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Old 13th January 2014, 14:32   #1
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Default God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

It was time to plan our annual long holiday. And in the last three years of our official togetherness, it always has been a driving holiday. New Year 2012 saw us driving around Rajasthan, 2012 end/2013 beginning to Goa. So we had monumental benchmarks to match this year too. The choices were to see Hindustan ka Dil, breath in a bit of Gujarat and then this!

Wife - Its too far
Me - So what, we can do it
Wife - Cant we do something shorter?
Me - Yeah, lets drive to Lonavla! (in all fairness to her we had other alternatives of Gujarat/MP in our minds)
Wife - It will entail very long drives
Me - Why do you think I want to do it?
Wife - It will be a long trip. Will you get leaves
Me (in my mind) - Hell Yeah

A couple of more days of dilly dallying and the decision was made. Gods Own Country - Here we come!

That was in Late October. The Plan made was to drive to Kerala, drive across the length and breadth of the state and come back, all in 11 days! And then the research started - Roads, Destinations, Hotels and FOOD - Yes FOOD was one of the main agenda, it always is on any of our trips!

Thanks to a lot of inputs and existing threads on Team BHP and some help from HVK forum, the route plan was a breeze. I must thank everyone of the TBHPians and HVKians! The only major worries for me, being the sole designated driver in our family of two, was the long distances to be traveled in a single day on the way to Kerala and back. So we threw in a rest day with Friends at Bangalore. Tripadvisor did its bit in identifying the locations to do and the places to stay. Some generic googling threw up the Kerala Cusine must haves. And so we were armed and ready.

While the planning stage is really the most exciting stage of a journey, there is a risk of me rambling too much about it. So, come, let me take you through the actual journey then -

Total Journey Stats
Total Distance Traveled - 3389 Kms
Average Speed Throughout - 53 KPH
Total Driving Time - 63:38 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 12.1 KMPL
Total Toll Paid ~ Rs. 1500

Day 0 (Yes, there was a Day 0 too)

Given the fact, that we had to reach Bangalore at the end of Day 1, a 950+ km journey, we planned to make things a little simpler. So on the eve of New Year, after crossing every last minute suprisingly inevitable must do's at each one's office, we set off at 5:30 in the evening for a drive on the expressway to Pune. The plan was to spend the night at a hotel in Pune and leave at the first crow of the rooster on 1st Jan to Bangalore.
Notwithstanding the usual pains of going through the diversions and traffic enroute the Expressway, we were on the expressway within an hour and a half! ( I have spent 2.5 hrs too, so nothing bad). An usual Chai-Paani stop at Khalapur and we reached our Hotel at around 9 PM. Surprises (both good and nasty ones) are what make a journey and we got our first, rather nasty one at the Hotel. Let me delve a minute into this. This was Hotel Ranjana's I had booked through booking.com. Hadn't paid anything, just a simple booking. When we turned up at the Hotel, there was just a chowkidar and a boy at a completely dark building, none of whom had any clue about the booking. The manager was called and I on my part called the contact person as mentioned in the booking. After some wait and frantic calling, the manager came down and asked for our IDs. My wife having not changed her maiden name after marriage, there was nothing in our IDs to prove we were married. And that seems to be a big deal in Pune hotels!
Anyway, after some more exchange of words, the hotel guys relented and gave us a room for the night. A quick ordered dinner, some TV and we ended the night, even before the clock struck 12 to herald the New Year.



Just a couple of pics of Day 0

Yeah, We Do. Two Humans + 114 of Mechanical BHP
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7655.jpg

The Hotel with ours the only room lit and us the only occupants
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7657.jpg

Day 0 Journey Stats
Distance Traveled - 130 Kms
Average Speed - 50 KPH
Total Driving Time - 2.4 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 12.5 KMPL
Toll Paid ~ Rs. 160

Thought of the day - JUMPING WITH JOY at 00:00 HOURS on 1st Jan WAS NOT OUR WAY OF CELEBRATING NEW YEAR. WE WOULD DO IT OUR STYLE AT 5:00 AM BY SWITCHING THE IGNITION ON

