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Old 29th August 2011, 15:22   #1
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Smile An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

It had been four long years since we visited Kerala, God’s own country and the place where I was born and brought up. We had made several trips down south to visit Velankanni, Ooty, the queen of hill stations and Kodaikanal. In spite of being so close to Kerala on numerous occassions, we never could manage to cross the border to Kerala.

This year was special as my father was turning 80 and we kids, had planned an elaborate birthday party and other celebrations for our pop. We were quite excited about the trip and quickly made plans for the drive. My family members were really concerned when I informed them about my plans to drive down. I never used to inform my family about my drives beforehand to save them from a nervous breakdown. They have been reading too much about accidents in Kerala and were very apprehensive. But trying to negotiate with me was like talking to a wall and finally my family gave in and agreed to let us do a road trip. We were ready to roll.

Let me take all our dear readers to all the places we visited through my travelogue! We will share some of our memories, which we captured forever in our camera! Our road trip was truly incredible and a fantastic experience! We covered a mind-boggling 1525 kilometres in 24 hours, before calling it a day! We clicked more than 9000 wonderful snaps during our trip! We felt so overwhelmed by the beauty of nature that we were at a loss for words on numerous occassions!!!

The preparation for the journey ….

We decided to start our road trip on the 8th of July 2011. Our first task was to get our Chevy serviced at least two weeks before the trip. I used to service my Chevy at the authorized service centre. But since they cheated me once, I went to Bosch for Chevy’s service. But their attitude was very very unprofessional and I bid them a hasty goodbye. Finally I zeroed in on Castrol Pitstop, which was situated quite near to my house.

Chevy’s service went very well and I was delighted by his performance. He has run 1,05,000 kilometres by then and was STILL running on original clutch plates. I used SHELL engine oil from that service and the difference it bought to my dear Chevy was astounding. The engine became super quiet and the acceleration and pickup increased tremendously. I was grinning from ear to ear and I felt totally at peace.

We decided to do a small drive to our favourite hill station, Mahabaleshwar a week before the trip to test our Chevy’s clutch and engine. The drive was perfect. We returned home totally satisfied.

I was longing to do some modifications on Chevy since a long time. I bought a pair of Hella 700FF lights and retained two of my previous Hella 500 Comet projectors. I installed them and my Chevy had a completely new look. I also installed an Autocop gear lock. Chevy was spruced up for the journey ahead of him in every way. I took him for a wheel rotation, balancing and alignment. My trusty MRF dealer did a fabulous job and Chevy was running as smooth as a knife on butter!!!

The nitrogen levels in his tyres were also checked and I greased his suspension and accelerator cable. I did everything I could think of, to make Chevy trouble free.

We thought everything was in order. One day, my wife suddenly noticed some oil under Chevy, when we were about to go out. I did not pay much attention to her and thought that some other vehicle had left the oil behind. The next day, the same scenario repeated and I was startled. I quickly checked the engine oil level and found out that it was at the lowest level.

We immediately raced to Castrol pit stop. The senior mechanic took a look at our Chevy and the problem was diagnosed as a broken oil filter. The faulty filter was replaced promptly. A stone had managed to squeeze past the iron guard plate at high velocity and it hit the filter, making a hole in it. The service advisor told me that it was a one-in-a-million case. How the stone managed to avoid the super-strong iron engine guard is still a mystery!!!

I had planned to make a very early start from Pune to enable us to reach at least Madurai by late evening. I was staring at a daunting task of driving 1200 odd kilometres, half of which would be in completely dark, but familiar terrain. We had driven on NH 4 and NH 7 numerous times and knew the terrain quite well.

I had given Chevy five brand new tyres during our trip to Ooty in 2009. They had run for approximately 30,000 kilometres. Only one tyre had a puncture and my spare tyre was brand new. So I had absolutely nothing to worry in that department also. But still I kept a spare tube in my Chevy.

My second task was to chalk out the routes perfectly. As always, HVK sir helped us wholeheartedly. Ampere, NPV and others chipped in with very valuable advices and we were ready to roll. We were discouraged from attempting to drive so far on day 1, but with the support of my friends in Team BHP, I knew it was going to be an interesting challenge!

We finished our packing well in advance. Our travel kits are always ready. We carried lots of clothes to suit the sultry weather in Kerala. We also stocked up on lots of mineral water, snacks and juices. I filled up Chevy to the brim and finally, he was fully geared up for the trip.

