View Larger MapA journey of 1000 KM from Mumbai to Bangalore
I was asked to reallocate to Bangalore in early May from my work; as usual had no plan till the last minute. Sitting in Durg (center of India) was thinking what will be best way to reach Bangalore on Monday via Mumbai. I have to reach Mumbai to pick my bare essential before heading south. And my flight from Durg was on Saturday noon.
On Friday night suddenly realized it would be great if I can travel in my own car. This way I do not have to find a cheap air ticket and will have no problem in commuting of my own @ Bangalore.
This will allow me to escape THE FAMOUS AUTO RICKSHAWS of Bangalore. There are plenty of horror stories about them and you can always have a good laugh about the way they refuse their passengers. They are very mystic in their behaviour, there are few honest hardworking but that only proves Darwin's rule– There are always an exception. Certainly, this post is not about them .
After lots of fanatic calls to friends and family members I was very fortunate to have Ramesh as my driver. He is a very experienced driver but he does not drive any more. The plan was simple- To start early morning for Bangalore on Sunday. We will stop as night falls and will reach Bangalore on Monday.
I reached Navi-Mumbai around 9PM after spending afternoon and evening at south and central Mumbai. As soon as I reached home I had to complete a long list of house-hold chores starting with laundry. As soon as the drum started spinning I started collecting items those I will require during my stay there. I picked items quite randomly but only thing I had in my mind was about a survival kit. After doing all that I tried to sleep at 2 in the morning but after a restless hour I got up and stared to wrap as many loose ends I could before leaving.
Here is a chronicle of events that I had on that Sunday.
06:00 Picked up Ramesh from Nerul Railway Station – Returned to Kharghar ; packed all items in the car.
041 KM 08:15 Started from Food Mall /Diesel stop around 40 minutes. There were lots of car, SUVs and buses packed with families who were going out of Mumbai as schools were closed for summer vacations. Hardly any room left for seating. Food was not great but every thing tastes good on road-trip when you have a hungry stomach and miles to go. The service was very prompt that really deserve appreciation.
09:00 Pune We by-pass capital of Maratha culture; there were plenty of new big IT, BPO offices with glass outer wall but as they were spread on NH4 without any symmetry in between they were more of eye-sore rather than architectural beauty.
09:40 We picked up a FM station from Pune and it continued a long road. Very soon we reached another toll plaza and started our ascent for Satara Range. There are two separate roads for opposite direction. After lot of twist and turn you reach the point from where you get a great view. It was pity we could not stop to enjoy the beauty from there.
10:30 Road towards Mahabaleshwar
11:10 Crossing Satara which means a place surrounded by seven (sat) hills (tara). One thing we had to pay extra attention was there are plenty of crossroads in the highway which allows people to take turn and cross the highway from other side. Ideally there should be flyover but as we pass rural area the extra cost may not be justified yet due to thin traffic. But thankfully NHAI has put up fence to avoid crossing road everywhere. It is very common in India for cattle and human to cross road whenever and wherever they want which causes lots of accidents.
12:00 Crossing Karad, a small town but quite good infrastructure with over bridges. At this point of time we have crossed Krishna river few times. The road divider were properly maintained with lot of Bougainvillea planted. It gave a very good feeling on Indian road which is sometime synonyms with pot-holes.
397KM 13:25 – 14:05 Stop for lunch near Kolapur, Kolpar is the last major town in the Maharashtra side of NH4 and soon we will start crossing border of Karnataka. Lunch was a simple vegetarian a quick one as we were not very certain how much road we will be able to cover today - Bangalore lies in the southern part of Karnataka.
14:43 We entered Karnataka it started to rain a little bit of drizzling around Belgaum. The soil color changed to red. Suddenly we found that we have to drive for almost 5 KM on the NH-4 north with opposing traffic as South bound was closed due to a big trailer made a major accident.
