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Old 6th May 2008, 13:12   #61
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Dear Mr.Chevy Lover,

I know that corner on the Goa road so I am careful there. The ghat going down just after Sawantwadi on the way to Goa is also deadly in the night because morons cut across to the wrong side of the road, be careful. Incidentally my record from Goa to Mumbai is 8 and a half hours, flatout through the dead of night (part of the job, petrol not paid for by me - obviously !).

I work in Nasik, my family is in Mumbai, I have been doing Mumbai Nasik very regularly now for God knows how many years and I know of two similar turns in this 175 km long stretch also. I have seen numerous accidents there and helped people. This road is now being converted to a two lane, now so the turns are becoming safer, thank God for that.

I must say this - I have 5 fiats and an SUV. I just enjoy driving my fiats. Try it out if you can lay your hands on one. For a car designed in 1953 having a leaf spring rear suspension, the handling is just superb (one of the best body roll control I have ever seen). Everything is good about this car except that it does not take kindly to an AC in it (so I have removed the AC from all my cars).

I would love to get more updates on your Tavera. Please PM me.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 23rd November 2009, 22:24   #62
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Talking Second road trip to Trivandrum....

Team, coming up shortly, is an account of my second road trip from Pune to Trivandrum in my Chevy Tavera. This trip was undertaken in the month of August 2008. We had a great adventurous journey to Trivandrum.

My experiences on that trip are coming up shortly. Meanwhile, my readers can enjoy what we encountered en-route. Brilliant, isn’t it???

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-road-kerala_nh-17.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-b-road-kerala_nh-17.jpg
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Old 23rd November 2009, 22:41   #63
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Bring it on, boss! We are all eyes & ears. Btw, nice trailer.
Ranjith
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Old 24th November 2009, 00:52   #64
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good CL, you kept your promise . I am waiting for ur pics and the story. I am sure that these pics will be as brilliant as the pics in trip to Ooty.
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Old 24th November 2009, 08:58   #65
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Awesome photos. Your accident description was scary. Glad you escaped unhurt and nothing more serious happened.
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Old 24th November 2009, 16:03   #66
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Thumbs up The travelogue starts.....

Let me start my travelogue by throwing some light on the motive behind our second road trip to Kerala. My mother-in-law had come down to Kerala from Deutschland for a short visit and I wanted to take my wifey to meet her. We were also going to bring mom with us to Pune. We had planned for this journey for some weeks, as soon as mom’s journey was finalised and we were really looking forward to it. As usual, I wrote to our dear HVK sir and got a superb update on the road conditions and the exact route. Did I mention that he is a walking dictionary? Well, he knows each and every turn and highway by-heart!

I had driven to Kerala once, but that time I drove through Kolhapur and Goa. This time, I was going via Hubli, Udupi and Mangalore. Once our plan was finalised, I took my Chevy for a mandatory service and tune up and my tot was returned to me in immaculate condition. I filled him up and he was roaring with anticipation about the journey ahead of him! Chevy’s Goodyear shoes were in excellent condition having run just about 30 K kilometres. I inspected them thoroughly and was sure that they would be able to endure the torture that lay ahead of them! We had finished our packing the day before the journey.

There was nothing else to do, but sleep early and get enough rest before the long journey, the next day! I somehow cannot bring myself to travel in a bus or a jet, if I have the option of driving there myself. Well, if there is a Rajadhani plying on that route, I might be tempted to leave Chevy at home! Wifey was always game to accompany me on this road trip, as she had begun to get addicted to travelling on the front seat of our dear Chevy baby!

Day 1. 2nd August 2008

We woke up by 3 am and got ready in no time. We loaded our suitcases in our Chevy. I took a spare bag, just in case my mom-in-law bought something lip-smacking for us!!! I told my wifey that the extra bag was for our shopping! She was so thrilled when she heard this! Poor thing! I was smiling from ear to ear! Well, don’t tell wifey about this!

