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Old 19th April 2014, 23:47   #1
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Default Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Its early morning, I am up to catch the sun just as it is rising. I often cannot sleep for more than 5 or 6 hours when I am on a holiday. There is always the feeling to do so much, to know so much, to soak in as much. I am sitting on a lazy chair sipping tea in a newly renovated bungalow in the French part of the union territory of Puducherry and flipping through the pages of an old edition of a Conde Nast Traveller with the sun just beginning to appear. As I turn pages I come across these lines – Each line resonating the thoughts in my head

We are miles away from the routine

Headlights rise over the horizon

Pierce the morning fog

Cut through the clutter in our minds

Carve new highways



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Today is the last day of our 8 day trip. A trip which may not have happened for a variety of reasons, but it did. A trip which made us travel 1900 kilometers by road in the South of India.

A drive through three states and five wildlife reserves; through never ending hills and symmetric tea plantations; through narrow backwaters and less traveled paths, through coastal lines and shore temples - through some unnerving yet exciting experiences.


Wife: A Road Trip eh?
Me: Yeah (Grinning from ear to ear and nodding)
Wife: In South India?
Me: Yeah
Wife: So all we are going to do is drive around, stop at random places, have no itinerary, wake up early morning, try out food at whichever place looks nice?
Me: Yeah
Wife: Eh ok, but I am not getting up early morning on any day (She likes to spend her holidays lazing around)
Me (With a smirk on my face): We will see about that



Prologue: A few months before

It’s August 2013, my wife’s birthday and we are out for dinner. We are discussing our first year anniversary plans for December 2013. She puts down a wish list:

a) Turkey and Greece: We discuss and decide against it..
b) Phuket, Krabi and the likes: Yeah that could be an option. And we start pondering over it.

And then she says

c) We could go to Kerala and save some money for a Europe trip next year. As she says this, a screen pops out in my mind and she could probably see it in my eyes (Think of a dollar sign popping up in your eyes if you win at a casino), a screen from March on team-bhp about a new self drive car rental service launched in Bangalore. Zoom Cars! More on that later.

Time passes by and I am generally going through team-bhp, reading a few travelogues, whiling away time at work and I read about various destinations in Kerala. Wayanad and Munnar were probably the go to places among the hill stations. I call up my wife to ask her if in 7 days she wants to cover more places. She says she wants to go to Pondicherry! “I will love the calmness of the place and you will love the seafood”. On hearing that, pictures of various sea foods start moving in a circle around me and with my mouth salivating I check up on the distance between Munnar and Pondi and find it to be a doable 460 kms. So now we have three places narrowed down to on the itinerary.


The Plan

Stop 1: Bangalore where we will pick up a self drive rental car from Zoom

Stop 2: Wayanad

Stop 3: Munnar

Stop 4: Puducherry (Erstwhile Pondicherry)

Stop 5: Bangalore

Later, a drive through the Nilgiris (Ooty) was added to the plan to spice it up a bit.

The final route:

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Zoom Self Drive Car Rental Bangalore

Now that we have the places in mind the next step was to research on Zoom Cars. I first read about Zoom on team-bhp sometime in March. Self drive was a new concept for me having never used one before, but this sounded fairly simple. They had Figos, Scorpios, Revas, and BMW’s, each with All India Permits (They have expanded their fleet now to include City, Ecosport, Safari, and XUV). Reva was not really an option and BMW 320D was not considered for obvious Gandhian reasons. So we had to choose in between a Figo or a Scorpio. The rates included 200 kms per day of fuel, taxes, and insurance. The best part was that in case of any damage to the car the maximum they charge is INR 5000, the rest being covered by insurance.
http://www.zoomcar.in/‎

It is November and we are yet to choose a car when I see that Zoom has added Volkswagen Vento to its fleet for a daily tariff similar to that of a Scorpio. So now I have to decide between a Scorpio and a Vento, both being just about within our budget (Zoom offered a 35% discount on the daily tariff for week days). Having never driven a SUV on the highway I frankly was not sure as to how well would I be able to adapt to a Scorpio, although it sounded more exciting than a Vento any day (My daily drive is a Swift). So my apprehensions made us decide that it has to be the Vento. Next step in the booking process was to check on the locations where they are available. Malleshwaram was the closest to the airport so we pick that location and book the car (Zoom now provides airport pick up/ drops as well) for 7 days, from Dec 1, 10 pm to Dec 8, 7 pm.

