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Old 7th September 2006, 11:12   #1
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Default Weekend Travelogue: Kodaikanal, Madurai

Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur – Dindigul - Kodaikanal – Madurai – Dindigul - Bangalore (1050 km)
Members: Eslyn, wife and their one year old son Nikki, Abhi and wife in ALTO LXi

This trip was long planned as me and Eslyn promised Saravanan that we are going to attend his wedding. I immediately booked an office guest house when Sara informed me about his marriage date (which was in a weekend) in July. Finally we decided to do a night trip and reach Kodai by morning thinking that small kid and the wives will be sleeping when we can do the major distance. Also there will be more time for us to explore Kodai.

Day 1(1st & 2nd Sept, 2006): Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur – Dindigul – Sempatti – Vattalakundu – Ganguvarapatty – Kodaikanal (460 kms)
I came back from office by 6PM and tried to sleep but couldn’t. I was very much excited for a night drive. After a brief nap, I got up by 8:30PM. We packed up the stuffs, took a nice bath and had a light dinner of puffed-rice with curd. We start at around 10:45PM to Eslyn’s house in BTM. I was surprised to see Bangalore roads so crowded with the callcentres sumos and indicabs. May be I entered the road during the shift time. Still we made it to BTM by 11:15PM and started our journey at 11:45PM. We started with both the ladies and the kid in the rear, me and eslyn in the front. I am thrilled to see my alto carrying so many luggages which includes a 20lit barrel of water, luggages, kid’s bag, and pillows. I feel Alto has a better boot than zen, santro, 800, moreso as my JBLs are fit in my back door

NH7 in the night: Although I have traveled through NH7 till Salem but this was the first time I was traveling in this road at this hour. I soon realized the mistake of starting at midnight; it was fully loaded with trucks leaving Bangalore. It was trucks and buses till Hosur and road eased out after that. I think a 10PM or a 2AM start is a better option. Hosur-Krishnagiri part of GQ is a beauty and I traveled there so much that I can drive with eyes closed.

Upgraded Headlamps: The new 100/90W Phillips rally headlamps which I put recently did help a lot and I was able to do higher speeds. I did 80-100kmph, didn’t pedal further as people were fast asleep in the back and any hard braking may affect their sleep. Also this was first long trip with my new K&N filter.

The worst Stretch: It was exactly at 1AM, we reached Krishnagiri toll gate and after that my speed reduced as I was aware of the road till Dharmapuri. Later, this stretch turned out to be the worst stretch of the trip. I never crossed 50kmph even though some part were smooth because there are really some crater like potholes in this stretch, although I feel the number of potholes have decreased compared to that in 2004 but I suggest never cross 60kmph in daytime and no overtaking here. Here with on-coming traffic, my bulbs came really handy. I cleared all the potholes and once I reached the Dharmapuri signal, the speed increased and within no time I was cruising in Toppur Ghat.

Jam at darkness: At about 2:30AM, as soon as I crossed the toppur ghat, I was thinking about hitting Salem before 3AM as per our plan. But what is this, there is a km long trail of trucks and vehicles one after the other. Soon, I too got added to the trail. It was pitch darkness and everybody was wondering about why this road block. May be there is some accident, may be some checking…but what exactly no one knows! Still there was no sign of any movement. I stopped the car and soon realized that it would be nice if I empty my tank under open darkness. So Eslyn too followed and we wondered when can we go out of this problem? Soon everyone woke up and also it was getting hot, and people starting the sweat so I started the engine and puton the AC for the comfort of the family. Soon the traffic started to crawl and this kept on and on. Finally after about1.5 hours of crawling, blocking etc we were out and put on the pedal to reach Salem.

Immediately after a small 5 min break at Reliance A1 Plaza before Salem, we started the journey at 4AM. I had to makeup the lost time and also be careful that I don’t over speed as the road after Salem is new for me. Soon we reached the beautiful Salem bypass. This is where NH47 starts to Coimbatore, Palghat towards Ernakulam. We kept the following the Madurai directions along NH7.

At around 4:45AM and about 20kms before Namakkal, I was feeling a bit drowsy and thinking of just stopping for a while but again we were running out of time. As Eslyn was also taking a nap, I didn’t want to disturb him as well, but soon he woke up and told me whether I want a rest. I told yes, you take the steering now.

Now Eslyn on the wheels and me navigating, we saw dawn after passing Namakkal and then our speed too increased with daytime. We passed Karur in no time and pumped till Dindigul. We decided to stop for breakfast in A1 Plaza, 3km before Dindigul at 7:30AM. We had very tasty dosas and coffee. We had already made 369km with half tank left. I filled the remaining half (about 18lits) with Reliance petrol. There is a slight improvement in the average after I put in the K&N filter.

