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Old 13th January 2007, 17:03   #1
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Wink Chennai to Palakkad by road

I and Sumi took our wine red Wagon R Vxi on a trip from Chennai to Kerala on 22nd December 2006. After making a few trips to Mahabs and Pondicherry, we had been wanting to go on a longer trip in our wagu. And what better time for it than December, when weather is at its pleasantest in these parts of the country!

Our trip lasted for ten days, but in this post I will just cover our drive from Chennai to Palakkad on 22nd December.

The day before we started, I wasn't much decided about the route to take. I didn't want to be too adventurous on this trip since Sumi was in her eighth month of pregnancy. Then I received a call from Kerala, from one of my Chennai cousins who had travelled a few days earlier. He advised me NOT to consider the Tindivanam-Ulundurpet-Salem route because the Ulundurpet-Salem stretch was a nightmare. He said the road was so bad that one could hardly shift up from the third gear.

So it was going to be the Chennai-Vellore-Vaniyambadi-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Thoppur-Mettur-Bhavani-Avinashi-CBE Bypass-Palakkad route. Palakkad was my destination in Kerala.

We had decided to start from our home in Ashok Nagar, Chennai at 5 am. Eventually it was 5:45 AM when we started from Ashok Nagar. I set the trip meter to zero when I passed the BSNL office at Ashok Nagar (near the RTO office). That was just about 300 meters from my home.

The roads weren't exactly free from all traffic, maybe an hour earlier would have been better.

I drove from Ashok Nagar to Poonamallee via KK Nagar, Virugambakkam and Porur. The road was bad in and around Poonamallee. However, soon we were on the NH4 and the road lay ahead of us in all its four-laned splendour.

The road was super-smooth. Our wagu was probably as delighted as we were, as once it was on the fifth gear, there was hardly any reason to come back to the fourth. The ride was very smooth and comfortable.

We stopped for breakfast at 6:45 am, at a roadside motel on the left side somewhere near Sriperumbudur, and my trip meter read 48 kms. I had covered just 48 km in the first one hour.

The break lasted for a little more than half an hour. We resumed our journey at 7:17 am. We felt fresh after the hot dosas and coffee.

At Ranipettai, NH4 branched out towards right and the four-lane highway continued straight as NH-46 (Ranipettai-Krishnagiri). So do not continue on NH4 after Ranipettai when you go to Bangalore from Chennai, instead take NH46 to Krishnagiri and then NH7 to Bangalore. These roads are part of the golden quadrilateral project and are a dream to drive on.

We passed three toll booths on NH4-NH46 before Krishnagiri. I forgot to take the reading at one of them, but the others came at 149km and 201 km on the trip meter.

We passed Ambur at 8:32 (178 km on the trip meter). I was driving at 100 - 120 kmph most of the time.

We reached Krishnagiri at 9:20 am (247 km). Total driving time from start (not taking the break into account) was 3 hrs and 5 minutes, so my average speed worked out to be 80.98 kmph. It was pretty good since it included even the city stetch at the start.

At Krishnagiri, the road meets NH7 in a 'T' junction at a flyover. This is where NH-46 ends. However, the same four-lane road continues to the right (north) on NH-7 towards Bangalore. Here, NH-46 and the north-bound NH7 are like a continuous road. To the left (south), however, the story is different. NH7 to the south of Krishnagiri is a bad, patchy, two-lane highway without a divider.

We took the left and soon stopped for tea at a thatched stall on the left. A few km later, at 256 km, we stopped for refuelling.

The road was bad but there were no big potholes. Patchwork had been done. But a patchy road is still a bad road. We trundled along for the next one hour, passing Dharmapuri at 10:32 (291 km). Finally we came to the ghat road that wound its way down at Thoppur. This stretch was beautiful - here the road was wide and had a divider, and the windings and the gradient made driving very interesting. And you will always see monkeys on the roadside here.

Immediately after the ghat road at Thoppur, we reached the road junction where NH-7 continued to the south towards Salem, and a state highway branched out to the right towards Mettur. We reached this point at 11 am (317 km).