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Day 1 of the road trip: December 1, 2013

We land in Bangalore at 8:30 pm and head to Malleshwaram from the airport. Our pick up time for the car is 10:00 pm from Brigade Towers Malleshwaram. Its 10:00 pm sharp and my phone starts ringing.

Me: hello
The Z Guy: Sir, This is Zoom Cars. Your pick up time is 10 pm Sir, and your car is ready.
Me: Ok, thanks for calling. We are 10 minutes away.


We take little pain to reach the pickup place. It has rained a bit. The guy takes out a big torch and we take a survey of the car which is going to be our ride for the next 7 days. I check properly for any existing scratches, dents on the car. I don’t see many and whatever little is there is noted down by “the Z guy”. I check the entire car very carefully and point out whatever I can see in the dark with the torch. “The Z guy” calmly asks me not to worry as they do not charge for small scratches, and most charges which are quite nominal are charged only in cases of slightly bigger paint peels.

The cars checked, and we move from outside to the inside of the car. The odometer reads 7619 kms. The cars squeaky clean. “The Z Guy” shows me the car documentation, and the accessories provided.

List of Accessories:
a) Kenwood Car audio system with Aux in (No USB port but can play your ipod)
b) Aux In cable
c) A set of Mobile Chargers
d) A Car Charger connected to the 12v
e) A small torch
f) A 3g powered I Ball tablet

List of Documents Provided
a) RC for the Car
b) A 3 page document which has the various permits and Insurance


The Malleshwaram outlet just outside Brigade Towers
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It takes about 15 minutes and with the formalities done and the luggage loaded in the Vento we head to Electronic City where we would stay at a friend’s place with the plan to start off at 6 am the next day. We reach 11:30 pm and we are off for the night.

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Day 2: December 2, 2013


Its 6 am and we are up and ready. We lug our bags back into the car, click a ceremonial pick and we are off.

Destination: Wayanad
Route: Bangalore- Mysore- Wayanad


Since we were staying in the Electronic City we save precious time and hit the Hosur highway within minutes and follow direction boards which take us towards Mysore. We are greeted with excellent roads and minimal traffic.

The first glimpse of the mountains
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We stop at such places
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We cross such places
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This is the first water body we come across. There is some VIP movement on this road so we are not allowed to stop by the cops who are manning the entire stretch.
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We head towards Sultan Bathery and drive on excellent tarmac
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Experience at the Sultan Bathery RTO

We are entering Kerala and we stop at the first RTO. Remember this is a commercial number so we need to line up with the taxi guys to pay our tax before we enter any state. I collect the documents and head towards the counter which is relatively empty. I handover the document and the RTO guy looks at my license and then the papers for a good 2 minutes with a confused look and starts twirling his mustache. Then as if a bulb just lit in his mind he recognizes the self drive permit. He stamps a receipt and asks for INR 150. This was simple and fast. The Tamil Nadu RTO guys who we meet tomorrow were a more interesting lot.

We head further
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We reach Wayanad and stop at a small “Hotel” to pack some traditional Kerala Food and we face our first language problem on our trip.

Me: Thali?

I point to someone who is eating a plate loaded with rice and surrounded by little bowls of dal and sabji and plonk on the rice sat a small fish

Food Guy: Parcel?
Me: Yes


The Food Guy rattles off something in his language and finds me nodding my head in agreement to God knows what. Next thing he asks me follow him to what was the kitchen. I am slightly confused but follow him nonetheless. He points towards fishes kept in a big cooking vessel. I assume he is asking if I will have this variety of fish. It looked much like the ones we have at home. I give him a thumbs up and he packs everything and gives me a bill of 175. I smile at myself thinking that’s cheap. I pay and come out to have my wife elbowing me just before sitting in the car that she saw the other guy pay 50 bucks for a thali! He overcharged you, she says!!

