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Old 6th July 2011, 09:30   #1
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Default Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

We had a family function and get-together at Jamshedpur. Train Tickets were booked in 2AC about 85 days in advance, but it being the holiday season, we still didn’t get our preferred seats! I made alternative bookings in 3AC and that too was waitlisted. Air travel was not really an option, as there is no direct connectivity and I hate shifting from airport to Railway station at Kolkata. Moreover, Kolkata to Jamshedpur train route via Kharagpur is always on Maoist target.

One day during evening supper, I joked that if we do not get our train tickets sorted out we will just pickup the car and drive down. My youngest daughter, 5 year old, said “Yippeee, that would be real fun”. For a moment I dismissed her excitement as I was sure she had no idea what we were talking about, but that did set me thinking, why not???


We have done many long drives in past and have basically covered whole of south India (Maharashtra and below) by car. Some key ones are along coast of western Karnataka (Jog Falls, Murdeshwar, Udupi, Agumbe, Dharmasthal, etc), South (Munnar-Kanyakumari-Rameshwaram-Kodai), Maharashtra (Mahabaleshwar, Pune, Ajanta Ellora, Lonar, Mumbai, Shiradi, etc).
But this one will be longest, in mid-summer heat, and through some not so friendly areas (incidents of OR, WB cops harassing out of state cars + unstable political region and Maoism).

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I was really excited on opportunity of such a long cross country drive, but I still decided to keep it as secondary option until I was totally convinced that it was safe and practical to do with family. Lot of research was done, discussed with many people online and in real world and concluded that
1. Harassing of out of state cars has come down in recent times
2. Political instability in region continues but in short term there were no such expected triggers in sight
3. Maoists usually do not trouble tourists and their targets are primarily govt agents / property. Still itinerary was planned to avoid unsafe stretches and dark hours.

The homework was confidence inspiring. I was ready, so I checked with the family and they were ready too…
Some close people, keep telling us that take train, it is more comfortable and hassle free, but we beg to differ. By car means a good drive, an interesting journey, lot of sight-seeing stops, things to eat, a good night’s sleep (at a hotel) and a morning shower, music, movies & games (for rear benchers), lot of luggage capacity, comfort and freedom to alter your plans. Train means crowd, unhygienic cramped bogies, no food choice, boring journey and months of advance planning.

Once I was convinced on the do-ability of the tour myself, I informed my parents. They were dead against the idea of such a long drive with kids. This was expected but I still preferred to keep them informed and convinced them that I have done my homework and it will be fine. Also I did make a promise to my dad and myself that I will drive real safe. One real good thing about my father is that even if he disagrees with our decision he always supports us and never abandons us because we decided to go against his opinion.


The Itinerary
The itinerary was planned and later detailed route was fine tuned with help of information from locals. Back up stops were planned on long days.
We decided to cover Konark temple while going and Vishakhapatnam city while returning. Puri temple was closed for preparation of Rath Yatra so we skipped Jagannath temple.

Going (Planned halts at Vizag, Bhubaneshwar)
Day 1 – Bangalore – Vizag – about 1050 km, backup halt at Rajahmundari – 800 km
Day 2 – Vizag – Bhubaneshwar (via stop at Konark) – about 550 km, Rajahmundari – Bhubaneshwar – 750km
Day 3 – Bhubaneshwar – Tatanagar (Via stop at Chandipur beach) - 450 km

Return (Plan halts at Vizag)
Day 1 – Tatanagar – Vishakhapatnam – 950km, backup halt at Srikakulam– 850km
Day 2 – Vizag – Bangalore – 1050km, Backup halt at Tirupati – 890km

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For help of others, following unsafe stretches were identified and should be avoided at night time 8pm-6am
Jamshedpur to Kharagpur
Between Ichchapuram and Bhubaneswar
Jamshedpur and Baleshwar
Around Cuttack
Jamshedpur to Ranchi – not on my primary route
Jamshedpur to Dhanbad – not on my primary route

While going we could have reached our destination journey on day two but we planned a break at Bhubaneshwar to avoid Baleshwar to Jamshedpur section at night.