North-South Corridor work: Entire Krishnagiri to Madurai stretch of NH7 had put up hoardings of 4 laning work as per NS express corridor project by NHAI. The date of completion is December, 2008. But no work has yet been started; it is only in the reconnaissance and design stage. So hopefully in another 2 years time, Bangalore to Kanyakumari can be done very fast.

Reaching Kodaikanal: After the much needed breakfast, we started from Dindigul about 8:30AM, took the NH45-extn. This is a decent 2 lane road and Kodai was about 88km from Dindigul. I was on the wheels this time and drove full throttle in 80-90kmph and within no time we passed Sempatti and crossed Vattalakundu and reached a small village Ganguvarapatty. Immediately after the village, there is a right turn from which the ghat roads begin. Kodai is another 53kms on this ghat road with turns, hairpins, and dwindling ghats. It was thrill to drive in the ghat especially for a person behind the wheels. Even distance, we were gaining altitude and the weather transforming from hot to cold. The car handled very well while overtaking in the ghats and at 2nd and 3rd gears. Sometimes we could even pull it at 4th gear. It took us about 2 hours to reach our destination which was even at a higher altitude from Kodai Lake. By 10:30m we reached ITC guest house, where we were received by the cook Selvaraj and his wife. We were served nice coffee and lime juice.

Pics of Kodai:


Chilling out in Kodai: After a small nap and nice warm bath, we gathered in the dining table. We all hogged nice TN special food prepared by Selva, the chef. We had egg-masala, chicken curry, roti, rice, sambar, curd and nice sabji. After hogging those hot foods in that chilly weather we started for the kodai site seeing. We visited Kodai-Lake view, Pillar-Rocks, it was covered with mist and it started to rain. In between the ladies cannot stop their shopping no matter what, we stopped at the shops where we get oils, tea, herbs etc. Then we moved to Coakers-walk and then into Kodai Lake. Enjoyed a nice boating on the star shaped lake and returned to the resort by 7PM.

Day 2 (3rd Sept, 2006): Kodaikanal – Vattalakundu – Madurai – Dindigul – Bangalore
We got up early at 6AM, Took a nice hot bath, had nice home made dosas and started to return journey at 8AM. Eslyn was on the wheels now. We stopped for a while on the ghat road to buy some fruits and honey and then pumped to Madurai. It is about 130km from Kodai. After reaching Vatallakundu, we kept going straight on the road that goes to Kodai Road railway station and reached NH7 and took right to Madurai. It was about 9:30AM and was getting hotter. By 10AM and as we were near Madurai, people were getting restless, ladies started to crib and the kid getting restless. So puton the AC. This was the start of real test of my car’s AC. I must say it handled beautifully. Since Eslyn has a Santro, he told Alto’s AC is more effective than that of Santro’s. A compliment for my small baby. Things really cooled down fast and people were happy again. The AC never stopped till we reached Krishnagiri in the night.

Bangalore Effect: This bug has caught our family which I realized on reaching Madurai. In that heat, people are happily driving, walking, no one cribbing. Inside the car, with full AC and cold, we are getting restless. The small time that I was putting down the glass to ask for directions it was getting hot as if we have entered a furnace. I wondered whether our immune system decreased after landing in Bangalore and doing those white collared IT job!! I remembered my childhood all spent in hot places like Kolkata, Hyderabad and collage days in the even hotter Kanpur. The first time I entered an AC coach of a train was when I was 21. Did I crib that time? No! I didn’t know of what AC is till my first 20 years and look at now. Once I started this nostalgic topic, everyone stopped cribbing as everyone came from hotter places of Bengal, TN and Kerala before entering into Bangalore. Patience prevailed and all of us enjoyed the Madurai afternoon after that.

Wedding and Meenakshi Temple: We saw a big board of Sara and his wife; think this happens only in TN weddings. They are treated as if they are some politician’s son and daughter. Anyway we all clicked those pics. After the greetings and photography, we entered the lunch hall which had authentic TN wedding food. Although we were sweating profusely, none of us discussed or cribbed of it but rather enjoyed the moment, the food etc. Looks like my brief sentimental talk worked for all of them. Even the kid enjoyed the heat, food and crowd.




It was about noon when we completed our lunch and we left after meeting Sara as we need to return for Bangalore by 1PM. Meanwhile Sara told that Meenakshi temple will be closed this time, it only opens at 4PM. Still we wanted to visit it.

We reached Meenakshi temple south tower, just entered there, offered our prayers from outside and headed back to the car.