DAMN! But I don’t want to go back as I have no clue as to which language should I get angry at him.

Its 3 pm and we have reached Aranyakam Home Stay where we have a tree house booked. And lo and behold the moment we enter the tree house it starts raining like crazy. The plan was always to relax in the tree house so it doesn't really matter to us. And we relax and soak in the surroundings. The home stay has two tree houses and both face a deep gorge. It’s an amazing view and the calmness is mind numbing. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to catch the sunrise.


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Day 3: December 3, 2013

I am so excited that I am up at 5 but I see pitch darkness outside. I go back to sleep and get up again in half an hour and head out. I just sit outside and look around.
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Finally the Sun comes out
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The sun peaks from behind the second (bigger) tree house
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Sunrays on the staircase leading up to the tree house
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The tree house we stayed in. I miss this view!
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We have an amazing breakfast and I start chatting with the owner who is kind enough to suggest us to take the 36 hair pin bends towards Ooty. This gets me excited and we pack our stuff to head towards Ooty.

Driving Around Wayanad

Crossing tea plantations
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Wishing we had a house like this
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Or even this would do
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This was a bit of a field in between a tea plantation where we just parked the car and sat for a while to soak in the surroundings. There was not a soul around.
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I stand alone
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We drive on leaving him alone
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Old 20th April 2014, 00:39   #2
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Destination: Ooty

Route: Rippon-Vaduvanchal-Cherambadi-Devala-Gudalur-Madumalai-Masinagudi-Kalhatti-Ooty


Experience at the Tamil Nadu RTO at Gudalur

We are leaving Kerala now and entering Tamil Nadu and we stop at the next RTO. I take the set of documents and hand them over at the counter. The guy looks at the license and we have the following conversation

Him: (In broken English): This no commercial license.

For some reason I too reply in broken English maybe thinking that the guy would understand better.

Me: Self drive car. Black Number plate. (pointing towards the car)

The guy talks to someone next to him possibly in Tamil and I see them nodding and discussing and the other guy after a minute of discussion and deliberation finally nods his head and says “Yes Yes, Allowed Allowed”

Him (Smilingly asks, again in broken English): This system hiring car good?

And we get talking for a couple of minutes while he is cutting my receipt of 150 Rupees. He finally shakes my hand and says “Wish you nice and safe journey”. I smile and drive ahead.

We took a random detour towards the road leading to the resorts of Masinagudi
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Some wildlife we came across in Masinagudi
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36 hairpin bends towards Ooty
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We reach Ooty at 5 in the evening. We just laze around the rest of the evening and watch some tv and head out for an early dinner.
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Day 4: December 4, 2013


We start early with an aim to visit a couple of places in Ooty before we start towards Munnar.

Ooty looks beautiful early morning and nothing like the busy crowded hill station it is.
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Our first stop is the Avalanche Dam. I key in Avalanche Dam and through narrow lanes Google maps leads us to the actual dam where public entry is not allowed. There’s a friendly guard standing at the gate who takes us for a walk inside the dam but instructs us to keep the camera in the car. The guard tries to explain as much as he can in his own language about the dam and we catch on to a few words of English which he uses in between.
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View from the guard’s quarters just outside the Dam
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Next stop is the Doddabetta peaks which is the highest peak in the Niligiris
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Destination: Munnar
Route Followed: Ooty-Conoor-Mettupalayam-Palladam-Pollachi-Udumalipet-Marayoor-Munnar


Its 11 am and we now head towards Munnar.

Somewhere between Mettupalayam and Palladam
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The Scare


I am driving nonstop towards Munnar and pushing as much as possible on those winding roads trying to make it before the sun sets. As per our estimates we needed 7-8 hours to reach Munnar. So an 11 am start would have made us reach Munnar by 7. And we did not keep buffer time in hand. That proved to be really bad planning!!

Now when we were thinking of the trip we had decided that we WOULD not drive in the night no matter what as these were relatively isolated roads we would be travelling on. But, it’s around 6 pm and we are just only entering the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary, still 50 kms away from Munnar.

