Saturday, February 18, 2012

Single Day, 4 States, 1000 KM in 18 hours

Single Day, 4 States, 1000 KM in 18 hours

It was late back in 2005, when I was first travelling from Hyderabad to Kerala by road and the 4 lane work of NH7 just started, I thought that one day I should be able to drive in a single day from Hyderabad to Kerala. And this dream has been in my mind since then. This seed sprouted again when one of my invited me for his marriage. As an icing on the cake his marriage is going to be in Calicut so that I can drive through the driver's paradise Bandipur Jungle, Wayanad "Churam". ( I have never travelled through this road).
First steps was to get the approval from my parents and wife. Somehow got that . (In other words I can say that I took it ). The next thing was thinking aloud about the travel .. Planned to start from Hyderabad as early as 4:00 AM. Planned to reach Bangalore outskirts by 10:00 AM. (I have done a couple of Bangalore trips in the last 7 months and my average time was 6 hours to reach Bangalore outskirts). From Bangalore it is nearly 400 KM to Calicut, so with the info collected from friends and relatives, I projected 5-6 hours of driving time from Bangalore exteriors to Calicut. 2 hours to cross Bangalore city. 1 hour for Lunch break. So an overall time of 15 hours.
Took the car to service station and did a complete check-up. Did a wheel alignment. Changed the Wiper blades to Bosch. Burned a couple of CD's with AR Rahman hits for the travel.

The trip.
First setback of the trip. The CD's burned on the previous days were not playing. I tried to burn the CD's on the Developer Preview of Windows 8 and I think that is the reason.
Promised to meet my friends from my office at 3:55 AM . So I started from my home at 3:45 AM and reached office by 3:55. One of my friends remembered to update his weekly time sheet by that time only. (You can imagine how difficult A software engineer's life ……). So had to wait till 4:45 to start from there. 4 people, all set to experience their longest drive in a day.
We entered Nehru ORR and to NH 7 and the distance was 22.7 KM, we covered it in exactly 9 minutes. (Wow I really liked that figure.) Kept on cruising .. Crossed Kurnool at 6:45 AM (220 KM in 2 hours). Reached a dabba near penukonda (The exact name of the place is ChennaKothapally) at 8:45 and stopped for breakfast .. (Selected this particular one because this is being owned by a mallu guy ..) Good breakfast and relaxed for some time and started at 9:40.
Crossed New International Airport by 10:30. Saw a Essar pump near Yelhanka and put Diesel from there. Till this time the mileage was 17.35. (We were cruising at really good speed averaging around 120-130, with 100% A/C and this is a mileage I feel).
Reached Hebbal at 11:15 and we were thinking by this velocity we would be reaching Calicut by evening 4-5. Crossed Bangalore city by 12:30. Stopped near a computer accessory shop to write the CD's again and this time it worked. Started from there 12:40. (Near BHEL circle).
Stopped for lunch in a Kamat restaurant chain .. really good food. Enjoyed to the core. Haven't taken much break there. Lunch was over in 30 minutes. Started from there by 1:40 and reached Mysore by 3:10. The luxury of good road ends here. Took a diversion to Kozhikode through the outer ring road. Seems like the road is not completed fully after some driving again we had to come to city for taking the Kozhikode.
From Mysore only I started enjoying the drive. Single lane road (Without divider) with lot of turnings .. Crossed Gundulpet, Bandipur and reached Sulthan Bathery by 5:00. In between stopped near Muthanga for a coffee from a roadside shop. Wah.. What a taste after a long time had such a good coffee.