We started our journey from Pune at 4 am on that cool August morning. My Chevy’s odo read 56555 km. After a small prayer and with a song on our lips and after giving Chevy some Holy water, I turned the ignition and immediately, Chevy roared to life! We slowly drove out of our society and joined the road leading to the outskirts of Pune. There was absolutely no traffic inside the city and we were able to get out in 15 minutes flat. I drove very fast as the road was in excellent condition and my projectors were lighting up the road like a Christmas tree! I touched the highway soon and zoomed off into the horizon. I could maintain speeds of over 130 km/hr.

We reached the first toll plaza at 4.30 am sharp. We paid the toll of Rs. 45 and zoomed off again. My dear Wifey was concentrating on the road and was enjoying the drive tremendously. There was nothing to worry as the road was desolate and the Lorries were keeping left and driving in an orderly manner.

At 4.45 am we spotted a well camouflaged MUV driving slowly on the left lane. It was the Xylo! We did not stop to get a look at the car and continued on our way. We reached Kambakti ghat by 5 am, paid the toll and started our ascent. There was no one to trouble us and we made good progress. I slowed down by then and kept up a constant speed of 60-70 km/hr in the ghats.

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-nh4_road-trip-trivandrum.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-b-nh4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-c-nh4_mist-covered-mountains.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-sharp-turns-everywhere_do-not-overspeed.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-e-road-karad.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-f-karad-city.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-g-nh4-out-karad.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-h-nh4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-i-huge-mountain.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-j-nh-4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-k-nh4_as-straight-arrow.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-l-first-glimpse-sun.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-m-nh4.jpg

It started to rain heavily as soon as we reached Satara. I cut down on speed and maintained a steady 110 km/hr. We passed Karad soon, reached Kolhapur at 7am, bypassed the city and drove towards our first pit stop, the Konduskar Petrol station. This was also recommended to me by HVK sir. Fuel is costlier in Karnataka and it was economical to fill up in MH. We reached the station at 7.20 am. It was huge and there were so many vehicles filling up at the same time.

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-n-konduskar-pump.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-o-konduskar.jpg

I parked Chevy away from the pumps and checked the engine and coolant levels. I had used up a lot of water to clean up my windscreen during the drive. So I filled up the reservoir and added a bit a shampoo too! We took a break for an hour at the station and had tasty Idlis for breakfast from a small hotel inside the premises. Later, we filled in 20.89 litres of diesel in our Chevy.

After resting for some time and a customary check of all oil levels in my Chevy, we decided to start our drive towards Belgaum by 8.15 am. We were feeling very refreshed after our short breakfast break. Chevy also had his tummy full and he was galloping at 120 km/hr. We reached Kagnoli, which is the border town of Karnataka and encountered very heavy showers. The rain continued till about 20 kilometres before Belgaum. We drove cautiously at a steady speed avoiding a need for sudden braking or swerving. We rarely went above 90 km/hr because of the rain.

We were mesmerized by the lush green landscape all around the highway. Other than that, the drive was pretty monotonous.

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-p-farm-land_kolhapur.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-q-lorry-traffic-started.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-r-nh-4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-s-nh4_so-good.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-t-nh-4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-u-highway-belgaum.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-v-ghat-starts.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-w-farm-land.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-x-farm-land.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-y-nh-4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-z-highway.jpg

Truck traffic started with a vengeance soon and we were further slowed down by those monsters overtaking on the right lane at 30 km/hr. It was frustrating, but we did not let it affect our spirits.

We were listening to Kishore Da on our stereo and enjoyed the songs thoroughly! The road was in superb condition. What else could one yearn for, during a long drive???
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Old 25th November 2009, 17:10   #67
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We reached Hubli after a superb drive at 10.45 am. The scenery was terrific!