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It’s going to be dark soon. I am pushing as much as I can but there are these smiling moustached Wildlife Border guys who have something else planned for us. They are posted at probably 500 meters away from each other and they make you stop again and again and again. What a Loot! It’s finally the last of the check posts and I get down to pay the now notorious 20 bucks which I have also paid at each of the previous four back to back check posts in probably a span of a kilometre. I probably got more tired of getting out of the car so frequently than driving all this way. So now, 100 rupees lighter, I ask the last check post guy as to how much time away is Munnar and he replies in broken English “2 hours, fog at top”. I thank him and head back to the car not knowing what lay ahead.

It’s all fine for a bit until the clock strikes 7. On a sudden turn I see pitch darkness ahead! FOG! No Dense FOG! And the worst kind! Visibility suddenly becomes bare minimum; I can’t see what is ahead. Hell I suddenly can’t see the hills on my left which suddenly vanished post the turn. My wife gets shit scared and I try to act calm in order to calm her but hey what can a blind man do! Should we turn back? I decide against it. There wasn’t much of a road visible to turn around. I had no idea if I could even turn the car around and God forbid if there’s a vehicle coming from the other side would they be even able to see us. But we need not have worried as we cross not a soul on this entire stretch. It looked like we were the only ones heading towards Munnar this evening. It was dark grey all around. We pray that it gets better soon and trudge along forward at a measly 10-20 km/hr into darkness!

We are thinking frantically of what to do as there is no sign of things getting better. Checking the phones show that there is no cellular signal. It’s almost impossible to see the road ahead. My wife takes out the small torch from the dashboard and rolls down the window to throw some more light ahead. Yes we were that desperate! But this obviously doesn't help.

I tread further ahead and brake suddenly. My wife gasps. We were inches away from ramming into the hills on the left. I had missed the curve on the right! This is not going good. Near the curve is a yellow km stone reading Munnar 21 kms. I grumble at the thought of 21 kms more and pray that the entire road is not such and head further. We drive on for another 10 kms holding our breath. The fog finally starts to clear out in patches with the km stones starting to show descending numbers.

In between to ease up the atmosphere I ask my wife, if she can take a picture of how dense the fog is. She looks at me with such glaring eyes that make me realize immediately how bad that request was. Alas, much to my disappointment we have no pictures of what we drove through. Finally at about the 9 or 10 km stone it gets absolutely clear. Although, there is still no signal on our phones and hence no GPS either. We want to call our hotel guys and ask them how far we are as it’s almost 8:30 now. There are finally some lights visible up ahead. It’s a tea factory where we stop and ask for directions and luckily get a signal on our phones as well. We call up our hotel, and ask the manager if he can send a car for us to follow it to the hotel as some company would be a relief on further dark roads. We decide a meeting place which is 40 minutes away and after some assurances from the tea factory employee who was helping us with directions to the hotel that there would be no fog ahead, we move on. We meet the hotel driver at the decided point and head to the hotel. We reach the hotel at 9:30 pm and finally heave a sigh of relief. We are both dead tired after starting our day at 7 am in Ooty.

Now that I write this I really do want to go back once in daylight to see what those roads were on which we drove through in that darkness. Those were the toughest 15 kms I have ever driven in my life.


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Day 5: December 5, 2013

We are staying at Gruenberg which is a small hotel which is built in the middle of a tea plantation. It’s a beautiful view.

View from the room balcony
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View from the room window
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In Munnar


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Lakes enroute to Top Station
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The Misty Top Station
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We head back to the hotel before it starts to get dark.

Last edited by Rover-IB : 20th April 2014 at 12:48.
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Old 20th April 2014, 01:07   #3
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Day 6: December 6, 2013


Destination: Pondicherry
Route: Munnar-Poopara-Bodi-Theni-Periakulam-Dindigul-Villupuram-Pondicherry


Its 6:30 am and learning from our mistake of not keeping any buffer time, we leave for early our next destination. I fire up Google maps and key in Bodi. The Google maps lady asks us to head straight on Cocky Road. Wait, what road? I check the maps and it reads Cochin road. She repeats again, head straight on to Cocky Road and we burst out laughing.

