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Old 1st February 2008, 16:30   #1
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Default A drive through God's own country

Part 1: PLAN AND BOOKING OF ACCOMMODATION
-------------------------------------------------------

I and my wife were planning for this trip from quite a long time. We planned to include Munnar, Thekkady and Alleppey in our trip. After a lot of browsing and getting to know the places and hotels, we were not too sure whether we should approach the travel agents for accommodation booking or should rely on sites like Cleartrip | Flights in India & international hotel bookings at cleartrip.com and their ilk. Since none of our acquaintances ever had any experience of booking through these sites, we did not want to be the bali ka bakra. So, we approached the agents and booked our resorts and the house boat at Alleppey.

Our plan was something like this:

Start from Bangalore on Jan 20th morning (around 4:30 am). Travel directly to Munnar. Stay at Munnar till 23rd. Start to Thekkady on 23rd, stay there that night and travel to Alleppey for the house boat on 24th. On 25th, travel to Cochin. Travel back to Bangalore on 26th.

Part 2: OUCH!!!
-----------------

Just when things were getting too rosy for our comfort, we had this just a week before our trip:



It certainly is a sin in India to slow down for humps!

After this, all our plans lay shattered. We were not sure whether we would be able to make it to the trip after spending around 30-35 grand for all our arrangements. We did check with our travel agent about the postponement and apparently, it would be too much of a procedure. That left us really stunned. The only option left ahead of us was to hire a cab. But, that meant that it would not be a trip we had envisioned.

After countless calls to Concorde, they assured us that they will deliver our car after repairs and paint job just the day before our journey began.

True to their word, they did it. The fact that it was a Fiat and their legendary non-availability of parts always made us think that we would not be able to make it to the trip. But, full marks to Concorde for all their good work.

We got the car back the evening before the day we started for our trip.

Now, we were ready to hit the roads....

The story continues.....
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Old 1st February 2008, 16:55   #2
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Part 3: Just before the trip
-----------------------------

Now that we sorted out our car, we had to make hurried arrangements for our trip. We just had around 4-5 hours to make as much arrangements as we could. Since we also had our little daughter Smriti (2.5 years old now) accompanying us, we had to pack quite a lot of stuff of hers. It just suffices to say that our car's trunk was full with all sort of luggage you could think of.

Again, to make Smriti comfortable, we packed the area in front of the rear seat with some beds and pillows and made that area flat with respect to the rear seat. That way, the little naughty one can sleep in full splendour. Not that she did, but we tried

We filled petrol and checked the air pressure of all the tires.

With all that, the journey began.

Part 4: Bangalore to Munnar
-------------------------------

We planned a 4:30 am start. But we did not expect the little one to get up at around 4:15 and start demanding bath. That delayed us by about 15-20 minutes. Finally, we started at about 4:55 am towards Hosur.

The route planned was Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Mettur-Bhavani-Udumalpet-Munnar.

By the time we reached Hosur, we were stuck at a huge traffic jam at the check post. We wasted at least about half an hour near Hosur. We could make it fast to Krishnagiri, even though the weather was very misty in the early morning. But, Krishnagiri to Dharmapuri was a major pain to drive. The roads are really bad, there was very heavy truck traffic, and that being the time when people were coming back from Sabarimalai, even the traffic in our opposite direction was bad. That made overtaking very painful.

Trust me for missing way. I am a master of that. Probably, technologies like GPS are made with people like me in mind.

I did not realise that we need to ask for directions at Dharmapuri and went straight towards Salem. We realised this only when we were near Salem. So, we decided to drive via Salem. Once we were there, we asked for Coimbatore road and started our journey towards Bhavani.

This road is also not too good at this point of time, since it is being four-laned. There are countless number of diversions and overtaking opportunities are also very slim. Hence, the progress was bad.

We reached Bhavani and started towards Udumalpettai. Thankfully, the traffic had eased out by then and I could hit around 80 every now and then.

There is a diversion to Munnar from Udumalpettai towards the right. We were there by around 1:30 pm. We broke our journey for lunch which we had already packed previous night. After a much needed 45 minute break, we started towards Munnar. Our final leg of journey would be around 80 km.