Once we reached Sulthan Bathery, We were thinking Kozhikode is just 90 KM from there , so we should be reaching there by max 7 PM. With this assumption we started driving, to our surprise in some areas there were no roads at all. We could see big big boulders in the road. And our car kissed a couple of such boulders. There was no momentum at all. In 2 hours we could cover only 35 Km only. One of my friend wanted a Massage in Kozhikode and after travelling for 2 hours he said that now he doesn't want a body massage as it has been already done (With the condition of the road he already got a good massage … ) When he saw that we covered only 35 KM in 2 hours, he was saying that measurement for a KM in Kerala is different from other states … To add the Chaos once we crossed Pulpally there was a traffic jam in the road because one truck broke down in the middle of the road and the Vehicle movement was very slow. Luckily people are in Q and there was slow momentum. If it could have been in Hyderabad, then I am sure we would not have moved from there until unless someone came and controlled the traffic. After all these hurdles reached Kozhikode at 10:05 PM. For me it was almost 18+ hours journey. The interesting part is that 3 states, 975 KM in a day .. A dream came true.
Stayed in a Hotel in Claicut. Had a sound sleep. Got up at 8:00 AM got ready and went for the marriage of my friend. Marriage got over by 12:00 noon. Went out for some shopping. My wifes birthday was on next day. So bought some authentic Kerala design jewelry from Atlas Jewelry and some dresses from Kalyan Silks. Most importantly bought Calicut Halwa (Which is very famous in Kerala) from the authentic "Mittai Theruvu" (The meaning is sweet street) for my friends. One of my friend wanted to go to Coimbatore and we dropped him also in bus stand.
Return Journey

As the road condition was really bad. We explored another option by asking the taxi drivers in Calicut. And every one suggested Nilambur-->Vazhikkadavu --> Gudalur --> Gundalpet --> Mysore and we took that route and we started at 2:40. The road was very narrow but the road condition was awesome. In every 5 minute there was a small town and we had to slow down every now and then. But I really enjoyed the driving … You need to overtake very carefully, curves are very sharps, I like this road .. Worth driving … Reached Vazhikkadavu at 5:40. Stopped there for a tea/coffee and surprised to see the prices of Banana, Tapioca, Coconut, etc. are very cheap. So bought very large quantity of all these items. Now the boot is also full .. Started from there by 6:15 and entered in to forest zone and very good drive .. Started climbing towards Gudalur.. Man this drive is getting better by better every minute. Ford's drivability had been helping me in taking sharp turns with ease.
Near Gudalur saw a garden restaurant which is near to tea plantation factory. So thought of having food there. When we enter, that restaurant is also owned by a mallu .. Great food .. We had quail biryani .. And started from there immediately. Because have to cross Bandipur forest by 9:00 PM …. On the way we saw so many elephants and one incident was little bit freaky. There was a thick fog and I was using wiper to clean glass. Onetime I wanted to check whether fog is forming inside of the glass also and I just examined with the hand, so I took the eyes from the road for a momentum, then next moment I heard a scream from my friend, "Elephant" and a Single Tusker on our immediate left .. Oh my god, I don't know what are all the feeling came to my mind …
Crossed Bandipur exactly by 9:00, so we were about to leave the sanctuary the entry from the Mysore they closed and was not allowing a KSRTC bus to come towards Calicut saying that the time is already over . Later we could understand that this is a trick from the Forest officials to take money from passengers. But this time the scene was different. Some of the passengers started beating the Forest officials and they opened the gate. Lesson learned again .. Need to react wherever needed 
Once I crossed Mysore started getting a little bit sleep. So wanted to take some coffee (Black coffee) and to my surprise there was no roadside coffee shop. At last we found one and there was no coffee.. So again continued the driving .. And we found a Café' A Coffee day outlet. Stopped there. Had a black coffee. Oh Jesus., what a strong coffee. Literally I could not able to sleep for next 12 hours. (Seriously)..

Reached my sister's place in Bangalore by 2:30 AM (390 KM in almost 12 hours …) Wanted to have a nice sleep. But the black coffee was not allowing me to sleep. Hardly had only an hour sleep in the night …

We were thinking of starting in the afternoon having a good sleep. As I was not getting the sleep, changed the mind and started at 10:00 AM .. As I haven't got a good sleep I was not driving that fast .. When we saw a shell pump we put the diesel from there. Even with the hilly drive. The mileage was 20.9 .. That is an amazing figure..
When we reached Kurnool I was getting some sleep. So thought of taking a nap and we really slept for more than 30 minutes and had a coffee from there then started again. As it was becoming night, the rush was building up in the road and we were not able to overtake any one because of the so called "disciplined" driving … (Hope you got the sarcasm ).

We reached Gachibowli at 7:20 PM. 1965 KM, 4 states and 3 days.. A wonderful journey. I am really thanking to my family members and my friends.