Return Journey: We start the car at exact 1PM (as planned) and I took on the wheels from Eslyn as he did the Kodai – Madurai stretch. It was heat at its peak. We took two towels and covered the rear door glasses, put the AC to full and started. Within no time, it was very cold inside and reduced it to No.2 and kept it in that. The car behaved extremely well after 80kmph. I was constantly doing 100-110kmph once I left Madurai outskirts as I wanted to reach Salem in daylight and it is about 250km from Madurai. And with AC it was cool inside the car. Slowly people slept in the rear and I kept track of the time and distance and tried to pump as much. We reached Dindigul in 50min, means I did 70km in 50min. Good, we are on time. But unfortunately I missed the Dindigul bypass and entered the small town but soon came out in 10min and started pumping the pedal again. Then we decided to stop in the same A1 plaza for lime soda. When we came out we realized the amount of cool the car AC provided. Eslyn kept the drinking water bottle at his feet and put on the second knob which gives air to the driver and navigators feet. The bottle in turn became so cool that it was great drinking that water and we invented this new technique of cooling your water. Infact the big barrel in the boot also was cool due to AC. We relished the lime soda, and our wives had ice creams too. We emptied our tanks and ready for the second round of blasting.

Thankfully soon I found a ScorpioCRDe with Bangalore regn. doing similar speeds and I made him my pilot. We soon passed Karur and Namakkal. These towns have excellent bypasses, all four laned. Just about 20km before Salem, we stopped for Reliance petrol and as it was about 5PM, the traffic started to increase. Finally we reached Salem at 5:30PM, 30 min before as planned. We stopped at the junction of NH7-NH47 at Salem bypass and had coffee. Also the baby needed a nappy change etc etc. after all this trips, the think I have become a better planner in terms of time , road and distance.

After Salem, it started to get dark as we entered into Toppur Ghat, in addition it started to rain very heavily. My Speed reduced and slowly we reached Dharmapuri at 7:30PM, entered Kevi’s for dinner. It was drizzling throughout.

After a nice non-veg dinner at Dharmapuri, we started the last leg of the journey at 8:30PM. Actually we purposefully increased our dinner break as the road is bad and also there will more traffic between 7-9PM. Now Eslyn took over from me for the last 140km of the journey. Within 10min, it started to downpour, maaan, never imagined that kind of pouring in TN. It was night, we are in the worst stretch and plus it is raining heavily. Wiper at full speed was not sufficient. Anyway, the traffic decreased and we crawled slowly. The heavy downpour eased out in 15min but it kept raining till Krishnagiri.

We reached Krishnagiri toll gate at 9:45PM. This is where I stopped the AC after starting from Madurai. Weather was cool, traffic was negligible. Finally we reached BTM at 11PM and my house at 11:30PM. WOW, it was really a satisfying trip and everyone enjoyed every moment.

About the Car: Car drank 62lit of petrol for 1055km which included 600km of AC, 100km of hill driving with full load. Highest speed touched was 115kmph in the Dindigul – Salem stretch with AC.

Signing Off
Abhijit Kumar Roy
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Old 7th September 2006, 12:21   #2
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Abhi

As usual great write-up. Your enjoyment with your Alto is exudes throughout the post.

I agree, the Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri stretch is terrible. I tried Hoggenakkal falls last Saturday (inspired by your write-up) and hit a monster crater - luckily I was at 40kmph and the alloys was unscathed. It needs a lot of care to drive on it. What makes it worse is the patches of good road which induces one to apply pressure on the pedal and often lulls one into a sense of comfort. This stretch is best done in day light.
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Old 7th September 2006, 12:59   #3
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Great write-up Abhi, I really felt i was driving when I read the whole story.
Tell me one thing here, What do you feel about the K&N filter? Do you feel it is required and it really helped you to have a good drive? I am sorry I am new to the filters.
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Old 7th September 2006, 14:28   #4
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Good write-up there Akroy... I am sure you enjoyed the trip . 1055Kms & 62 Lits, that's an avg of 17.07... Don't you think that its a little less, esp. 'cause K&N is supposed to help your mileage as well.

One other question where did you put those 100/95W bulbs in B'lore?
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Old 7th September 2006, 14:44   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willy
Great write-up Abhi, I really felt i was driving when I read the whole story.
Tell me one thing here, What do you feel about the K&N filter? Do you feel it is required and it really helped you to have a good drive? I am sorry I am new to the filters.
Willy, K&N slightly improves the pickup and hence if driven the same way as before, you can get an increase in mileage (that too slightly), i have felt it...Definitely you can do without it afterall it is not from the company....but ya I have put it as my car is for highway driving and a little care for the engine might help me in longer drives...
BTW, mine is not a performance filter it is stock replacement filter...I dont think performance filters makes much of a difference in small cars like Alto...

Abhi
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Old 7th September 2006, 14:54   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom_rider
Good write-up there Akroy... I am sure you enjoyed the trip . 1055Kms & 62 Lits, that's an avg of 17.07... Don't you think that its a little less, esp. 'cause K&N is supposed to help your mileage as well.