The state highway to Mettur was good and interesting. It ran through the countryside and had a character that the national highways lacked. If you take this road, do remember to stop at the end of the long, straight stretch that climbs up. Then you need to turn back towards east to see and admire the scenery that you have left behind. It is very easy to miss this scenery as you normally do not look backwards while driving (I spotted it on my way back while I was driving in the reverse direction).

We stopped at Kaligoundanur (330 KM) for tea again. A 10 minutes break from 11:12.

At mettur, I refused to take the bypass road to Bhavani that branched to the left, in order to have a closer look at tht Mettur Dam. We were thoroughly rewarded for it. We reached the upper Mettur Dam at 11:55 (351 km). The road took us on top of the dam and we drove our way across. Soon enough, after taking a hairpin bend down, we came to a hillside road that exposed the whole of Mettur town and the magnificent Mettur Dam to the view. The view was breathtaking. We could also see the narrow bridge across the river, which lay ahead on our road.

Eventually, after winding our way down, we crossed over the bridge. At the next junction, we turned left towards Bhavani.

Mettur - Bhavani road was set in a picturesque countryside that was irrigated by the cauvery and was lush with farms and greenery. One also got magnificent views of the hills on the right.

Passed through Bhavani at 1 pm ( 397.5 km). Did not stop for lunch here as the town was very crowded and congested. We joined NH-47 after Bhavani.

At 1:15 we stopped for lunch at Chithode (404 km). Had lunch at a hotel on the right side. Nothing great, so no recommendations.

After Chithode, the drive till the CBE bypass road was very boring. This was NH-47, and the traffic was heavy. Though four-laning work was in progress, it was two-lane all the way. Because of traffic in both directions, I found it a constant pain to overtake the long line of trucks that went ahead of me. And to make matters worse, Sumi decided to take her afternoon nap (the doctor had advised her not to remain in the sitting posture for long, so occasionaly we made good use of the reclining options available in our car). This time, we made a complete bed by fully reclining the front seat (making it flat) and the back seat as well (this is one of the unique advantages of the Wagon R). For the next hour and a half, I had only good music for company.

Sumi had finished her nap by the time we reached the CBE bypass road (3:25 pm, 483 km). There was a toll gate at this point where I paid Rs.26 for the entire stretch of the road.

The bypass road was terrific. Though there was no divider and it was only two-lane, the surface quality was great, and you could see miles ahead. I was ecstatic at having got rid of the boring stretch after Bhavani till this point, and freed myself up completely. Our Wagu touched a maximum speed of 137-138 here.

After the bypass, the road was again bad. We stopped for tea a few kilometres before the Kerala border. And stopped for refuelling at some petrol bunk at Pudusseri (4:32 pm, 533 km.)

I had reduced my speed at this stretch and was driving leisurely, now that we were in Kerala, almost at our destination. At exactly 5 pm, at 545 km, we reached Sultanpet, heart of Palakkad town. Sumi's mother lived less than a km from there - and we were at our destination in no time.

On the whole, a very satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable journey. We had good fun on the drive, and our car performed brilliantly.

I had kept AC on throughout, and I calculated the milage to be as follows:

Chennai - Krishnagiri filling station: 258 km, 19 litres consumed. Kmpl = 13.58

Krishnagiri filling station - Pudussery filling station: 277.1 km, 17 litres. Kmpl= 16.30

The reason for this stark difference, I believe, is that I was driving at 100 plus most of the time till Krishnagiri after I touched the highway, thus drinking up a lot of petrol in the process. On the other hand, after Krishnagiri, even though the roads were not as good, driving speeds were lower.

On the return journey, I tanked up only once after Palakkad, and I found that I had got 16.48 kmpl for the long stretch from Palakkad to almost near Vellore.

So that's about it. This has become a pretty long account - sorry about the overkill.

best regards to all,
Jay
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Old 14th January 2007, 07:23   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
I drove from Ashok Nagar to Poonamallee via KK Nagar, Virugambakkam and Porur. The road was bad in and around Poonamallee. However, soon we were on the NH4 and the road lay ahead of us in all its four-laned splendour.
You should have the taken the Poonamalle Byepass - branches on your right, just after porur, and you will reach the Savitha Dental College Junction on the Central - Poonamalle Road, which is four laned. A km or two more but you could have avoided the bad stretch around Poonamalle.