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-nh-4.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-b-first-drops-rain-karnataka.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-c-beautiful-landscape.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-nh-4-ka.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-e-heavy-rain-ahead-us.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-f-beautiful-landscape.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-g-beautiful-farm-land.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-h-farm-land.jpg

We took the Hubli exit and joined the road to Yellapur and paid the toll. The first few kilometres of NH 63 was a mud track and was not tarred and was very narrow. There were many small villages flanking the highway. Soon we crossed the craters and ran into better roads. We were very relieved and managed to keep up a steady speed of 80 km/hr. Traffic was sparse then.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, we noticed about eight big rumbling strips right ahead of us. It was so well concealed that we did not get even a slight inkling of the strips in advance. I braked very hard, but it was too late. I had to release my brake lightly to avoid my wheels locking. I grasped my steering wheel firmly and braced for the impact. Chevy flew over the strips at 30 km/hr. All I heard was thud thud thud thud thud thud……

I was able to stop my car only after we jumped over the strips. We were a bit shaken, but luckily did not suffer any injuries. We let out a huge sigh of relief when we noticed that our Chevy ran quite normally after that bone-jarring incident. I badly wanted to meet the PWD engineer who was in charge of that part of the NH and wanted to give him a big souvenir on his chin, which would produce at least half the effect of the thump we got! We were lucky that we were in our Chevy. What if our vehicle was a sedan??? I shuddered when I thought about the possible repercussions. One thing was sure; we would have hit the roof of the car!

Yellapur was a mess with heavy showers wrecking havoc on the already bad roads. It seemed as though all the rain which was supposed to come down in Pune got diverted to Yellapur. We drove through a trail flanked by dense forests on either side. We were still 75 kilometres away from Ankola. We crossed numerous villages en-route. There were cleverly concealed rumbling strips before and after each and every village. We encountered heavy truck traffic en-route.

We reached Yellapur at 12.10 pm. We did not stop anywhere and continued towards Ankola. We did not want to delay our journey anymore. We had already lost lots of time due to the constant stopping to negotiate unmarked rumbling strips. At that point of time, my only wish was to meet the NH engineer, the genius who made all those rotten speed-breakers! What is the point in calling that road NH 63, if one cannot go above 40 km/hr? The maximum respect that road actually deserved was to be called a village road! Nothing more!

We drove through a small ghat soon. There were numerous twists and turns, but nothing severe. It can be negotiated by newbies too! The road was two laned and wide. Its condition was also good with only the occasional pothole! One can easily maintain 60 – 70 km/hr safely and also due to frequent twists and turns! There was very heavy truck traffic and we were pinned behind a trailer carrying a huge contraption for close to 20 kilometres. There was no way we could overtake and there was no point in honking. So we just followed the trailer at a safe distance. Soon the ghat ended and we over took the lorry. The road condition deteriorated almost immediately. The trail was filled with huge craters and we had to slow down again.

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-i-heavy-lorry-traffic-yellapur.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-j-nh-63.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-k-nh-63.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-l-heavy-traffic.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-m-nh-63.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-n-yellapur.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-o-heavy-traffic.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-p-stupid-lorry-drivers.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-q-lorry-traffic.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-r-lorry-accident.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-s-lorry-lost-its-wheel.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-t-lorry-lorry-everywhere.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-u-hairpin-ahead.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-v-lorry-breakdown.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-w-huge-potholes.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-x-ghastly-accident_the-driver-inside.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-y-beautiful-roads_scenery.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-z-dense-jungle.jpg
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Old 25th November 2009, 21:02   #68
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Hey CL, this route description is really helpful for me. I was inclined to go in a Verna sometime towards the end of this month (Hyderabad - Bangalore - Ooty - Guruvayur - Kozikod - Goa - Pune) . Now i have to think twice. I know this was an year ago but I doubt if the condition would be any different.
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Old 16th December 2009, 16:50   #69
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Red face Drive to Kerala!