Last edited by palitrana : 27th January 2014 at 18:55.
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Old 27th January 2014, 16:04   #2
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 1
Today is when the actual journey started. This leg of the journey would take us to Bangalore city. Up in the morning at 4:30 AM and leave by 5:30 AM was the plan, given that -
1. This was the longest distance in a day I was ever driving and my better half was enduring
2. Wanted to do away with the dreaded traffic till Kolhapur

We could stick to the plan and started at 5:30 AM dot! It was still dark and the initial drive was averaging at around 80 kph as we crossed Pune bypass stretch and made it on to the highway towards Satara.

Soon the first light of the day filtered in and we took a very tiny bio and pic break, almost an hour from the start.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7665.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7668.jpg


And some more to capture the first sun of 2014 rising from the east onto our (hopefully) glorious driving holiday plan!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7674.jpg


Soon, the limited sleep last night caught onto us and the body demanded tea! And so tea it was, but not until we had gobbled up the horrible stretch on NH4 till Satara. The sun shone bright on the T-jet as we brightened up at a small dhaba!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7679.jpg


From there onwards, butter smooth roads, devoid of heavy traffic (the painful bikes that terrorise these roads), we drove onto Kolhapur.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7681.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7687.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7689.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7692.jpg

Kolhapur was designated breakfast point, Mcdonalds being the target.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7705.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_0652.jpg


NH4 got even better as we entered Karnataka. Except a small drinking water refill, we drove on, covering some "serious distance" at real "serious speeds" (Read averaging 130 kph). My better half kept alternating between paying tolls (theres an awful lot of toll booths), maintaining herself (LOL! hope she doesn't mind) and of course snapping up anything of interest on the bland smooth highway!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7708.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7711.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7712.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7721.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7725.jpg


After a couple of more hours of continuous driving, On Road Hunger (yes, this is a term in our dictionary) and boredom, induced by the constant high speed driving on astonishingly empty highways, took over us. So we stopped for Lunch No 1 at a Kamat Upachar just before Hubli and gobled up on some nice dosa, vadas and tea.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7727.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7729.jpg


While the road between Hubli and Haveri wasnt as great as the rest of NH4 Karnataka, they aren't bad and average speeds of 100-120 are doable. There is work going on the lanes towards Bangalore in stretch around Haveri and we were required to pass through the town of Haveri, two lane broad roads with lots of traffic and some broken patches. Small stretch though. However, once you cross Haveri and a little beyond, they grow awsome again, till about Chitradurga.

Enroute you can spot the Navagraha Theertha near Hubli and of course, this is also Windmill county, so be ready to spot lots of them
spread all the way to horizon.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7737.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7740.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7746.jpg


Once again On Road Hunger took its toll and we stopped for Lunch No 2 at a small wayside dhaba before Chitradurga.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7751.jpg


The town of Chitradurga arrived and was quite picturesque I must say. However, what was more awsome was the stretch of NH4 between Chitradurga and Tumkur. 6 lane, the smoothest tar I have yet to see and empty! A good 130 kms covered in an hour!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7753.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7757.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7759.jpg


This was the last uploadable picture of the day as we neared Tumkur at around 5 in the evening! The roads started getting much more busier, the Neelamangala toll booth was a huge headache with the most anarchist of motorists in our journey so far!
Onwards onto the Neelamangala-Bangalore stretch, which was nice but crowded, and then onto Nice Ring Road, and into Bangalore through Kanakpura Main Road, amidst lots of traffic and finally to our friends house in Jayanagar.

If this last sentence seems jumbled, its because thats exactly how this leg of the drive was, jumbled up with a lot of sore ass, aching backs, cursing traffic. But what the heck, we had done our longest drive in a day ever and were so much more closer to God's only Country.

Day 1 Stats
Total Distance - 880 Kms
Average Speed - 65 KPH
Driving Time - 13:31 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 12.6 KMPL
Total Toll Paid ~ Rs. 900

Thought of the day - 880 kms in a day, Been there done that!