One other question where did you put those 100/95W bulbs in B'lore?
No it is not less dude....if you consider the following
1) There was hill-climb in full load of 100km (lower gears)
2) Engine / AC was on in the ghats for an hour while we only crawled a km or so.
3) 600km of AC plus 90-110 kmph of drive.
4) About 45min searching in Madurai where we hardly traveled 3km but AC was at 4.

Infact it gave me 20+ kmpl, from Blr - Dindigul including the one hour AC in ghats....
Filter effect on mileage got nullied in the return journey as I was using hard pedals to do fast overtakes...

Abhi
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Old 7th September 2006, 14:56   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom_rider
Good write-up there Akroy... I am sure you enjoyed the trip . 1055Kms & 62 Lits, that's an avg of 17.07... Don't you think that its a little less, esp. 'cause K&N is supposed to help your mileage as well.

One other question where did you put those 100/95W bulbs in B'lore?
Sorry forgot to answer your second question....I put those bulbs from Surakshaa (MASS) in Bommanahalli Signal on Hosur Road

Abhi
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Old 7th September 2006, 15:17   #8
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Excellent writeup. Kudos man. My little angel has completed her first year and I am also planning trips like you. Will certainly get in touch with you for more information.
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Old 7th September 2006, 15:34   #9
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Good writeup, as usual. After Samurai's self induced retirement (well, sort of- hope I don't get caught by the warrior) you are the mantle holder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom_rider
One other question where did you put those 100/95W bulbs in B'lore?
It is 100/90W. You can get it from most of the accessary stores. Remember these bulbs produce heat >200'. So one good idea is to switch them off, when your car is standing still. Else you might end up burning some places!

Last edited by WhiteKnight : 7th September 2006 at 15:36.
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Old 8th September 2006, 09:40   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy
No it is not less dude....if you consider the following
1) There was hill-climb in full load of 100km (lower gears)
2) Engine / AC was on in the ghats for an hour while we only crawled a km or so.
3) 600km of AC plus 90-110 kmph of drive.
4) About 45min searching in Madurai where we hardly traveled 3km but AC was at 4.

Infact it gave me 20+ kmpl, from Blr - Dindigul including the one hour AC in ghats....
Filter effect on mileage got nullied in the return journey as I was using hard pedals to do fast overtakes...

Abhi
Hmmm... I didn't consider all that. Certainly makes sense now!!!

Hey I was also wondering where u got your light fixed and for how much. I enquired in "Autoworld"... JC Road and they were told me that the entire setup, the relay, bulbs ,etc., totally will cost Rs. 900/- Is this how much you paid?
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Old 8th September 2006, 10:32   #11
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Akroy, great writeup as always.
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Old 8th September 2006, 11:03   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venom_rider
Hmmm... I didn't consider all that. Certainly makes sense now!!!

Hey I was also wondering where u got your light fixed and for how much. I enquired in "Autoworld"... JC Road and they were told me that the entire setup, the relay, bulbs ,etc., totally will cost Rs. 900/- Is this how much you paid?
No No...I also enquired and they told me about 850. If you have a Maruti car then go to Surakshaa MASS...
I think the bulbs costs: 155 / piece (but he charged 285 for both)
and the rally costed abt 275 odd (i dont remember exact), plus some labour charge may be...
As i did other stuffs like tyre rotation, balancing, alignment etc, hence paid a total bill of 1450... i have to check the bill for exact numbers...

I think electrical system should be done by authorised dealer, we can have the bills for any problems later....

Abhi
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Old 8th September 2006, 11:34   #13
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Wonderful write up man !! I visited Kodai at the start of august, never got around to making a post though :(
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Old 8th August 2007, 17:11   #14
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Good travelogue Abhi...

Its common to get struck up at Salem due to the truck drivers. Most of the time its because them hitting the divider when they enjoy a nap during the night drive.

Later I found a shortcut to reach NH47 without touching Salem. The route is via Thoppur -Bhavani. When I was at Bangalore I used to ride my HeroHonda CD100SS alone-over-night to reach palakkad this way. And now drive my Safari during Hyderabad-Palakkad(Kerala) trips via this short cut. The road is considerably good with very few gutter spots. As its a village route you wont find many fuel stations-I fill my tanks before I reach this road always!

If you drive during daylight the paddy and sugarcane fields gives a panoramic view. I like to drive a 'not so polished' road with some scenic values than a super highway!
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Old 8th August 2007, 18:48   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by binoy_tharakan View Post
If you drive during daylight the paddy and sugarcane fields gives a panoramic view. I like to drive a 'not so polished' road with some scenic values than a super highway!
I have already done this Thoppur - Mettur - bhavani route.. It is a relaid and excellent road now and well marked.
I did it once in complete darkness while going to Sulur and return in daytime.

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