Google Maps takes us through
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We stop for some breakfast at a roadside bakery
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And cross through narrow lanes
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And some bad terrain
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We have left the hills now and after a few kilometres enter the Grand Southern Trunk Road and continue our drive towards Pondicherry. The road is butter smooth, and one of the best I have driven on and it’s easy to cover a lot of distance in less time.

Experience at the Pondicherry RTO

At about 4 we reach the RTO for Pondicherry and follow the routine. This time the RTO guy asks me for how many days are we in Pondicherry. I tell him we will leave on Sunday morning. I guess here the charges are on a daily basis as he asks me to not extend my stay. It still costs INR 150/-, the same as what we paid at the previous RTO’s. We pay and we reach our hotel on Rue Dumas road which is just the previous lane to the Promenade. It’s the French part of the city and it’s very peaceful.

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Our Place of Stay
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The quiet lane outside
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We laze around for a while and then go for a walk on the Promenade.

An evening in Pondicherry


Some Graffiti warning against Graffiti
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The ever busy Promenade
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Day 7: December 7, 2013


Next day we head to Auroville first and have lunch at Tantos on the Auroville Road. We decide to park the car at the hotel and hired what everyone hires when in Pondicherry, a scooter to roam around the streets of Pondicherry and visit the busy market place. We got a fair idea as to one of the reasons why people hire scooters here when we reached the market. It was hugely crowded!

Around Pondicherry


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A Fellow Bhpian
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Up!
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Day 8: December 8, 2013


It’s the last day today and we have to catch an 8:25 pm flight back to Delhi from Bangalore. I get up early at around 6 to catch the sunrise and head towards the promenade.

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An amazing view of the waves hitting the shore
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A cart awaits its owner to start business for the day
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A Panaroma of the Pier area
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Last edited by Rover-IB : 20th April 2014 at 12:47.
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Old 20th April 2014, 01:27   #4
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I try doing a small photo shoot for the car on the streets of Pondicherry
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We have an early breakfast and now start our journey towards Bangalore. Here again, we plan a small detour. How could the road trip be complete without driving on the ECR! So we plan to take the ECR till Mahabalipuram and visit the Shore temple before heading towards Bangalore.

Destination: Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Route: Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram


We have an early breakfast and now start our journey towards Bangalore. Here again, we plan a small detour. How could the road trip be complete without driving on the ECR! So we plan to take the ECR till Mahabalipuram and visit the Shore temple before heading towards Bangalore.

Destination: Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Route: Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram


On the ECR

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At the Shore temple
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Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento-img_6071.jpg

Destination: Bangalore
Mahabalipuram-Arcot-Vellore-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore


A train crossing enroute
Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento-img_6084.jpg

We touch Electronic City after zipping on the excellent AH45 at around 4 pm and we get stuck in the much famous Bangalore traffic and that on a Sunday evening. It takes us 3 hours and a lot of skilful driving on my part to get the car scratch free to Malleshwaram, where we are to drop it off. It is 7:10 pm when we are finally done with handing over the car. It usually takes about an hour we are told by the Meru cab driver to reach the airport. Our flight is at 8:25 pm and we should ideally reach the airport max by 7:45 pm. Only three things could make us catch our flight. A delayed flight or a Sebastian Vettel equivalent as our driver, or/ and a bit of luck so that we don’t get more traffic. In a nail biting finish for us we thankfully are blessed with the latter two. We are the last ones to check in!

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THE FOOD SCENE

One of the primary motivations for us to visit South India was the food. And we did our fair share of binging on excellent food whether it was in small roadside eating joints or in decked up restaurants. A few places we stopped by worth mentioning were:

a) Breakfast at Kamat Yatriniwas at Gandhinagar en route to Wayanad - Simple idli and filter coffee. It was cheap and good.

b) The food scene at Ooty seemed pretty sad at least where we were staying. We were hunting for restaurants close by to the Westbury Road and the most crowded and descent place we could find was a Hyderabad Biryani house which was dishing out pretty standard fare which may well be available in any restaurant in Delhi.