493 KM 15:17 almost halfway. There are some hamlets of houses which are painted by Airtel, TATA, Reliance for their mobile phone advertisement or sometime it was cement and steel companies.
15:49 We cross a sign for Karwar (next to Goa going west) neat Dharwar but road was single lane. Saw a horrible accident involving a TATA –indica and a truck and there was ambulance. Hope the best for those in that car as it looked very terrible.
560 KM 16:17 Back to divided road. We crossed a huge Jain temple which from distance was looking like some space station where rockets were ready for launching. After searching in internet realized there are too many Jain pilgrimage palce in Karnataka which I did not knew.
599 KM We were looking for fuel station for last 15 minutes but there was none on our side of the road; finally we found one and filled diesel ; we had fuel economy of 19.05 KM/L with AC on the highway. We crossed one flight of stairs in the highway but could not figure between ourselvs which will be nearest airport for this. Wanted to have tea-break but "miles to go before I sleep"
636 KM Again single lane, road condition very bad, found almost finished yet un-finished flyover while we maneuver the bad traffic- big trucks, SUVs just trying to cross everyone by hook or honk. This continued for a while we crossed a town called Ranibennur, it looked like Sunday was market-day as it was crowded with village merchandise. There was police in the middle of the road to manage traffic. The road condition did improve as we crossed Harihar at the sunset. It was very magnificent as Sun sets on the lush green paddy field on the banks of Tungabhadra river.
It became dark and Ramesh kept on driving. We decided to continue till we felt like. Driving till Chitradurga our estimated destination was around 70 Kms away.
765KM 20:30 We reached Chitradurga, according to our destination; called relative in Bangalore and was told the road should be better now and it might be a sensible to reach Bangalore same night. We had a big dinner and stopped for one hour before we stared again. This really helped to stretch our strained body. It seems there are road side hotels around 40 KM out of Bangalore A1( from Reliance group) and Kamat to choose from. The initial part of the road was very bad and there were so many trucks. It was dusty and we had to be very careful with all these big vehicles; lots of them even do not have rear light or brake light.
After Dinner - I was feeling too sleepy and after all my best effort I dozed off for few minutes. I asked Ramesh few times if he is OK to drive or is it better to park on side and take a small nap. As an excellent driver he kept on driving without any problem. Around Tumkur, we found hotel but as we were there they closed as its mid-night and they closes at 23:30. So there was not much choice for us other than to continue driving. Blackberry came very handy as I looked up phone number of my service apartment which was booked from Monday onwards. They gave their best direction but for us it really did not mean much. There was one part of highway which was newly paved with proper marking and division so a toll plaza followed.
We could not figure out much in the dark and kept on asking for MG road as direction whenever we found someone on the road. We met some stray dogs and one drunken group who were ready to start a fight as we opened our mouth in Hindi. Somehow we reached MG road and found English speaking Auto-driver who gave us proper direction for the last mile
It was great to reach such a wonderful place. We found ourselves in two bedroom apartment; I took a quick shower before calling it a night.
In the morning we woke up quickly, dropped Ramesh to bus stop where I got him ticket in Volvo for Mumbai. And I went to office – and thus life in Bangalore started.
Lesson learnt from this 1000KM trip ---Keep your wallet ready to pay the toll. In India, government is the biggest “Bhaia” or “Don” they know all the tricks to tax their law-abiding citizen. When the road condition is good be prepared for toll after every 40/60 KM. Keep change ready or you will get toffees as change in return. Not sure why NHAI kept those odd numbers like 18, 23 or 22 instead rounding it to 20 or 25. Definitely there are lots to improve for NHAI if they want to put Indian road to world standard.
With highest rate of street accident and mortality Indian roads are not ready for family travel yet. Initially, I was thinking to drive back to Mumbai one day but after seeing that accident and the bad stretch of 200KM before Chittradurg I do not think I will do that soon. If you do want to drive; Drive during day and drive safely I mean very safe - HAPPY DRIVING