We reached the T-junction at 1.30 pm and joined NH 17. We thought of taking a break and also to have our lunch. We decided to drive to Kamat hotel, on the right side of the road, and started our break by 1.45 pm. It started raining heavily as soon as we entered the restaurant. We had Paneer and Nan for our lunch. We couldn’t resist their chocolate ice creams later!

We started our journey again, after lunch, by 2.50 pm. Our next destination was Udupi. NH 17 was in a horrible condition. The local buses plying continuously on those roads made matters worse. They never slowed down to drive through the potholes. We were also shocked to see so many cows meandering along the highway as though they were walking in their owner’s backyard! The road from Ankola to Kumta was the worst stretch of that day’s drive.

After a laborious drive, we reached Udupi by 7 pm. The city was in a total mess because of road work. We took so many turns and finally ended up in Hotel Kediyoor, near the bus stand, which was suggested by HV Kumar Ji. We checked in by 7.45 pm and straightaway ordered a heavy Chinese dinner. The bearer bought our food by the time we freshened up. Their food tasted awesome!

We retired for the night by 10 pm. We were happy that we took an AC room as it would have been difficult adjusting to the humidity in Udupi. We had a long drive ahead of us and we were determined to reach Kerala by midnight, the next day! My wifey had a peaceful sleep, but my mind was working overtime planning the route for the next day and the stops en-route.

Day 2 – Drive inside Kerala

We woke up on day 2 of our journey by 6 am. We were very excited about our journey, as we were about to enter Kerala shortly. It was a special feeling to be back home with family.

We finally checked out of the hotel at 7 am sharp. We went to a nearby HP pump and filled up Chevy. He was very thirsty after the previous day’s drive and readily drank 42.61 litres @ Rs. 38.72/litre. We also checked Chevy’s footwear for air and started our drive towards Mangalore by 7.30 am.

The road was good in patches. We kept up a speed of about 90 km/hr and covered good distance. We finally reached Mangalore by 8am. Our nightmare started almost instantly. The road was a terrible mess and we cut down on speed. During our last visit, we had a terrible time in Mangalore and my Chevy’s crash guard had broken off after hitting a ditch!

So we were extra careful and slowly drove around most of the huge potholes. There were huge trucks parked all over the town and there was hardly any space left for other vehicles to pass by!

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-mangalore-.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-mangalore-approach_lorry-parking.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-b-highways-totally-taken-over-lorries.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-b-mangalore_lots-factories.jpg

We saw some factories in Mangalore spewing white smoke in the air. We were flabbergasted seeing the condition of the roads in such a big town. The road widening work, which must have been started at least four years back, was still going on and was woefully behind schedule! We decided that we would never take that route again!

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-c-hoarding.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-c-bridge-mlore.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-c-no-place-overtake.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-beautiful-scenery.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-bridge_train-passing-through-adjacent-one.jpg

After a terrible drive, we reached the Kerala border by 8.50 am.
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-kerala-border.jpg

We thought that we would encounter better roads, but were shocked by the appalling condition of NH17! We had never ever seen such badly maintained roads!
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-keralas-private-bus.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-nh-17.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-road-kerala_nh-17-.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-road-kerala_nh-17.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-swimming-pool_specially-constructed.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-d-what-beautiful-highway.jpg

We steeled our nerves and drove through all those craters. We were lucky that the road condition improved greatly after Kannur and I was able to drive fast.
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-e-nh17-kerala.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-f-beautiful-road.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-g-good-highway.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-h-ksrtc-local-bus-nh-17.jpg

We had breakfast from a roadside drive-in restaurant. We relished having a typical Kerala style breakfast after many months!

We reached Mahi by noon and filled up Chevy from there, as diesel costs less than other parts of Kerala. We decided to skip lunch as we had had a heavy breakfast and were not at all hungry! We continued our drive and had lots of juices to keep ourselves fresh. The road condition improved greatly after some time!