Day 2
Day 2 was friendship day, spent relaxing, having breakfast with one set of friends, lunch with another and dinner with yet another. All pics on this day are just of those faces from the past who played such an important role in either of our pasts and still continue to accept and entertain us in all our quirkiness. Cheers to Friendship!!! Drive today was only from Jayanagar to Indiranagar to dump the car for the day and rest of the day as back seat passengers. Just the couple of photos to summarise the day.

Thought of the day - Bengaluru - the city where pubs are filled even in the afternoon

Last edited by moralfibre : 13th February 2014 at 08:34. Reason: Please see rule #11. Thanks!
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Old 27th January 2014, 19:20   #3
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 3

Having spent the entire of the second day and night partying and celebrating with friends, today was the second long distance run of the Trip. Our destination for the day was to be Munnar, about 500 kms away. The plan in the night was to leave within 6. However, we had the first of the slight delays and ended up leaving by around 6:45 AM.

Getting out of Indiranagar, we caught the Outer Ring Road


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7776.jpg


and then on to Elevated Expressway which was a bliss in the early morning. I must confess to overspeeding a lot and may be a little dangerously at times, but then I needed to shake off the sleep!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7781.jpg


The early morning colours were doing wonders all around. However, the road condition went from good to worse at stretches before and around Hosur due to ongoing work. We made steady progress, aided by some snacks and biscuits we stocked up in the night to avoid the pangs of On Road Hunger right in the morning.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7785.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7790.jpg


After having endured the mixture of roads, diversions, dust for more than an hour and a half, we stopped at a nice looking restaurant somewhere midway between Hosur and Krishnagiri.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7792.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7802.jpg


Breakfast done, we sped onto Salem. The route from there would be Erode - Perundurai-Kangayam-Dharapuram-Udumalapettai-Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary-Munnar. While we knew the roads till Erode were good and four lane, there was just a sketchy idea of what it would be after the turn-off at Perundurai - especially since these were State Highways!

Krishnagiri to Salem was a breeze with wonderfull four lane tar roads. Just had to be mindful about the helmetless bikers and the occassional high speed highway crossings of the localites.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7806.jpg


Post Salem, the four lanes continued in the form of the Salem Kanyakumari Highway. Kudos to the Tamil Nadu government for maintaining the roads in the way they were.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7815.jpg


Soon, my eye lids began to droop after a continuous high speed run and we stopped off for tea. The tea stop area was quite picturesque, what with an educational institute in the lap of some hills, a Vinayaka Mission temple (or so i think) and some more TN style temples.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7819.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7828.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7832.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7841.jpg

Tea stop done, we moved on and soon reached Perundurai, from where we turned left towards Dharapuram through the Perundurai town. As soon as we cross the town, this is what we get in the name of roads. We were literally scandalised at the thought of a 100 km stretch of such roads and began cursing ourselves on taking this internal route rather than the one through Pollachi.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7844.jpg


Our worries were pre-mature though. Luckily, this was a small stretch and the road got better ahead.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7850.jpg


And then it got awsome, devoid of traffic.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7858.jpg


Cross Dharapuram and take a right towards Udumalaipettai, and this is what you see spread across the entire horizon.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7883.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7869.jpg


We got really excited with all the windmills around.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7888.jpg


But the T-jet seemed to be jealous of the bigger motors!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7875.jpg


It was soon lunch time and we thought Udumalapettai would be our lunch stop. However, some confusion on the road out of the town, some off roading in a place where the road was not yet built, crossing a railway track at an unmanned position and with a huge and steep climb and drop, and we were out of Udumalapettai. We really did not have the apetite to go back so we prodded on slowly looking for places to eat. But there were none, really!