We loaded our luggage in Chevy. We were still busy with last minute packing and missed the intended starting time of 12 am

Last edited by Chevy_lover : 29th August 2011 at 15:31.
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Old 29th August 2011, 15:39   #2
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Thumbs up Day 1. The journey starts.....

Day 1 – The journey starts…

We left our home in Pune by 1.45 am, after a short prayer session. We were in terrific spirits! The thought of going back to Kerala, one of the most beautiful places in the world, filled us with an amazing feeling of enthusiasm. I did my best to hide my glee, but couldn’t stop smiling!!!! We were absolutely thrilled!

Chevy was loaded with two of our suitcases and we carefully kept our camera and laptop on the second row floor. I was sure that my dear wife would go crazy clicking, once we started our drive! So I wanted the camera to be within one-arm distance! We also loaded our cool box, stuffed with lots of chocolates and juices.

My Odometer read 1,05,533 kms. We had the entire road for ourselves. I generally avoid driving inside the city after midnight because of the unruly call centre cabs. Whenever I have to go out of Pune, I go via Katraj towards NH4 or the Expressway.

We reached Katraj bypass in no time and I switched on my comet projectors for the first time during this trip. The light throw was fantastic. I did not switch on my Chevy’s brand new Hella 700FF lights. My lights would have become too hot to handle for oncoming vehicles. I could maintain speeds of about 90 kmph on that road. There was only sparse truck traffic at that time of the night.

We reached the Khedshivapur toll plaza at 2.25 am and paid Rs. 65. I decided to drive sedately till Satara and was careful not to exceed 110 kmph. The road was in pretty good condition.

We reached the Anewadi toll plaza at 3.35 am and paid Rs. 45. We had covered 101 kms by then. By 4.15 am, we had reached Taswade toll plaza and paid Rs. 58. Our running was 158 kms till then. The road condition was very good throughout and the truckers were very well behaved. I speeded up to 120 kmph from here.

The toll booths in Maharashtra are manned by lazy louts and they took an awful lot of time to issue tickets to vehicles. I had to spend about 10 minutes at each toll booth.

We reached Kini toll plaza at 4.55 am and paid Rs. 58 again. We had covered 220 kilometres till then. We decided to take a break at Kolhapur. We bypassed the city by 5 am and slowly drove towards Konduskar Petrol station. We reached there by 5.16 am after covering 246 kilometres from Pune.

I filled up Chevy’s tank again. He drank 19.9 litres at Rs. 45.23 per litre. Chevy’s mileage was approximately 13 kmpl.

There were good toilets for ladies in Konduskar. But the restrooms for men were grossly misused by truckers and they were bathing in full glory! So I had no choice other than returning to my car.

We restarted our journey by 5.45 am. By 5.57 am, we had reached Kognoli toll plaza. We paid Rs. 25 there. We entered Karnataka state and the road condition improved tremendously. We had covered 261 kms from Pune.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-13-brilliant_sunrise_on_nh4.jpg

Hattargi toll plaza was crossed at 6.30 am and we paid Rs. 15 there. The distance covered till then was 317 kilometres in approximately 4.20 hours of driving.

We bypassed Belgaum at 6.50 am. We had travelled 347 kms from Pune. The drive was fantastic. The toll booths in Karnataka were very efficiently run and they scanned my vehicle number easily.

By 7.15 am, we reached the Ashoka Belgaum Dharwad toll booth and paid Rs. 65. We enjoyed the drive tremendously and were looking forward to covering good distance before our breakfast halt.

We were cruising on the NH4, when we suddenly spotted some big rumbling strips on the road. I pumped my brakes a couple of times and hard braked as firmly as I could! But I still couldn’t manage to stop and jumped off the bumps. My Chevy’s engine switched off and we came to a complete halt after the rumbling strips. The first sight we saw after this incident was a huge truck lying in a ditch, to our left. We were utterly shocked.

The trucker must have seen the bumps at the last minute and braked hard. But he skidded off the road in an attempt to avoid the bump and ended up in a ditch. We were a little more lucky and escaped. Chevy baby was also fine and we breathed a huge sigh of relief. This bump comes at 399 kms after Pune and about 52 kilometres after Belgaum bypass. Future travelers beware. This is one hell of a nasty surprise!!!

