I don't understand what it is about our inter-city roads. (Forgive me for not using that word "highways"). I've just driven Bom-Baroda-Ahmedabad-Chittaurgarh-Ajmer-Jaipur-Delhi, which is one leg of the famous Golden Quadrilateral; and Delhi-Agra-Gwalior-Shivpuri-Indore-Dhule-Nashik-Bombay, most of which forms the famous Agra-Bombay road. (So famous, that along town after town on that road, you'll find addresses referring to, simply, "AB Road"). Short diversion into Mandu, but otherwise along the AB Road.
Over 3000 km. And I don't understand.
The good parts, first of all. Baroda-Ahmedabad is a fabulous stretch of highway. As is most of Ajmer-Delhi. Delhi-Agra is mostly good, as are stretches of Dhule-Nashik-Bombay and Himmatnagar-Chittaurgarh, and other segments here and there.
The rest? Ranged from mediocre to ghastly. I mean, I think the nadir was late on pitch-dark evening when we were on the boulder-track north of Manpur that's marked on maps as a road, trying to reach Mandu. No lights, no road surface, nobody to ask directions, plenty of dust. Suddenly we come to a right-angle intersection with an equally miserable road. Which way -- left, right or straight? no way to tell. But I did notice, spotlighted by our headlights, a familiar sign at the corner. One of these two tracks -- I couldn't tell which -- was part of the Prime Minister's rural road scheme (it's called the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana).
So my country's PM is part of the conspiracy to give us boulders that sometimes pass for roads.
But that was just the worst little stretch, and off the "highways" (there, I used it) after all. On them, there was plenty more that was simply bad. In Vapi on the GQ, a massive rut on the road punctured our one-week-old front tyre. In Madhya Pradesh, we shimmied through hundreds of kilometres of stony road surfaces. Through Agra and Gwalior, the road deteriorated into huge potholes and loose stones. I could go on.
The GQ webpage says nearly all of the Bom-Del stretch is "4-laned", and even more of it is "After Alignment Fixing", whatever that means. Is all this supposed to mean that this leg of the GQ is essentially complete? Well, for anyone who drives this leg, its splendid stretches notwithstanding, that is clearly not true. Why make such a claim, then?
Having said that, though: taking the road is positively the best way to travel. On that cryptic note ...