God helps the adventurous and sometimes surprises them! So after numerous trysts at using Hindi and English with local people to find directions to a place to have lunch, this is where we landed at -


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7902.jpg


While the outside did not instill much confidence, the palate really did. Our first encounter with the South Indian meal. So simple, yet so filling for the hungry stomach and soul! Gobbled it up!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7900.jpg


The next stop was soon enough when we entered the Anamalai RF area. While an entry in the books at the check post is the legal requirement, a Rs. 20 entry fee was the off-the-record requirement (of course there was no receipt, no entry of the money, etc.). But we did not mind, it was just Rs. 20 and the guard said this was the only checkpost.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7904.jpg


From here the road got very narrow, with broken shoulders. Traffic was sparse but the occassional oncoming tourist bus and trucks were hard to give place too, unless you slowed down and got off the tarmac. And you need to mind some of the especially rowdy drivers, with no inclination to do their part of the getting to the side.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7907.jpg


Soon, we discovered that corruption & inefficiency was not an occasional event in our country, its rampant and inbred. So at the border of TN & Kerala, there were 5 check posts within a span of less than a km - Three for police and two for Forest gaurds! The routine at each of the check posts is -
1. Stop the car before the barricade
2. Enter your details
3. Pay Rs. 20 without an receipt or
4. Hear the official at the post saying, this is the last post where you have to pay.

By the third post, I began arguing but to no avail. So thats how we entered Kerala - Gods Own Country - with a bitter taste in our mouth.

The only animals we saw in the entire forest stretch.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7909.jpg


Post the check posts, we entered the official Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary From hereon the road got a little wider, and the climb up started. It was a good drive though, in the midst of the forest, at speeds of 40-50 kph, windows down, taking in the sound of the forest alongside the addictive Turbo whine of the T-jet, and hills looming all around.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7913.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7917.jpg


One more check post later, we were in the Munnar hills. Tea gardens rolled into the view and encompassed the roads. The evening light, the shade and the fresh air cheered us up as we drove on mildly broken roads past the Eravikulam National park date and quite a few waterfalls.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7933.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7938.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7954.jpg


Called up our Guest House to realise they were on the other side of Munnar, about 15 kms away, mapped the route on the i-pad gmaps and for the last few kms just headed towards the finish line for the day. The day ended at around 6 PM as we checked into an Oasis in the midst of Tea Gardens, sank into the softest of beds, dined amongst the chirping of crickets and yes, all wrapped in woolens - It was 14 Degrees outside is what the weather app said!

Day 3 Stats
Total Distance - 489 Kms
Average Speed - 51 KPH
Driving Time - 9.30 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 12.5 KMPL
Total Toll Paid ~ Rs. 150 (Rs. 100 in unofficial ones)

Thought of the day - We are here, God's Own Country, and I drove all the way!

Last edited by palitrana : 28th January 2014 at 14:28.
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Old 31st January 2014, 16:00   #4
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 4

Today was a touristy day. However, we were not the run of the mill tourists, running from this view point to that view point, just for the heck of it. And especially having driven so much yesterday, we decided to spend a lazy morning, take in the cold weather (something we can only dream of in Mumbai), read a book, gaze at the surrounding tea gardens, hear the birds chirp! That was more our kind of tourism!

And if you are staying at a place that lets you glance out of the window onto this -


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7965.jpg


or step out on the balcony onto this


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7959.jpg


why would we want to hop around!


So, after a late morning wakey wakey, we set our minds to this hearty breakfast palate while enjoying the bliss of staying in between the tea gardens and not a soul around!


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7977.jpg


Set out before lunch time, ditched the car, had a good walk followed by a ride on a jaunty KSTRC bus to the main town.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7986.jpg


Today was to be a foodie day, and lunch was to be at Saravana Bhavan, full south Indian Ishhtyle, Let the sequence below tell the story of that grand lunch affair, all for just Rs. 100 a head


Start
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7987.jpg
what awaited us
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7989.jpg
Alligned now
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7990.jpg
Dive in
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7991.jpg
Result
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7993.jpg


Post lunch, we decided to do at least one touristy thing - a visit to the Kannan Devan tea museum. It was a nice small tour capped with some tea purchase. They explain the process well, but not before a long and boring speech on the merits of tea, chinese tea, etc etc.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7995.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_7999.jpg


As the evening mist set in, we came back to the hotel and had a walk around the team gardens before we retired to nursing our journey pains by toasting to Munnar (if you know what I mean) and another grand dinner (which we were too much in different a mood to take photos off), before settling within the blankets for the day.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8008.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8010.jpg