c) There was a restaurant in Pollachi which redefined what we call Indian Chinese cuisine. Have a look at the Chinese part of the menu.
Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento-img_2508.jpg

d) Lunch at the Green Leaf, Munnar: Excellent Crab and fish. We reached here around 4 but still got lunch as they serve food throughout the day. And to add to it, it was a decently priced place too.
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e) Hotel Annapoorna on the Dindukal Main Road in Trichy enroute to Pondicherry was a small place which served traditional south Indian thali on a banana leaf. 50 rupees per thali for eat as much as you can will send you back pretty happy.

f) Lunch at Tantos, Auroville, Pondicherry: Thin crust sea food pizza loaded with shrimps, prawns and the likes. Damn my mouths watering again. And some ginger ale to wash it down.

g) Dinner at Villa Shanti, Pondicherry: We were well aware of the excellent food options in Pondicherry and the Villa Shanti is one of the top rated restaurants, so we had to head there the first night itself. And boy it did not disappoint.

The binging started with some Masala prawns and chicken samosas as starters. These excellent masala prawns were probably the highlight of the food episode on the entire trip. Some Jumbo prawn preparation followed as the main course. The dessert consisted of one of the best desserts I personally have ever had. Just look at it! Three halwas in one dish. Can anyone ask for more!
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h) Dinner at Le Club, Pondicherry: The food here was pretty average but the dessert again was to die for. The dessert was a gooey mass of chocolate.
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i) Lunch at the restaurant of Hotel Grand Krishna en route from Pondicherry to Bangalore on AH45: A South Indian vegetarian thali. Plain and simple fare but excellent in taste.
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ROAD CONDITIONS

The road conditions varied from acceptable to excellent throughout the journey with minor diversions at some places due to some flyover constructions enroute to Munnar from Ooty but nothing majorly bad to report about. But it was a different story altogether inside Munnar town with horrible nonexistent roads which reminded me of the washed away roads of Gurgaon post the rains last year which made normal people with normal cars go off roading every single day.


EXPENDITURE ON THE SELF DRIVE VEHICLE AND RTO’s

Kms Travelled: 1907
Car Booking Charges (For 7 days, kms included- 1400 kms): INR 15,400
Extra Kms (507 kms * 10): INR 5070
Fuel Top Up (Reimbursed by Zoom): INR 3800
RTO (150 *3): INR 450
Total Spend: INR 20,920


THANK YOU


1) To HV Kumar Sir for helping me with the routes for the trip
2) To Zoom for launching their rental services and maintaining good customer service whenever a need arose
3) To the friendly people of South India
4) To anyone who reads this till here

Last edited by Rover-IB : 20th April 2014 at 13:45.
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Old 21st April 2014, 12:46   #5
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st April 2014, 13:27   #6
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Excellent Travelogue and pictures Rover-IB. I was reading it on my phone and was wondering why you had to hire from zoom for the trip until I opened the travelogue again on the pc.

Less than 3000 INR for a self-driven car is a decent price though I feel carzonrent would have been a considerably cheaper than zoom.
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Old 21st April 2014, 16:32   #7
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

It is interesting to see people opting for the self drive rentals.

Thanks for the wall graffiti image, been a long time since I saw that.
Beaches down south are so clean compared to the ones in & around Mumbai.
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Old 21st April 2014, 17:06   #8
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Excellent travelogue. I was in Munnar during the week of March 31 to April 4 and did see Zoom vento near the periyakanal waterfall/view point. Not sure of the number though.
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Old 21st April 2014, 19:16   #9
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Very well written. Makes me go nostalgic and makes me revisit and the trips i have done to these destinations. Pretty happy you had a good time here.!
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Old 21st April 2014, 21:10   #10
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Beautiful write-up bro! Loved every bit of it The fog scene was a tad bit scary though. I have been to most places that you mentioned in your post like Munnar, Ooty, Chennai because am a keralite working in Bengaluru but never have I felt the speciality or the charm of all these places until I read your post.
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Old 21st April 2014, 21:59   #11
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Nice T-Log there.
Good way to spend a week down south. Self driving seems to be picking up. Good to know the kind of options available from this company.