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-i-very-good-roads.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-j-good-roads.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-k-nh-17.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-l-very-sparse-traffic.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-m-so-many-horns.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-n-beautiful-scenery.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-o-small-junction.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-p-road-kannur.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-q-no-traffic-all.jpg
An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-r-rail-track-running-parallel-highway.jpg
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Old 16th December 2009, 17:29   #70
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CL How did I miss this thread? Man those pictures speak volumes of your travel. I am glad that you didnot encounter the Jinx of tyre burst in this trip to kerala.
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Old 16th December 2009, 19:28   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElantraGT View Post
CL How did I miss this thread? Man those pictures speak volumes of your travel. I am glad that you didnot encounter the Jinx of tyre burst in this trip to kerala.
Hey Elantra, the second trip was a happy one for us without any problems! But we were really at our wit's end, by the time we reached Kerala. The condition of the roads drove us crazy!

We also had installed one set of Hellas. So driving at night was a breeze!

More on the journey coming up!

Last edited by Chevy_lover : 16th December 2009 at 19:31.
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Old 17th December 2009, 11:43   #72
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Nice narrations , looking forward to the remaining, just spent the whole morning reading through this thread. I am loving it, keep it coming.
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Old 17th December 2009, 15:46   #73
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Good one C_L. The roads look horrible. This reminds me the roads I encountered on NH13 between Hospet to Bijapur and on NH63 between Bellary to Hospet during 1st week of Oct-2009 when the north karnatake floods happened. Horrible roads would never want to drive on them again.
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Old 13th April 2010, 02:16   #74
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Thumbs up The drive to Trivandrum continues......

We stopped at Mahi by 1.50 pm and filled up Chevy. The mileage we got till then was an appreciable 14.9 with 100% AC. We were happy that the ghastly roads and slow driving did not have too much impact on the overall mileage. By that time, we were really tired and wanted to take a break, but the dreadfully hot weather in Mahi acted as a deterrent! So we bought some more snacks and fruits from a nearby store and continued our drive. The road was excellent in some stretches and appalling in some places. I maintained 90 - 100 km/hr and covered good distance. My wifey enjoyed the drive immensely!

The traffic was sparse and fortunately we did not meet any suicidal private bus drivers of North Kerala, ‘accidentally’! We passed Koilandy at 2.30 pm and reached Kozhikode at 3 pm. The city was very congested and we had a hard time leaving it behind. We again bought a kilo of plantain and juices and continued our drive towards TVM.

Some pics from the highway!

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-s-dense-forests.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-t-beautiful-roads.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-u-huge-craters.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-v-well-middle-road.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-w-rail-crossing-what-sign.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-w-what-does-sign-say.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-x-road-trichur.jpg

An Incredible Road trip from Pune to Kerala! - Revisited the second time!-y-narrow-bridge.jpg

We finally reached Trichur by 5 pm after a very hectic drive and decided to take a break. We had been driving continuously after our breakfast and were literally drained. Our Chevy’s AC protected us from the typical Kerala humidity and helped us fend off complete exhaustion.

We saw a fast food restaurant akin to KFC en-route to Ernakulam. Our bellies were screaming for mercy and we decided to oblige them. The restaurant was quite good, had AC and also had a decent parking lot. We soon had some delicious spicy Chicken fries and Burgers. The restaurant’s name was something like ‘American Fried Chicken’! The food was really good and we wolfed down half a dozen burgers!!!

We were quite tired after our non-stop drive after our breakfast at Kannur and wanted to relax for some time, before starting the final leg of our journey to Trivandrum. We decided to walk a bit and roamed around the city for some time to stretch our tired legs! The humidity was making us perspire profusely and in no time, we were drenched in our sweat. We quickly hurried back to the comfort of the AC restaurant and ordered some cool drinks!

We re-started our journey after the long break, at 7 pm. The city of Trichur was very crowded and we had a hard time finding our way towards Ernakulam. We touched the highway soon and promptly took a right turn and went the wrong way! There was no one in the vicinity of the highway to ask directions and the whole area was completely dark. There were no streetlights and no lit-up hoardings anywhere. We understood that the whole area was facing Kerala’s notorious ‘Load Shedding’!

