST bus
An MSRTC ordinary bus.

Morning dawned and we freshened ourselves. Actually we just washed our faces and didn’t even bath since we didn’t have our toothbrushes and no extra clothes. We headed for the bus depot and inquired about the earliest one. It was at 9am that we boarded the bus and by 2pm we reached home. The first we did as soon as we reached home was having a bath and brushing our teeth. After that I started on my assignments.

That night, dad arrived home in the car with the neighbour. The car was emitting such foul smoke and loud noises that made us think whether the mechanic repaired it or made it much worse. Dad said, “He has repaired it temporary since he didn’t have all the spares so we’ll need to repair it yet again. Still he charged ₹3,000.” The next day when dad went to a nearby mechanic, he charged us nearly ₹10,000 but replaced everything inside and our car was as good as a new one.

P. S. If you found my English bad, don’t judge me.

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