What infuriated us even further was the fact that there was a bus stop right after the bumps and people were laughing at us, after seeing my panic braking. But I must pat myself on the back for not screeching my tyres even once and for not damaging Chevy’s suspension!!! I simple cannot understand why they have constructed three huge rumbling strips in the middle of the road!!!

We continued our drive and reached the Hubli Dharwad bypass at 7.44 am. We paid Rs. 37 there. We had to show the counterfoil when we exited the bypass after covering 31 kilometres in the two laned highway. We reached the next toll plaza by 8.40 and paid Rs. 40.

We reached the Motebennur railway crossing by 8.58 am. My Chevy’s odo read 106, 040 kms. We had covered 507 kilometres till then.

Last edited by Chevy_lover : 29th August 2011 at 15:43.
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Old 29th August 2011, 15:50   #3
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Thumbs up An encore with the giant!

There was a huge line of vehicles on either side of the road waiting to cross over to the other side of the road. Some idiots had come close to the gate and had completely blocked off one side of the road.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-16-idiots_on_the_other_side.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-17-the_new_look_of_my_darling.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-19-railway_line.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-20-orderly_line_on_my_side_of_the_road.jpg

We waited patiently for the train to arrive. I have always been a big fan of trains and I never let go of an opportunity to click the roaring giant in action. I suddenly saw the giant approaching me at full throttle. I froze instantly!!! His roar sent shivers down my spine!

I managed to stand still and captured the giant hurtling past me at break neck speed.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-30-his_roar_is_so_scary.jpg

It was an exhilarating experience! I had a similar experience when we went to Goa. But this encore with the giant was far superior!!!
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Old 29th August 2011, 16:03   #4
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Thumbs up The journey continues....

We restarted our drive by 9.30 am after the train zoomed past us. The road was in shambles after the level crossing and we drove slowly till the highway. We rejoined the highway shortly and the road was again fantastic.

We reached Chitra Durga at 11.10 am. We exited the highway and drove inside the city looking for a hotel. We finally found Hotel Aishwarya Fort, which was located right opposite the RTO office, by 11.45 am. Our odo read 106, 212 kms. We had tasty Masala Dosas from the restaurant there. It was a very welcome break for us!

We started our journey again by 12.35 pm. We reached the Guilalu toll booth by 12.56pm and paid Rs. 45. By this time, I was feeling tired and we were looking for an opportunity to take a break. We spotted an HP pump on the left side by 1.30 pm. Our odo read 106, 293 kms. We had covered 760 kilometres from Pune and the only breaks we had, were at the level crossing and at the restaurant. We decided to take a small nap at the HP pump.

I quickly drove inside the HP pump. In fact we had visited the same pump in 2009 and 2010 during our drives and we had filled up from there. This time I filled up Rs. 300 worth of diesel at Rs. 46.97 per litre and parked near the pump and dozed off. The break was really necessary and we had a peaceful sleep inside our Chevy with the AC on.

We woke up after a short relaxing siesta by 2.30 pm. We quickly freshened up and restarted our journey. Soon after the HP pump, we saw a BP pump and a Kamat’s Restaurant. This pump and restaurant is located about 314 kms after the Hubli Dharwad bypass.

We reached the Karjivanhalli toll plaza at 2.52 pm and paid Rs. 45. Tumkur was bypassed at 3.18 pm and our odo read 106, 354 kms. We paid Rs. 29 as toll at the Tumkur toll plaza soon and showed the same receipt at the next toll booth.

The scenery all around us was astounding!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-6-beautiful_mountain.jpg

We reached the Nelamangala - Bangalore toll plaza at 3.58 pm. Our odo read 106,393 kms. We had travelled 860 kilometres from Pune. We paid Rs. 15 there. Shortly after this plaza, we saw an interceptor of Karnataka Police. We saw two policemen jumping in front of a Fortuner, who was probably at 100 – 120 kmph and asked him to pull over. I was trailing a truck and there was no way the scanner could have picked up my speed!!! It was a very lucky escape for me!

We managed to capture a beautiful tree on the median. We had captured a pic of the same tree in 2010.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-15-captured_again_in_2011.jpg

We entered the NICE road shortly. There is always some confusion among Team Bhpians from other states regarding the correct entry point to NICE road, to bypass Bangalore. We managed to capture some pics, which will correctly show where the exit is! I hope these pics will help fellow members.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-19-entry_to_nice_road.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-20-entry_to_nice_road.jpg

NICE Road...