The Preparation
The weekend before the journey, entire route map along with satellite imagery & POIs (+ hospitals, ATMs, Food joints, Service stations, etc) were downloaded on Google Earth in my car. Though I have subscribed copy of SatNav OneIndia maps and Route 99 Maps, I still prefer Google maps over them for primary navigation due to the sheer accuracy of these.

As part of preparation following was packed –
Proper first aid box, torch, Pepper spray
Tubeless tire repair kit, one spare tube, and a 12v air pump
Tow rope, Proper tool kit, spare fuses
Lots of things to Chew and Munch

And following was checked
All liquids and gases in car (Engine oil / Coolent, A/C Gas level, Brake Fluid, Power steering fluid, engine belt, etc)
Battery (batteries tend to die fast in summer heat)
Overall condition of the car
All car papers
Car Internet connection
Bluetooth GPS functioning, spare BT dongle (these tend to burn out sometimes)

And done
Gtechniq nano windscreen coating – This is hydrophobic coating which makes water roll down the glass quickly, like from lotus leaf. No need to use wiper above 60-70kmph speed.
Ceramic Coating on the paint – they prevent stone chips and also prevent swirl marks and dust buildup. Makes paint look like it’s freshly waxed.
Interior car detailing (cleaning) and leather conditioning
Wheel alignment and balancing
32PSI Nitrogen in tires – Prevents significant pressure variation at high speeds / Hot weather

It wasn’t as much preparation as it seems to be, as the car is usually in good condition to go out anytime and above list only helps as a checklist. Based on my experiences I keep adding more to the list.
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Old 6th July 2011, 09:56   #2
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Nice detailed start.That is one long drive you had. Well I'm hooked to this travelogue. Bring it on.
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Old 6th July 2011, 10:00   #3
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Nice start. You are right, any other mode of transport may not be as exciting as driving your own car.

Your micro level research and planning is amazing. Looking forward for more details

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Originally Posted by ST7677 View Post
Gtechniq nano windscreen coating – Ceramic Coating on the paint –
Can you please elaborate more on the windscreen coating and ceramic coating

cheers!
NH
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Old 6th July 2011, 12:31   #4
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Glued. Waiting for more stuff from ST7677. I am planning to do it myself in December ( need to attend marriage in Jamshedpur). Did the same trip back in 2008.
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Old 6th July 2011, 20:20   #5
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Quote:
Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
Can you please elaborate more on the windscreen coating and ceramic coating
You can visit 3S For Cars // G|Techniq for details.

I am using following of their products for about 4 years now:
P1 car polish
C1 Crystal Lacquer
C3 Smart Carnuba
G3 Clear vision glass coat
WM1 Merino fine wool wash mit
MF1 ZeroR microfiber buff cloth
MF2 ZeroR microfiber drying towel

Though C1 is for professional use only I manage to convince them to ship it to me for self application (at my own risk). This product has short shelf life so cannot be stored for later applications.

By and large their products are good, the only issue being durability in Indian conditions is much less than what they claim.
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Old 6th July 2011, 23:11   #6
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Wow, what a start. Eagerly waiting for the next part of the story. Was this on the Civic?

All these GQ adventures are taking me to the tipping point!

Last edited by dot : 6th July 2011 at 23:15.
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Old 6th July 2011, 23:53   #7
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Here we go… (Day 1 – about 1050+ km)
The D-Day was arriving and we had to take a call by train or by car, both options were ready. The weather en-route was around 40+ deg C and Monsoon was to hit anytime now. 24 hours before I checked with my wife for the last time – train or car, and she replied “I am as ready as you are”, my kids said why can’t we leave today instead of tomorrow! So I cancelled both the train tickets.

The night before travel I loaded quarter of the house into the car. My mom called up specially to ask me to remove my 70kg subwoofer box, but I said Nah! What’s the fun in audio without a sub? I still have front passenger seat to load. With all this weight the car was getting a nice lowered look, but wait, we are yet to throw 4 humans into it…

Next morning, we got up one by one and left the house 30 mins late by 4:30am. I wanted to cover maximum distance in the cool early hours, but what the heck it was a vacation after all. We got settled in the car and were about to leave, when my wife remembered she had something to collect from the refrigerator. She did that and then we bid good bye to our house and started our drive with the aarati “Jai Ganesh Deva” by Jagjit Singh.