The road from Udumalpettai to Munnar is pretty windy and is full of beautiful ghats and tea gardens. It is very scenic. The only problem here is that the road is narrow and if you get stuck behind a slow moving heavy vehicle, you will in all probabilities travel behind it for ever.

Trust me, I followed a Kerala RTC bus for up to 5 km as the driver was not courteous enough to offer me to overtake him.

All in all, we reached Munnar by around 4 pm.

It was a 485 km drive which went through varied landscape; plains, hills and great looking tea gardens. It took us all of eleven hours and we decided to do nothing that day.

Last edited by deepakhon : 1st February 2008 at 17:09. Reason: Add few more lines
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Old 1st February 2008, 16:56   #3
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Ouch! That hit looks bad.

Glad that you were able to get Concorde to get it fixed in time and set out for the wonderful trip.

Let those photos and experience come thru...
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Old 1st February 2008, 17:07   #4
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Good writeup deepak, post some pictures too
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Old 1st February 2008, 17:19   #5
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So through out the road was bad ?.You never told you really enjoyed or not!
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Old 1st February 2008, 17:34   #6
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Part 5: Munnar at its resplendent glory
------------------------------------------

On any day, a 485 km drive with very few chances where your car got to flex its muscle would have taken its toll on us. But that beautiful and salubrious climate of Munnar took away all our pains. Check Munnar at its resplendent glory:





I must confess that I am not a good photographer and I do no justice to my Canon S3IS. Trust me, Munnar is much more beautiful than what my photos seem to suggest. BTW, some of the better photos are snapped by my wifey.

More to come: Munnar to Thekkady, Thekkady itself, Alleppey and the romance of the house boat, team-bhp meet at Cochin. All this some time later tonight...
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Old 1st February 2008, 17:41   #7
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You can overtake a KSRTC if you are driving at 81kmph,bit in your case better horns would have helped I guess.

Awaiting pix.
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Old 1st February 2008, 18:32   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkdas View Post
You can overtake a KSRTC if you are driving at 81kmph,bit in your case better horns would have helped I guess.

Awaiting pix.
Is that based on any study?

Munnar as usual, looks great. Its been long since I travelled to Kerala.

mmm....
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Old 1st February 2008, 18:35   #9
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Thats an interesting trip you did Deepak. Too bad I was not in Cbe to meet you.

Waiting for the rest of the travelogue and pics.
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Old 1st February 2008, 18:42   #10
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Can you post a picture of the rear of Palio to see how it looks after it came back from the hospital?

Good trip. So the average speed was only ~40 Km on the entire trip ?

You heard this or not but RTC stands for "Raadu , Telidu, Cheppalem" which means It never comes (on time) on first count and we don't know if it comes by any chance and if we see one in front of us we need to only predict if we can overtake it because we have some great RTC drivers in South India (Not that all drivers are bad but most have such attitude, may be due to continuous driving all the time)
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Old 1st February 2008, 19:35   #11
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Hi,

> Can you post a picture of the rear of Palio to see how it looks after it came
> back from the hospital?

Since I saw the vehicle post repairs here at the Cochin meet, I would say Concorde, Bangalore has done a very good job.
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Old 1st February 2008, 20:04   #12
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Thats great to know. I asked it because i heard Concorde guys here don't do their job properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyWheels View Post
Is that based on any study?
I think this is because RTC buses are supposed to have speed governors fixed or may have their engines tuned for Max Speed of 80Kmph. Or shouldn't this be 60 actually?

Last edited by TrueDreamer : 1st February 2008 at 20:07.
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Old 1st February 2008, 20:18   #13
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Hey nice report TDreamer. Post some more pics. Have you taken only 2 of them in this entire journey. What did the FE the car returned?
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Old 1st February 2008, 20:18   #14
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Hey Nice report Deepak, I just wonder how could you miss the Mettur turn when there is a huge signage by NHAI on the highway itself...

Which route did you take from Bhavani? I guess it is the Perundurai - Kangayam - Dharapuram - Udumalpettai (as you were talking of winds)

Abhi
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Old 1st February 2008, 20:29   #15
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OK guys, I am in the midst of watching "Taare Zameen Par" at home. I will do some night out today. imageshack was acting up. More pics to come.

@akroy - Yes. The route you have specified is the one I took. How did I miss the turn? I have no idea!
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