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-25-nice-_road.jpg
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Old 29th August 2011, 17:00   #5
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

@Chevy_Lover : Welcome back.

First a very belated Happy Birthday to your father.

As always the thread is quite informative with lot of snaps. Are we also going to get snaps of beautiful kerala and local food delicacies in subsequent posts?
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Old 29th August 2011, 17:34   #6
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Exclamation The NICE Experience and finally... Tamil Nadu...

We entered NICE road at 4.05 pm. Our Odo read 106,402 kms. We had covered 869 kms from Pune by then.

NICE road was superb as it always has been and we enjoyed driving on it. We had driven on the road many times, whenever we needed to bypass Bangalore. We were very impressed by the road condition and were eagerly looking forward to the drive. Nice road has a user fee of Rs. 100. It makes NICE one of the costliest toll roads in India . Even the Pune – Mumbai Expressway is comparatively cheaper.

We enjoyed the super smooth drive on NICE Road. Here are some pics to make our readers understand what we experienced.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-1-nice-road.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-2-nice-road.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-3-nice-road.jpg

We reached the Bannerghatta exit plaza by 4.30 pm. Our odo was showing 106, 436 kms. We had to show the receipt of NICE road.

Soon we entered Bannerghatta road entry plaza and paid Rs. 25 as toll. Our odo was at 106, 445. We exited NICE road for one last time by 4.49 pm. Our odo was at 106, 447. We were amazed to note that we had paid an incredible Rs. 125 to travel a mere 45 kilometres. Daylight robbery, right???

We filled up a little bit of fuel soon after exiting NICE. I had planned to fill up from Hosur, where Diesel is cheaper, but had to top up my Chevy’s baby’s belly a bit. We filled in Diesel for Rs. 300 @ Rs. 46.13 per litre, just enough to reach Hosur.

We reached the Attibele – Bangalore elevated toll way and paid Rs. 20 as user fee. The time was 5. 10 pm and we had covered an incredible 929 kilometres from Pune. We exited Karnataka in a few minutes from then.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-4-karnataka_border.jpg

We finally entered Tamil Nadu at 5.14 pm.

We had covered 931 kms from Pune by then!
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Old 29th August 2011, 18:01   #7
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

Good to see you and the thread back dear Chevy_lover. As usual lovely snaps and narration. Thanks for sharing your experience and am waiting for your further posts especially Munnar.

Shall follow this thread closely.

Thanks.

Luv,
Manjunath
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Old 29th August 2011, 18:23   #8
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
@Chevy_Lover : Welcome back.

First a very belated Happy Birthday to your father.

As always the thread is quite informative with lot of snaps. Are we also going to get snaps of beautiful Kerala and local food delicacies in subsequent posts?
Thanks Amit. I was always here!

There are lots and lots of pics from Kerala coming up, as the story progresses...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indian Ranger View Post
Good to see you and the thread back dear Chevy_lover. As usual lovely snaps and narration. Thanks for sharing your experience and am waiting for your further posts especially Munnar.

Shall follow this thread closely.

Thanks.

Luv,
Manjunath
Thanks Manjunath Bhai. There are many interesting pics of Munnar coming up later!

A trailer...

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-10-beautiful_vista.jpg
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Old 29th August 2011, 19:15   #9
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Thumbs up The Brilliant NH7...

We continued our drive in our usual super-fast, tidy way. I maintained speeds of 100 - 110 kmph on the road to Hosur.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-1-superb_nh7__110-kmph.jpg

I took it easy after a while and brought down our speed to 100 kmph, because of the careless two wheeler riders. We came across two wheelers coming straight at us on more than one occasion. I scared the hell out of them by honking and making them stop. Those inglorious apes were on a suicide mission!

We bypassed Hosur by 5. 25 pm. Our odo was at 106, 475 kms. We were 942 kilometres away from our home in Pune and I had already started missing my super comfy bed. I had been driving with full concentration for over 14 hours. Our short nap near Tumkur did wonders to my mind and I was very alert again.

My wife had had a difficult time, the previous day, doing all the packing and other stuff. But she was also enjoying our drive tremendously and I did not feel the need to stop anywhere. We realized then that we had skipped lunch as always and we were slowly starting to get acute hunger pangs.

Our usual stop for food and drinks in Hosur was the 5 Star Petrol pump. We were aiming for it when I remembered HVK sir mentioning about another HP pump, five kilometres after 5 Star, which had a Mac D outlet. We immediately ditched our plans of stopping at 5 Star and quickly raced to the next pump.