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Last edited by ST7677 : 7th July 2011 at 00:12.
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Old 7th July 2011, 00:23   #8
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Bangalore weather was wonderful at 21deg C in early morning and it was still dark outside. We reached Old Madras Road in no time. Some 35 kms from home my wife said “we need to turn back!” I said “Why?” She said ”I don’t remember if I closed the refrigerator door properly. I mean I slammed the door but that might have opened the other door!” DANG!

We recently bought the French door Samsung refrigerator, in that if one door is slammed slow it will not shut, if it is slammed hard the other door opens up (due to air pressure) so it has to be just right kind of slamming…
I slowed down on the side and did some quick mental calculations. Turning around and coming would mean loss of 90 mins, 70km, Rs500 fuel. On the other hand probability of door not closed:

1. Wife is not careless, so probability of slamming hard and other door opening = low
2. Probability of fridge catching fire due to overheating = low
3. Probability of compressor dying due to overheating = low
4. Probability of food spoiling and high electricity bill = high is 1 is true

With all these calculations I decided to continue forward. I told my wife “I am not turning back, it’s probably only your feeling I am sure the door is closed. The refrigerator is in economy mode and there is little harm even if there is a remote possibility of the door being left open”! We discussed and debated for some time till the beauty of NH4 took over us and we forgot the debate and started enjoying the beauty of OMR.


What will follow is a photoblog with brief snippets. I will not be dwelling too much into the route details. For those planning full / part of this route and looking for facts, can refer to my GPS logs which I will be uploading after converted them into KMZ files which can be seen in Google Earth. These have complete details between any point to any point on the route I travelled. (Starting and ending locations will be removed for privacy). Towards the end, I will also share the toll details and fuel summary.

The double roads till Mulbagal are excellent and the tolls have not started yet. We went through the Chittoor City as bypass road is in bad condition. There after it is single road all the way till Nayudupeta where we hit NH5 – Golden quadrilateral. We took road parallel to Tirupati to avoid traffic. The roads are good with occasional potholes and speed breakers. The 21 deg C of morning temperature had now crossed 40 deg C, but thankfully the vKool tints and A/C together were powerful enough to maintain the car at 24 deg C inside.


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Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km-img_3791.jpg







GQ NH this side in AP is not as fast as GQ in Karnataka towards Pune. Here you can expect lot of heavy traffic and unexpected behavior from other drivers.

We witnessed a live fatal accident ½ a km ahead of us, when one motorcyclist took a U turn from one wrong side of road to another wrong side and came under a speeding truck. It was scary and gruesome. I had to divert my kids attention to the other side.

As we approach north of AP, I realized that there was little difference left between cattle, dog, two wheelers and pedestrians. All of them refused to acknowledge the existence of national highway. They can come from anywhere, go in any direction, stop in between if they wish to, I am also forced to believe that they are blind and deaf. Their behavior would not change even if they see you speeding towards them or honking at them. I had read about this earlier and I preferred to stay in middle of the road, closer to a truck rather than a 2 wheeler, slowing under 60 at all intersections/villages!

Most of the NH5 roads are good but there are lot of diversions around Ongole and Vijaywada. Vijaywada also does not have a bypass so we had to go through the city, where we met with massive Jams (around 4pm)


In evening my younger daughter asked “Papa when will we reach Mysore”. I was like Mysore??? That’s when it struck me that why my little one was so eager for the drive down, we go to Mysore often and she was thinking that Jamshedpur is around Mysore . I told her politely “We are not going to Mysore, we are going to Jamshedpur, that is still far far far away, we will reach there day after tomorrow”. On that my elder daughter (7) asked “Papa, can we drive through night too”, I said “no way, you see we need to stop and take rest at night”, she said “papa please” and I started explaining them our whole itinerary to them. How do you explain thousands of kilometer to a 5 yr old? Good thing was that today was the longest drive day, and they were still enjoying the drive and did not show any sign of restlessness.

We reached Vizag 1.5 hrs late than the planned arrival time. But that is primarily due to slow driving and a power nap that I took after lunch. Lovely breakfast, lunch and dinner was packed from home, so we didn’t have to worry about searching and waiting for food.
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Old 7th July 2011, 07:08   #9
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

@ST7677 - Great read. Its my wish to go on such long drives and an opportunity has not come knocking.

