The name on the building sounded strange, at least to me, if not to others!
Obviously, because Bhadrachalam Road was not the name of any street but it is a railway station in Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana). From here, we had to travel by road to Malkangiri district in the State of Odisha. The strange name was a hint that the journey would be an interesting one.
Malkangiri had no railway links.
Only in February 2018, a 130-km railway project has been approved by the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (Government of India). So, the only way to reach the place was by road.
Thankfully, the driver (sent by the host) was waiting for outside the station, with a Mahindra Scorpio SUV (the only vehicle one can find on that road which passes through rough and tough terrains of the forest area.
We packed ourselves for the next 6-7 odd hours of the road trip through the rugged roads.
The fun (pun intended) began the moment we were out of the station. It was the middle of the night. The road was engulfed in thick winter fog with zero visibility. The windscreen was covered with mist. However, it did not perturb the driver who was zooming at 80 km.
Wondering why the driver was not using wipers to clear the screen, I was about to interrogate the driver. Before I could complete my question, he stated, as a matter of fact, “Wipers are not working, Madame”.
It was useless to discuss the matter further so we mentally prepared ourselves for the adventure. Thankfully, I was travelling shotgun so had the privilege of a seat belt whereas the rest of my co-passengers (including the driver) were happy travelling dangerously. The back seat did not even have any seatbelts.
The driver kept following the white dividing line on the road; and carried on racing unabated. In between, a time came when even the driver struggled to see where the road actually was. He had to stop the vehicle to clean the windscreen.
The adventure was over with the first ray of sun when finally we were able to see where we were going. The adventure topped with life threat was over. Looking around I realised that the beauty of nature in its virgin form was breathtaking.
Malkangiri is surrounded by forests. The next hour helped us forget the nightmarish experience of driving blindly. Nonetheless, the experience also made this travel into a memorable experience!