We reached the HP pump at 5. 45 pm. We had been on the road for 16 hours by then. I swiftly drove to the nearest filling station and spoke fluent Tamil for the first time in a year, to the attendant. He was startled!!!

He had been watching my Chevy and his MH name plate from the moment we entered the pump and had called us to his fuel station. Little did he expect to hear an MH guy speak Tamil. All he could mutter was, “Sir?? Tamil? You speak Tamil??? How???” I spent the next 10 minutes talking to him in Tamil about how I could speak in Tamil.

Meanwhile, Chevy baby was on a drinking spree. Within no time he had gulped down Rs. 1962 worth of Diesel @ 44.52 per litre. I was quite taken aback by his love for heavy drinks!!!

After filling up our dear Chevy’s tummy, it was time for us to refill. We drove towards the drive thru’ counter of Mac D and ordered two Mc Chicken Burgers with Cheese and ordered fries and coke too. We got our order in 3 minutes flat. We quickly drove to the parking lot and halted there. The food was super tasty and we finished our burger in a matter of seconds!! We rested there for sometime.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-3-hp_pump_hosur.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-6-mac-d.jpg

Poor Chevy baby was covered in red mud from the NH4 at Motebennur. He refused to pose for me and so I had to take a candid shot!!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-8-chevy_baby.jpg

We restarted our drive by 6.20 pm. My wife was very happy that I had finally stopped somewhere to satiate our appetite. Our odo read 106, 493 kms. I saw a brilliant spectacle on my rear view mirror as soon as we started our drive. The Sun was about to go down the horizon for his siesta. The sky was so bright that I couldn’t keep on looking at it for more than a minute at a stretch. This was arguably one of the BEST SUNSETS we ever witnessed!!!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-9-setting_sun.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-10-sun_and_twilight.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-11-setting_sunvert.jpg

I had driven 958.9 kilometres in 15 hours to reach Udaipur in 2010. That was the farthest I had driven in a day. I broke that record on NH7.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-2-my_new_record-it_lasted_only_a_few_seconds.jpg

By 6.49 pm, we had reached the Krishnagiri Toll Plaza. We paid Rs. 25 as user fee and sped towards Salem. My aim was to bypass Salem, drive till Madurai and halt for the night there. The plan was very ambitious, but I had complete faith in Chevy and my sweet navigator.

We had been building up our stamina through numerous short drives during the past few months and the plan paid rich dividends. I was as alert as a hawk and was maintaining 110 kmph with ease on the brilliant NH7. My aim was to maintain a high speed regularly and to avoid hard accelerations. The plan worked out perfectly. My Hella 700FFs were astounding on the highway and lit up the road superbly.

I completed the elusive 1000 kilometre mark shortly after passing Krishnagiri. It was a huge milestone for me.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-13-1000_kms_covered.jpg

We continued our drive non stop and reached the Krishnagiri – Thoppur toll road by 7.45 pm. Our odo read 106, 589 kms. We had covered an astonishing 1056 kilometres by then.

Thoppur ghats started soon. Our odo read 106, 596 kms. I brought down my speed to about 40 kmph. The bumps and rumbling strips were in an awful condition. Most of them were squashed by the heavy trucks. My Chevy’s under belly hit a particularly nasty bump. But luckily there was no damage done to Chevy.

We started our drive again in optimum speeds as soon as we exited the ghat section. There was heavy truck traffic on NH7 and we had to use our Hella Red Grills continuously. Truckers were very well mannered and always gave us ample space to overtake at the right time.

We reached Omalur toll plaza at 8.33 pm and paid Rs. 53 as fee. Our Odo was at 106, 629. We did not stop anywhere and sped off towards Salem. Traffic increased as soon as we crossed this toll plaza. Salem was nearby and there was a mad rush towards the city. Bikers were driving at breakneck speed to reach their abode.

We reached Salem by 8.38 pm. We had driven an incredible 1099 kilometres from the Oxford of the East to reach the Steel City!!!

We swiftly drove through two signals and bypassed Salem at 8.44 pm. We drove on the newly constructed over bridge and got a bird’s eye view of the highway underneath us. The road was excellent after Salem. We got an Ultra Deluxe bus of TNSRTC as our pilot vehicle and I tailed him conscientiously. There was nothing to worry other than the sudden breaks in the median. Most of the medians, after the break in road, were not painted well. So I drove on the middle lane as soon as I sensed that a break in the road was imminent. There were good reflectors on the road, but they were confusing at times. So I followed the middle lane most of the time.