Thought of the day - Someday, we will have a home in a place like this
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Old 31st January 2014, 18:43   #5
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 5

From Mountains to the Beach. That was the moto today. As we watched the morning sun rise above the tea plants from our bed itself, we got ready for the next leg of the drive.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8035.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8045.jpg


We would be driving down the mountains onto the Kerala plains and towards Varkala Beach today. But not before we spend some more time taking in the vistas around the Guest House and Tea Gardens.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8046.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8070.jpg


After treating ourselves to another hefty breakfast and vowing to come back again for longer to this absolute heaven, we set out again. The original route plan today was to pass through Thodupuzha, Pala, Manarcadu, Changanassery, onto the Main Central Road to Kottarakara and then further on to Varkala. But then we did not till then realise the magnitude of this effort of would be more than the drive from Mumbai to Bangalore itself. More on that later! We set out towards Adimali, crossing the Chengulam Reservoir on the way.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8072.jpg

However, the drive was slow right from the start. The roads were narrow with strictly ok surface at the start.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8077.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8082.jpg

But then things got worse with terribly broken patches. Google maps started playing truant and guided us onto shortcuts, where roads did not virtually exist. The worst experience was when we started climbing a narrow broken road and then at the first corner, realised that the road was so broken that the car wouldn't cross this stretch. Turning at this narrow point was very tricky and reversing all the way was fraught with risk, given that we had already crossed a few large potholes where even going forward required expertise. With a lot of screeching of tyres, burning clutch, shreiking wife, we managed to turn back onto a proper road. A feel of things can be seen in the pics below.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8084.jpg

This continued till we got on to the Alleppey Madurai Road. While this was much better compared to what we were enduring, the road was narrow, lots of traffic and an ok surface. That is when we started getting the actual feeling of Kerala roads and traffic and started preparing ourselves to 30-40 kph average speeds.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8089.jpg

While the original route was planned from Pala through Manarcadu to Kottayam, we realised that these were smaller roads similar to what we had faced our ordeal at and decided to go the longer route to Ettumanoor to join the Main Central Road much earlier, in the hope that it would be faster and much better. Just to give you an idea, this was the route we took that day. Only in the last section instead of veering towards Manarcadu, we continued straight towards Ettumanoor and then onwards to Kottayam. In hindsight, a very wise decision.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-org-route.jpg

The Main Central Road, turned out to be a big surprise to us. First, we thought we were passing a town and thats why this was like it was. But some more time later, we were debating whether to laugh out loud or cry when we realised this was it, the entire road stretch of 100 kms we were to travel on this MC (literally MC) Road would be like this. Thats when I knew, if there was a travelogue, the word "Devil's Own Roads" would have to go in the title!

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8101.jpg


You can realise the frustration from the rant above. Anyhow, we continued straight post a lunch stop at Kottayam at around 2:30 PM. We had travelled only about 130 odd kms in a total time of 5 hours!

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8106.jpg

The road continued to a chaos, the drivers and motorists being some of the most unruly ones I have seen across the country, the pedestrians popping out of nowhere at the smallest of junctions (which there seemed to be pretty lot of). Some pics to give you an idea why i continue to ramble

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8112.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8127.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8132.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8141.jpg


Like a dutiful traveler, we toiled on, in search of the destination, with hope in our hearts of finding a respite, something beautiful. It was only around 5:30 that we reached Varkala in the evening that day, tired, beaten, crest fallen at the thought that Kerala would be a disappointment at this rate. But, theres always surprises. This Surpise - God had put on a show for us!

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8144.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8150.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8153.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8155.jpg

Needless to say, the only thing we did after that was get to the hotel and shut down. I had a bad cold from over enjoying the Munnar cold and thus we retired early after dinner at the attached restaurant, which itself was on the cliff at the seaside. What a day!!!