Glad to know that you were able to traverse through the fog without any major issues. It would have been tough, no doubt, seeing the 20+ odd kms you still had to go through.

Cheers,
Sam
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Old 21st April 2014, 23:53   #12
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
Excellent Travelogue and pictures Rover-IB. I was reading it on my phone and was wondering why you had to hire from zoom for the trip until I opened the travelogue again on the pc.

Less than 3000 INR for a self-driven car is a decent price though I feel carzonrent would have been a considerably cheaper than zoom.

Thank You pulsar 56. Frankly with the entire concept of self drive being pretty new to me, what attracted me towards Zoom was that I knew that all their vehicles were brand new which minimized the chances of any breakdowns on unknown roads. Further, they did not block any security amount on my credit card which was pretty comforting. Also, I got more clarity about carzonrent only once they launched their Myles brand which was towards the end of November 2013 by which time we had already made our bookings.

Off Topic: I read last month in an ET article that carzonrent is already willing to sell their Myles business if they get a suitable buyer. Here’s the link to that article. http://articles.economictimes.indiat...r-rental-myles


Quote:
Originally Posted by parrys View Post
It is interesting to see people opting for the self drive rentals.

Thanks for the wall graffiti image, been a long time since I saw that.
Beaches down south are so clean compared to the ones in & around Mumbai.

Parrys Thank You. I really liked the wall graffiti image myself. And self drive surely seems to be catching up. In fact when we were dropping off our car at the Zoom outlet there were a group of guys who had come down from France for a 10 day Kerala trip. One of the guys shared the cab with us back to the airport and he told us how glad they were that they got to drive themselves in Kerala. They had hired a Scorpio from Zoom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dass View Post
Excellent travelogue. I was in Munnar during the week of March 31 to April 4 and did see Zoom vento near the periyakanal waterfall/view point. Not sure of the number though.

Thank you dass. On our week long trip, we spotted two Zoom cars somewhere in kerala. In fact coincidentally one of them was the Scorpio mentioned above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igybeck View Post
Very well written. Makes me go nostalgic and makes me revisit and the trips i have done to these destinations. Pretty happy you had a good time here.!
Quote:
Originally Posted by fazonater1911 View Post
Beautiful write-up bro! Loved every bit of it The fog scene was a tad bit scary though. I have been to most places that you mentioned in your post like Munnar, Ooty, Chennai because am a keralite working in Bengaluru but never have I felt the speciality or the charm of all these places until I read your post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by samarth.bhatia View Post
Nice T-Log there.
Good way to spend a week down south. Self driving seems to be picking up. Good to know the kind of options available from this company.

Glad to know that you were able to traverse through the fog without any major issues. It would have been tough, no doubt, seeing the 20+ odd kms you still had to go through.

Cheers,
Sam

Thank you guys. Glad you liked the write up. The fog bit was pretty scary. In that one hour we were actually regretting doing the trip. But yes once we came through unscathed, the next day we were back to being excited about the remaining part of the trip.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 09:12   #13
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Excellent travelogue and pics.Glad to see the self driven concept catching up in India.I was planning to visit Bangalore and Pondichery in a weeks span.Hiring a self driven car seems to be ideal and less tiring.Driving all the way from Mumbai+harassment by KA police (non KA vehicles) makes me think of hiring a self driven car

Last edited by rakesh_r : 22nd April 2014 at 09:25.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 09:44   #14
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Excellent travelogue and pics.Glad to see the self driven concept catching up in India.I was planning to visit Bangalore and Pondichery in a weeks span.Hiring a self driven car seems to be ideal and less tiring.Driving all the way from Mumbai+harassment by KA police (non KA vehicles) makes me think of hiring a self driven car
If you are visiting for a short duration there is absolutely no problem. I myself drive to Bangalore quite often. I move around in the city for a week or so. Retain your toll receipts, PUC and you are good.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 10:16   #15
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Default Re: Zooming Down South: 2000 km road-trip in a VW Vento

Nice write-up Rover-IB. Good pics as well. I think you were very lucky to be on the hill side in the fog situation. It would have been much worse if you were on the valley side.
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