We reached the Rasampalayam toll plaza at 9.45 pm. The toll was Rs. 32. Our odo read 106,699 kms. We trailed the bus at a safe distance and made good progress. The bus was maintaining about 90 kmph consistently and I was only too happy to follow the leader. Soon, many more buses joined our pack and we were driving in a huge convoy. We continued the formation for another 40 odd kilometres.

By 10.30 pm, we were starting to feel tired and I decided to stop for our dinner break. We did not take the turn to Madurai at Karur and drove further in search of a hotel. We spotted Hotel Apoorvaa AC Restaurant, which was located at Karur bypass. I quickly pulled over and parked our Chevy. Our odo was at 106, 742 kms. We had driven an incredible 1209 kilometres till our dinner break.

We had our dinner from Apoorvaa’s open air restaurant. They were showing Tamil song clips on a huge TV screen. We enjoyed the songs and had a tasty diner consisting of Parottas and Chicken dishes. We rested there for a while.

Our journey to Madurai was restarted by 11.30 pm. I took a U turn from Apoorvaa and joined the highway to Madurai. We reached the TNDK Expressways Ltd. Velanchettiyur toll plaza at 12 am and paid Rs. 60. We were heading towards Madurai and Dindigul. Our drive was uneventful all this time. I was alert and was driving at 100 - 110 kmph consistently.

By 12. 25 am, we were feeling quite lethargic. We stopped by a roadside dhabba and had piping hot tea. The hot drink invigorated us and we started our drive again after replenishing our stock of water.

We reached the Kodai road toll plaza by 1. 10 am. We decided to take a nap there. We parked our Chevy beside the toll plaza and slept for half an hour. The nap did wonders to our concentration and stamina. We restarted our drive by 1. 40 am. Our odo read 106, 838 kms. We had driven 1305 kilometres till then.

We saw sign boards informing us about our impending arrival at Madurai. We were speeding on the highway and were thrilled to see the board that informed us that Madurai was about 20 kilometres away. We were being followed by the B9R of Victory Travels at approx 110 kmph, with all his 6 brilliant lights blazing away to glory. I was being blinded, but I just drove on.

Just before we entered the outskirts of the city, we ran into a rough and badly tarred stretch of road. There was absolutely no warning to the drivers that the highway was going to become two laned, and that too without any median.

All of a sudden, we noticed a truck, which was about 500 metres ahead of us, brake hard and swerve to the right. We too braked and I immediately put on my hazard lights. The Volvo slowed down too.

The road had broken up without any warning and there was also a sizeable dip in the level of the two roads. The bad stretch was for about 1 ~ 2 kilometres. The road was very narrow, akin to the old Salem ~ Annur road, with heavy traffic. There was absolutely no chance of overtaking. There were hundreds of trucks on the road even at 2 am.

It is very easy to miss the main highway after crossing the bad stretch. The road towards Madurai is two laned all the way and there are some barricades put up by the Police. Road condition improved after 2 – 3 kilometres.

We entered Madurai town at 2.10 am. Our odo was at 106, 876 kms. We had driven 1343 kms from our home.

Last edited by GTO : 30th August 2011 at 15:51. Reason: As per your reported post
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Old 29th August 2011, 19:39   #10
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

@CL. Great narration and pictures. I was waiting for you to reach Kerala, but could not stop myself from replying. It is indeed a great achievement to be driving such long distances and being alert at the same time. I am still not very comfortable driving in the night, although to be honest, i have not tried it too. I have done a few trips starting at 4:00 a.m. and always stopped by 7-8 p.m.

Also appreciate the updates about the road conditions.
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Old 29th August 2011, 19:43   #11
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

@CL, Do I need to mention ?

Amazing attention to details. The first snap that you posted (of the road with fading light)
is the best of the lot!
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Old 29th August 2011, 20:18   #12
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Exclamation A place to rest! Finally....!

Madurai city was a mess. We went inside the city and checked out all hotels near the Railway station, bus stop and everywhere else. We tried Hotel Empee, Hotel Raj, GRT Grand, etc. The worst problem we faced was that almost all hotels had parking outside, on the street. And hotels with guarded parking were out to fleece customers by charging Rs. 3500 to Rs. 5000. I would never even think of paying such an unreasonable amount for a room in a 'C' or 'D' class city.