Day 5 Stats
Total Distance - 262 Kms
Average Speed - 33 KPH
Driving Time - 7.45 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 11.1 KMPL

Last edited by palitrana : 4th February 2014 at 19:21.
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Old 7th February 2014, 14:19   #6
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 6

Today was leisure by the beach day.

If you have not been to Varkala, you definitely should be there. And if you have been there, I know for sure you will go again. Let me describe Varkala for a uninitiated a bit.

Varkala is a Cliff and Beach combo! And thats what makes this place so stunning. Add to that, this is a less desi-frequented beach destination and has a Goa-esque vibe, except that it is quieter and chilled out.
There are three beaches where you can see sand and actually have a dip in the sea.

The one to the extreme south is called Papanasam Beach. This beach is quite broad and about a km in stretch. The beach is guarded by a cliff on the inner side, which is called the South Cliff (or some refer it to Helipad side of cliff) and has the Janardhan Swamy temple at the extreme south end. This is where us Desis enjoy our dip mixed with the Videshis.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8178.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8188.jpg


Then after crossing the South Cliff and past the North Cliff, you come across a very small stretch of black sand called the Black beach, about 50 metres long and almost covered in water at full high tide. This is where the Videshis show off.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8159.jpg


Past this is another stretch of beach, is the deserted and a little localised Odayam beach. Part black, part golden sand.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8156.jpg


Thats the beach story. But the main experience of Varkala lies on the cliffs, be it the line of resorts (both luxury, budget and simply rooms), Restaurants, so-called pubs, even departmental stores.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8168.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8174.jpg


And thus we spent the day, breakfasting, lazing, lunching, lounging, sun-downing, drinking, dining and most importantly forgetting the torture of Kerala roads yesterday.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8222.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8161.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8169.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8187.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8200.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8211.jpg


Thought of the day - The best experience of Mojitos is when you have them by the beach!

Last edited by palitrana : 7th February 2014 at 14:23.
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Old 10th February 2014, 13:50   #7
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Default God's Own Country, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Day 7

Today was supposed to be the crescendo of the entire trip. The Backwaters.

So we set off around 9 in the morning, after a hearty breakfast, to reach Alleppey or more specifically to our private island. This would be the shortest drive till now in a day.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8231.jpg

Some more of the Devil's own roads, only this time, the NH47 was much better than the MC () Road.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8232.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8239.jpg

Past Ambalapuzha, onto the Alappuzha-Changanassery Road, over the Palathuruthy Bridge and a small turn off.


God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8257.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8263.jpg

And eventually, we got onto a kachha road for the last 1 km, until we reach the banks of a canal, a big one with no more motorable (or atleast for Linea-able) road. This was the stop for the car and from here would cross the Canal by a canoe to our private Island.

There, thats our ride -

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8270.jpg

And thats our abode in our private Island.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8280.jpg

The first thing we do, is of course delve into some home made delicacies -

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8282.jpg

And then spend the afternoon in our villa -

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8289.jpg

Watching houseboats ply around noisily in the other wise most silent of places I have been to in Kerala!

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8294.jpg

We went on a walkabout around the small Island, basking in the sun,

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8310.jpg

walking into Bamboo bushes,

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8311.jpg

crossing small bridges,

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8312.jpg

even found a two wheeler

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8322.jpg

and visited Tree Houses.

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8324.jpg

The evening, we opted to do a canoe trip in and around the canals nearby to get a taste of local life around these back waters. While we spotted lots of birds and boats in the main canal (this was a national waterway and hence quite busy),

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8326.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8338.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8346.jpg

the smaller canals were a more revealing experience -

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8369.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8373.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8374.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8401.jpg

As the sun set on the day, and around the backwaters, we paddled back to our island. The evening was spent with the help of some traditional board games provided by our hosts, some manna and lots of chicken and appams!

God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8362.jpg
God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu-img_8388.jpg

Day 7 Stats
Total Distance - 119 Kms
Average Speed - 39 KPH
Driving Time - 3 Hrs
Fuel Consumption Average - 11.3 KMPL

Thought of the Day - Now we know why they call it God's own country
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Old 12th February 2014, 12:14   #8
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th February 2014, 12:34   #9
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Awesome trip there Palitrana. Nice photos!!