By the way i simply loved the first snap of the ODO Dial at the start of your trip. Blue looks uber cool
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Old 7th July 2011, 08:50   #10
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

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For help of others, following unsafe stretches were identified and should be avoided at night time 8pm-6am
Jamshedpur to Kharagpur
Between Ichchapuram and Bhubaneswar
Jamshedpur and Baleshwar
Around Cuttack
Jamshedpur to Ranchi – not on my primary route
Jamshedpur to Dhanbad – not on my primary route

While going we could have reached our destination journey on day two but we planned a break at Bhubaneshwar to avoid Baleshwar to Jamshedpur section at night.
I am sorry to say this, but whoever advised you seem to think that the whole of east India, at least Orissa and Jharkhand, is completely and utterly infested with Maoists, with the probability that there is one hiding behind every tree, with a stolen police rifle, ready to kill any outsider who comes by.

You have practically considered the whole of Orissa and Jharkhand as unsafe at night.

None of the stretches you have mentioned need be avoided at night because of Maoist influence.

Around Cuttack!!! Which happens to be a sister city of the state capital, is not at all unsafe at night in anyway. Please, lets not spread any such misconceptions based on complete speculation. If anything please go by advice of localites.
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Old 7th July 2011, 08:50   #11
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

Nice travelogue.The stretch between Ongole and Vijayawada is being six laned so lot of diversions.
According to your program did you go to the Chandipur beach.
One of the best low tide beach I had seen.Waiting to see the pictures.
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Old 7th July 2011, 09:15   #12
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

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I am sorry to say this, but whoever advised you seem to think that the whole of east India, at least Orissa and Jharkhand, is completely and utterly infested with Maoists, with the probability that there is one hiding behind every tree, with a stolen police rifle, ready to kill any outsider who comes by.

You have practically considered the whole of Orissa and Jharkhand as unsafe at night.

None of the stretches you have mentioned need be avoided at night because of Maoist influence.

Around Cuttack!!! Which happens to be a sister city of the state capital, is not at all unsafe at night in anyway. Please, lets not spread any such misconceptions based on complete speculation. If anything please go by advice of localites.
I entirely agree, I don't think any of the sections you drove through in OR are unsafe and you can go 24x7 without any fear. I have never heard of any Maoist problems on this route.
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Old 7th July 2011, 09:19   #13
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

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Originally Posted by julupani View Post
I am sorry to say this, but whoever advised you seem to think that the whole of east India, at least Orissa and Jharkhand, is completely and utterly infested with Maoists, with the probability that there is one hiding behind every tree, with a stolen police rifle, ready to kill any outsider who comes by.

You have practically considered the whole of Orissa and Jharkhand as unsafe at night.

None of the stretches you have mentioned need be avoided at night because of Maoist influence.

Around Cuttack!!! Which happens to be a sister city of the state capital, is not at all unsafe at night in anyway. Please, lets not spread any such misconceptions based on complete speculation. If anything please go by advice of localites.
100 % Agreed !!!

Around Balasore ..there is no sign of Maoist activity. Even night drive is safe around that area.
Cuttack - Bhubaneswar is 100% safe. No Mao/local goon at night. Both the city is very much safe at night.
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Old 7th July 2011, 10:24   #14
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Default Re: Travelogue: Bangalore to Jamshedpur and Back - 4000+ km

ST7677,

Very interesting narration. looking forward for further details.

You are right, lack of bypass makes the ride through vijayawada city tiring and time consuming on account of heavy traffic.

Is there any better option to bypass Vijayawada while on NH5 ?

Advise from gurus like HVK sir, gajadonga will be appreciated

cheers!
NH
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Old 7th July 2011, 10:28   #15
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You are right, lack of bypass makes the ride through vijayawada city tiring and time consuming on account of heavy traffic.

Is there any better option to bypass Vijayawada while on NH5 ?
Afraid there is no choice but to go on NH5 through VIjaywada city. Maybe one should plan such that you go through at non-peak hour timings. the road through the city is straight without any confusion.
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