We had a terrible time in 2006, when we stayed at Madurai with my family, en route to Velankanni. I saw one boy sitting on my Chevy's bonnet, when I parked Chevy on the street. Dogs were after my dear Chevy baby's tyres!!

I remember using three full buckets of water to wash Chevy’s tyres then. After that incident, I never stay at hotels without parking. I knew how crowded the super-narrow lanes of Madurai can get. An ox cart can destroy my costly Hellas in a second!!!

After circling the city plenty of times, we took the help of a Police inspector who was standing near a junction. He guided us to a hotel nearby. But that hotel was full. We finally took the help of an auto driver to search for some more hotels in the city of Madurai. He guided our vehicle at first. Then I rode with him in the rick after letting my wife rest in Chevy. He showed me about 15 hotels in the narrow lanes there. I was never satisfied because of the lack of ample parking space.

I returned back to my Chevy in the rick and paid off the driver. We decided to drive to Tirunelveli from Madurai and left the town by 4am.

As soon as we touched the highway, I saw a B9R coming at high speed behind me. It was the same Victory Travels bus that had blinded me earlier. I allowed him to overtake me and tailed him for the next 50 kilometres on full high beam, with all my lights switched on. The driver slowed down numerous times to make me overtake him, but I just followed him stubbornly. Finally I had enough of the cat and mouse game and sped off. I never saw that bus again.

We reached the Spudhur toll plaza at 5 am and paid Rs. 40 as fee. Our odo was showing 107, 023 kms. I was feeling very tired but we decided to carry on and finally reached the outskirts of Tirunelveli town at 5. 30 am. We had a fantastic drive up to Tirunelveli. Our odo read 107, 048 kms. We had driven 1515 kilometres till then.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-14-1500_kms_covered.jpg

This stretch between Madurai and T’veli was the fastest.

We entered Tirunelveli town from the second exit from the highway. We entered a service road, took a right turn from under the over bridge (highway on top), drove for about 12 kms and got stuck at a railway crossing.

I could capture the giant in action again!!!


An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-19-the_giant.jpg

We crossed the railway lines, drove near a theatre, got onto the Nagercoil road and finally reached Hotel Ramanas Inn. Our Odo read 107, 058 kms. We had driven an unbelievable 1525 kilometres in approximately 24 hours of driving.

We checked into Hotel Ramanas Inn by 6 am. There were plenty of hotels on that lane. Tariff ranged from Rs. 500 to Rs. 3000. We quickly went to our room, freshened up and dozed off within no time.

Chevy baby had performed brilliantly. We had covered 1525 kilometres in a day without crossing 140 kmph even once.

We slept the whole day!!!
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Old 29th August 2011, 22:34   #13
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Exclamation Day 2. The journey ends....

Day 2

We had a peaceful sleep and woke up by 5 pm on day 2 of our journey. We had managed to cover the bulk of our journey on day 1 and we had a relatively easy task of driving just 150 odd kilometres to reach my house in Trivandrum. But the ‘relatively easy’ 150 kilometres was through Nagercoil and onwards to Tvm. This stretch was the one of the most congested and dangerous highways in the country and was the most difficult part of our entire journey.

We decided to do a night drive later that day. That way we would be able to avoid the super-crazy bikers and three wheelers of the towns we would be passing through. There are no bypasses after Nagercoil and we had to drive through all the local towns like Marthandam, Parassala, Neyyattinkara, Balaramapuram, etc. It was an arduous task and we decided that a night drive was the safest!

We decided to have an early supper and went to MH restaurant, near our hotel, by 6.30 pm. We had tasty Chettinad Chicken Biriyanis and juices. That was the first meal we had had in over 20 hours. We were happy that we could finish off our supper soon.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-26-restaurant__tirunelveli.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-28-ramanas_inn.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-27-rr_hotel.jpg

We returned back to our hotel and were sad to see our dear Chevy covered from head to toe in dirt. We quickly engaged the hotel’s watchman to clean our Chevy and decided to check out.