Seems that you had a good and enjoyable drive in all. I use to travel once a year to Coimbatore. We usually set off around 7:30 AM and stop for breakfast at Vellore and for lunch at Salem.

We have not tried the Mettur route before. Will try in our next trip.
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Old 14th January 2007, 11:43   #3
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Nice travelogue Jay!! Can you post some pics to show us those nice scenary of Mettur Dam and surroundings...

Abhi
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Old 14th January 2007, 12:35   #4
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Nice report Jay, posting some photos would make it complete. Also introduce the fellow passengers if you are referring them by name, right now I am assuming Sumi must be your wife.

Very good details about roads, distance and the time taken. Keep it coming.
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Old 14th January 2007, 12:40   #5
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I saw the title and wondered what could possibly be interesting about a Chennai - Pgt ride.

However I ended up reading your write-up word-for-word as though I've never done this trip before. Very well written and objective travelogue you've made! The first long trip in your car is always the sweetest memory.
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Old 14th January 2007, 12:44   #6
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Jay,

Great account, but a few quick questions:

- Are there toilets in the wayside petrol pumps? And are they clean? (assuming that you had a chance to use any!)
- You mentioned the double-road work going on in NH47 between Bhavani and Coimbatore - does the construction debris make the road difficult to drive in at night? And what do you think of the progress of work - completion in 6 months, 12 months.....?
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Old 14th January 2007, 14:35   #7
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Thanks to all for your valuable comments and words of encouragement.

@Goldsun: Hey, thanks! I didn't know about that Poonamallee bypass.. will give it a try next time!

@Abhi: Thanks, Abhi. The pics are not yet in my laptop - will post ASAP. I am still the conventional type with cameras - need to get the snaps developed first.

@ Samurai: Sorry for missing the introduction. Yes Sumi is my wife - we have a son and expecting our second child now. The little bloke you see in my avatar is my son Gautam.

@ Steeroid: Thanks, Steer. As they say, the destination isn't important...

@hvkumar: I did see a few petrol bunks on the way with the toilet sign displayed. However, it didnt occur to me to keep a count. The one where I tanked up, a couple of km after Krishnagiri, had pretty decent toilets.

Regarding four-laning of NH-47, I could see boards put up by the NHAI about the work in progress, but didn't see any hectic activity going on. They have prepared the ground with red soil in many places after widening the road, but the work is far from getting completed. Your guess would be as good as mine on the completion dates - I have no clue actually. The road is still safe to drive on, not much debris/workers/equipment hindering your way.

And for the record, four-laning work was in progress on NH7 too, south of Krishnagiri.

Even if work is going on at a slow pace, one can take heart from the fact that NHAI has shown that they can build quality roads. You only have to look at the GQ.

regards
Jay
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Old 14th January 2007, 17:32   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
Yes Sumi is my wife

Regarding four-laning of NH-47, I could see boards put up by the NHAI about the work in progress, but didn't see any hectic activity going on.
Jay, incidently Sumi is the nickname of my wife too....

Regarding the WIP of NS corridor from Krishnagiri, I saw the NHAI hoarding during my trip to Kodai - Madurai in Sept., it mentioned the expected time of completion is by 2008 - 09. Although no work started but this time around (I went to visit Krishnagiri dam a fortnight ago), saw the layout with clay-earth for the extra lanes from Krishnagiri onwards...Hopefully Kgiri - Kanyakumari corridor gets over soon...

Abhi
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Old 15th January 2007, 09:45   #9
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Quote:
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Jay, incidently Sumi is the nickname of my wife too....
... and I have a 2003 Kawasaki Caliber 115 too!
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Old 15th January 2007, 11:25   #10
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Jay,

A good travelogue. I enjoyed reading it. I and my wife did B'lore-Nagarahole-Madikeri when my wife was into her pregnancy. Yes, it certainly is not advisable to travel on bad roads then. We did not do the safari at Nagarhole because of the same reason. Bad roads and the Jeep's hard suspension would have been too much for my wife then.

Cheers,
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Old 15th September 2014, 13:21   #11
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Default Re: Chennai to Palakkad by road

All

Any input on current road condition between chennai and palakkad?

Thanks
Shankar
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