Thankfully, the road was two laned, with dividers and we gingerly drove for some distance. My Chevy’s projectors were put to full use and I was elated that I had the wisdom to install it before our journey. We drove forward at 40 kmph and finally saw some local people cycling towards us! As we already knew, we were going back towards Kozhikode. We immediately took a U-turn at the nearest junction and sped back towards EKM.

We reached the Outskirts of EKM by 8pm and got stuck in a huge traffic jam near the bypass. There was some work going on in a bridge and as a result, the traffic was regulated by the cops. Only one-way traffic was allowed through the bridge and we had to wait for an hour to cross the bridge. I tried switching off my Chevy’s engine, but the heat and humidity was unbearable. The whole road had become a huge parking lot and we awaited our turn to cross the bridge, patiently, in the comfort of our Chevy’s powerful AC.

Suddenly there was pandemonium near the bridge as some cars were trying to overtake the ones already in queue and the result of all that racing, was utter chaos!! Finally, we saw some policemen arrive at the scene and all the 'desi Schumachers' were told firmly to reverse and go back a couple of kilometres to the end of the queue!

Once order was restored, we were able to cross the bridge by 9 pm and I immediately stepped on the accelerator. Our parents were getting worried that we hadn’t reached Trivandrum and were calling us continuously. We told them that our ETA was 2 am.

It was a pleasure driving on the smooth tarmac of the NH 47. The highway was narrow and two laned, but without any dividers. So we had to be doubly careful and I could not speed. Almost all vehicles were driving with their high beams switched on continuously and I reluctantly had to switch on my Hellas. The highway was pitch dark, with no reflectors. It would definitely be better if the less-experienced drivers stay away from this highway at night!

KSRTC bus drivers are the worst offenders in this stretch. They overtake even when they see a vehicle coming from the opposite side, forcing the approaching vehicle to run off the road. I was about to be meted out with the same treatment by one driver. I simply switched on all my lights and did not give him any space to squeeze past. The driver had to brake hard and went back to his lane. It was a dangerous move, but there was no space on the left side of the road and I had to hold on to my course.

We reached the outskirts of Alleppy at 10.45 pm and decided to take a small break. It had started to drizzle and my windscreen was completely dirty with all the muck from the road. The windscreen washer tank was also empty. We pulled up near a small hotel and I cleaned up our Chevy’s windows. I also filled up the windscreen washer reservoir. We took a twenty minute break there. The restaurant owner was surprised to see an MH vehicle at his door step and was even more surprised to hear us speak to him in the local language. He was a very kind gentleman and allowed us to fill our Chevy’s water bottles. We had piping hot tea from the shop and started our drive in a little while. The drizzle turned to a downpour in no time and we lost a lot of time because of low visibility. There was heavy traffic on the highway.

The road condition deteriorated rapidly and I had to cut down on speed. We entered Alleppy city shortly and with the help of two bikers, rejoined the NH in another five minutes. The road after Alleppy was well maintained and I could drive swiftly. We reached Quilon by 12.10 am and zoomed past the city. There was very little traffic after Quilon and I finally was able to maintain an optimum speed of 90 – 100 kmph. But I had to be extremely careful of the sudden sharp curves in the highway.

We had a fast, uneventful drive and finally reached TVM city at 1.05 am. We were exhilarated at the thought of meeting our dear family members after a couple of years. We reached my wifey’s house at 1.20 am. We had covered 1400 odd kilometres from Pune. We switched off our Chevy for the final time that night and retired for a well deserved rest! We were completely exhausted, but the joy of finally being able to see our family members negated all the weariness in us!
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Old 13th April 2010, 06:11   #75
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CL, I amazed at each and every detail you remember even after a year and that too after detailing another travel to the core ! Great !
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