We were finally on our way at 8.20 pm. Our odo read 107, 058 kms. We had a tough time driving inside the city roads. There were lots of buses and trucks accompanying us and we had to bring down our speed to about 40 –50 kmph. I decided to abandon all hopes of reaching my home for a late dinner and drove very carefully. The road condition was ok inside the city. We finally touched the highway and I could speed up. We had a terrific drive all the way till Nangneri tollbooth, which we reached at 8.56 pm after covering 28 kilometres. The toll we paid was Rs. 65. The Bangalore – Kanyakumari Highway was terrific. We were happy that we decided to stick to NH7 and were thrilled that we did not even consider NH17.

Our fairytale drive ended soon. We took a left turn from the highway and took the exit towards Nagercoil by 9.20 pm. Our odo read 107,120 kms. We had covered 62 kilometres from Tirunelveli. Nagercoil town was a further 20 kilometres away. The road was very narrow and two laned. Our nightmare started almost immediately.

We reached Nagercoil city at 9.52 pm. The city was in a messy condition and we had a horrendous time driving through the narrow roads. What made the drive worse, were the innumerable trucks driving haphazardly inside the small town of Nagercoil. Most of the truck drivers knew different shortcuts to reach the highway and they were turning right, left and center whenever they desired. I knew the route to exit the city and we stuck to it. We were confused at times, but did not take any major turns and finally exited the city.

The highway from Nagercoil to Trivandrum was also in a very bad condition. It was two laned and there was heavy truck and bus traffic even at that hour. There were big potholes where we least expected. Our average speed dropped down to 40 kmph. We decided to tail a truck for safety and he lead us towards Marthandam, the border town of TN.

We filled up fuel for Rs. 1000 @ Rs. 44.48 per litre from an HP pump. We reached Parassala at 10.50 pm and finally entered Kerala state.

Our nightmare drive took a turn for the worse almost immediately. A Super Express KSRTC bus overtook a truck and came straight at us from the opposite lane. It was very clear that the idiotic driver expected us to leave the road and make way for him. But we had nowhere to go as residential compound walls bordered the road. I stopped my Chevy at the left most side of the road and let the idiotic KSRTC driver go. He zoomed past our Chevy and we heaved a collective sigh of relief. That was the ONLY time we were in serious danger during the entire duration of our trip.

We continued our drive carefully and finally reached TVM city by 11.30 am. Our odo read 107, 210 kms. We did not stop anywhere and reached my home by 11.40 pm. My family members were waiting for me and it was a perfect reunion. We switched off our dear Chevy’s engine one final time.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-33-chevy-his-brother.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-33-my-home_sweet_home.jpg

Our odo read 107, 214 kms. We had covered 156 kms from Tirunelveli.

Our drive was a fantastic experience. We covered a total of 1681 kilometres from Pune to reach Trivandrum. Our total driving time was approximately 27 hours. Our average speed was approximately 62 kmph.

We thanked God from the bottom of our hearts for giving us a wonderful drive and retired for the night after a wonderful feast!!!

Last edited by Chevy_lover : 29th August 2011 at 22:35.
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Old 29th August 2011, 23:29   #14
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Thumbs up St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Trivandrum.

Day 3

We visited the newly renovated St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral, in Trivandrum, the next day evening. The Church had undergone a complete multi-crore makeover. We were truly impressed by the grandeur of the church. It was in this church that I was baptized, received first Holy Communion and later got married.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-01.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-02.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-04.jpg

Grotto of Our Lady of Velankanni

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-05.jpg

Church interiors

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-06.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-08.jpg

One of the most heart-wrenching and beautiful sculptures I have ever seen!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-09.jpg

The Church Altar! Very beautiful!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-10.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-11.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-13.jpg

Stained Glass Paintings! Imported from Italy.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-14.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-15.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-16.jpg

St. Joseph's LP School

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-17.jpg

Teak-wood roof!

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-22.jpg

History of the Church. Click on the pic for a larger image.

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-24.jpg

Grotto of Mother Mary

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-25.jpg

Exterior of the church

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-18.jpg

An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!-st.-josephs-cathedral-21.jpg
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Old 29th August 2011, 23:50   #15
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Default Re: An Incredible Roadtrip to Trivandrum, Velankanni and Mesmerizing Munnar!

Welcome back after an abstinence. I saw your thread in the morning couple of weeks back and when i wanted to go through in detail in the evening, it was gone. Guessed that you were in the assembly line. Yes, for us all the long journey begins again. Good.
1500 kms in a day is fantastic driving and the perseverance is incredible.
Is it that you copied the entire log from the assembly line to the mains.

Last edited by rajeev k : 29th August 2011 at 23:52.
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