I did the same Kerala trip last November from Pune and it has to be said that the TJet is a high way and mountain King. We infact had planned to go via Bandipur but some politics played spoil sport when some one stoned the chief minister of Kerala, the day before. So went via the Nagercoil route which was pretty boring but a high speed journey thou! :-)
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Old 12th February 2014, 15:05   #10
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Wonderful travelogue, well written with great pics. Thanks.

You have inspired me to plan a trip to South India in my car
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Old 12th February 2014, 15:36   #11
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Awesome article, very detailed and well articulated !!
Good choice of places to visit, esp loved Varkurla.. added it to my "must visit" list...
Lastly as a TJET owner must say that, there is nothing better than driving the T-Jet on a smooth tarmac, with minimal traffic.
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Old 12th February 2014, 16:03   #12
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Great report. Being from Kerala myself, I can totally relate to the 'devils own roads' comment. Kerala is one never ending sequence of towns. Even the smallest ones are very dense with respect to people and traffic .

Did you hit North Kerala side on the way back?
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Old 12th February 2014, 17:34   #13
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Great pics mate !!!

You have aptly named the thread as Devil's own road. Only the places are beautiful, the roads are not.

Great to know know you have a wonderful trip.

Drive safe, Cheers.
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Old 12th February 2014, 18:15   #14
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayKis View Post
Awesome trip there Palitrana. Nice photos!!

I did the same Kerala trip last November from Pune and it has to be said that the TJet is a high way and mountain King. We infact had planned to go via Bandipur but some politics played spoil sport when some one stoned the chief minister of Kerala, the day before. So went via the Nagercoil route which was pretty boring but a high speed journey thou! :-)
Thanks. We did both - the high speed journey (though not the Nagercoil route you see) and coming back via forests. Will post about the return journey also shortly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by us.dash View Post
Wonderful travelogue, well written with great pics. Thanks.

You have inspired me to plan a trip to South India in my car
Thanks. A car journey always makes even the most touristy of trips much more interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sahibrain View Post
Awesome article, very detailed and well articulated !!
Good choice of places to visit, esp loved Varkurla.. added it to my "must visit" list...
Lastly as a TJET owner must say that, there is nothing better than driving the T-Jet on a smooth tarmac, with minimal traffic.
Varkala is definitely a must visit. Since we were hopping around, could not stay long, but this is a place where you just simply park yourself for as long as you can! Tjet - You already know it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Great report. Being from Kerala myself, I can totally relate to the 'devils own roads' comment. Kerala is one never ending sequence of towns. Even the smallest ones are very dense with respect to people and traffic .

Did you hit North Kerala side on the way back?


Quote:
Originally Posted by voyageur View Post
Great pics mate !!!

You have aptly named the thread as Devil's own road. Only the places are beautiful, the roads are not.

Great to know know you have a wonderful trip.

Drive safe, Cheers.
Thanks. I am sure a lot of people who stay/travel in Kerala will echo these feelings. I was disappointed a little, especially when compared to our Rajasthan trip.

Not North kerala really, but came back via Wayanad. Updates till Day 11 to follow shortly.
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Old 12th February 2014, 19:01   #15
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Default Re: God's Own Country, Linea T-Jet, Devil's Own Roads and Meen Pollichathu

Nice travelogue and excellent pictures mate.

Driving to Trivandrum on both the routes viz., via Alleppy (NH 47) and through Kottayam (MC Road) is a real nightmare because of the maddeningly slow moving traffic during day time in these single lane roads. NH47 is 4 lane till Chertallai and beyond that road is bumpy and the ride becomes rough. MC Road is bad till Chengannur and beyond that is quite good till Trivandrum except the umpteen number of bumps some of which are in clusters.

The problem with Kerala is the absence of the urban-rural demarcation as the entire state is linked by the satellite extensions of several towns. Only in the high ranges one can see vacant spaces. The intensity of population is the highest in the State.

Last edited by rajeev k : 12th February 2014 at 19:13.
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